Tag Archives: vanishing point

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Lamington Drive: a new webcomic

Ben, whose regular blog is one of my all time favourites, also happens to be a pretty talented arty types, in fact, you might argue that he’s something of a polymath (he shared another one of his mad skillz here a while ago).

He’s branching out, and has started a webcomic. It’s called Lamington Drive. I’m hoping for good things – and he, like Simone, is one of those people whose blog might have waxed occasionally, but hasn’t waned (PS – 2013 is the year of the blog comeback).

Mad Skillz: How to get a good seat on a train

If I could pick one person in the blogosphere to meet in real life it would be Ben of Vanishing Point fame. He is famous. And if you don’t read his blog it’s your loss. And if you don’t look at his paintings and think “gee, I’d like to buy one of those” you are blind, or have no taste.

Amongst other things, Ben is an expert public transport commuter. So he offers the following guide as his mad skillz week submission. Thanks Ben.

Commuting is rubbish. If you like it, you are strange. I commute 3 hours a day. It’s rubbish. Lots of people all close together, being annoying. Morning breath in the morning. B.O. in the afternoon. Your day is bookended by badly smelling humans. You need to do what you can to minimise the pain. Seat positioning can help in this regard. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned through years of experiance, pain and toil.

1. Be prepared. The biggest mistake commuters make is in thinking the quest for a good seat begins when the train door opens. Novices. Did the Mona Lisa begin when Leonardo Da Vinci started putting paint to canvas, or when his uncle (Kevin Da Vinci) gave him that set of Derwents and a Star Wars pencil case for his 7th Birthday? For real. Before the train even rolls into the station, you must be alert. All your senses must be working hard. None of this lollygagging around in the crowd chatting with your buddies, or reading mX. You need to already be visualising the seat that will be yours. Believe it to be yours already.

2. Determine your platform position. It’s all about vantage point. This comes with practice, but you must learn to read the platform before you. Seperate from the pack. They will blindly congregate regardless, like antelope heedless of impending predators. But you must find the courage to be your own man and/or woman. Be the lion. Don’t stand at the bottom of the escalators in the middle of the platform. Too crowded. But don’t go right up to either end either. This is where the hunters like yourself will be working on their own game. Go three quarters of the way to either end. No man’s land. Your land.

3. Avoid the frail and needy. Look around you on the platform. Are you near some elderly people? A guy on crutches? A lady with a pram? Move away fast. Sure, you’ll beat them on to the train and get a sweet seat, but all for nothing. Your groundwork will have been in vain. You’ll soon feel bad and give up your seat for one of these kind, and spend the remainder of your journey suffering the consequences. Reading your novel standing up, trying not to fall over. Trying to avoid skin to skin with sweaty armpit guy. If you can’t find a blank bit of platfom, you need to find a bit that is made up of peers, ie, people you won’t feel bad about taking a seat from.

4. Hit the ground running. Or more accurately, approach the slowing train walking. Don’t wait for it to come to you. Walk beside it, looking for where the doors will stop. Sort of like a relay athlete running a bit before he gets the baton thing passed to him. Apply caution and acceptable level of politeness to avoid falling down The Gap, or sending someone else falling down The Gap. When the door opens, you need to be directly beside the door. Not in front, or you’ll be one of those annoying people who doesn’t let people get off before they get on. But certainly not way back behind the rest of the pack. Be right beside, so you can just slip in fast.

5. Choose swiftly. Okay, you are on the train. All having gone well you should be very near the front of the pack. Don’t dillydally pondering upstairs vs. downstairs, carriage vs. vestabule, 3 seat vs. 2 seat. Consider that before the train has even arrived. Every second counts. Find an opening and go. You are the lion. Be bold and go for the prize. It’s all paid off now. You are in position. Settle, and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Look how far you are from sweaty armpit guy. It feels good doesn’t it. That sweet coctail of comfort and victory. Be happy. Be proud. You have won.

Bananas in CGI Pyjamas

My blogging buddy Ben has just had a bit of a career milestone that deserves recognition – the TV series he has been working on for ages went to air for the first time this week. The new Bananas in Pyjamas.

A lot of the commenters on the internet are change hating luddites – but I think the Bananas have never looked better.

Bonsai Comic Book

Ben asked. So here I am. Delivering. Ever his servant. If you want to know what Ben’s ideal blog would look like read this post. If you want to be on Ben’s ideal blog (well, I’m at least halfway there) stay on this ‘ere blog and let me be your guide to wonders of the internet. Wonders like this comic book. That you plant. In the ground. And get a tree.

I’m not sure if it’s a tree suitable for bonsaing. Bonsai-ing? Turning into a bonsai. But it is a tree. So that’s a start.

UPDATE: I read the page this comes from again – and it turns out it grows herbs. Not trees. So no bonsai for Ben. I’ll keep trying.

A time, a place – Ben has a new space

Ben “everybody’s favourite blogger” McLaughlin has a new blog. Not content with being awesome on Vanishing Point he’s now being awesome and posting pictures of his brilliant paintings (and he’s selling them). Here’s an example.
Grandad’s Chair (2006)

Grandad’s Chair (2006)
Oil on canvas
22 x 30cm
$200

If he starts selling his little sketchy cartoon-like things too I’m going to be pretty tempted to decorate my house with his art. Especially if he turns the logo he drew for me into a print.

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Rockclimbing is for posers

I agree with Ben.

Rockclimbing is a stupid activity driven by some primal urge to reach high points and uncharted territory.

XKCD expresses the rockclimbing mentality best by lampooning wannabe rockclimbers. It’s all about being seen to be awesome.

I see through your ruse climbers.

And I loved Soph from the fountainside’s comment on Ben’s post.

I reckon Christians want activities that are ‘cool’ to do, but our obedience to Scripture stops us from doing things the world considers ‘cool’ – i.e. going to parties, raves, pubs and bars…pretty much anything to do with alcohol.
So we tend to flock towards activities that have some cool cred without the ‘worldly’ factor. This is why christian people like random things such as rock climbing, board games, bikes, coffee (the holy man’s drug), jazz (the holy man’s version of ‘cool’ music) and BBC dramas (the holy man’s movie choice).

Intelligent design

So, how bout this new design…

Any comments?

Any obvious glitches?

The new logo was drawn by Ben back when I picked my new name… I like it. He has kindly given me permission to use it.

The man of your dreams

Over at Ben’s blog during the inimitable Monday Quiz your host, Ben, asked a question about reoccuring dreams.

Kutz admitted to having a dream about a randomly appearing head that would pop up all over his parent’s home. Freaky.

What’s freakier is that people all over the world report seeing the same man in their dreams. This man. Have you seen this man? If you have you should check out that website.

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The father of all links posts

Ah, another week, another post chock full of links from the narrow sector of the world wide that I like to call the blogosphere.

I thought I’d get a little bit geographically specific with this little link edition. Just to give you an idea of the spread of blogs that I read (that you should too). This is by no means comprehensive – but here are some of the homes of regular commenters, people I know, and people I reckon you should discover (along with some choice posts from their sites).

Right-o. Lets go.

Starting with those in my own neck of the woods – the Townsville scene… (in no particular order). 

  1. Tim – doesn’t post often and when he does it’s usually a YouTube video.
  2. Leah – is the Andrew Bolt of the North Queensland Christian blogosphere, or perhaps the Tim Blair. She also covered North Queensland’s lost and found saga this week where a local lad from a local church went missing in the bush, and was found a couple of days later.
  3. Stuss – has picked up the pace a little, though most of what she’s saying is about gardening and decluttering. Which is fine. Because both are good things.
  4. Phoebe – hasn’t really said anything for 21 days. I just counted. But no list of bloggers from Townsville would be complete without her.
  5. Joel – if Leah is the Tim Blair of the Townsville blogosphere then Joel is the Piers Ackerman.
  6. Carly – is an education student and gives some interesting insight into the female psyche with pieces like the one she wrote last week about Oprah.
  7. Chris barely posts enough to rank a mention. But he’s a blogger. In Townsville. So he sneaks in.

If you’re in Townsville, and I’ve missed you, let me know in the comments.

Moving south, here are some of the notables in Brisbane…

  1. Kutz – I mentioned his new endeavour last week. It’s been trickling along. I’m sure more comments from nice friendly readers would keep his motivation levels up.
  2. Tim and Amy – The same could be said for these two. They’ve kept a pretty steady pace and you should go over, read what they have to say, and say hello.
  3. Simone – well, I’ve talked about her blog enough for you to know what goes down over there. She gets a prize for being the third blogger to mention my dad* this week. Her little piece of speculation about narrative in the new creation was interesting enough to get my hippocampus firing today.
  4. Will Henderson – gets the prize for being the first to mention dad*, and also for being the first Acts 29 affiliated church planter in Australia – a story that apparently hadn’t received all that much coverage before I mentioned it the other day (based on some posts like this one from Jeff Attack)… check out the website for his upcoming plant. Unfortunately it’s a bit grungy. And we all know how I feel about grunge.

Now, on to Sydney. The city of my birth and home of many good blogs.

  1. Izaac is back from a holiday and taking on the challenge of posting about Christian love and social justice.
  2. Ben celebrated his birthday yesterday – and I promised him a link. Then he posted a story about how the Governator has the Conan sword in his office – that I was all set to feature in my next little string of “Curiosities” posts.
  3. At the fountainside Soph asks the important questions about train etiquette – something we’ll have to (re)familiarise ourselves with next year.
  4. Ben (of the Bathgate variety) lists five things that made him tough(er). I score one on his list.
  5. Dave Miers managed to scoop Mikey Lynch by posting an interview with Andrew Heard, one of the Geneva Church planting crew (another post on the network from Dave), before Mikey could wrap up his series of similar interviews with church planting figures (including Will Henderson and Al Stewart).

Mikey (from Tasmania) was also the second person to, somewhat vicariously, mention dad this week because his name came up in one of the posts from the aforementioned series of interviews.

It has also become apparent – from what Andrew Heard said on Dave’s blog and what Al Stewart said on Mikey’s – that the Geneva portmanteau was only a vicious rumour, and that the name is actually a reference to Calvin’s work in that city. Which is a good thing.

And to conclude, here are my favourite ten posts from my blog this week (including bits from Robyn and Benny).

  1. Benny on Ministry
  2. Robyn on Grammar (PS – you should all encourage Robyn to blog more – she needs some comment love…)
  3. Good bad haircuts
  4. Bad relevance
  5. How to pick a cafe
  6. Cool stuff to do with your photos/iPhone
  7. Tips from a guru (my dad – since he’s the flavour of the blogosphere these days…*)
  8. The one about being wrong.
  9. The one about yawning.
  10.  The one about being a PK, and the follow up about being a PK being a bit like being Harry Potter.

* I should point out that these constant mentions of dad being mentioned are a mixture of patri-pride and because I think it’s slightly funny that he feels a sense of discomfort about being in the spotlight. It’s not because I think he’s super special (though he is). And if you want to join the fan club here’s the video I made for his 50th.

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Losing your edge

It’s been ages since I last paid out U2 and their myriad fans. This little rant is Ben’s fault, well, more correctly it’s Warren the word over-use watchdog’s fault. Warren doesn’t like the word edgy – because edgy people/groups/things don’t need to proclaim their edgyness. As soon as they apply the label they lose their edgyness. Immediately.

Which brings me to this guy:

Surely he’s now about as edgy as James Blunt and should consider a more appropriate sobriquet. As Warren would say:

“But as soon as you drop the ‘E’ word, you’ve set yourself up for a fall, and you sound like your daggy uncle saying ‘I really like to get jiggy and bust a move to 50 cent, dog, for real’. Not good.”

Introducing…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through reading Vanishing Point it’s that a blog without a Ben is barely a blog at all.

I’ve been toying with the idea of having more people write stuff here – and I’ve offered that to a few select people. I’m not a control freak – though I may appear to be – so I find the idea of other people producing content quite liberating.

I will, as I introduce more people, make it more readily apparent that you can subscribe to posts from particular people (which means missing the stuff from others).

For now, I’d like to introduce you to Benny. He guest wrote a post a while back about protectionism. He’s an economist. And an expert on strange laws that are still in force in Queensland (he’s not a law lecturer, despite the billing he gets). He’s happy to take media engagements on this basis. Actually he’s not. Despite repeated calls to do so from Sunrise.

I went to school with Benny in Brisbane. Good times were had by all. We started a spam newsletter that on retrospect was funny and offensive. And we harvested emails from forwards we received. Turns out that is pretty illegal.

Anyway, Ben intends to blog a bit here. He’s sent me a couple of incredibly long emails. He works best with word limits. I’m going to give him 500.

Here’s what he has to say about this opportunity.

Well, Nathan has said I can be an occasional contributor to his blog. this is most awesome, cause I don’t want to set up my own blog, and Nathan is an interesting person, so I like to comment about him. Further, it seems that this blog and all its affiliates are very Christian focused. So I guess instead of just whinging to Nathan via email, our background discussions with the alternative viewpoints can be brought upfront.
So, first up, it has to be said that quite often I have a very alternative views about things to Nathan. this has included religion (so very, very often), the role of public representatives, taxation policy, the merits of tax subsidies for childcare/rent/home ownership, abortion, stem cell research, home ownership v renting, the Iraq war, religion in schools/school prayer, speed limits/alcohol allowances, police procedure and police powers, criminal punishments, privacy regulations, preferred presidential candidates (well I think we both wanted Obama but one of us had more confidence in his potential success), the definition of marriage and marriage rights, and many other things.
Probably Nathan’s current distinguishing feature is his immense Christianity. I have also noticed that since I have known Nathan (since we were 15) that his Christianity has become a more and more prevalent feature. And it has really ramped up the last few years. We also know he is a good writer (so much so I remember him getting a few writing awards at school), whereas I care little for perfect grammar. And less for word counts. I like long posts. But since Nathan has full edit access, this probably won’t be such a problem.

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Yawn of a new era

Ben has posted a little bit of conspiracy theory driven speculation over on Vanishing Point which suggests that his blog’s nominally inferred prophecy may come about as the result of a yawn.

The yawn, unlike the sneeze is a subtle evil. Where the sneeze is loud, and produces a certain amount of tangible outbound traffic (spittle), the yawn sneaks under the radar. It is silent. There is no wetness to be felt. And yet the damage can actually be of a similarly devastating magnitude.

I have some of my own theories about yawns, which according to my site search thing I’ve never actually written about. Which is a situation that must surely be rectified. Here. Now.

Yawning, as we all know, is a contagious disease. One person yawns, and in the right circumstances it could set of a perpetual motion loop where everybody in a circle yawns, one after the other, dooming them to a harrowing oxygen fuelled existence.

I have a theory about why yawns are contagious. When we yawn we draw more oxygen into our lungs than a normal breath. To yawn in an enclosed space is to hog oxygen. Which, because we are selfish individuals, explains why everybody else in the vicinity also yawns. We don’t want anyone having more than their fair share.

This could one day pose a problem. If a group large enough gathers, and a yawning epidemic spreads, there will not be enough trees in all the Greenpeace wheelbarrows of the world to photosynthesis enough oxygen to replace the catastrophe that would follow.

Once you understand and embrace this underlying understanding of the nature of yawning you are on the path to enlightenment. You are equipped to deal with and understand life in a way that you have not been before.

This new, secret, knowledge gives you an unfair advantage over your fellow man. So use it carefully. Here’s an example.

If you are a single person and you are sitting in a room full of eligible people of the other gender – and you think that a particular member of the opposite gender has quite literally "caught your eye", if say, you think they are engaging in a little bit of casual "checking out" – just yawn. If they were checking you out your yawn will be irresistible. They’ll respond. If not, well, there’s no reason to get your hopes up and have them cruelly dashed.

There’s nothing so painful as unrequited cross auditorium/lecture theatre/church/conference centre love. Harness the power of the yawn and you’ll never feel that pain again.

The other BMI

Health is measured using Body Mass Index (BMI), while economic health is measured by the Big Mac Index (BMI).

Ben (economist Ben not Vanishing Point Ben) scoffs at the Big Mac index. He thinks it’s economically trite. I think it’s a worthy comparison of the economies of different countries. Here’s a new chart that takes an interesting new direction with the traditional concept used to measure purchasing power