Who is this sexy and good looking man from last year's Movember gala parte at the Gold Coast??


israel lobby

There was an paper about the Israel lobby in the US published last month that I just noticed. As an Australian who's lived in Iran and visited Israel and the West Bank, I don't see anything controversial or strange about what they wrote - I just thought it was rather factual, actually. But the Israel lobby has gone into overdrive trying to naysay it.

wan-giri returns

Got a missed call from 03 8102 9565, but I have no intention of calling that back, thanks to google.



Finally we got broadband this week at home! I attached a WGR614 wireless router, the cheapest 802.11g external router around (as opposed to a PCI card router). It's the third one I've bought, I think the first one I paid $205 at Hardly Normal after pointing out that their $269 sticker price was being beaten by some highly dodgy Edward St outlet i-central. Now it's $69 at Umart.

It was difficult to get iChat working with this WGR614 (v6) but this page has all the instructions. More seriously I looked at the router status page this morning and someone in our building was leeching off the connection!! I immediately did some research on whether WEP or WPA is better and put a WPA password on it.


I was at the Treasury Casino last night (no this wasn't my idea). Blackjack is the only game there where skilful play can result in the player instead of the casino having the edge. On the tables I saw, the Casino seemed to be using a machine called the one2six with six decks. I have been reading about it today googling around.

It is called a "continuous shuffling machine" (CSM) and the idea is to reduce the effectiveness of card counting.

There is a guy ZenGrifter who found a strategy to beat one of the first CSMs but claims there's no strategy "practically speaking" to make the one2six beatable. Other opinions - "CSMs are not worth playing"; CSMs are not enjoyable for the dealer to work with and cost $15,000 each; don't even try to beat one2six; not aware this is beatable; expected player return 0 etc.

Most useful though was an an Australian FAQ page about CSMs. There are lots of disadvantages to them. In summary I won't be sitting down at a blackjack table any time soon, but it's fun to read about others' successes there. It is romantic somehow, but I don't know why. A carefully constructed advertising campaign perhaps? Or I am a thrill-seeker?

Last night there was also a guy playing with $100 and $500 chips at the table where everybody else was using $5 chips. Someone said he was a famous jockey. Do jockeys really make lots of money? Or could he have been working for the casino, encouraging everybody else to bet more, like a shill on eBay?



It helps greatly to have a diverse team at trivia nights. Our poor performance last night can be attributed to a lack of sporting knowledge in our current team - we were given poor quality B&W photos of Andrew Bogut, Maria Sharapova, Shane Webke and Mike Hussey and asked to identify them. I hadn't even heard of the last guy but apparently he's very famous in the cricket world. Let's hope there aren't too many more quiz pages like that!


meat is murder

Mary seems disturbed that I would consider eating possums. But where does the ethical objection lie? I remember the John Safran pilot episode "Master Chef" about how people really object to dog eating but won't sign petitions about sheep. Just what is people's problem?? Why is it OK to step on cockroaches on the footpath but clubbing baby seals to death is a horrible atrocity?

PS Yesterday I had my hair cut at the Brisbane School of Hairdressing because it is only $10 to let a student do it. My student, Eunice was from Seoul and after my two perennial questions ("Do you know any gay people in Korea? No, there are no gay people in Korea" and "Are Japanese and Korean cultures similar? Slight similarity, in terms of respect for elders") I decided to ask if she'd ever tried dog meat. And yes, she ate it regularly in Korea!! (She said her parents are older than her peers' parents, or something like that.) I had been assured by Jenny it was something only old men ate. Everything Jenny said about Korea was not true!! I think it was part of her nefarious plan to get me to visit - because after I discovered all these untrue things, I would have to visit for myself to find out the truth. Truly, it was a very subtle manipulation!


virgin pre-paid rate increase

"Our Pre-Paid call connection fee will change from 20c to 25c." Telecommunications prices are always supposed to go down, never up. What's wrong with broadband and telecommunications in Australia? Text messages cost way too much - the real price is about 1c a message and Australia is among the most expensive places in the world for them.


When I went to Iran in March 2002 I decided I needed an email account distinct from the one my work would give me. I didn't want the Iranians reading all my email, I wanted a secure connection (eg ssh to connect to the service). So I went with Eskimo North. They have been around since 1982 and on the net since November 15, 1992.

But that post also mentions that they are running SunOS 4.1. And guess what, as of April 12, 2006, they still are. This is like running Windows 3.1 on your home computer. It is a dinosaur operating system. The only advantage it provides is security through obscurity. Even back then in Nov'92, SunOS's successor Solaris had been released.

So I made a bad decision going with them, ignoring advice from a newsgroup that they were having problems. I picked "rwb" as a username but that was too short and the account started getting spam immediately. Then I posted on usenet without disguising my address and I started getting swamped with spam. My parents sent me email from bigpond and eskimo's spam prevention services (RBL blacklist) bounced their email... and the support was non-existent. Eventually I got sick of spam and set up procmail to immediate delete everything coming from China, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and that helped a lot.

I had bought a 2-year account for $US180 so it expired in April 2004... I renewed it because I wanted to keep in touch with friends from Iran who I had given the address to. Renewal came up again last Thursday and I emailed support with my CC details on Wednesday, and yet they still expired my account with no communication! I had attempted to renew for the new five-year option for $US360. I called them twice and I sent emails from another account to support suggesting ways to contact me but there has been no reply. If that's the way they want to run their business all I can do is write this blog post so that no-one else is stupid enough to buy from them. They actually did something similar in 2004, but I had forgotten about it.

So I can start again with a fresh email address, one without spam! What a great feeling! Without trying, I am off all those silly mailing lists I subscribed to unwittingly, like Student Flights, DFAT, FCO, amazon, gree.jp, the ruffian chess mailing list, etc. And free from silly people's emails ;-)

I'm think of getting an address @fea.st, I just think that sounds cool. They have IMAP unlike Yahoo, Hotmail, or gmail, so I can keep track of my email from anywhere using either the web, Mac mail at home, or Outlook at work, for example. You get what you pay for.

Also, it's a good idea not to let work and play email/web pages get too mixed up, UQ has very strange policies about web pages and email. I remember a famous case where a guy working for the Refugee Review Tribunal lost his job for views expressed on his personal homepage - we all have to be careful.


I am very romantic

Symmetrical women have higher potential fertility. Woo hoo! I am going to carry a ruler with me everywhere now. "Excuse me miss, could you please hold out your hands so that I can measure the degree of inequality in the fourth-digit length of your right and left hands?" I have always been so romantic.


cars, film fests

Still looking at cars. Sci-Fleet Toyota is opening right near Taringa train station soon, I could go and look at the Yaris there. I want an auto, I don't know if I need a 1.3L or 1.5L version though. I wonder what Sullivan Nicolaides buys for their fleet? Honestly I would rather have a Citroen C4, it has much more style, but they cost too much. And having a Japanese brother-in-law is biasing me towards Japanese cars made in Japan, probably.

Of course, O gave me the receipt. We went to the Redlands film festival to watch Ingrid's film "Turtle" which was good. (The night I went was "Ladies' Night Out" so there were about 100 women and 4 guys. It was like the chess club, but the opposite!) But there was a film called "Finding Heaven" which was painful to watch. "I want to live in the Redlands forever, this place is heaven!" Ingrid, O and I ragged it no end. We said we should make a film called "Finding Hell in New Farm". However I felt a bit guilty later because I found out it was the first effort of a 14 year old girl...