Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Things they could fix in Canberra #8

There are a few things that bypass Canberra that are for the general good. One of these is the Hume Highway. On the way from Melbourne to Canberra, the Hume Highway should also bypass Holbrook and Tarcutta (which according to the wikipedia article will be done in 2012), but that is not the reason I am writing right now.

The main reason for this post is that Canberra gets bypassed too much, by sporting events, by international entertainment acts and cultural events. This is a general observation, as occasionally, there are some interesting events that do occur within Canberra. For the cultured art set, there is currently a french art exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. For the sports set, there is the occasional international rugby match or football (soccer) match - unfortunately from the last few soccer matches I have seen, they have been the reserve sides. When it comes to international entertainment acts, most of these will be scheduled for other major cities, but not in Canberra. Working near Canberra City, I have also noticed that Canberra does not attract the busker crowd that I have come to enjoy in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall and Melbourne's Southbank area. I would expect Sydney to have similar areas.

I do understand why events and acts do not come to Canberra. If I was a company (or even a busker) attempting to maximise profits, I would not haul my exhibition / equipment and performers to a city where the population appears to be stagnant at around 350,000 people. It's just not worth it.

This is a big shame. I think Canberra has spent some money in infrastructure, and has some nice, clean and modern stadiums and arenas to present these acts. Maybe the root cause of this bypass mentality is the small size in population.

I keep hearing in the media that the people that govern Canberra are trying to attract families to come and live in Canberra. While this is somewhat of a noble hope, it is also greatly flawed. With the current situation of how Canberra obtains water, it would not cope with a doubling in population. It would simply run out of water to live. People would have to change their habits of water consumption. The town would stop looking so green. Parliament house would need to stop being watered. Would the politicians want a "nice" meeting place, or do they prefer to have the population of the town around them alive?

Every capital city in Australia (with the exception of Darwin) has a population over 1 million people. Going back to my original thought, those cities are able to sustain shows and events. With these acts and events bypassing Canberra, it subtracts from its character and its atmosphere - giving more credit to the comment that "Canberra is a city without a soul".

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Silly combo in MTG

As mentioned in a previous post, I have started to play Magic The Gathering (MTG) - a game where you collect cards to essentially emulate a rock / paper / scissors game. If you've never played this game before, and have never heard about it, think of it like a game of chess where you put together the pieces on your side. You construct a deck of cards, and take turns attempting to eliminate your opponent. No deck is perfect - every deck can be beaten with another deck. Luck has a small component in the game - how well (or poorly) you shuffle your deck before the game and what you draw as your initial hand can determine the outcome. Games can last between 5 minutes to about 40 minutes (depending on which player is in control and what strategy is being played). Certain cards do certain things, and certain cards also trigger combos that allow for other things to happen. There are a basic set of rules as to how to play, but the "golden rule" of the game is that if a card allows you the break the rules of the game, then the card take precedence.

If you would like to watch some videos as to how the game works, youtube has a few tutorial videos for MTG. If you would like to play, to see how the game feels, you can download a java version of the physical card game from the mtgrares blog and play it on your computer. The guy running the blog is documenting his experiences writing the program for the computer game. It's still a work in progress, but still very playable.

As I'm always interested in interesting combinations in cards, I've had a look at my own collection and noticed this set:
5 card funny combo
To play it, you would do the following:
1. In your first turn, put out an Island.
2a. In your second turn, put out another Island. In that same turn, you also put out a Blacker Lotus.
2b. Now use the Blacker Lotus to generate 4 blue mana, and tap the islands for 2 more blue mana. This will give you 6 blue mana to use. I've used the word "use" in relation to how to utilise the Blacker Lotus. This is due to the fact that to use the card, you need to destroy it. I don't believe in ripping up limited cards, so I will usually substitute the card for another, and destroy that instead.
2c. With the 6 blue mana, use that to cast _____ and Now I Know My ABC's. You will now have 1 blue mana left over, where you can activate the ability on _____ - hence changing its name to ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. That's all the preparation you need to do. Now wait until the start of your next turn.
3. At the beginning of your upkeep stage of your next turn (ie. in the inital stages) you WIN the game - regardless of what life points you or your opponent have, and what else is in play.

Alternatives to playing this would be not getting the Blacker Lotus and having to pull out other mana sources to generate the 6 mana. Ways to combat this winning strategy is to slow down the production of mana (ie. get rid of Islands), destroy / counter the _____ creature, or remove the Now I know My ABC's enchantment.

Did I mention the game is simliar to rock / paper / scissors ?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

New Air Jordan 6s (Retro) released

For those of you who may not know, today (23.01.2010) is the day that Nike re-released the Air Jordan VIs / 6s. This is THE most significant shoe for me and my collection of shoes, as these are a copy of the first pair of Air Jordans I have ever owned. I remember, in either 1990 or 1991, purchasing a pair, with the assistance of my mother, who was the financial bank roll for half the cost. The truth to the purchase was that I liked them for comfort and for the style - I did not know that Michael Jordan was such a dominant force in NBA basketball. Apparently, his championships started with this shoe (but it's due to the talent of Jordan himself and the Chicago Bulls team, not necessarily this shoe). Your can also see where some of the inspiration for the Air Jordan 6rings fusion shoe came from - the heel "spoiler" and the laces spring tab.

I believe the original Air Jordan 6s were somewhere in the AU$150 mark. Originals from this time now cost around AU$400 to AU$900, depending on condition. This is what Footlocker had today (last pair in size 11):

Air Jordan 6s Pic #1Air Jordan 6s Pic #2Air Jordan 6s Pic #3Air Jordan 6s Pic #4Air Jordan 6s Pic #5
So... what has changed after all this time? From memory, I believe there was a Nike logo and Swoosh symbol on the heel. It is now replaced with a Jumpman logo. The other thing I noticed was that the modern-day materials made the shoe feel stiffer. I was told by the sales person that this is due to the newer, more durable materials and fabrics used, but I'm guessing only time will tell.

If you are interested in getting this specific shoe, and your local shoe store is out of stock, try eBay. eBay appears to have a huge range of originals and retros available.

The next question is whether I wear them, or I shelve them like I am with the White Men Can't Jump Hyperizes I have still in their boxes. Any suggestions?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Mrs Clinton is against internet censorship

I recently read an article where Hillary Clinton (wife of former president of the USA, Bill Clinton) denounces internet censorship and cyber attacks. She has called for the USA to stop doing business with countries that allow for internet censorship, and those that have lenient laws on cyber criminals. This is an interesting stance. China makes the majority of goods in today's society and this statement could affect them. China is a country know to have internet censorship and cyber attackers in their fold. Apparently, Google is considering pulling their offices out of China due to recent attacks on their services from within China. Can the USA afford to stop doing business with China?

The stance from the good Senator Conroy is still to implement a content filter for the internet (as of December 2009). I wonder if the US will stop dealing with Australia now...?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

And we're back for 2010

I hope that everyone is having a safe, prosperous and happy 2010. I look forward to writing about more stuff that comes to mind...