Ridiculous releases and stern words

Meredith Burgmann was, until recently, the president of the NSW Legislative Council. She recently retired.

Meredith Burgmann, collector of political idiocy

While in her position, she enjoyed a sideline hobby collecting the headlines from politicians’ press releases. It turns out to have been a highly entertaining hobby and she sent a list of her favourites to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Macdonald’s cuts paperwork required for sheep movements

Pensioners take to the bus as pet sales soar in outer metro regions

Three bus Barry exposed on public transport (again)

Campbell humiliated by parrot

Strike backyard breeders off your Christmas list

Dogs, goats, alpacas, leeches: threats to our meter readers

Stoner ignorant on ethanol: Martin

Minister launches Australia’s biggest obesity trial

Tips for toddlers adjusting to end of daylight saving

Self-milking cows – a dairy farmer’s dream

And my personal favourite:

Is this the end of parmesan cheese?

Is it? By the gods, no! I’d better get hold of that press release and see if my parmesan cheese enjoying days are numbered.

On the subject of political ramblings, and in the most tenuous segue to date, there’s a lot of hubbub about climate change here at the moment. Obviously, that’s a good thing. It would be nice if we left a habitable planet for our children. Or we could at least concentrate on building them rockets so they could go and find another one as soon as possible.

A lot of the current dialogue centres around a review by Sir Nicholas Stern, explaining how ignoring climate change would be a far greater economic disaster than tackling it. He’s talking the language of politics, at least, putting a dollar value on all possible outcomes. But to me, the best thing about this is that it’s called The Stern Review.

Was there ever a better named paper?

Sir Nicholas Stern. Go get ’em, Tiger!

Strange annotations II

I thought I’d figured out what was causing all those strange !–[if !supportEmptyParas]– and !–[endif]– codes that pop up in Internet Explorer. Alas, I haven’t fixed it. I have no idea why it’s happening and will continue to try to find out what’s going on. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know (email in the sidebar or comment here).

Anyway, I stand by my previous recommendation. Stop using IE and get yourself onto Mozilla Firefox. It’s free, it’s much better than IE and it’s not Microsoft. What more could you ask for?

Reading recommendations

A reader directed me to check out a beta version of a new website called Story Code. It’s a site to compare novels, where readers enter details of books they’ve enjoyed by way of a coding system. That system then draws comparisons to other books in the site’s database and offers further reading recommendations of similar novels.

I entered the details for RealmShift and it came back with this list of recommendations:

Of Saints and Shadows (Christopher Golden) 76.67

Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury) 73.11 %

That Hideous Strength (C.S. Lewis) 72.76 %

Furies of Calderon (Jim Butcher) 72.74 %

Darkhenge (Catherine Fisher) 72.68 %

Spares (Michael Marshall Smith) 72.47 %

Fiasco (Stanislaw Lem) 72.09 %

Storm Front (Jim Butcher) 72.05 %

Dead Beat (Jim Butcher) 71.76 %

Under the Skin (Michel Faber) 71.54 %

Fire Sea (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman) 71.09 %

Necromancers, The (Robert Hugh Benson) 70.95 %

His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman) 70.93 %

American Gods (Neil Gaiman) 70.88 %

Ender`s Game (Orson Scott Card) 70.73 %

Time Pressure (Spider Robinson) 70.53 %

Dhampir (Barb & J.C. Hendee) 70.32 %

Strata (Terry Pratchett) 70.19 %

A Midsummer Night`s Scream (Jill Churchill) 69.97 %

Elfsorrow (James Barclay) 69.92 %

That’s a pretty good list and, of course, only includes books that others have so far coded into the site. The more people that put in books, the better the recommendations should get.

The coding system is very simple, with slider bars that you set for each question. It only takes a minute or two and the questions they ask are pretty good for getting the feel of a book.

You can find two versions of the site, a UK one and a US one. I’m not entirely sure why they’ve split the project this way. I think it could cause confusion over time, but one sign-on will work for both sites. If a book was published in the UK you’ll have to enter it in the UK site, for example. Still, that one bit of strangeness aside, it looks like a pretty interesting idea.

You can find the sites at www.storycode.co.uk and www.storycode.com. Sign up and see what you think. If anyone that has read RealmShift would be so kind as to code it in, I would be most grateful. It’ll be interesting to see how the recommendations change as more people put in their ideas of the book.

Mean car park

A reader of The Word from Wellington in New Zealand sent me this picture that he thought I’d like.

He was right – I do like it. It’s such a mean sign. This is a car park and it’s for the public. But it’s closed. Permanently! Mwaaahahaha!

Why don’t they just put up a No Entry sign or something? There’s no need to rub it in. A locked gate would have done the same job as that sign, without being nearly so offensive. It’s like having a sign saying