Monthly Archives: September 2007

It’s idiots that cause the need for idiotic laws

September 28, 2007

You’d think that some things are just common sense and don’t require legislating. But, of course, there are a lot of people out there that seem to have had their common sense surgically removed. It must have been removed, because even a fly seems to be born with more common sense than some of these people have. And then their particular brand of idiocy (due most likely to a combination of alcohol, drugs and incestuous conception) affects everyone around them. When people are idiots, everyone suffers.

I saw this on one of the motorcycle forums that I loiter about on regularly. I thought it was very funny:


The third line struck me as odd. Americans seem to have something of an aversion to self-protection, allowing anyone to ride without a helmet. But it’s interesting that under 18s are required to wear one by law. Why not everyone? Or are they suggesting that the helmet must be under 18?

It is, of course, the last line that causes the real mirth. By law, handlebars must be below shoulder height. This is due to the propensity for those folks I mentioned before (the idiots, remember?) to ignore their own safety and that of all the people around them by turning their motorcycle into something less than safe. We call the type of handlebars these fools enjoy ‘apehangers’. Surely, I hear you cry, it’s not that bad? Surely these people are just engaging in some harmless self-expression and it really can’t make that much of an impact? How unsafe can it be that it needs an actual law passed about it?

Idiots, remember?


(Thanks to pete and cookeetree at netrider).

The good news is, more words for Scrabble

September 25, 2007

Reported in the Sydney Morning Herald today, the new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is doing away with hyphens. The dictionary claims that “People are not confident about using hyphens any more”. As if that’s a reason to do away with them. It’s all a bit 1984 double plus bad if you ask me. And the Sydney Morning Herald went so far as to write that quote thusly: “People are not confident about using hyphens anymore”. Look at the last word. It’s an outrage.

The dictionary apparently blames electronic communication and its penchant for speed over grammatical correctness. So apparently the dictionary is going to lie down and take it from the speed freaks that can’t be bothered to write correctly. They might just as well release a dictionary with a single page that says, “What do we care? Spell it how you like” and be done with it.

Angus Stevenson, editor of the new edition of the Shorter OED, claims that, “We are not saying it should be dropped completely.” Why take it out then? He claims to be simply “reflecting widespread everyday use”. There are two words in the middle of that sentence that may or may not require a hyphen. No point in checking for them in the Shorter OED though.

On the upside, hyphenated words aren’t allowed in the greatest of all games, Scrabble. At least now, armed with a copy of the Shorter OED, you can score with all new words. For example, you can now use pigeonhole, leapfrog, chickpea, lowlife or touchline.

The Altar of the Hopeless Wordist
J W Spears & Sons, hallowed be thy name.
Toymaker Mattel is thy parent company, etc.

But don’t get carried away. A lot of the hyphenated words have simply had the hyphen removed and are now two words. Things like fig leaf, hobby horse, test tube and water bed. I wonder what completely arbitrary system was used to decide which words to contract and which to separate. Ah well, language evolves around us once again.

Digital smilie hits the quarter century

September 25, 2007

We often consider net speak and associated abbreviations found in text messaging and the like to be relatively recent phenomena. But it is worth remembering that computers have been used to communicate since long before Al Gore invented the internet in 1995. Or was it Dan Quayle in 1943? I forget. Anyway, emoticons are pretty popular now, all thanks to the original smilie, which is now twenty five years old.

It was first suggested on September 19th, 1982, by one Scott E Fahlman. At least, that’s the currently accepted first usage and has yet to be successfully challenged. You can read all about it by clicking the smilie at the end of this post.

My personal favourite emoticon is the Heavy Metal Fan, raising devil horns with both hands. And it doesn’t even need to be read sideways to make sense. Here he is: \m/><\m/

But these things do tend to have a way of taking on a life of their own. Read about Fahlman's first smilie here:


Is your car named after an internal organ?

September 24, 2007

People do have a habit of personifying things. Since the old days of the Navy, we’ve always referred to our vehicles by name and gender. Ships were always female and to this day a lot of cars and bikes are similarly considered female. A lot of motorcyclists will refer to their bike as a lady, a lot of their wives will refer to it as a mistress. As one droll wit put it not long ago, “Of course bikes are girls. Mine is beautiful, but it regularly refuses to do what I ask of it and always costs me money. How much more female could it be?”

He has a point.

A lot of girl bikers will refer to their bikes as male. I think it boils down to what you feel comfortable riding. A lot of guys wouldn’t want another guy between their legs. A lot of girls would. Some people take things even further. One rider referred to design of bikes as integral to their gender.


Internal organs = girl bike.


External organs = boy bike.

I think that’s going a bit far personally, but each to their own.

I’m sure car drivers are equally divided on whether their car is a sultry lady or a muscular best mate. Comfortable in my sexuality I was happy to ride a bike named Albert for the last several years, though he was named by the previous owner. My new bike has yet to really establish a gender or name.

I’m not really sure why the urge exists to name our vehicles and many people are simply of the opinion that it’s nothing more than a collection of metal and various other materials and is simply an “it”. Now, all that said, I saw something today that totally confused me. Here in Australia we call pick up trucks Utes. That’s short for Utility Vehicle. However, even with that in mind I couldn’t quite fathom the thinking behind this guy when I pulled up behind him at the lights today:



Satan was a lesbian

September 23, 2007

Yes, folks. It’s true. Fred Haley says so.

Every once in a while you come across something truly bizarre that simply stops you in your tracks. With the internet a regular part of daily life, these track-stopping discoveries are more common than ever before. It happened today. I was minding my own business, searching for images of Satan (it’s a long story and not worth recounting) when I came across this:

Satan Was A Lesbian by Fred Haley

This was a book written in 1966 with the cover art by one Doug Weaver. It’s a title in a range of “Sleaze Sex Paperbacks” that were apparently quite popular at the time. Proof that there’s a market for pretty much anything. Interestingly, Fred Haley’s title implies one of two things; Satan was a lesbian, therefore a gay woman, so she must now have gone straight or become a man. A third option is that Satan was indeed a female and a lesbian, but no longer exists, hence she was a lesbian. I certainly hope Haley addresses these issues in the book or there’s going to be a lot of people out there desperate for closure.

A lot of the sleaze paperbacks featured or centred around lesbians and a lot of them had Satan somehow involved, at least in the title. There were, however, a number of others, focusing on various aspects of sleaze sex. For example:


Sex, Pot & Acid by George Bailey. What more could you ask for? According to the blurb just under the title, the book addresses some very deep issues:

LSD and marijuana: are their powers over our youth really meant for mind awakenings or for sex cravings?

He makes the two things sound mutually exclusive.

Another one that caught my eye was the very futuristic:


Plug-In Passion by John Dexter. Other than the rather quaint notion of the concept, I love how this one has “A Leisure Book” noted at the bottom of the cover. I suppose that’s to make sure people realise that it’s not a text book or some kind of work book for school.

Then I discovered this one:


The Man In The Box by Corley Dale. Yes, she’s unzipping the fly of a corpse. Perhaps this stuff is all best left back in the sixties where it belongs.

(Images from

Sustainable investing could be a massacre

September 19, 2007

I went along to this seminar yesterday, all about sustainable investing. It’s a long, boring story that explains how I got there, but suffice to say that my wife and I were invited along and we didn’t have to pay for it. If we did have to pay, we wouldn’t have gone; these things cost a fortune.

Anyway, we went along and it was a talk all about a new company that is setting up an investment platform that takes into account the sustainability of the businesses being invested in. All very noble stuff. It’s a company set up by Al Gore and his partner (Gore was the keynote speaker last night.)

Here’s the front of the invite:


Look closely at the names on the front.

Sustainable Investing, featuring Blood and Gore.

If you wrote that in fiction people would claim that it was too unbelievable. Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

Author Robert Jordan dies

September 17, 2007

By BRUCE SMITH, Associated Press Writer
Mon Sep 17

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Author Robert Jordan, whose “Wheel of Time” series of fantasy novels sold millions of copies, died Sunday of a rare blood disease. He was 58.

Jordan, whose real name was James Oliver Rigney Jr., was born and lived in this southern city most of his life. He died at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston of complications from primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, his personal assistant, Maria Simons, said Monday. The blood disease caused the walls of Rigney’s heart to thicken.

Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan (pic from

I’ve never been a massive fan of Robert Jordan, but this is very sad news indeed. That’s far too young for any one to die. Especially when they were working on the twelfth and final book in a series of bestsellers. There are going to be a lot of people out there thinking about all the time they invested in those stories, desperate for a promised end one day, in a state of confused emotions. On the one hand, they’re going to be very sad that Jordan has died. On the other hand, they’re going to be hating him for going before he finished his work.


Jordan was in the process of writing the twelfth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, A Memory of Light, but the book was not slated for release until 2009 and is still incomplete. While there is hope that the book will still be finished from Jordan’s notes, this is devastating news to all of us who have been reading the series since 1990.

All we can do is hope that his notes are clear and someone does take up the challenge. For now, however, it’s enough to know that Jordan did what few fantasists did and burned up the bestseller lists on a regular basis. I never got past book 4 of The Wheel of Time, but I’m obviously the weird one. So many people were deeply touched by his work and he’ll be sadly missed.

The Eye Of The World

In an interview with The Associated Press in 2003, Jordan discussed having a best seller.

[The first time it happens] you go out in the middle of the floor and you do a little dance. Then you go someplace booze is being served and buy a drink for everybody in the house.

You have to have talent to some extent — I certainly hope I have talent — but you have to have luck as well. Once you get that first shot, that will get you noticed for the rest of your books and that will give the rest of your books a better chance.

Encouraging words for all writers there.

Vale, Robert Jordan.

Quote of the Day widget

September 16, 2007

I’ve added a little widget to the right hand sidebar. It’s a random Quote of the Day generator from The Free Dictionary website. I can’t quite configure the size exactly at the moment, but I’ll fix that sometime soon.

I have no idea what sort of quotes it will spit out, but decided that I might as well give it a trial run for a little while and see what happens. So have a look whenever you stop by and perhaps the words of various other people might inspire you or give you pause for thought every now and then.

Short story to be published at The Harrow

September 13, 2007

If you remember a few days ago I made a post about writers submitting their work to fiction publications in the form of short stories to help to get themselves noticed. This is the original post I’m talking about.

Well, what do you know. One of those fine publications has just accepted one of my short stories for their December 2007 edition. It’s an online magazine called the The Harrow. They bill themselves as The Harrow: Original Works of Fantasy and Horror. They publish some great stuff and I’ve sent them submissions before that haven’t been accepted. However, in a perfect example of how determination and hard work can get you published, they have now accepted a submission of mine. I’ve just signed the contract for it today.

It’s a short story called The Night Bus. It was actually written when someone made a very casual passing remark that ignited a little bit of inspiration in my fevered brain. Someone, in conversation, simply said, “Man, I hate being alone on a bus!” The story grew from that.

I’ll give you a reminder when the story comes out and you can go and have a read. I’d certainly be interested in your feedback (comments or email) as it’s always interesting to know what people think of my work. In the meantime, you can have a look at the other things already published over at The Harrow; there’s a link in the Fantastic Fiction box on the left.

Australian citizenship test

September 11, 2007

In the same way that words fascinate me, language itself is a constant wonder to me. I love the fact that people around the world communicate in such a variety of ways. I think learning another language is something that everyone should do to help them understand language in general and to give them an appreciation of what other people go through when they have to use a second language. It’s also bloody useful, not to mention polite, to know at least a little of the language spoken in any given country that you may visit.

I speak a few languages, all of them really quite badly. Really, I’m not just being humble. I’m not fluent in any of them, except perhaps English. And even that’s debatable. I’m currently trying to improve my Polish (which is my wife’s native tongue) and my Cantonese (which is my Kung Fu teacher’s native tongue). Both are really hard languages to learn, but in a self-flagellating sort of way I enjoy the challenge.

However, even supposed English speakers can have trouble understanding each other due to the massive variety of dialects and slang out there. Language is an almost organic, evolving thing and it’s fascinating to study the development in your own language, let alone start learning a new one.

I was born and grew up in England but now live in Australia. I have done for over a decade, yet I’m still caught out on occasion by an Australian-ism that I don’t understand. And sometimes I say things that turn out to be very English and Australians don’t understand. I’m used to a certain look, as if I’ve suddenly grown another head, that indicates that an English colloquialism has escaped in Sydney.

With that in mind, see how much of the following test you can fathom. This is the new Australian Citizen Test, developed to stop immigrants from corrupting our cultural identity. No, it really is.

Australian Citizen Test


1. Do you understand the meaning, but are unable to explain the origin of, the term “died in the arse”?

2. What is a mole?

3. Are these terms related: chuck a sickie; chuck a spaz; chuck a U-ey?

4. Explain the following passage: “In the arvo last Chrissy the relos rocked up for a barbie, some bevvies and a few snags. After a bit of a Bex and a lie down we opened the pressies, scoffed all the chockies, bickies and lollies. Then we drained a few tinnies and Mum did her block after Dad and Steve had a barney and a bit of biffo.”


1. Macca, Chooka and Wanger are driving to Surfers in their Torana. If they are travelling at 100 km/h while listening to Barnsey, Farnsey and Acca Dacca, how many slabs will each person on average consume between flashing a brown eye and having a slash?

2. Complete the following sentences:

a) “If the van’s rockin’ don’t bother …

b) You’re going home in the back of a ….

c) Fair suck of the ..

3. I’ve had a gutful and I can’t be fagged. Discuss.

4. Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of a wedgie?

5. Do you have a friend or relative who has a car in their front yard “up on blocks”? Is his name Keith and does he have a wife called Cheryl?


1. Does your family regularly eat a dish involving mincemeat, cabbage, curry powder and a packet of chicken noodle soup called either chow mein, chop suey or kai see ming?

2. What are the ingredients in a rissole?

3. Demonstrate the correct procedure for eating a Tim Tam.

4. Do you have an Aunty Myrna who is famous for her tuna mornay and other dishes involving a can of cream of celery soup?

5. In any two-hour period have you ever eaten three-bean salad, a chop and two serves of pav washed down with someone else’s beer that has been nicked from a bath full of ice?

6. When you go to a bring-your-own-meat barbie can you eat other people’s meat or are you only allowed to eat your own?

7. What purple root vegetable beginning with the letter “b” is required by law to be included in a hamburger with the lot?


1. Do you own or have you ever owned a lawn mower, a pair of thongs, an Esky or Ugg boots?

2. Is it possible to “prang a car” while doing “circle work”?

3. Who would you like to crack on to?

4. Who is the most Australian: Kevin “Bloody” Wilson, John “True Blue” Williamson, Kylie Minogue or Warnie?

5. Is there someone you are only mates with because they own a trailer or have a pool?

6. Would you love to have a beer with Duncan?

The people to be granted citizenship are the ones who call it a crock and cheat.


So, how did you do?


The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Zetetic.

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