Archive for May, 2008

Can anybody identify the music please?

It’s been driving me nuts since the beginning of the NRL season, so I’m hoping somebody here knows the answer.

2CC have been using the following as one of their program intros for the Continuous Call Team (their NRL coverage sourced from 2GB in Sydney) this year. It sounds like something which is commercially available rather than production music to my untrained ear, but it is a long way out of my usually preferred genres of music.
Download MP3

If anybody recognises the music, feel free to leave a comment below or email me. If necessary, as a token of my appreciation, I can reward the first person to identify it with something more interesting than a picture of Tim Campbell hosting Million Dollar Wheel Of Fortune (although to be fair, that could be just about everything on the face of the planet).


3 comments May 28th, 2008 at 08:24am

How can this possibly be illegal?

Apparently Japanese robots can have you arrested for calling them multiple times…

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese man was arrested for calling a food company’s toll-free number 500 times in 16 months because he wanted to hear the woman’s voice on the automated tape, police said on Monday.

The 38-year-old plumber, who was arrested on Sunday, made 3,100 hours worth of free calls to the company, costing it almost 4 million yen (19,500 pounds) in phone bills, a police spokesman in Takasaki, northwest of Tokyo, said.

“He gets excited by the woman’s voice on the guidance tape,” the spokesman said, adding that the voice sounded normal to the detective who was involved in the investigation.

Source: Reuters

So what is the crime here? A business has a “toll-free” telephone number which effectively means that the business pay for the calls they receive instead of the caller. This is a very common practice, in Australia it is generally used in the form of numbers with a “1800” prefix (usually no cost to the caller) or a “13” prefix (usually at a cost of 25 cents to the caller). These numbers are generally setup to provide some element of convenience to the caller such as an easier to remember number or reduced call cost in the case of a business which expects calls from outside their local area. The cost to the business operating the toll-free number varies depending on factors such as the length of the call and location of the caller.

Most of these numbers are answered by an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, probably best described as a robot which directs your call to a particular person or department depending on the button you press or its (often amusingly bad) understanding of your spoken instructions. The automated messages which you hear from these IVR systems are generally professionally recorded by a voice artist which usually means that the message is well-spoken and the voice is at least remotely appealing…after all, you don’t want potential customers to hang up simply because they can’t stand the voice answering the phone.

As far as I can tell, this man was not harassing any of the human staff, in fact I don’t think he ever spoke to them as he was only interested in listening to the voice on the IVR. This leaves me wondering what he could possibly have done that was illegal. Whilst there are laws against harassing people on the phone by calling them multiple times when they don’t want you to, an IVR not only isn’t human, it’s also not going to be annoyed if somebody wants to keep listening to it.

Perhaps it is illegal to call a toll-free number with the intention of costing the other party money if you have no intention of doing business with them. That would be a very difficult law to write as I’m sure most of us have called a bank or telephone company’s toll free number with the intention of challenging a fee or billing error, which if proven would be a call for the sole intention of costing the other party money, although I suppose it could be argued that discussing an “accounts matter” is “doing business”. In that case I’ll expand on my theory. If you were to call a company to cancel business relationship with them immediately and your account balance was zero, it could be argued that this was a call for the purpose of “cancelling business” rather than “doing business” and as the call cost the company an amount, and a reasonable person would know that the call would cost the business an amount, the call was made with the intention of costing the business some amount of money.

It would make for incredibly bad publicity for the company (eg. a headline of “Man jailed for closing account over the phone” with the company named in the article would not be a good look for the company), but the conviction would stand. I think we can probably rule that out as a law in any sane society.

So what’s left? A law against admiring voices? I’m quite partial to the voice on the IVR in my current workplace, a voice which also happens to be used by the ticket system in many St. George Bank branches. Would I be breaking the law if I sat in a St. George Bank branch all day listening to “Ticket B5 to counter seven”? I doubt it.

I just can’t imagine a plausible law against what this man is accused of doing. If he knew that it was costing the business money to place the calls then I believe that he was ethically in the wrong, but it’s not illegal to be ethically wrong. As far as I can see, the only thing which he could possibly face is a civil lawsuit from the company to reclaim the cost of the calls, in which they would need to prove that:
1. He made the calls for a purpose other than the purpose for which the toll-free number was setup, and
2. He knew that it would cost the company money

From a legal perspective, the whole case sounds very flimsy. I’m not a lawyer, but I think they (the business receiving the calls) would be much better off getting their toll-free number provider to block calls from this man, or just reaching an agreement with the man that they will provide him with a copy of the IVR recordings on the condition that he does not call them again. I’m sure that the man would be happy with a copy of the IVR recordings as they would be of a higher quality than what he hears on the phone, and may even include some recordings he might not normally hear on the main menu.

I just hope that the police didn’t spend much time on this investigation. It seems like an amazing waste of police time and taxpayers’ funds to me.


May 28th, 2008 at 01:04am

Samuel’s Musician Of The Week

This week’s award goes to Roy Orbison, and the feature song is “Pretty Woman”.

Pretty woman, walkin’ down the street
Pretty woman, the kind I like to meet
Pretty woman
I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
No one could look as good as you

Pretty woman, won’t you pardon me
Pretty woman, I couldn’t help but see
Pretty woman
And you look lovely as can be, are you lonely just like me?

Pretty woman, stop a while
Pretty woman, talk a while
Pretty woman, give your smile to me
Pretty woman, yeah, yeah, yeah
Pretty woman, look my way
Pretty woman, say you’ll stay with me

‘Cause I need you
I’ll treat you right
Come to me baby
Be mine tonight

Pretty woman, don’t walk on by
Pretty woman, don’t make me cry
Pretty woman, don’t walk away

If that’s the way it must be, ok
I guess I’ll go on home, it’s late
There’ll be tomorrow night
But wait, what do I see?

Is she walking back to me?
Yeah, she’s walking back to me
Pretty woman

3 comments May 25th, 2008 at 08:11pm

How Aldi Keep Their Prices Down

I just worked out how Aldi manage to keep their prices down. They get people off the street to write instructions on their products and then don’t pay them for it.

How else could they explain the instructions on a lasagne box saying to put the lasagne in a 1200 watt microwave for fifteen minutes. After 4 minutes and six seconds in an 1100 watt microwave it was overflowing; I can only imagine the melted plastic goop I would have been having to clean up if I had left it unattended for 15 minutes.

I’m not sure that the idea of putting the lasagne (in its plastic container) in a conventional oven for half an hour would have been much better.

Now, let’s hope that they actually paid the people that put the lasagne in the plastic container. If not, I will probably expire.


1 comment May 23rd, 2008 at 09:17pm

Birthday Notice

As many of you know (or can easily work out), it will be my birthday at some stage within the next four weeks. As this is the case, and most of the people I know happen to read this blog, I need to say this clearly now to avoid difficulties later on.

I would like to make it perfectly clear that I do not want to be involved in any celebration of my birthday this year, nor do I wish to hear about my birthday. If you want to celebrate it, go right ahead, but please do not involve me in it. I would just like to treat that day in the same way as any other ordinary day of the year. I hope you understand and are not put out by this.

For those of you who don’t know me personally and are wondering what has brought this on, it seems that none of my subtle attempts at getting this message across have worked properly, so I have written this in order to make my wishes perfectly clear, and to avoid people going to the effort of putting together a celebration that I really don’t want.


May 23rd, 2008 at 04:53am

Global Warming Side-Effect Of The Day: Changes to the duration of each day

Seeing as it’s Friday, I think you deserve two side-effects of global warming today:

1. Longer days:

Belgian scientists have identified a hitherto unsuspected benefit of global warming – more time for all of us.

They say increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will slow the Earth’s rotation.

This will make every day a little longer than it is already.
They found that each day would lengthen because of angular momentum changes, including variations in surface pressure over land masses, average surface pressure over the ocean, and zonal winds and currents.
the effect would be measurable, with a probable increase of 11 microseconds per decade during this century.

The Belgian’s have also expanded on ACTION mathematics to the point where zero is replaced with a random positive number:

“It means 24 hours won’t be 24 hours any more. It will be something a little bit more.”

2. Days will be shorter:

Of all the possible ways in which climate change could affect our planet, this is the most bizarre: as the oceans warm up, Earth will start rotating a wee bit faster, reducing the length of a day.

The time it takes for Earth to complete one rotation is affected by anything that changes the distribution of the planet’s mass relative to its axis of rotation.

“Think of an ice skater who is spinning,” says Felix Landerer of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. “When you stretch your arms out you slow down, and when you bring your arms closer to your body you spin faster.” Earth, it seems, will hug itself a little bit tighter because of global warming.

Perhaps, if the Earth hugs itself and becomes more windy, the days won’t change at all.


May 23rd, 2008 at 03:25am

Ten HD

Would Channel Ten like to explain why promos for non-high definition programs carry a “Ten HD” logo? It was most annoying to see both Law And Order SVU and Medium advertised as high definition programs, only to find the high definition demonstration program in their place on Ten’s HD channel.

I have no problem watching the shows in standard definition, but it’s a good thing I haven’t been able to get to sleep yet or I would have relied on the advertising and setup a recording of the HD channel for those two programs, and then been incensed to find that I’d recorded two hours of unexciting scenery and music instead.


May 22nd, 2008 at 10:35pm

Global Warming Side-Effect Of The Day: Planetary Explosion

On the bright side, once the planet explodes, it will stop warming.

Can Earth explode as a result of Global Warming?
Dr Tom J. Chalko 1 , MSc, PhD
Submitted on 8 April 2001, revised 30 October 2004.
Abstract: The heat generated inside our planet is predominantly of radionic (nuclear) origin. Hence, Earth in its entirety can be considered a slow nuclear reactor with its solid ”inner core” providing a major contribution to the total energy output. Since radionic heat is generated in the entire volume and cooling can only occur at the surface, the highest temperature inside Earth occurs at the center of the inner core. Overheating the center of the inner core reactor due to the so-called greenhouse effect on the surface of Earth may cause a meltdown condition, an enrichment of nuclear fuel and a gigantic atomic explosion.

There are seven pages filled with the gory details of the demise of our fair planet, but the basic summary is that if the melting of the polar caps doesn’t provide enough of a “heatsink” for the planet, there will be an increase in volcanic activity, followed by a nice large planet-destroying nuclear explosion. Of course, the doctor takes so much longer to say that. It makes for some fun reading if you’ve got some spare time.


May 22nd, 2008 at 03:14am

Global Warming Side-Effect Of The Day: Acne

Yes that’s right, apparently global warming is responsible for acne.

Human body maintains a temperature of around 98.2 degrees F, it is the ideal temperature for your body. Slight fluctuation in the scale of temperature may occur temporarily during exercise and other activities. Your body works efficiently at 98.2 degrees F. Sebaceous glands and sweat glands are heat sensitive and rapidly produce their secretions. Thus, persistent rise in temperature results in increased activity of sebaceous glands and overproduction of sebum. Overproduction of sebum mixes with dead skin cells and clogs the hair follicles and acne breakouts occurs.

Average temperature has considerably risen since 1940 affecting hundreds of biological and ecological system. The persistent rise in temperature greatly influences on your skin and its disorders.
Various skin disorders such as acne, scars are the result of global warming and climate change.

It’s so laughable that it’s hard to tell whether or not the author is making it up.


May 21st, 2008 at 03:35am

Acid rain is the new cure for global warming

Professor Tim Flannery has some bright ideas to prevent global warming:

SCIENTIST Tim Flannery has proposed a radical solution to climate change which may change the colour of the sky.
Professor Flannery says climate change is happening so quickly that mankind may need to pump sulphur into the atmosphere to survive.
The gas sulphur could be inserted into the earth’s stratosphere to keep out the sun’s rays and slow global warming, a process called global dimming.

Well that’s all well and good except that, firstly, sulphur is generally not a gas, and secondly, when it is, it works wonders if you want acid rain. In a gaseous form you can have either sulphur dioxide or sulphur trioxide; the former is a primary cause of acid rain as sulphuric acid, the latter is mixed with water to produce sulphuric acid.

Unfortunately News Limited omitted the line of the AAP story explaining why Professor Flannery wants sulphur in the atmosphere, but The Age were kind enough to include it:

The gas sulphur could be inserted into the earth’s stratosphere to keep out the sun’s rays and slow global warming, a process called global dimming.

That’s odd, I thought it was only the “greenhouse gases are not the cause of global warming, it’s all the sun’s fault” crowd that wanted to blame the sun’s rays for changes in Earth’s climate. Thankfully the professor proves that he is not in my camp on that one:

Regardless of what happened to emissions in the future, there was already far too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, he said.
Cutting emissions was not enough. Mankind now had to take greenhouse gases out of the air.

OK, but how? I suppose more trees could help (unless you’re the confused scientist who kept telling 2CC’s Mike Jeffreys about the merits of de-forestation this morning…he didn’t realise he had the wrong term at any stage during the conversation) but if we need to actively remove it from the atmosphere, doesn’t that mean burning an awful lot of fuel to get extraction devices up there?

Personally, I’d much rather watch the temperature fall all by itself.

At the very least, kudos to the nutty professor for trying, and for giving me some extra entertainment.


May 20th, 2008 at 08:35pm

78 songs on the Musician(s) Of The Week waiting list

I thought it might interest you to learn that the list of songs on my Musicians Of The Week waiting list from which one song is randomly chosen per week, is now over 40 for the first time ever, mainly because I couldn’t sleep through a headache last night and added a bunch of songs to the list that I’ve been meaning to add for some time. The list currently contains 78 songs.

Also while not sleeping last night I completed a related project. It has been said to me on a number of occasions, mostly by people who aren’t familiar with the music I feature, that they have absolutely no idea what most of the songs sound like. Considering that almost all of the songs are on YouTube in one form or another, I have decided to add YouTube videos to the Musician(s) Of The Week posts where a reasonable video is available. Last night I went through the 150 or so posts and added videos to most of them.

I think this makes the Musician(s) Of The Week category pages much more interesting. Thank you to the people who pestered me and effectively gave me the idea.


1 comment May 19th, 2008 at 01:05pm

Samuel’s Musicians Of The Week

The musician(s) of the week award returns from a hiatus, and this week’s winner is U2, and the feature song is “New Year’s Day”.

It could just be my memory playing tricks on me here, but I’m almost certain that 2CC used the intro from this song as one of their music returns for a while.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day.
A world in white gets underway.
I want to be with you, be with you night and day.
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day.
On New Year’s Day.

I… will be with you again.
I… will be with you again.

Under a blood-red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspaper says, says
Say it’s true, it’s true…
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one.

I… I will begin again
I… I will begin again.


Oh, oh. Oh, oh. Oh, oh.
Oh, oh. Oh, oh. Oh, oh.
Oh, maybe the time is right.
Oh, maybe tonight.

I will be with you again.
I will be with you again.

And so we are told this is the golden age
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage
Though I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes
On New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day

May 18th, 2008 at 10:00pm

Memorandum addressed to Nattie

It, defined as dog, sleeping across the legs of one, is something up with which one will not put.


May 18th, 2008 at 01:21pm

By way of an update

I suppose that, by now, I probably owe you all an update. The short version is that thanks to the encouragement of all of you and a few other people, I visited my GP on Monday the 5th of May and was prescribed an anti-depressant called Lexapro, less commonly known as escitalopram, which is one of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class of anti-depressants.

The good news is that, for the most part, it works. My rate of suicidal ideation has reduced significantly, and I’m generally feeling better. The side-effects are annoying but they seem to be wearing off. The dizziness, nausea and having no appetite are mostly gone, and the jury is still out on whether my intermittently persistent migraines are being compounded by the drug. The persistent tiredness is probably the most annoying side-effect and isn’t showing any real signs of abating, although the extremely vivid and strange dreams are proving to be most amusing, and I’ll share some of them with you during the week.

Over the second half of last week, from the day-and-a-half of migraine onwards, I partially accidentally and partially purposefully went off my medication. The migraine, and my own stupidity on Thursday, contributed to my depression and I started to doubt the effectiveness of the drug as the side-effects started to wear off. The last few days proved to me, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the drug works, and that I had more symptoms than I previously recognised, but it did present me with an ethical dilemma which I haven’t really had the opportunity to test until now.

The fact of the matter is that I am dependant on this drug for my own sense of well-being and for my mental stability (both in terms of preventing depressive episodes and paranoid utter-nuttery episodes, something which brought me close to writing a blog post which could have ruined a number of professional relationships along with the next two months of my life). I’m not dependant on the drug in the sense where I crave it, but it does in some ways present me with a “high”, insofar as I don’t feel like topping myself or doing something equally stupid, it’s not a high in the traditional usage of the word in relation to a drug, but a sort of stability. This is my ethical dilemma. I am dependent on this drug for this; if I stop taking it, I go “nuts” (for lack of a better word), and even though it is a prescribed, legal drug, the fact that I am generally opposed to drugs of dependence, especially psychotropic drugs of which escitalopram is one.

If one wanted, one could draw a comparison between my stance on this, and my constant ingestation of caffeine, and one probably should draw this comparison now before somebody else does it. The difference between my use of caffeine and my use of escitalopram is that I am not addicted to caffeine; I can go for days without it and not suffer, it also has no impact on my state of alertness or awakeness. Escitalopram on the other hand has a measurable impact when taken, and when not taken, and this is my problem.

For ethical reasons I do not want to be dependent on this drug, however without it I might as well not be here because I’m only going to harm myself and others. I am forced to wonder whether or not I really am “me” when I am taking this drug if it is affecting my perception, mood and consciousness. If I am going to be dependent on this drug for the remainder of eternity in order to function properly, and I strongly doubt that it is truly “me” in this body in this state, then I have to wonder why I would bother continuing like this. With it or without it, I’m stuck in a difficult ethical dilemma…to be dependent on a drug, or to allow a monster to be loose in public.

I suppose on the former ethical dilemma, the following bit of information about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is encouraging:

SSRIs inhibit the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) into the presynaptic cell, increasing levels of 5-HT within the synaptic cleft.

But there is one counteracting effect: high serotonin levels will not only activate the postsynaptic receptors, but also flood presynaptic autoreceptors, that serve as a feedback sensor for the cell. Activation of the autoreceptors (by agonists like serotonin) triggers a throttling of serotonin production. The resulting serotonin deficiency persists for some time, as the transporter inhibition occurs downstream to the cause of the deficiency, and is therefore not able to counterbalance it. The body adapts gradually to this situation by lowering (downregulating) the sensitivity of the autoreceptors.

Of greater importance is another adaptive process: the downregulation of postsynaptic serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. After the use of an SSRI, since there is more serotonin available, the response is to lower (to normal levels or less) the number of postsynaptic receptors over time, and in the long run, this modifies the serotonin/receptor ratio. Since a larger percentage of available receptors become activated by serotonin, transmission is enhanced or restored.

These (slowly proceeding) neurophysiological adaptions of the brain tissue are the reason why usually several weeks of continuous SSRI use are necessary for the antidepressant effect to become fully manifested, and why increased anxiety is a common side effect in the first few days or weeks of use.

Whilst I’m certain that the quoted text could be interpreted in about a dozen different ways, to my way of reading it, after a period of time on the drug, a brain will have adapted enough to function normally without the drug. This gives me some hope that I will not be dependent on the drug for eternity, and is something I will need to discuss with my GP when I see him again in two weeks as per his request.


P.S. Sorry, on reflection, that was not a short version of the story at all.

2 comments May 18th, 2008 at 01:13pm

The Federal Budget with John Stanley and Stuart Bocking

In case any of you are wondering where I will be turning for coverage of Wayne Swan’s first federal budget tonight, it will be John Stanley and Stuart Bocking on 2CC (relayed from 2UE). 2CC have been claiming that the coverage starts at 7pm although the Fairfax Syndication schedule indicates that it starts at 7:30pm and runs until 9pm.

It will be good to once again hear John Stanley’s analysis of news and current affairs on 2CC. It will also be very interesting to see how good or bad Wayne Swan’s budget is.


2 comments May 13th, 2008 at 05:13pm

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