Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Physical effects manifesting in dreams

I had a most terrible nightmare last night, and it got me thinking about how dreams have physical effects on our bodies, or vice versa. To start with, here is the dream:

I was in a gym, working out. I was terribly, terrible thirsty throughout. When I finished working out, I went over to the water fountain and drank as much as I could of the cold, delicious water. I then made my way out of the gym into the mall section of the building (naturally) to a restaurant and ordered a coke and a bottle of water, both of which I drank. I was still terribly, terribly thirsty. I then met up with some friends who wanted to go and get some food at another restaurant. I followed, and ordered a bottle of water and an orange juice from this restaurant too, and all the while (after drinking the drinks as well) I was parched, thirstier than I'd ever been in my life.

When I woke up, I was, you guessed it, incredibly thirsty. That's nothing new or exciting really, it's often that physical things happening to your sleeping body manifest themselves in your dreams. One thing I wondered, though, was how something like death would affect our dreams, if we were, for instance, dying in our sleep.

I'd be interested to find out if someone who is dying in their sleep still dreams. What would the dream be like? Would it be a light at the end of the tunnel kind of dream? Would it be the kind of dream where you're battling demons and one swipes his great big clawed fist at your head and actually connects, and you die both physically and in your dream? Or would there be some kind of dreamly visitation by your chosen religious angel of death? Interesting. I smell a story coming here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Julius Malema

Julius Malema has short man, short dick syndrome. A hell of an opener, yes, but I write in reference to this article: ANCYL slams Nando's Ad. To think that the ruling party's youth league has threatened to take "militant action against Nando's and anything associated with Nando's" over an advert is ridiculous. Where did free speech go? Where did our sense of humour go? Who gave Julius Malema the right to mobilize the public army to battle against a food change that the entire country frequents? Because they said something he doesn't like? What hogwash!

Malema is an idiot. A fool. He is a loud mouth, a dog with a loud, annoyingly high pitched bark, and no bite. He is one of those men that would favour the line "do you want to take this outside, bru?" And would potentially follow it up with "you're a bit of a chop, hey. Bru." I can handle the stupid machine gun song. I can even take the dancing. Hell, the corruption is a given in government, so I can probably live with that (though obviously my vote is directed at opposing it), but I cannot handle arrogance and stupidity mixed with support based on blind faith.

The truth facing South Africans right now is that we are being led by a bunch of moronic, money hungry struggle heroes who favour power and status over their service to the country. They want to earn as much as possible for doing as little as possible, and the only exception to the rule is Trevor Manuel, as far as I'm concerned. And still, two thirds of our country will vote for a party not because of the party's values or policies, but because of a corrupt, HIV infected rapist, that has no schooling higher than a standard seven, that uses a 30 year old child to serve fevered and religious support to his giant, struggle hero ego.

I would like to see Julius Malema face to face. I would take the chance of possibly facing his bodyguards and some prison time, for the chance of publicly breaking his over-exercised, yapping jaw. What a fucking idiot.

Football Update

We lost 6-2, in a game largely involving violence, bad reffing, and short man syndrome. Enough said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Football Positioning

For the last few weeks, my fellow blogger Thewster has been moaning about my inability to pass the ball to him in our indoor football team. This post is dedicated entirely to him, to both annoy and amuse him, and perhaps, enlighten him. So, Matthew, pay close attention!

Let me first state, that in order to preserve our fragile team morale, I shall endeavor to pass the ball to Matthew in our match tonight, with much higher frequency, in order to prove him right and myself wrong. This stems also from my recent inability to kick the ball further than I can throw Stephen Hawking, and hence my inability to score more than one or two goals per game (a sad statistic for me). Our team has been shy of goals in seasons past, and so I am going to pass to Matthew as often as possible, to push this burden onto him and away from me and my now frail and feeble kicking leg (which has 1 week left in which to redeem itself before I hack it off and hang up my footballing boots for life).

Now, Matthew's reasoning for why it is evident I am wrong in not passing the ball to him is this: when Brian plays, Matthew scores. This is because Brian passes the ball to him. When Brian does not play, Matthew does not score. This is because I do not pass to anyone. Ever.

It is possible he thinks part of the reason for my stinginess on the ball relates to my judgment of him as footballer - I don't pass to him because I don't think he can score, and so I take it on myself. This is not true. I usually don't pass because he is in a position not better than myself, or in a position where we could potentially lose the ball, and so I go for goal (my natural thinking is that if a striker is within striking range of the goal, he should shoot, because that is what he does). I have compiled a diagram, so that one can further understand the concept:

A quick legend - blue dots are defenders, the yellow dot is the keeper, the red dot open on the left is Matthew screaming for the ball, and the red dot with the green dot (ball) is me stingily hogging the ball. Point to note - I'm not sure where the 2 blue dots usually are, but they're roughly there, with the middle blue dot watching Matthew (though not very closely) and the blue dot on the right marking or attempting to tackle me. Now, in this situation, usually I will run along the wing and try shoot and score. Brian will dummy and try pass to Matthew.

There are several outcomes here, as far as I can tell. The obvious one, is that I will dribble and shoot and (due to my recent uselessness) not score. We will then all trudge back and start over. Another outcome, is that Brian (not me, never) will dummy over the ball, pull back and pass to Matthew, who will control the ball and smash it into the back of the net with his left foot. His left foot is more reliable. Another outcome, is that I will do the dummy, and pass the ball to Matthew, only to watch him lose control or the middle blue dot intercept, and have 3 defenders turned strikers rushing past me in the direction of the goal, with myself and Matthew watching Warrick try in vain to stop 2 or 3 defenders while we rush back trying to help.

There are various other outcomes, obviously, but I think these are the most important, because here is where the running and positioning of a player is important. Firstly, unless a player is free of a marker and in a position in which he is virtually guaranteed to get the ball if passed to (i.e. no interceptions), he cannot be static. He needs to be moving to an open space, for one of two reasons:
  • to evade defenders and collect the ball in space.
  • to draw defenders away from a space that can be occupied either by a running teammate or by the man with the ball.
Secondly, because the player with the ball is running, and has his head in a downward position, and was disallowed a spot in the Air Force to be a fighter pilot due to Mild Bilateral Hearing Loss, the open man who is now no longer static, or has moved into a better spot (not standing forlornly near the edge of the keeper's area) has to be screaming like a slut in a gang bang (apologies, this is football, and we are vulgar creatures) in order for the player with the ball to hear them, not muttering under their breath about how they wish Brian was playing.

I think it also bears mentioning that in the same way that myself and Matthew are completely different players (he passes the ball, I don't), myself and Brian are completely different players. This may not seem obvious at first glance, but I assure you it is true. A quick description of the playing styles of myself, Matthew and Brian:

Brian - a midfielder / striker who can dribble and pass well, and score goals. His dribbling style involves tricks and feinting in order to send the player the wrong way.
Matthew - a defender type player who occasionally pops one in the back of the net when going forward (if Brian is playing).
Myself - I'm not entirely sure, but I probably defend better than I attack, and I like shooting from all ranges and angles. I don't dribble particularly well, but I can pass a ball. My dribbling style involves running at pace and changing direction or feinting once before shooting.

The purpose of that, naturally, is to highlight the ability of Brian to dummy and send a player the wrong way in order to drag the ball back and pass, whereas my ability there is not great - I would much rather get the ball at pace and be running at players, as opposed to get the ball and be required to swivel my fancy feet around and create a space out of nothing.

That is part of the reason why it makes Brian more able to pass to Matthew - Matthew is static, and so when Brian dummies, the defender moves out of the way and Brian can pass the ball. When I dummy, the defender looks at me like I'm stupid, so I turn the other way and run fast and shoot and try score.

Having said all of the above, however, I am open to criticism of my play, so tonight I am going to attempt to develop my "sharing" ability and pass the ball more often. I shall also take it upon myself to crap Matthew out when I think he is in an un-passable position, so perhaps his fallout with that action shall create material for a blog post next tomorrow.

All in all, let's hope that we can sort out our issues, and score some goals!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Banshee Hunter

It's been ages since I posted some actual writing up on my blog, and I figured I better sprout something forth in case I'm accosted and need to change my blog to "The ramblings, and not writings, of Brett James Irvine" or something. So here goes.


The wind howled through the reeds at the water's edge and into the clearing where Kinvara stood waiting. The moonlight limbed the silver bowl of river water in which she stood, the tiny ripples throwing shadows and spiders of light onto her skin. When the hour was right, she removed her cloak and brought her silver dagger to the smooth skin at her wrist. She did not flinch when the banshee screamed, and waited until the creature floated into view before plunging the blade into her arm.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What will you do when the zombies come? They'll be here soon.

So, courtesy of a plinky prompt, this week's topic (as is the title of this post) will be:

What will you do when the zombies come? They'll be here soon. What do we do?

Ok, so firstly, we need to think about what we know about zombies. Here is my (not exhausted) list:
  • they are the undead.
  • they want to eat your brains.
  • once they eat your brains, you will become a zombie.
  • they can only be killed by a bullet to the head, or by decapitation.
  • if you chop off an arm, that arm will still come crawling (Crawling? It's an arm!) after you.
  • whilst limber in life, zombies are strangely slow and dawdling in undeath.
  • they communicate via a strange noise, made by opening one's mouth slightly, and going "uuuuuuuaaaaaagghhhh".
  • they only want to eat living brains.
  • when deprived of living brains, they will mill about pointlessly, arms extended, making their zombie-noise.
  • for no apparent reason, they are scarier at night.
  • zombies are not intelligent.
  • it is likely that when the zombocalypse happens, nothing will be able to prevent it (mainly because it will start in a government facility, and so the people most equipped to deal with it will be the first zombies).
  • most zombies are American in origin.
  • zombies cannot swim.
So, there is the list. Now, having said that, we will need to establish a likely timeframe within which the zombocalypse shall occur. I'm going to be bold, and name the date. December 12, 2012, falls on a Wednesday, and so for no reason related at all to the Mayans and their ancient zombie mathematics, we'll assume that the zombocalypse is going to start on a Wednesday.

Next, we will need to establish from where the zombies will originate. I'm going to take three wild guesses, and say that the first zombies will originate from:
  • Area 51, New Mexico, The United States of America
  • Large Hadron Collider, CERN, Geneva
  • Salem's Lot, Maine, The United States of America
This means that it will take several weeks, perhaps months, for the zombies to mill about aimlessly in the direction of Cape Town. I'm going to hazard a guess, as well, that whilst zombies will once have been the pre-eminent minds in international military science, once they reach a state of undeath, they will have lost most of their knack for technical things, such as sailing boats, driving cars and flying planes. Perhaps they might retain their knowledge of riding bicycles though - you know the old saying after all - but I think it's likely that between Geneva and Cape Town, our zombie friends will encounter at least one puncture. And, you don't need me to tell you, there is no saying that goes "It's like fixing the puncture in a bicycle tire...".

So, having said that, I would say the only way for zombies to reach our Mother City, would be via an incredibly long, puncture free, bicycle trip through Africa. This presents an interesting question, one I have not thought of before: if you eat a zombie's brain, do you become a zombie? Because, dear readers, as you know, Africa is filled with starving people. My guess is that if hundreds of slow, dimwitted zombies were to start pouring into Africa, demanding brains with their strange zombie-noise, the starving Africans would realize that it's a case of eat or be eaten. This can lead to one of two situations: either the zombocalypse is ended in an African feast, or it's continued in an African feast.

Either way, I think it's safe to say that once this happens, it would be a good bet to leave the continent - we'll either be dealing with millions of brain-hungry zombies, or millions of brain-hungry cannibals who have tasted (once) human flesh, and now want more. It's natural to think twice, of course, but I know for sure that the cannibals want to eat me just as much as the zombies want my brain. I work in the city, and everyone knows that the 14th floor of a building full of people in a city centre is a well loved hangout for zombies and cannibals alike. I'm leaving!

And so - where do we go? Why, an island of course! Madagascar is the perfect place for living Capetonians. It's surrounded by the sea (I'm sure you've noticed) and so bicycle riding zombies and cannibals can't get to us (brain-hungry Africans are surely as technologically deprived as zombies?) there. We'd live a perfect existence, perhaps even better than the materialistic one we are currently faced with!

So, I daresay the unsayable. I am looking forward to the zombocalypse! The zombies are coming, and we'll live in harmony surfing and growing mealies! Bring on 2012, I say! Bring it on!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The End of Mr. Y Book Review

Well, I did say I would post a review, so here it is. It's not much different from my first impressions, but I continue nonetheless. I've left it a couple days as well, so the book isn't burning bright in my mind as I write this, but rather I'm left with an overall sensation of the read, rather than the finer details.

So, our protagonist, Ariel Manto, is a self-destructive, promiscuous woman with no ties in the world, few friends, and the only possessions that matter to her are her books. She writes a column for a magazine, which leads her to thoroughly researching topics that take her interest, topics that happen to dabble in philosophy and quantum physics. Rather than having studied such topics at a university, she instead reads books on the subjects. Her particular flavour is the "thought experiment", and the author labours on extensively about the subject through much of the book.

Anyways, the story starts with her coming across an incredibly rare, cursed book called The End of Mr. Y. She buys it, and reads it (naturally). The author, a certain Thomas Lumas, is a nut, and was also fascinated by thought experiments in the early 1900s. The book, our Ariel theorizes, is not a fictional story, but in fact an account of a thought experiment actually carried out by Lumas. The book tells a story of a man who finds a concoction allowing him to travel to the "troposphere", which is a place that allows you to enter people's minds. Much of the book is dedicated to his search for the recipe for the concoction, which he obtains eventually.

The page with the recipe on is torn from the book. After some searching and further plot development, Ariel finds the removed page and the recipe. And so, because said book is a thought experiment rather than a fictional story, she brews the concoction and tries it herself. Of course, it works, and our Ariel is suddenly able to live in the minds of others through this "troposphere".

The story follows her journey through the troposphere, and her attempts to understand it. We accompany her on this journey, meeting strange characters both in and out of the troposphere, and the plot includes secret agents, Gods, time travel, and churches. It is a fascinating story, and the beginning part is so well written, that it hooks you in completely and I found myself wondering if, like the book in the book, this book is more than just a fictional tale, and whether I should attempt to brew the concoction myself, too, just to be sure (I haven't yet, if you're wondering).

I read the book in 2 or 3 days, which, considering that I work full time, is a considerable measure of its magnetism when it is lying in wait for me to plunder through the story. It meanders somewhat at parts, leaving me feeling like the author had nowhere else to plonk her ideas on subjects like metaphysics, language, quantum physics and philosophy, but it did sort of fit into the story, and certainly was a welcome explanation for why holy water has such exciting side effects.

I did find some of the characteristics of the troposphere a bit strange, and seemingly non-fitting (the computer-like console, for instance) in the grander scheme of things, but these oddities are easily explained by the "metaphor" bit of the troposphere's building blocks. I also gave the author her due in that this is her story, not mine, and so her imaginary world can work in whatever way she chooses it too.

The story's ending is also somewhat different to the way the story started out, and in hindsight I felt like perhaps the author was dying to get it finished, and so wrote quicker and quicker and eventually cut short the ending to meet a deadline. Having said that, however, the ending fits and does provide a small measure of a satisfying "aha" moment, and allows one to think further on all the stuff that happened in the book, and its meaning.

I'm still wondering whether Scarlet Thomas is a good writer, or whether she had a fantastic idea for a story - the plot and idea does pull you through the weak bits, but I will read more of her books to find out, which one assumes must mean she is at least a decent author.

All in all, I loved the book, and it's a must read (especially for people who enjoy the more fantastical aspects of fiction). The End of Mr. Y certainly gets my thumbs up.