Open Thread – Fri 20 Oct 2023

St Jerome Writing, Caravaggio, 1605-1606

634 responses to “Open Thread – Fri 20 Oct 2023”

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  1. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha Avatar
    Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Well done there Zulu and missus. Zulu – are you awake?

    I am, indeed. Punishing the single malt, and browsing through “Sharpe’s Waterloo.”

  2. Top Ender Avatar
    Top Ender

    There is also a mystery about Roman concrete and its qualities.

    Not really.

    Along the lines of people who see an aquaduct or a pyramid and say “it’s a complete mystery – we couldn’t build anything like that now.” Or that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made building that can be seen from space.

    Yes we could and do, and no it isn’t. The stuff Mankind can build and do now is mind-blowing. Witness a recent asteroid-nudging expedition from NASA, or the flyovers of Los Angeles, or the computer everyone has in their pocket which also is an incredible navigator.

    It’s a longing for a romantic age which never existed. Rather like saying the Aussie aboriginals had a wonderful lifestyle which should be the envy of us all today.

  3. Steve trickler Avatar
    Steve trickler

    Oct 20, 2023 5:38 PM
    I think I hate this “My Lunch Break” arsewipe.

    Go watch TV you f-head.

  4. Rabz Avatar

    So Cats, how soon is now?

    I am human and I need to be loved
    Just like everybody else does …

  5. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha Avatar
    Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Billy Connolly at his finest.

  6. Digger Avatar

    Labuschagne is a flog, at best…

    In a team of flogs…

  7. Muddy Avatar

    Late to the party of course, but I’ve just watched the Pierre Poilievre ‘apple’ interview (admittedly, only the best two minutes of it). What I liked was that Poilievre refused to accept the standard role the media assigns to conservatives: that of defenders against whatever accusations the Filth Filter can create. Rather than respond to the broad cliches flung (mumbled, in this case) at him, he reversed the onus of evidence and threw the jismist from his familiar rehearsed pattern. This repositioning may be only minor and quite temporary, and needs to be followed-up with other tactics, but it’s a vital step towards regaining and maintaining the initiative, without which we cannot hope to win* the competition for influence.

    What follow-up tactics could be used?

    * Winning = using the ashes of our enemies as garden fertiliser.

    This interruptive tactic can be practised the next time a scammer calls you on your phone. Rather than simply hang up or swear, if you have a spare 30 seconds: Ask the person (male or female) what they are wearing. Ignore their scripted speech and continue to ask variations of ‘What are you wearing?’ (use different voices, be a little suggestive if you feel comfortable doing that) until you break their focus. It may take the whole 30 seconds, but it is satisfying when it works, which is when THEY break contact.

  8. Knuckle Dragger Avatar
    Knuckle Dragger

    Having lost 8/100 in 16 overs, Straya may yet be carved up when the Pakis bat.

    364 ish. Not enough on this ground, and on that deck.

  9. Steve trickler Avatar
    Steve trickler
  10. Top Ender Avatar
    Top Ender

    Billy Connolly at his finest.

    Thanks Zulu.

    We’re going to see The Corrs in Sydney next weekend. Looking forward to it. Would have liked to have seen Billy at his height.

  11. Bruce in WA Avatar
    Bruce in WA

    Mme Zulu’s latest round of test results are back – completely negative. The specialist says that, if she has another negative scan in three months, they will declare her cancer free.

    Came in a bit late (went to Burswood for a 21st birthday), but so very glad to read that, Zulu, All the best to the both of you (raises glass of scotch in salute, sips delicately … alright, guzzles).

  12. Winston Smith Avatar


    This interruptive tactic can be practised the next time a scammer calls you on your phone. Rather than simply hang up or swear, if you have a spare 30 seconds: Ask the person (male or female) what they are wearing. Ignore their scripted speech and continue to ask variations of ‘What are you wearing?’ (use different voices, be a little suggestive if you feel comfortable doing that) until you break their focus. It may take the whole 30 seconds, but it is satisfying when it works, which is when THEY break contact.

    I had an interesting call from a lady from one of the animal lover mobs, yesterday and decided I was going to play with her head rather than be polite.
    Told her I was a professional pig and dog shooter and told her of the damage these wild dogs were doing to defenceless sheep and cows.
    In the end I had her agreeing that ammunition was way too expensive and there should be a bounty on dogs and pigs, and that I should be able to get a subsidy on a new rifle that used smaller and less expensive rounds…
    I was having to really cut corners and would have to go on the OAP if living costs didn’t stabilise soon.
    I almost convinced myself.

  13. Megan Avatar

    Also pleased to hear that Mme Zulu is progressing brilliantly. Long may that circumstance continue.

  14. Rabz Avatar

    An erstwhile Ozzie Rock Chick … 🙂

  15. Rabz Avatar

    When too much UHD in Lake George is barely enuff! 🙂

  16. Katzenjammer Avatar

    Greta Stands With Gaza!

    I bet she doesn’t live in Malmo or any of the other no-go Swedish districts.

    Sweden becomes the first EU country to declare Islamists alien

  17. Alamak! Avatar
  18. areff Avatar

    If it’s a male Subcontinental, tell them your gaydar has picked up that they’re into hot guy-on-guy action. They’ll become increasingly agitated the more you insist that they must be gay because real men drive trains and wrestle bears rather than spending all day calling people they don’t.. One gent was so upset he hung up, then called back to shout obscenities.

  19. Diogenes Avatar

    I used chatgpt4 for the first time time to do do some coding. I have used it before to generate lesson sequences and lesson plans.

    I have a program which I’ve written many many times to try out out new languages and technologies, starting with Delphi 3 and now because I have a student who wants to use flutter/ Dart I need to do a crash course so I can help him if he has issues.

    I fed it some JSON, told it which list widget I wanted to use and it generated working code. I kept refining, eg load JSON from file located at X, told it what data I wanted displayed, then had it change colours and text styles, all with good explanations of what it was doing . In 3 hours I had a useable home screen, and code which I understood in probably my fastest time yet.

    Had a couple of runtime errors, which I fed back , and it gave me fixes, and it even suggested a format change for my JSON, which I am considering.

    Very very impressed.

  20. Alamak! Avatar

    Diogenes> I use Chat GPT to build classes in Python or Javscript to interact with APIs. It does a good enough job of building first version with with tests that I can refine and improve.

    Also using it to build mermaid diagrams based on API + code, its not highly advanced designs but useful grunt work to create stuff I can finetune. On designs I can also ask Chat GPT to find ssues with an architecture, which is useful and something developers could use instead of code or architecture reviews.

    Tried CoPilot and Bard on coding tasks but copyright and other issues stopped me from getting too involved, possibly good tools for other folks.

  21. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare Avatar
    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Well, goodness me, if you can get to see a place called Paestum near Silerno, then do. It’s a toss up between that and Pompei for me. This small once-was-a-city with high city walls still visible, part of the Greek push to colonise Italy and Sicily in the 550’s BC, is still a wonder to behold. I’ve seen some big Greek temples still extant on a visit to Sicily a few years ago but the big one of the three here beats that. Columns as thick as those of the Parthenon and you can climb up into it, if you’re game, which I decided I was. The main god initially here was Poseiden, and the Roman name Paestum falls along a ‘name scatter’ from the original, through iterations of Italian mercenaries hired by the Greeks, and then by the Romans.

    You can see good street outlines (although no full buildings because unlike Acrotiri and Pompei, no volcanic eruption) and get a sense of the expanse of the place, including a boy’s school (gymnasium) and a 25metre swimming pool. Young boys from aged 10 lived here until sixteen, when they joined the army, prior to that they mainly practice gym for ‘the games’ and physical pursuits. They only do the rudiments of writing and learning, for maths and philosophy is left to older men. Reminded me of what a teacher once said wistfully to me – that he wished he could take boys from 12 to 15, put them in a paddock and just let them run for four years.

    What makes this site so good is that there is an exhibition-quality new and dedicated archaeological museum on site, and it contains the best pottery and paintings you are likely to see in either Greece or Sicily or anywhere else from the period 550BC. There’s not much left in the way of artifacts and statues from the Roman period. However, when the city was plundered for stone in the early Christian period, many hidden and neglected tombs, when excavated. produced an amazing array of the best of imported Greek urns large and small, loads of plates, and so many of them – and this is the best bit – look entirely newly minted. The glazes are perfect and the only restoration needed was a wipe down for dust. The tomb wall paintings, in a similar style (and I think showing a little of the earlier Etruscan influence still) are also in perfect condition. These people and their lives actually live for you in front of your eyes. Marvellous.

    In Pompei a lot of the artefacts have been moved to the museum in Naples, same for Akrotiri, they are in Athens.

  22. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare Avatar
    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Paestum is on the coast near an estuary. It’s an hour’s drive from Salerno (the ‘sal’ in this name refers to salt, as in Salzburg), along a Mediterranean coastline that in the other half of this bay turns into the Amalfi Coast with Sorrento and Positano also being tours (been to them both, and so glad to have seen Paestum anyway). The bus trip along the coast was pleasant, and over low-lying and extremely fertile land that was once swampland but which is now drained. Like the British fens my ancestors helped to drain, these narrow coastal plains before the Appenine Mountains rise above them is the breadbasket of the local area for vegetables, and for Mozarella cheese. Everything is paradisical, in that the land springs into life wherever you look. Noticable too are areas of Australian white-trunked gums, sometimes planted in virtual rain forest style in previous areas of swamp, as they are very useful for drying out these areas.

    In other parts of the drive these gums also exist but I was heartened to see that Italians subject them to the same severe pruning and developmental control to which they subject many trees (especially cyprus) to create a managed and varied landscape of tree shapes. I like it. Big gum trunks from trees which in Australia would obscure vistas and overshadow roads and houses and drop killer branches are chopped off at the seven foot level with a few branches permitted to survive going upwards, which they do, and the trees sprout some bushy areas from the trunks, which are cut off if they are unsightly or bothersome. Greenies would hate it, and it pleased me to see that man still rules nature around these parts.

  23. Wally Dalí Avatar
    Wally Dalí

    Thanks Lizzie- love your travelogues, you’ve got a fascinating talent for linkages, and it’s wondrous what you seem to find not too far off the beaten path.

  24. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare Avatar
    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Last nite of cruising tonight; tomorrow heading to Rome airport and a brief recuperative stopover in Thailand. Our transit in Aman keeps getting extended, it’s now five hours, but at least in a business class lounge. We will be flying not over Israel but northern Lebanon and Syria.

    Each cruise is a lovely self-contained holiday. You leave an artificially created world of ‘luxury’ where people serve your every need or want and you do nothing but accept it all and usually eat very well. You can do as much or as little as you want and engage with others a lot of very rarely, your choice. There are libraries for quiet reading, pools beside which to relax, and entertainment including musical performances and lectures if you want to relax in that way. No wonder many people enjoy a short (or longer) foray into this lifestyle. Too long and it could seem stultifying, but in shorter bursts I cannot fault it. There are also many different types of cruise lines and itineraries available. You can always mix it in with other forms of more independent travel, as we have done.

    Cruising is so good and so democratic in its essence (anyone can save up and go) that I am sure the miserable greenies will be trying hard to remove this industry that offers a taste of rich and royal treatment to all (and which also provides an income and experience to many people from poorer countries who work in this industry and who were left in the lurch during Covid). We are looking for our Indonesian room attendant who has been so helpful to us on this trip, in order to give him a largish tip in addition to the one he gets from the communal pool. He is naturally sweet and shy, and careful, and we wish him very well in his life on board, and later when he’s saved enough to rejoin his family.

  25. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare Avatar
    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    I am fully packed before dinner and Hairy is not. He came in from the sail-out from mountain-ringed Salerno, which I did not attend as I sorted stuff out, and said he met a man up there whose wife was going on just as I had been about ‘getting the packing done’. We both raised eyes to heaven, and sighed about the ways of women, he tells me. Hairy intends to pack after dinner and after imbibing the last of the sommelier’s best choices. Suitcases have to go out by 10pm and I just know it will be a last minute rush for us; it always is. 🙂

  26. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare Avatar
    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    All the best to the both of you (raises glass of scotch in salute, sips delicately … alright, guzzles).

    Pre-dinner Ouzo and water from our stash for me, but heartily raised to the good news Zulu. Time for a lovely celebratory holiday together. On a cruise? 🙂

  27. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare Avatar
    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    For those wondering, the medical services on board here are excellent. Our recent dinner companion, the Professor Soil Science, in his late eighties, had a bad cough which turned quickly to pneumonia but they had it under control very quickly. They have XRays, MRI’s and other diagnostic facilities plus competent medical staff. It’s costly, but sensible people who are older do have insurance to cover it.

  28. Mark Bolton Avatar

    Have a look at this little rocket… 1959 ? Hey best I could manage was being born !!!

  29. Mark Bolton Avatar

    @Lizzie ..cheers to you big sister … you deserve a dignified slurp ( OK and a guzzle too ) ..and so much more …

    Peace Sister .

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