Not related to gastroenteritis…

…although you may change your mind after reading this. You see, last weekend, I attended one of those increasingly popular surprise housewarming parties. My contribution to the festivities? Lolly cake.

Lolly cake, close up

Every nation has its proud culinary traditions. But then there are those tastes that are acquired through the sort of forgiving ignorance that forms the basis of traditional family relationships. Such is lolly cake, New Zealand’s unique amalgam of fruity lollies, malt biscuits and half a tin of condensed milk.

For more information, and a picture of New Zealand’s the world’s longest lolly cake, see Isaac Freeman’s natural history thereof.

There you will also find a link to Star Wars/lolly cake fan-fiction. The internet: truly, the happiest kingdom on Earth.

Too, too Tango

So, you couldn’t make it to Boston either (see the last post)? Where else can you see my work, preferably in the comfort of your own home?

Well, a story I wrote and drew appears in the recently released 9th edition of Tango, Bernard Caleo’s awesomely enormous Australian comics anthology. Each issue has a romance-based theme, this time being “love and war”; which goes together like… well… rama lama lama ke ding a de ding a dong, but with explosions.

This is the first time I’ve submitted anything to Tango, so you won’t find me in The Tango Collection, a retrospective of the best of the first 8 issues. But it was so much fun I’m definitely going to do it again, so look out for the next collected edition – in oh, 2021 or thereabouts.

However, to keep you interested here’s a little teaser, the first page of my 4 page epic, Love and War and Icypoles:

Page 1 of Love and War and Icypoles

If you want to see the rest, you’ll just have to buy it online, or keep an eye out in selected quality bookshops.

And the added bonus of being in Tango? I finally have my name in Wikipedia.

Destination Boston

Long-time readers – those hypothetical, long-time readers – may remember Destination Day, my short film about a man who travels back in time to change his past, only to run into the woman who made him want to change his past in the first place.

(And no, it’s not possible to talk about time travel plots without tying sentences in knots or giving yourself a headache.)

Well, Destination Day recently screened at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. And although I couldn’t be there to see it myself, some people who were there have been kind enough to post reviews. Here, in the tradition of Hollywood-style quote mining, are the slightly edited critical reactions:

“This is another Australian entry… The ending of this one pretty much makes it too.”
Film Forager

“* * ¾ (out of four)… The opening hook…is neat… It finishes on a visual gag that’s clever.”
Jay’s Movie Blog

“Tim (Richard Pappas) travels back in time… references Perth’s Destination Day … No one … in the future … Have no interest… Rating (4.9)” (out of 10, I think)
Soresport Movies

“No one in the future have no interest.” That one’s going on the poster!

Now, go read the originals and see if you can come up with your own interpretation.

Tell me

Is this meant to be ironic:

Adidas 3 tongue sneaker

Spotted being worn by a hip young Twilight actor at the recent Armageddon nerdfest in Melbourne. Yes, there were lots of people in costumes from Batman, Stargate, Yu-Gi-Yoh, whatever, but these shoes are what really amazed me.

I honestly can’t tell whether they’re serious. Or how you’d operate them. And the Adidas website is about as helpful as a fox.

Kids today…

Getting somewhere

Apparently, a good thing to do with blogs is rant about things that annoy you. And I’m all in favour of doing good things with blogs…

By the way, today’s theme is – vaguely – science.

  1. The other night NASA smashed a space probe into the Moon. Liking both astronomy and large explosions, I naturally looked it up in the newspaper the next day. What category do you think it turned up in? World news. I think they’ve missed the point.
  2. Kirk Cameron, renowned creationist and growing pain, likes to use bananas as an example of intelligent design. How they’re perfectly designed for us to eat, etc., etc. But what about those annoying stringy bits down the side? Which are clearly an anti-eating defense mechanism caught in mid-evolution. Explain that!
  3. Zeno’s paradox, dating back to ancient Greece, the notion that before you can move a distance you have to cover half the distance, but before that a quarter of the distance, and so on. You therefore have to cover an infinite number of distances, so motion is impossible. No offence to the ancient Greeks, but that’s clearly ridiculous.

As demonstrated by my effort today in attempting and completing a half marathon. Thank you, thank you. It was difficult, but made easier by weeks of carb-loading, hydrating and whinging.

And I did it as part of the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre’s Run for Refugees team.

You should acknowledge my heroic, ancient Greek confounding effort by donating lots of money to this worthy cause. Please donate online at

Don’t make me smash a space probe into your crater.

Mobile phones are no good for poetry

Or at least so claimed the graffiti I saw on the way to work this morning.

But is that really true? My first guess would be “of course not!” But I’m having trouble thinking of txtspk that rhymes better than “C U L8TR L E G8TR”.

Can anyone suggest a better one? A mobile limerick, perhaps? Or maybe we should just change the rules, so that instead of 160 characters, each SMS has to be 17 syllables?

As the kids say*, that would be totally Obama.

* At least so the Sunday Age assures me. But really I’d rather go with the bloke outside the pub last night, who claimed the band inside was “totally off the hook”. Right on.

Little things

Dear diary,

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write – my stars, you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve been doing.

Actually, I remember back in the days of snail mail (not that they called it that then, but you young kids wouldn’t know anything about it) that I used to start all my letters that way. Hmm, you would’ve thought I’d learned something over the years, but no. Electronic communication just makes you late sooner.

So, what have I been doing? Birthday, Christmas, New Year, Robbie Burns day (no, not really, no haggis for me this year), a record Melbourne heatwave (a good reason to forego the haggis, I guess)… Some sciency reading, including Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, which has got me all fired up about evidence-based medicine and the sorry state of science reporting. And got me into an argument with my osteopath – not really recommended when they’re in a mood to wrench your vertebrae around. I’ve got the bruises to prove it.

Also, Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible, a birthday present I’d been greatly looking forward to. There are a lot of books out these days about sci-fi science, like time travel, teleportation, robots, etc. But to me this one stood out because of Dr Kaku’s genuine physics credentials. OK, yes, it could have done with a bit more editing. And the chapters that aren’t so much physics, like the one on telepathy, which delves into neuroscience, aren’t quite as good. And he has a curious obsession with nanotechnology (UFOs are nanoships built in a nanobase on our moon! That’s why they’re so small!) But yes, there is some really good physics there and well worth the read.

However, it also makes you think about the big picture, like how far away from a Theory of Everything are we really? Let’s just go back to my last post comparing atomic and astronomic scales.

Imagine scaling up an atom to the size of the solar system. What comparative size can we measure with today’s technology.

Well, with quantum mechanics the smallest distance we can measure corresponds to the highest energy instrument we have, i.e. the embattled LHC. When fully operational it should be able to get up to 14 TeV in energy, which can “see” scales of about 8.86 x 10-20m. At our atom/solar system scale, that’s equivalent to a distance of 8,400 km.

For a Theory of Everything we need to get down to much smaller distances where quantum gravity starts to kick in. This is the famous Planck scale, about 10-33m. It’s about how big you’d expect a superstring to be.

On our solar system scale that would be roughly 9.53 x 10-11m. Or about the size of an actual atom.

So I’m thinking we’ve got a long way to go; that’s an awful lot of orders of magnitude for something to happen in. Which is good, because it’ll keep physicists in a job. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for the secrets of the universe, that’s all.