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LeninMark Manson in his Monday Newsletter reminds us

Vladimir Lenin said, “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Get ready. Our technocratic future will be here much sooner than we thought.

Suddenly everything is different.

What changes do you think will stick?

What I Learnt On 18th May in other years

18th May 2012 Why Rugby Has BacksWhy Rugby Has Backs
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PandemicUnfortunately, an outbreak of a deadly virus in Sydney has caused chain-reaction outbreaks in Jakarta and Los Angeles. Time is up for Millie and I to save the planet. We’d cured one of the four viri causing pandemics – but it wasn’t enough.

Perhaps the planet will have better luck next game.

Pandemic – the game – was designed by Matt Leacock and launched in 2008. It has since spread like a virus and sold more than 1 million copies in 27 languages.

According to my local games expert – Liam at Unplugged Games, Lismore – Pandemic has been so popular it is now very hard to come by. We have the special 10th Anniversary Edition, which comes in a replica tin first aid box and has special Petri dishes, wooden play pieces and 3D characters. Go Liam.

Pandemic is unique in that it is a co-operative game – all players pool their special skills in their efforts to cure the viri. A parable for our times. You may be a scientist, dispatcher, quarantine specialist, operations expert, or medic. You all win or lose together in a race against time.

The gameplay is fast, and each game is pleasingly quick. Too quick for us at the moment, but we will improve.

The world is depending on it.

What I Learnt On 17th May in other years

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Zwift
I’ve just finished a 9km ride around Central Park, New York.

In the last 30 days, I’ve also cycled around London, Innsbruck and Yorkshire. And I’ve competed (unsuccessfully) with thousands of fellow cyclists on circuits through the islands, jungles and volcanoes of Watopia.

Zwift allows cyclists (and joggers) to explore, train, interact and compete in a massive virtual world. As you get more experience, and complete more workouts, you level up, and unlock new bike gear that your avatar can wear. You can select from a huge range of workouts, join organised rides and races, or arrange to ride with your (real) friends. You can speak with other players while you ride.

The faster and harder you pedal, the faster your Zwift character moves. There are some pretty steep hill climbs in Watopia, and lots of designated sprints.

FulgazFulgaz is an Australian company that provides virtual cycling routes with real video footage (“More reality less virtual”) You can explore the French countryside following the Tour de France, greet Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, or ride up the very steep Osborne St in Manly Fulgaz also has a virtual personal coach – Bernard – who offers a wide range of workouts that incorporate high intensity sprints.

For the full experience, you need a stationary bike (or a trainer for your real bike) that can communicate with your laptop, iPad or Apple TV via Bluetooth. Your rpm and Watts of work are converted to the virtual athletes speed and power. This technology is called ANT+, so you will need a bike or trainer with that feature.

‘Smart’ trainers are also available. These provide a more immersive ride by increasing or decreasing the resistance of the bike depending on the steepness of the ascent or descent in the virtual world.

You can use Fulgaz on any bike, without the bluetooth smarts, and enjoy the video movie as you ride. In this case, the speed won’t respond to your change in effort – so you can feel free to dwardle along without extending the duration of the ride.

The Global Cycling Network is Cathy’s preferred video workout companion. You can participate in workouts lead by British and international professional cyclists, with varying degrees of intensity / sprints / hill climbs. It is like a YouTube spin class.

Zwift and Fulgaz have a monthly subscription fee. The Global Cycling Network has no charge,

At the start of lockdown, we bought a Concept2 Bikeerg. Concept2 are better known for their rowers, and the Bikerg is a similar solid bit of gear that looks like it will withstand the next 10 pandemics. It has ANT+, but not the smart resistance.

Give me a thumbs up next time you overtake me in Watopia.

What I Learnt On 16th May in other years

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Fancy Friday is part of our family lockdown ritual.

fancy_FridayJean Francois at Dip Café has been determined to be the #lastmanstanding in Byron, and has been serving take away meals throughout the lockdown. As we come out the other side (possibly? hopefully?) we were able to sit at Dip to sip our coffee, and get take away duck confit, coq a vin, potatoes au gratin and panna cotta for our Fancy Friday dinner. And it was good to see Pierre make an appearance.

Luckily, my godmother Maggie has taught me proper French.

But what I really learnt today was scrawled across the bathroom at the Byron Surf Club.

Pardon my French.

What I Learnt On 15th May in other years

15th May 2011 Giving Good High FiveGiving Good High Five
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Rube Goldberg machines have been a regular feature on WILT.

Now some of us have too much time on our hands and enough toilet paper to last until the next pandemic.

Previous WILTs

What I Learnt On 14th May in other years

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PablumPablum is an American brand of baby cereal that dates from 1931. The trademarked name is a contracted form of the Latin word pabulum, which means “foodstuff”.

Just as ‘Spam’ now has a new meaning related to unsolicited email, the word ‘pablum’ now is used to refer to something that is bland, mushy, unappetizing, or infantile.

David Perell is a writer and teacher of writing who publishes a newsletter called ‘Monday Musings’. I recommend it.

This week pablum was his word of the week

A pablum is kind of like a cliche, but it focuses more on ideas and less on phrases. And like a cliche, it refers to an idea that’s overly bland or simplistic.

Whenever you write choose an essay topic, make sure there’s a standard counter-argument to it. For example, too many people build their essays around topics like “students should think critically for themselves” and “working hard will help you succeed.”

Yes, obviously. They’re the kinds of ideas that are repeated in CNBC articles called “10 Things All Successful People Do Before 8am.”

But interesting essay topics challenge the assumptions of your reader’s worldview.

What’s an example?

Topics like “bureaucrats are brilliant” or “travel is a terrible way to learn about the world” will yield much more interesting insights because they both counter the mainstream narrative. Thinking that bureaucrats are lazy or travel is a good way to learn about the world is a pablum.

From the sentence-level to the essay-level, the clearer the counter-argument to your ideas, the more interesting your essay can be.

PS. Thanks for being patient. It’s only been four and a half years since the previous post to WILT.

What I Learnt On 13th May in other years

13th May 2012 500 steps.....500 steps…..
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Aussie-Beer-GlassesWhen is a Schooner not a Schooner?

When it is a midi.

On a recent trip to South Australia (Happy Birthday Rosi), I was reminded that you have to do your homework before ordering a beer in different Australian states if you don’t want to look like a knob.

For example, don’t ask for a midi in Melbourne – that will identify you immediately as being from across the border. . Ask for a pot, instead. And they’ll also look at you askance if you ask for a schooner in either Melbourne or Perth.

And in Adelaide, if you want a midi, ask for a  schooner. If you want a schooner, ask for a pint. If you want a pint, ask for an Imperial Pint. Good grief.

Ever mindful of our community service obligations, we present this handy table.

 

Names of beer glasses in various Australian cities
Capacity Sydney Canberra Darwin Brisbane Adelaide Hobart Melbourne Perth
115 ml (4 fl oz) small beer foursie shetland
140 ml (5 fl oz) pony pony pony horse/pony pony
170 ml (6 fl oz) six (ounce) small glass bobbie/six
200 ml (7 fl oz) seven seven seven (ounce) butcher seven (ounce) glass glass
285 ml (10 fl oz) middy half pint / middy handle pot schooner ten (ounce)/pot pot middy/half pint
350 ml (12 fl oz) schmiddy
425 ml (15 fl oz) schooner schooner schooner schooner pint fifteen / schooner schooner schooner
570 ml (20 fl oz) pint pint pint pint imperial pint pint pint pint
Notes:

  1. Entries in bold are common.
  2. Entries in italics are old-fashioned or rare.

(hat tip to Wikipedia)

What I Learnt On 18th September in other years

18th September 2013 The Power of Words
18th September 2011 Wine TalkingWine Talking
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WebWhoo hoo. WILT has a new home.

Way back in the beginning of Internet time, each computer was identified by a number (an IP number, in fact, like 216.55.97.107).

As more and more computers joined the network, people had trouble remembering these numbers. In 1983, a human friendly ‘phonebook’ system was proposed and developed. This ‘Domain Name System’ is still used today. In 1985 there were a total of 6 domain names. Now there are about 300 million.

Domain names and internet concept

Initial there were sever ‘top level domains’ , .com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org.

If you could demonstrate that a particular domain name was appropriate to your company or organisation, it was assigned to you by a committee of the National Science Association – free of charge. Alas, the process was commercialised in 1995.

There are another 250 two letter top level domain (tld) names assigned to individual countries and territories. The pacific island nation Tuvalu was in luck – in 1999 they signed a 12 year deal for $50 million for the rights to resell their assigned tld .tv . After their first $1 million royalty payment, they could finally afford the $100,000 it cost to join the United Nations.

Australia’s .au tld was introduced in 1986. Kevin ‘Robert’ Elz from Melbourne Uni was personally responsible for assigning all .au names until the late 1990s. I first contacted him in the early 1990s. He maintained a policy in which there had to be a direct connection between a company’s official name and its domain name. In contrast, the world of .com is a first come first served free for all. Elz personally checked every application. He also is said to have introduced online text commentary for cricket matches. What a legend.

Since 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) controls the domain name system. We have run out of all three letter and four letter .com names – everything from aaaa.com to zzzz.com is gone! (all the three letter combinations ran out in 1997!)

godaddy

go daddy

New domain names are cheap. A .com name can cost less than $10 a year, depending on which domain name provider you buy it from. (I use Go Daddy  for international names and Cheap Domains for .au). But there is a thriving market in re-selling ‘desirable’ names. The record sale of vacationrentals.com was $35 million, in 2007. Some people ‘harvest’ thousand of potential names in case they become valuable. In 2012, one man registered 14,962 domain names in 24 hours. http://whatIlearnttoday.com has been registered but never used. It is available for sale for $3296

Since 2001, as .com names get used up, ICANN has incrementally introduced new top level domains. You may have seen .info, .biz, .name or .me (as in http://wilt.me and http://lembke.me)

In 2013 the domain name world was further opened up as ICANN begun to auction off the rights to names such as .travel, .club, .xxx, .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles, and .ventures. As in http://halfdiet.club. And you can even register  .sucks.

The tld .today was introduced in late 2013. Soon after http://whatIlearnt.today was purchased by someone in the UK but never used. You can (quite legally and ethically) check who owns a particular name using a ‘whois’ server. I have been keeping an eye on whatIlearnt.today – it expired in January 2016. There is a period of grace between expiration and the domain name becoming available – and sometime this afternoon it was released for sale.

avatarSo if you look up ‘whatilearnt.today’ on the ICANN whois server you can check out who bought it!

So – celebrations for WILT’s new home at http://whatIlearnt.today

What I Learnt On 4th April in other years

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Cheers,

Tony Lembke

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