Cheeseburger Gothic

MacSpeech Dictate, a potted review.

Posted September 27, 2009 by John Birmingham
Okay, it's been a week since I got this thing. My first impressions were good, but they were also influenced by the fact that I was kinda desperate for this software to work. I really can't type worth for shit at the moment. Even hunting and pecking out a short e-mail is a pain. Ripping out tens of thousands of words of new manuscript or editing hundreds of thousands of words of After America are simply out of the question. If this didn't work I was pretty much fucked.

With that in mind I was probably a bit too enthusiastic, a bit too forgiving in my early assessment of MacSpeech Dictate. Or rather in my assessment of my own abilities to use it straight out of the box. This is an unusual product in that it really asks a lot of the user. If you're not willing to do the training, if you're not willing to understand the parameters of the software, and most importantly if you're not willing to read the fucking manual then forget it. It's not a cheap bit of kit and you'll do your dough cold. If you are willing to invest the time learning how to use MacSpeech (or its Dragon-based Windows equivalents) and training the software to work with you then it could be a really powerful tool.

First question, does it work?

Yes, and it's awesome. It is freakishly accurate, much more accurate than my own typing. And there is no need, as I mentioned in a previous post, to speak in an American accent, Shatner style. (And yes it recognizes the word 'Shatner').

But it's not Star Trek. It won't do all these things out of the box. You do need to train it to listen to your voice, and the software needs to train you to speak to it. The more time you spend using MacSpeech, or Dragon, the more accurate it will become. But only if you take the time to update your profile.

Your profile is the software's understanding of how you speak, and to a lesser extent how you write. Think of it as a super-avatar. It also includes a lot of environmental information, so you might record one profile for dictating in a quiet room and a different profile for a noisy room. When you first start dictating, the program will make errors and just as importantly you will make errors because you'll probably try to speak to it like a person, not just a bunch of code. If you mumble, cough, slur your speech, whatever, it'll all be transcribed.

The first couple of days you'll spend a lot of time pointing and clicking in what's called the Recognition Window. In this little box you'll find the programs interpretation of what you just said, and up to 10 alternatives. Option number one is always Dictate's best guess but if option number six was the right choice you just click on that and it swaps out the copy. If none of the options were accurate you can choose one to edit and use that. After a couple of hours of doing this and of saving your profile as you go, you'll notice a marked improvement in the program's ability to understand you. As you get more confident and you relax you'll also find you're able to speak much more quickly and conversationally until you do get to the point of that Star Trek moment where you just speak at the computer and the words magically appear on screen.

That's dictation, it's not editing. And editing is way more important than composition in terms of whether your finished product is readable. I had real fears that MacSpeech Dictate would be crap at editing, and in one sense it is. If I simply opened up a huge manuscript and tried to edit the thing via voice command I would fail. There is just no way that telling a cursor where to go and what to do is anywhere near as efficient as using a mouse and keyboard. But as all of the reviews and a lot of the documentation that comes with MacSpeech makes clear, you're in for a terrible hiding if you try to mix keyboard and voice commands. It just won't work, and you'll crash the program. As I did at least half a dozen times during one very frustrating hour this week.

Its all down to the cache. MacSpeech/Dragon keeps two things in its mind; what you said and what it wrote. If you fuck up that delicate balance by using your mouse and keyboard instead of your voice you'll blow the cache apart and overwhelm the program.

That could be a deal killer, because of the unwieldy nature of using voice command to edit. There is however a caveat. The software comes with its own notepad, a very very basic text editor in which you can compose your documents. Again most reviews and the software's documentation emphasize the ability to use MacSpeech with most of the other bits of software on your computer, with MS Word, with Firefox, whatever. But here is JB's tip... Don't Do It.

Yes, MacSpeech Dictate can work with all of these programs, but it probably won't. It will almost certainly crash within the first few minutes.

The notepad on the other hand is an exceptional environment into which to dictate. It is stable and robust and most important of all it allows you to edit with your mouse. You can just place the cursor wherever you want, define whatever text you want, and dictate right over the top of it. The essence of editing.

Unfortunately for me, I only figured that out after a couple of very frustrating days of constantly crashing the system. It got to the point where I was so pissed off, so depressed and so fucking desperate that I went back and did what I should have done in the first place. I Read The Fucking Manual from start to fucking finish. In doing that I learned of at least half a dozen very basic errors I'd been making over and over again, and I picked up a whole bunch of obscure but powerful pointers for getting the most out of the program. If I hadn't done that I reckon I'd have thrown it away and there'd have been tears before bedtime.

Bottom line, it works and it can work brilliantly, but whether it does is down to you.

There is one final point I'd make though. It feels weird. I am so used to 'thinking with the tips of my fingers' that, as lobes pointed out earlier this week, I just wasn't writing like normal when I used the dictation program. I'm still not, but I am getting past the initial strangeness where I constantly felt as though I was thinking about thinking about dictating the writing. I suspect that will take a bit longer to get used to than simply mastering the mechanics.

Anyway, my apologies. I am not a software reviewer and this entry has been a useful exercise in teaching me that if I ever wanted to be I'd have a lot to learn. There's so much more I could tell you. Some good, such as its ability to inhale vast slabs of your writing for syntactical analysis which then gets fed into MacSpeech's memory, allowing it to better understand how you write. And some bad, like its tendency to 'hear' your breathing as dictation (mostly a problem when you're sitting, staring at the screen, saying nothing).

So perhaps I should just throw the floor open to questions.

39 Responses to ‘MacSpeech Dictate, a potted review.’

Bangar asserts...

Posted September 27, 2009
They'd have been an ocean of tears if it hadn't of worked out.

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Moko reckons...

Posted September 27, 2009
Well I'll be....manuals CAN be useful.

Would ya use it without a broken wing?.

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Lobes would have you know...

Posted September 27, 2009
Good question Moko.

It seems a pretty long winded process to get up to speed. I wonder how hard it would be to just teach yourself to type fast and well with one hand. Perhaps need a special keyboard though? Its actually not that hard to train your non-preferred side if you really concentrate. I can play golf lefty, surf goofy and write poorly with my non preferred side. To be honest my handwritings not that flash even on my good side. Its a steep learning curve but not that long to get over it.

How do you speak to it? Through the mic in your computer or with a headset? Maybe get one of those special forces throat mics, be like STar Trek and SWAT rolled into one.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted September 27, 2009
Sniff. Gone, The old days. Nubile young touch typing bunnies.

Give 'em 15 minutes off every hour to relax those hands of theirs . . . .neck rubs spring to mind. . . recommended by physios . . .

Over . . .just 'cause JB has an unnatural fascination with gadgets.

Just watch what happens when you want your next grape peeled, son . . .

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Orin would have you know...

Posted September 27, 2009
Vista and Windows 7 have built in speech recognition, you just have to turn them on. Training them takes a while, but I found that it was a strong enough feature (and worked well enough) not to want to bother with the expensive alternatives.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted September 27, 2009
Moko, no. I doubt I would've had the motivation to stick with it beyond about a day or so. It does require a significant investment of your time to train it up. Without a broken wing, why would I have bothered? The more interesting question is whether I'll stick with it once my arm is healed. I can't say for certain right now, but I am impressed with how quickly it is learning. As long as I can get over the hump of feeling awkward about talking rather than just writing, then yes, I probably will stick with it. It could potentially increase my productivity by a huge margin.

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted September 27, 2009
Lobes, it is a long-winded process, there's no avoiding it. But then so would be learning to touch type one handed with your nonpreferred hand. Any alternative to a long-established system is going to involve a steep learning curve and a lot of fuck knuckling around. I wouldn't do it if I had an alternative, but I don't. It's this, or sell the house.

Re. Input devices, it comes with a Plantronics headset in the box. You can upgrade to something way more expensive, but the Plantronics seems to work fine.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted September 27, 2009
Sounds pretty sweet.

How does it spell an exhalation? Different to a frustrated sigh?

If you stick with it post recovery it will free up those Nimble Bunny Fingers for more tanning lotion application, feet / neck massaging & grape peeling duties. You may need another profile that ignores little grunts of pleasure.

How is the exportablitility of the Notepad document? Does your preferred word processing software groove to the imported file? Manuscripts probably leave your desk a minimum formatting anyway -just paragraph breaks & punctuation.

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted September 27, 2009
The speech recognition that has been in the various MacOSes since the 90s isn't too bad for commands and stuff. Not for dictation obviously, and it doesn't seem to have developed much over the years. I haven't played with the one in Vista, etc yet.

As for alternatives - single handed "chorded" keyboard replacements do exist and may have a less steep learning curve than what you've described with the speech stuff. I work on the assumption that one of those will eventually become a standard and the qwerty keyboard will simply go away. The Twiddler seems to be the best of breed, but I'm sure there are others around.

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted September 27, 2009
its gunna be funny reading the next MS ( BOOK), after all, given its Voice activated software, I'm not really sure how your fans are gunna take, to intermittent sections of reading, thats Fergal sharky , a good heart these days, and All I need is a Miracle, song words being in it, as we know you grove to tunes when writing. OH THE horror of it!......

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Orin asserts...

Posted September 27, 2009
I like the Frogpad more than the Twiddler

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damian reckons...

Posted September 28, 2009
As a desktop keyboard replacement, I agree it looks nicer (Twiddler s just the one that sticks in my mind for some reason).

Venturing into the world of wearables, the wrist-mounted FrogPad seems awkward to me. When on foot away from my flying car, I will want a HUD in my glasses, and a keyboard I can operate casually.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted September 28, 2009
What a great review. I'm sold. The spirit is strong, but all flesh is weak and time eventually takes - well, everything. I love my profession. The only way I am going to "retire" is feet first. What you describe, John, will allow me to be productive and effective long after my fingers lose their keyboard dexterity.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
NBob, usually as 'the' or 'a'.

And the pad exports perfectly, probably because it's SO basic. Not even itals or margin controls. That stuff can easy be tweaked in Word though, even one handed.

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Havock would have you know...

Posted September 28, 2009
In time management though I suspect at the end you would be in front especially for those with poor to average keyboard skills. The amount of continual time spent correcting typos, grammar and the general typing rate in cumulative , I think would be far less than even a week of aggregate hrs traing the software. Unless you are a typing wizard, with really good accuracy

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Murphy reckons...

Posted September 28, 2009
John, you could fly me to Australia and dictate it to me while I transcribe it.

Just kidding. I want to see Australia but I don't want to leave my teaching career behind.

I suspect it is probably too expensive to hire someone to dictate the project to. Correct?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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robW would have you know...

Posted September 28, 2009
As a "code monkey" it really ticks me off when I'm referred to as a code monkey. Anyway, this monkey has coded lots of programs for control centers that use voice recognition like Microsoft voice servers to control devices. For example, taking voice commands and lighting up signs along motorways/freeways; voice commands to select cameras and monitors in the control room and pan, tilt, zoom, record video, playback and the like; voice commands to pull up maps, change the lats and longs of centerpoints, drill down, drill out, and so on.

Thereafter comes the implementation, which always seems to fail. Operators always get frustrated with speaking commands and talking to a computer. Invariably their frustration level rises not because of the responsiveness of the software, but because "it doesn't feel right" to them. They always abandon the software and go back to the tactile and use a joystick to control the devices or a keyboard for input or keyboard shortcuts for controls.

Consequently implementation always starts out (1) with wild enthusiasm at the novelty; then (2) awkwardness at what the operators call "like talking to myself in an empty room"; then finally (3) a return to using hand controls.

I know some people take to the software like a fish to water; certainly some authors like to dictate: Sidney Sheldon is one I know of, although he dictated to his secretary and not a machine. Others never seem to get over the tactile linkage to controlling output. Probably it is just a matter of rewiring the brain, but that takes time. I'm sure there is a million-dollar research project in there someplace.

Good luck.

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Havock would have you know...

Posted September 28, 2009
Training the software would be less than the the other, I fkd that up in the delivery.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted September 28, 2009
I hope that my arms never fall off.

I type somewhere between 70-80wpm and my brain works differently and better when it travels via my fingertips.

When I'm talking, words tend to come out backwards and sometimes I hunt for the right word, whereas if I'm typing its just there, on command. Most of my girlfriends started going through the same sort of memory issues with spoken language when we hit the 40mark so I suspect it's hormonal or something to do with the female brain. Not that I think I've ever had a particularly female brain, having been raised by a male (gosh, does it show?)

Anyway. There's definitely some different wiring going on between the sexes so I would be interested to see if there's studies out there that say that this is something males adapt to better.

Re: your arm, seriously, get some acupuncture. When they sliced up my foot they severed the nerves to the lateral and underside of the foot and said I'd never get the feeling back. I got acupuncture on it ASAP and my specialist was shocked at how well it recovered. It didn't restore the nerves fully, but I have the kind of sensation you get after you've been to the dentist and the numbing sensation is wearing off.

Weird, but better than nowt.

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Havock puts forth...

Posted September 28, 2009
Quokka. We will adapt better hanfemales. The talking to ourselves bit is somthing that we are used to

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
When I first began working as an attorney all letters and documents were produced via dictation. I would dictate onto a cassette tape, which would in turn be put in an envelope, which would then be picked up by an office courier and delivered to a secretary who would then put it in a special foot-pedal controlled tape player and then transcribe the tape, printing out the draft, which would be delivered to me for my hand written revisions.

I was the very first attorney in my office to bypass the firm secretaries by using my own computer (a little, boxy Apple Mackintosh with attached dot matrix printer) to type my own letters, briefs and documents. The main partner called me into his office to explain that typing was considered secretarial work and that clients didn't like seeing attorneys doing it.

What an abysmal lack of vision. To make a long story very short, I worked faster with better results bypassing the dictation system. Slowly more and more attorneys began doing what I was doing.

Now, after all these years, I must learn how to dictate again. If it extends my usefulness as an advocate and advisor, then I am all for it.

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Moko would have you know...

Posted September 28, 2009
Yeah, I can see the value in it for dictating letters and a shit....and if if you're a fraction flight challenged at the mo with the wing, but you've gotta proof read it all anyway and to do that you've gotta sit in front of the screen anyway.

It might be a good thing for one of the near final drafts just to see how it flows?. You're reading the script anyway and you'll pick stuff that doesn't quite sit right reading it out loud. As from a readers POV.

...and while you're proof reading a near end draft you could record it and FINALLY do audio books!. See, two birds, one stone, and no flying necessary. ;o)

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 28, 2009
JB how about an update about this filing in for Spencer thing on the ABC? Just for the benefit of those of us who aren't on facebook and twitter etc.

Will it be podcast so that the OS burgers can listen in?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 28, 2009
What is an OS burger?

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 28, 2009
You, as in 'overseas'.

Q, I'll be talking to the producers sometime this morning. When I have my briefing I'll put a note here. I have no idea whether it's podcast. It should be but, you know, the ABC.

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Naut mumbles...

Posted September 28, 2009
Robin Masters on Magnum would have loved it. He dictated all his books onto tape which I can only assume Higgins typed up later for him.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted September 28, 2009
As opposed to a OSS Burger.

Whom we may not talk abbout for operational security reasons.

I may have already said to much.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted September 28, 2009
WTF?

You are collaborating with the seperatist imperialist running dog Earls on the glorious peoples wireless?

Good Dog man, guilt by association! You'll be branded a counter-revolutionary, then where will you be? It's a slippery slope JB and we, I mean They in the politburo frown upon this kind of fratenisation with the enemy.

Or is it an insidious infiltraion excercise? aah nudge nudge wink wink say no more.

Hope you are calling in the comely favours of miss NatV, she'll sort that bounder in no time.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted September 28, 2009
Unless gooshy Brisbane romance novels are her Kryptonite in which case the whole plan may disintigrate.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted September 28, 2009
Yup.

We are particularly fond of watching the ABC TV saturday night weather fuckups.

Whoever is in charge of that weather chart has serious problems. This weekend they put up the little symbol for 'Thundery Rain' beside all of Sunday's forecasts.

Of course it was a lie.

Someone in there just likes to mess with our heads.

PNB I'll try to find a link to the website so you can get in some practice listening in.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted September 28, 2009
Auntie Q.

Go back through the archives on Media watch. About 6 months ago they did a story on the introduction of a whizzo piece of software being rolled out across all ABC metro newsrooms. It was supposed to reduce the number of people required in Master Controll Room when news bulletins are aired. To sugest it has had Teething Issues would be an understatement of galactic proportions. There used to be DA's (Directors Assistants) part of whose job was to make sure the supers (the little text graphic identifying the talking head) was factually correct and appropriatly timed. The DA also made sure that the weather charts were all done correctly and flipped through at the appropriate timing.

The software now seems to be getting it right a lot less frequently than the human. This might be A; because of software glitches or user error or B; someone making a point that theyd prefer a human DA than a inanimate piece of software, as the are far less satisfying to kick in the @rse when things go pear shaped.

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/612_breakfast/index.html

PNB dunno what the time difference is in Davis, but the show starts 5amish our time, I think.

Above is a link to the ABC breakfast show.

Up in the left hand corner there's a 'how to listen' thingy. If you click on it, there will be an option for streaming online.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted September 28, 2009
Aha.

Curious that the worst offences happen on a saturday night, though.

Perhaps the software has a habit of nipping down to the pub at noon.

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Sweet Jane Says puts forth...

Posted September 28, 2009
Whatever, Birmingham.... Orin! Yeah, you, Orin! I'm talking to you, Orin. WHAT IS THE BEST NOTEBOOK TO PURCHASE? PLEASE!! Imagine it's for a US federal employee that must research, gather, and send information to over 160 countries in the world. It must be secure and have high storage for visuals as well as documents. Think of something below $1200, Orin.

J.

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Tarl mumbles...

Posted September 28, 2009
Hmm. I'm reminded of advice I read from another author on how to write; among other things the author suggests "turn off all the doo-dads in your text editor". Turn off auto-spell correct, turn off highlighting, turn off grammar checking, turn off everything that might distract you from the process of getting words from brain into text file.

*After* you've had your burst of putting your thoughts into words, you go back and fix capitalization, spelling, quoting, bolding, grammar, and any other problems. That becomes drudgery you have to do, entirely separate from the crucial creative process of formulating the dialog and plot.

It sounds like this software is ideally suited to that process - blather away until you have 4 or 5k words in the notepad buffer, and when you run down, transfer from Notepad to OOo. A burst of a couple of hours of creative work, then several hours of drudgery, rinse and repeat until you have a finished novel.

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Tarl has opinions thus...

Posted September 28, 2009
SJS, I recommend the Corporate Express Steno Book, 6" x 9", green tint and Gregg rule. Staples sells them at $1.59 each.

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lostatlunch swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 28, 2009
should have pimped out for the full Borg upgrade.

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Sweet Jane Says reckons...

Posted September 28, 2009
Lenovo IdeaPad Y730 - 40532JU? But, not in orange. Too easy a target...

J.

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Sylmobile would have you know...

Posted October 9, 2009
Once your wing's healed, I can fully imagine you still using it while having a bath, preparing dinner or knitting.

Question: does speaking to the computer increase or decrease your urge to create podcasts?

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Respond to 'MacSpeech Dictate, a potted review.'

Perfesser B's fan fic.

Posted September 18, 2009 by John Birmingham

AFTER THE WAVE: JIMMY’S TALE

Chapter One:

It happened when Jimmy was in Calgary, rummaging through an alley behind a strip mall on 1st Street: he found a crate labeled “Novelty Nose and Glasses.” Jimmy opened the crate and found it full of rubber noses attached to black plastic horned-rimmed glasses frames. His hands shook as he placed a pair on his face. He ran into an empty store and found a mirror and, as he looked at his reflection, Jimmy suddenly knew what he was supposed to do.

The Wave killed Jimmy’s parents. They were out of town visiting family in Calgary. Jimmy’s parents left him with his Aunt Mona. Then the Wave hit. Jimmy’s Aunt ordered him to stay with her in her house. But when the riots began, Jimmy left, hell-bent on protecting his home. He left his Aunt and ran across town to his house. He used the key hidden in the garden to get into the house and he went right to the closet where his father hid a gun.

“Guns are dangerous,” Jimmy’s father explained. “And no one is supposed to know we have this one. But I want you to know how to load it. Just in case.”

Jimmy loaded the gun like his father showed him and then sat vigil in the darkened house, ready to use deadly force to defend it against anyone entering without his consent. He almost shot his aunt who came by in the morning to make sure he was all right. Three days later he returned to his aunt’s home, taking only his father’s gun and collected ammunition in a brown grocery bag.

Then the Wave vanished, and the need to find his parents overcame Jimmy. He stole his Aunt’s car and drove south on Highway 2, teaching himself how to drive as he traveled.

As he drove, he watched the needle on his gas gage slowly drop towards empty. He stopped at gas stations along the way, but none of the pumps functioned. He ran out of gas near Leduc and hiked back to a gas station he passed just prior to running dry. He found a Mercedes sedan parked at one of the pump islands under the canopy with the pump handle sticking out of the fuel fill tube as if, just before the Wave hit, the Mercedes owner left the pump to go into the mini mart to buy a cup of coffee while the pump continued to gush gasoline into the Mercedes’ gas tank.

The doors was unlocked. Jimmy ignored the crusty piles of clothing in the front passenger seat. By then such refuse was nothing new to the little boy, even if he had not yet completely accepted what it meant.

Food became a problem. The smell of rotting meat and decaying produce made every supermarket unapproachable. Eventually hunger superseded Jimmy’s revulsion, and, after that, it was an endless feast of junk food that evolved into a diet composed primarily of canned goods.

He found companionship. Jimmy stopped at every supermarket he passed and he fed the dogs and cats gathered outside each supermarket’s entrance, drawn to the death stench. There was plenty of cat and dog food in every market Jimmy plundered and, before he drove off, he broke enough windows to let the dogs and cats into the stores to scavenge what they could, delaying the day they would start eating each other.

After two weeks in Calgary, Jimmy gave up searching for his parents. By then he knew they were dead – he knew that everyone was dead – but he kept looking for them, harboring the romantic notion that it was his duty to find and bury their remains. When he could no longer hold onto that illusion, he finally grieved his parent’s death and the end of the world. Great tremors battered his very small, very young mind and body as he sobbed and screamed, completely alone and utterly terrified.

The next few weeks were dark indeed. Jimmy discovered the numbing virtues of distilled ethyl alcohol in many varieties and the incredible pain associated with drinking too much of it. He somehow lived through the ordeal, and slowly began devoting his days to exploring any part of Calgary that caught his momentary fancy and wasn’t on fire.

In an alley behind a strip mall on 1st Street, Jimmy found a shipping crate he decided to open, and when he did he discovered it was filled with novelty nose and glasses. Jimmy never saw such things before, but he wasn’t stupid; he realized they were some kind of joke. He slid a pair from their clear, crinkly cellophane packaging, unfolded the black plastic frame arms and slid them onto his face.

He found a mirror and looked at his new refection. He didn’t notice his filthy skin and ragged, filthy clothing. All he noticed was his eyes staring out from the black plastic frames and the large flesh colored rubber nose covering his.

And, at that moment, Jimmy knew what he was supposed to do. He found a bag and stuffed it with nose and glasses. Then he drove about three miles north on Macleod until he reached those stupid statues.

There, on Macleod, between 5th and 6th, stood ten statues of what looked like people who were starving. They were three times as tall as Jimmy, standing in a circle, holding hands, and dancing. Jimmy hated those statutes. He didn’t fully appreciate the concept of irony, but he instinctively understood what he was too young to intellectually grasp, and that basic understanding encouraged him to hate those emaciated, faceless, tall dancing human caricatures. Every time he drove past them he hated them more, until eventually he worked hard to avoid them.

But now he avidly sought them, and when he found them, Jimmy used a tall ladder to climb up and place a novelty nose and glasses set on each of those ten statutes. And when he climbed down and walked far enough away to see them all standing there sporting his handiwork, he laughed and laughed until he fell to the ground holding his stomach and rolling on his back on the grass. Eventually he stopped, only to start up again. Jimmy gleefully convulsed thus until long after the sun set.

That night, sleeping in a home he chose at random in the bedroom of people who were surely dead, Jimmy dreamed. In his dream he found himself walking down a path towards a shadowy figure sitting on a rock next to a campfire. As Jimmy drew closer he saw that the figure was an old man with shoulder-length hair, a cropped iron-gray beard and wearing old nondescript clothes.

“You’re welcome to share my fire,” the old man said. His voice was like steel-cut rolled oats and reminded Jimmy of his third grade teacher, Mr. Henderson, who was fired after he played the “nude movie star” game with the class one afternoon.

“Call me Wanderer,” the old man said and smiled. “I knew your father.”

“Ed Finklestien?” Jimmy asked.

“What? No, not Ed Finklestien. Mike Havel. Wait – wait a minute - are you Artos?”

“No. I’m Jimmy.”

“Jimmy? I thought –“ The old man stood, reaching into a pocket and removed what looked like a cell phone. He flipped it open and rapidly punched a series of keys on the phone face. The old man peered at the small, glowing display screen.

“Damn it,” the old man hissed and rapidly punched another series of keys, lifting the phone to his ear. “Cindy?” the old man said into the phone. “Yeah, its me. It happened again. No. Listen. Wait… look , I want her fired, okay? It happened again. I know. It’s a hard job. More alternate realities every day. Right. Uh huh. Yeah, the Assiti. Look, I don’t care. It’s the wrong universe again, God damn it. I want a new appointment secretary right away, okay? Okay.”

The old man angrily snapped the cell phone shut, shoved it back into his coat pocket and looked at Jimmy.

“Sorry, kid,” the old man said, “but this mystical experience is over.

Jimmy woke up. He was a little afraid and didn’t understand what happened, but somehow the dream stiffened his resolve to continue defacing statues. He drove back to the alley where he found the packing crate. He loaded up his car with all the novelty nose and glasses he could find and, with a long ladder tied to the car roof, with no regrets, and armored with a sense of purpose, he left Calgary driving south on Highway 2.

CONTINUED

41 Responses to ‘Perfesser B's fan fic.’

aaron ducks in to say...

Posted September 18, 2009
i like it!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 18, 2009
Thanks, aaron. It is every bit as glorious as I dreamed it would be.

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Brian reckons...

Posted September 18, 2009
I thnk we may need to be careful with fulsome praise here. We wouldn't want to send Paul into paroxyms of delight . . .sorta author Nirvana. He could check out on us for weeks.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted September 18, 2009
No worries, Brian. I proudly showed this page to my wife to prove that my time online is not wasted. She read it, told me she liked it, but advised me to keep my day job.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 18, 2009
I can't find my frac=jubg glassins...shit. Blind, can't see, but loved your blog site. will return with speciatilc on weeknd

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Brian would have you know...

Posted September 18, 2009
Paul. Wives are sooo . . .(how to put it) . . . .(without unfortunate repurcussions . . . . .) . . . .down to earth? . . .yes . . .that'll do . . . .down to earth.

Seriously though . . .keeping the day job . . . .almost every pro authors mantra.

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savo mumbles...

Posted September 18, 2009
Up on the mini-burger now.

Bunch of Californian Chardonney in savo at the moment so I havn't developed a full comprehension past paragraph one. But really good. Held me for much longer than I anticipated it should have. I'll try para two after the end of the Chardy.

cheers

(in the wilds of Canadia - where there ar no bloody bears at all)

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 18, 2009
savo - I guaranty that the drunker you are, the better the story will be.

Can I repost this at my blog - with illustrations, of course - or do the mini burger rules prohibit it?

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Flinthart mutters...

Posted September 18, 2009
Aha. Well struck, sir.

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Chaz swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 18, 2009
Paul, it is no less than I would expect from you.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted September 18, 2009
In Salt Lake City, Jimmy hooks up with a radical feminist lesbian who is obsessed with putting Hitler moustaches on paintings - and statues. Conflict ensues.

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Trashman would have you know...

Posted September 18, 2009
Meh. Sorry to be the dissenting voice, but it didn't do much for me. Little boy loses his family and then his mind.

Very well written, the descriptions are quite evocative (I liked the description of the supermarkets and feeding the cats & dogs), but the story left me cold.

The 'mystical dream' that refs the 1632 'verse(?) just seemed out of place to me.

Maybe later chapters will grab me.

Sorry!

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horse with no name reckons...

Posted September 18, 2009
"...He didn’t fully appreciate the concept of irony, but he instinctively understood what he was too young to intellectually grasp, and that basic understanding encouraged him to hate those..."

Jasus!

even in pre-school they teach em to show not tell

dullards

very poor immitation (not emulation) of 'The Road'

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 18, 2009
Hi Ho Silver, and AWAY!!!!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2009
Trashman - I certainly don't mind a critical review. I don't have a lot artistically invested in this because I am not an artist. Seriously, folks, if you don't like it, fire away.

I had three reasons for writing this. First, the vast majority of WW fanfic is military in nature, and I wanted to explore what the Wave might do to ordinary people. Second, I wanted to tell an elaborate joke (which is all I am ultimately interested in). Although I do make a very tiny reference to the 1632 universe, the dream sequence is a direct parody of a scene from one of S.M. Stirling's "Emberverse" novels. Third, it makes me laugh when I read it. Descriptions like "His voice was like steel-cut rolled oats..." just crack me up.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 19, 2009
You see now Paul? You see what this gig is like?

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Tarl ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2009
Hmm - after a year, would there still be cats & dogs gathering around supermarkets? I would assume anything easily plunderable would have been eaten within weeks, and anything not eaten would have rotted/dessicated to the point of not even stinking any more by the time the wave came down.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2009
My eyes have been opened to the horror of it, author dude. I mean, like, nobody got ANY of the puns, or the painfully clear allusions to Paradise Lost and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. I am deeply discouraged by the patent lack of theology and geometry in the universe.

How do you withstand it?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2009
One word, Tari: preservatives. In America (Home of the Free) nothing rots.

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Tarl asserts...

Posted September 19, 2009
Paul, my refrigerator disagrees with you.

On a slight tangent... I remember when a supermarket in Mexico City went on strike in the early 70's. By law, not even a picket line was needed to keep *everyone* out, and the union, in their wisdom, decided to invoke that clause.

About a week after the strike started, the place stunk up the neighborhood something fierce. By about three weeks in, the stink was mostly gone. But they tore that building down a few months later. I presume the vermin collection they accumulated pretty much guaranteed that building was never going to be a supermarket again.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2009
Would you believe things rot, but veeeery slowly?

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Quokka reckons...

Posted September 19, 2009
Things from America, rot?

What rot.

Only last night while we were out purchasing sushi (not the food stuff in question) I spotted and procured an unfamiliar bottle, imported from New Jersey.

Black Cherry Soda

manufactured by the Boylan Bottling Co

(a family run business)

Dated 1891

And still good.

Buuuuuurp.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2009
Yes. The Boylans are known far and wide for their expertise in manufacturing and distributing carbonated beverages. As legend has it, the founder of the Boylan Bottling Company, James Boylan, stole the recipe for root beer from one Hezekiah Root back in 1891. The rest is carbonated beverage bottling and distributing history.

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damian puts forth...

Posted September 19, 2009
The other things we see a lot of here with the name "Boylan" on them, are plastic temporary road barriers of the type that are put in place, then filled with water while in service, and presumably drained again for transport later. There is so much road construction at the moment that there are countless thousands of these objects on the roads here. I often engage in a sort of whimsical fantasy about what might be built with these giant lego blocks, and I guess that's another elaborate joke for a post wave world (I assume you have such things in the USA).

I liked this, anyhow Paul. Very dryly funny.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted September 19, 2009
Yes. The Boylans are known far and wide for their expertise in manufacturing and distributing plastic temporary road barriers of the type that are put in place, then filled with water while in service, and drained again for transport later. As legend has it, the founder of the Boylan Plastic Temporary Road Barrier Company, Theo Boylan, stole the design for plastic temporary road barriers of the type that are put in place, then filled with water while in service, and then drained again for transport later from one Ernesto Barrier back in 1981. The rest is plastic temporary road barrier manufacturing and and distributing history.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2009
The only place I've ever found root beer in these parts is at Mrs Flannery's down in Annerley road near the Mater. Damned fine stuff, but I'm guessing its not a patch on anything the Boylan family can produce.

Most soft drinks you find these days just taste like preservatives and sugar. The Bloke was scoffing at me because the Black Cherry soda advertised itself as being 'sweet' and 'tart' and not being a fan of sweet goods he didn't believe you could have both.

He said to tell you, PNB, that he was impressed with your family's work.

We knew it was you because when we peeled off the import label listing a long variety of numbers in the 'Ingredients' list, the bottle itself stated that there was nothing artificial within and it was all good clean wholesome Momma's cooking to be found within.

The Boylan Family Principles were proudly on show.

Hats off.

Oh and I liked the story but felt it could be improved by the addition of roadkill.

I realized this when I read Mr. Ed's comments and was put in mind of the mess that was made last time horses got loose on the Logan Motorway.

I realize that in America most of your native animals may have gone the way of the buffalo but where I live you can't make it to the local bottleshop without running down a brush turkey.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2009
What? Did I leave out the roadkill vignettes? I thought I included a lengthy and detailed description of Jimmy running down animals.

Damn it. This writing thing is SO much more difficult that it seemed. I am just going to stick with what I know. They also serve who negotiate and draft the intellectual property licensing agreements.

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Quokka reckons...

Posted September 19, 2009
Well I did attempt it late last night without spectacles, which only resurfaced this morning where I have never found them before, inside the spectacle case. So maybe I missed that bit. And said spectacles seem no longer to be serving their purpose, the blame for which lies entirely with damage done in the last week by Fairfax News Ltd.

My own personal joy in the reading of fiction is establishing which character in the story is someone from the author's dim dark past on whom they have decided to enact spiteful retribution for past misdeeds. The same pleasure can be had from watching movies if you have contacts in the film industry and the writer fails to understand the concept of 'Loose lips sink ships'. And songs. I had a friend turn up at a gig and discover that she was the subject of a very unwholesome Love Gone Wrong song. Sadly it never became a hit and the friend, now in her late forties, still laments her one misbegotten chance at achieving international infamy.

I have yet to craft such an entertaining piece of fiction myself, but meanwhile there is some satisfaction to be had from being on the other side of that fence and pointing to such and such a novel and saying 'as you will see, the hateful wench who graces these pages is in fact, yours truly.'

Even more fun is to be had from turning up at author events and grinning evilly at said author and watching them blanche in horror as they realize yes, my evil has in fact expanded exponentially over time, and who knows what they can expect from the overweight one armed fat man that now stands before them with the overweight three legged fat guide dog in tow.

My own personal view is that fiction writing is only successful when one includes two or more stinging personal vendettas. Not that the resulting books are at all interesting but speculation about who the author is trying to diss will guarantee word-of-mouth sales.

I say, bring on the critics. They are mince to your grinder.

Carry on.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted September 19, 2009
Ahh . . .love the critiques. I reckon though . . .so long as the story arc is solid, things like punctuation and character development can slip a bit.

Gawd! Number of times I've watched punctuation Nazi's go to town on nits when the point is : "How good is the premise and plot?"

This is why we have editors and first readers.

Slush and fanfic critiques work in that aspiring authors find and make partnerships with worthwhile critics. Good sounding boards are to be cherished.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2009
I would agree, Brian, but I am not an aspiring author and, to be honest, I don't like any of you people, so I don't value any of your opinions. And what the fuck is wrong with my punctuation, eh? EH?? Every mistake I made was intentional! Every misplaced semi colon a work of artistic choice! That doesn't make it good, but at least I thought about it first. That has to count for something.

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savo would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2009
Ah yes it is such a pain in the arse when no one appears to catch on the the subtler japes or even the heavily researched pieces that you are just dying for them to ask about. Such is the life of a writer of literature.

As far as puttingit on your own blog hell yes. If you want piccies put on the mini I should be able to do that too if you want.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2009
Christ Paul. What's liking got to do with authors? Almost a trademark in behaviour . . .reclusive, hyper sensitive, eccentric, ego maniacal . . . .hmmm . . . .strike that . . .you may have a future in literature at that. :))

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2009
Savo - tell you what: I'll post it on my blog with photo illustrations to show you where I want the pics to appear in the story, then I'll email you the link to the pics so you can insert them in the mini burger edition. Then I'll remove the story from my blog (no point in having it in two places).

Where do I send the links to the pics?

Brian - I'm gregarious, callous, pedestrian and modest. But otherwise you make a good point.

quokka - You were drunk typing when you wrote that, weren't you?

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2009
Depends what you put in the cherry soda, PNB.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted September 19, 2009
Love. We put love in that soda, dear.

And sodium benzoate.

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2009
good read, not too shabby at all PNB...EXCEPT ITS GOT NO GUCKING KILLING, BLOWIN SHIT UP, DEATH, spiral dances of figures as they a blown ta fkn bits. UI am so god dam disappointed in ya, its simply not fkn funny, talk about run like fk and NOT take one for the team SHEEEZ!. Get wif da effin program will ya.

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Quokka mutters...

Posted September 19, 2009
Hav this is why he can't have weapons until he's master balloons.

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Quokka mutters...

Posted September 19, 2009
F***ing uselfss goodamned glasses. And no I am not drunk, just legally blind.

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damian reckons...

Posted September 19, 2009
Well if you have any leverage on Theo's money, my good man, use it. The bloke must be worth a fortune, given the number of the goshdurnit things we see around here.

Is that the same Ernesto Barrier who invented the heat-sealed packaging that can't be opened safely without scissors? I loathe the man, and your relation did right in shafting him.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted September 20, 2009
Havock - okay, okay. The kid will kill people in the next chapter. And blow stuff up.

quokka - go ahead: blame it on our "glasses."

Damian - that is, indeed, the same Ernesto Barrier. Uncle Theo stole that idea from him, too. However, the lawsuits and resulting monetary judgments against the Boylan Unsafe Heat-Sealed Packaging Company drained all of the profits out of the Boylan Plastic Temporary Road Barrier Company. Such are the fortunes of predatory business practices.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2009
Savo - I've posted it with some illustrations at http://paulboylan.wordpress.com. Let me know what you think and we'll take it from there.

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Respond to 'Perfesser B's fan fic.'

Helluva week to go national.

Posted September 13, 2009 by John Birmingham
I go cyborg tomorrow at 8 in the AM, and will allow that I might need a coupla hours to recover from the installation of my new atomic powered titanium limb. Quokka seems to think I'll be out of it for a week, but I call that bull talk from a one eyed fat man, even though she's not fat, or a guy and she has both eyes as best I can tell.

Still, I'm writing and filing blunty today and if I overnight in the hospital, which I'm thinking of simply because I really like the idea of having a bed with a TV suspended over it, then it'll be apres lunch time Tuesday at the earliest afore I get to reply to any comments. Also, I'm pretty sure the wrangling of the blog will move from BT down to Sydney to the new National Times Death Star. For us, that's not necessarily a good thing because the BT blog mavens have been well acculturated to the ways of the Instrument and its band of brigands and camp followers. I was surprised at drinks the other night to find out just how closely they follow the regulars and indeed how much of a celebrity cult has built up around some of you.

Anyway, we lose that familiarity on Tuesday because of the new format. But, on the upside, we gain potentially millions of new slouchbikers and vegans to harass.

As I understand it there'll be some new and bothersome Fairfax Digital registration process to begin commenting. Haven't used it myself yet, but I suspect market forces will see it evolve into something more akin to the current email and pin system very quickly. I can only ask for your patience while that happens and while I get back up to speed after the op. It's unlikey I'll be able to post a link here in the morning however. I dont think they'll let me take my lappy into the ward.

Still have no real concerns. You guys are widely recognised are the gold standard in blog crews.

So. Arm yourselves. Stand to. And prepare to kill like champions.

72 Responses to ‘Helluva week to go national.’

lostatlunch reckons...

Posted September 13, 2009
no blogging from the ward.... can ya tweet from the operating table?

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DrYobbo ducks in to say...

Posted September 13, 2009
National infamy beckons!

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WalkingShaw mutters...

Posted September 13, 2009
The Nation better be prepared. In more ways than one...

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Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted September 13, 2009
Good luck.

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MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 13, 2009
good luck with the op mate.

I'm really thankful I didn't break anything while in NZ.

I'm a bit worried about the right hammy though.

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DrYobbo ducks in to say...

Posted September 13, 2009
How the hell are we going to explain Virty to these people?

And should we bother?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 13, 2009
Hey, wait a minute: are you saying quokka is a woman?

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Albion Love Den has opinions thus...

Posted September 13, 2009
PNB - I think he was referring to Quokka in the female terms like one does with God sometimes. IE - better to be safe than sorry, yadda yadda.

And I dunno `bout you, but that was one helluva "from the trenches" speech there, boss. Sorta feel like one of the unwashed mob right after Kenneth Brannagh's spittle-addled up-n-at'em speech in Henry V.

I, for one, welcome our new and improved metallic(a) leader. Sure will give those zombies a run for their money.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted September 13, 2009
I just re-read JB's post. I am not comfortable with the possibility, no matter how remote, of a celebrity cult built up around me. Although it does explain why there is so much shouting lately.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted September 13, 2009
Damn those followers, I thought they'd snap a manolo and give up the chase when I headed up hill.

If they're still brandishing pitchforks, tell em I went Thataway. To Fairfax, and Beyond.

Don't listen to JB, Paul.

He was heading a panel on hoaxes at the writers festival last night and arguing that we need them to have a good laugh.

I payed some wench a fiver to go up and say hello and pretend she was me.

He'll be confused about that one for months to come.

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jennicki puts forth...

Posted September 13, 2009
I apologize to the rest of you bloggers for bringing down the curve. Sorry but there's always gotta be someone.

Hope all goes well with the procedure, Mister Birmo. Are there bunny nurses around to work the remote control to the suspended TV for you?

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Sweet Jane Says mutters...

Posted September 13, 2009
STOP IT! You've milked the oh-me-poor-arm thing to bits. It's an arm. It will grow back. Get morphine, eat Jell-o and be happy. Do you forget? I've titanium in my neck. You'll know the true pain of rainy days for the rest of your life; so, stop whining now. Be grateful for your health care. Do you know how many Americans don't get titanium? Seriously... My neck cost $400,000.00. I walk, many Americans in my position don't walk ever again. They don't get the best operations, but your Republican, US friends don't give a damn about those people.

You suck.

J.

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Flinthart reckons...

Posted September 13, 2009
Aaaaahhhhfuck. New URL? Do I hafta go surfing for the goddam thing? You're gonna put up the usual pointer, right? Register? With Fairfax? Sheeeeit.

Oh well. Line up them tin ducks; I'll get the air rifle out.

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MickH mutters...

Posted September 13, 2009
now now Jane

Stop feeling jealous

I'm sure if you slam your arm in a door you can have a broken one too!

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted September 13, 2009
From what i can tell, mr flinthart, the old blunt url should work. they seem to be aggregating opinion stuff from across fairfax network at the national times site, but the individual columns and blogs sourced from say BT or the Age, will still run on those separate sites. if that makes, uh, sense.

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Lobes would have you know...

Posted September 13, 2009
"It’s an arm. It will grow back."

Hes not a Starfish Jane.

Not sure what this talk of the blog 'moving' is about. Am pretty sure it will still be here in front of me on this computer.

I also am uneasy of this talk of 'celebrity'. I'd rather be feared than celebrated. NB to self; Must. Try. Harder.

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sibeen reckons...

Posted September 13, 2009
Hold on, hold on a minute here. Are you telling me that the BT is somehow related to The Age, the Pravda of the south?

Thank god I use a nome de plume around here, if the boys at the Melbourne club found out I'd been posting on that filthy site I could end up tarred and feathered and barred from walking down Collins St.

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hughesy is gonna tell you...

Posted September 13, 2009
Wow - a crew! I feel like I should have a hoodie a ho and gold tooth, or something.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 13, 2009
Dr. Yobbo don't worry about Virty.

I heard he's filling out job applications down at Austereo.

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Albion Love Den is gonna tell you...

Posted September 13, 2009
That's funny, hughesy - you just perfectly outlined my mental image of SJS. Oh, with an added full body bandage and a chest full of medals.

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Big Bad Al mumbles...

Posted September 13, 2009
First things first: Wasn't there a Quokka, a MS Quokka, at the last Bounders Meeting? A Quokka is a Girl of the Female variety, you say? No wonder all our secrets have been getting out.

Now, about this move to Syd... Sydn... That place south of the border. Did you agree to this? Were you consulted? Do you remember signing anything whilst under the influence of Broken Arm Pain Killing Drugs? Think man, Think!

Damn it! I have only just got to the stage of having been censored by the Brisbane mob. Now I've got to convince the Southern mob I am a Bad Boy.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 13, 2009
Just filed the first copy of the 'new' blunty. Decided to hold off on the robbins piece till thurs.

Instead try to think of one of the most inflammatory topics going, and you're halfway there.

It's poss they wont even run it, i guess. but BT would.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted September 13, 2009
http://tfqn3a.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pTw2Rt7cIIb8zj6w81TpQ1qDWhl_LByJ-2h2xATSHNKd3aMZV0p9EF6jwuJjqjNG19HfD1eWmKXOmAwmKqzwfP4zGNVFXoPe8/quokka.jpg

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 13, 2009
Wait a minute . . . .(processing . . .processing . . .). Does this mean I have to learn something new? Dunno . . . .seems like a very suspect concept . . .. .and we have to share? . . . . .and be creative? . . . . .

Next you'll be telling me women can vote and Obama is a Democrat.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted September 13, 2009
Now remember, JB. If you wake up bilious and some fool offers you a kidney dish, just ask them where they would like you to project everything else that churns and pitches between your teeth and your kidney.

From experience, when one of those suckers hurls upwards into the dish, the ensuing splatter sure can mess up the view on the telly.

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted September 13, 2009
Err . . .I guess while he's under the knife he could get a few other things done. Tummy tuck. Botox. The ole snip-snip thing the missus has been wanting him to have. Some follicle transplanty thingies . . .

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Chaz mutters...

Posted September 13, 2009
Bugger I can never remember my fairfax registration thingy.

Funnily enough wandered past the Fairfax bunker a few times on thursday and saturday. In fact almost walked in to the great Tetsuya himself only a few meters away by the wharf.

Back in Perth again now...not happy.

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Monster Yuppy ducks in to say...

Posted September 13, 2009
SJS - "Seriously… My neck cost $400,000.00."

I wonder how many kiddies could have had vaccinations for that amount of money, or how chemo that could have got a cancer patient.

Obviously, the Drs thought it was money well spent on you, as opposed to helping children.....

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Abe ducks in to say...

Posted September 14, 2009
Monster Yuppy for the win!

Good luck Birmo. I shall have a beer in your honour, although I will have to drink it fast before it gets cold. Here's to a speedy recovery.

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girlclumsy mumbles...

Posted September 14, 2009
Wow, end of an era, of sorts.

I'm so not good with change. But I trust the rest of the Burgers will walk me through it.

It's SO fun being a part of this crew; you guys rock.

I'm pretty excited by the NT coming back - am I right in guessing it's the Fairfax response to The Punch? (of sorts, anyway).

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mckinneytexas puts forth...

Posted September 14, 2009
If something new is required to access and post, please post instructions, preferably in large, monosyllabic capital letters for Sweet Jane and me. We're both a little slow.

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Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted September 14, 2009
The Punch died in the arse when they decided to side with Austereo (or more accurately Austereos sponsors) over the whole Sandilands thing. But then I never did really get over the dissappointment of finding out that it was not, in fact, a reincarnation of the original London Punch. Just cashing in on its name.

Lets hope whatever Fairfax is cooking up doesnt fail the same way.

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Puma swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2009
"Hes not a Starfish Jane"

LOL

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2009
I fear change.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted September 14, 2009
PNB, hey, it is change you can believe in.

Birmo, per the arm, will Tony Stark be doing the honors?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Sweet Jane Says asserts...

Posted September 14, 2009
I was just a research subject with good insurance and the physical conditioning to survive the surgery. It was fortunate that I was flown to a university hospital with imported doctors. Luck... The thing that the uninsured don't have...

J.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted September 14, 2009
Lets see.

What do we have.

Troll with snapped neck, replacement value $400,000.

A science experiment gone horribly wrong.

This has all the essential ingredients to become a best seller on Oprah's book club.

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted September 14, 2009
I am deeply offended by your oblique accusations of freak status merely because Jane was the subject of medical experiments. I myself had an extra arm for a while (and was paid handsomely for it), but do you see people calling me a freak? Hell no. If they did, I would drink their blood and eat their flesh.

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Quokka reckons...

Posted September 14, 2009
Around these parts, that just makes you Tasmanian.

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2009
And another thing, PNB, I want my arm back.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to feed the parrot and change my eye patch.

Arrharrrh.

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Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2009
Listen, obtuse bitch, the surgery went very well. Money bought me good luck. You people must have everything spelled-out for you. PEOPLE WITHOUT INSURANCE HAVE NO LUCK.

J.

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Matthew K asserts...

Posted September 14, 2009
SJ is apparently some kind of lizard as she can grow back limbs.

Now what's happening? Blunt Instrument is moving or what? Not been paying as much attention as I should lately.

Good luck with the op JB, I'm sure you will bear it with the manly stoicism we expect from you.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted September 14, 2009
Matt some days we all have trouble following.

From things she's let slip I understand that SJS is the subject of a top secret military experiment. The week long silences are not gin baths, as has been hypothesized, but deep spells of slumber induced by darts from the trank gun when she escapes from her cage.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2009
And Matt, remember.

If you suspect she has sustained further brain injury with her thrashings and squeals, follow the first aid code and inquire:

Can you hear me?

What is your name?

Where do you live?

Who is the prime minister?

And, most importantly, this one

How many fingers am I holding up?

And try not to waggle them.

Respond to this comment

Monster Yuppy ducks in to say...

Posted September 14, 2009
SJS - "Listen, obtuse bitch, the surgery went very well. Money bought me good luck. You people must have everything spelled-out for you. PEOPLE WITHOUT INSURANCE HAVE NO LUCK."

Actually, that is factually incorrect.

Americans without insurance have no luck.

Australians, Danes,Canadians, the French et al, without insurance, still get good health care.

Suck it up.

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2009
You know, as well as I, that only one thing equals luck in this world - regardless of nation; it is MONEY.

J.

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Sweet Jane Says mutters...

Posted September 14, 2009
And, I know better than to advertise my branch of federal employ when making public comments.

J.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 14, 2009
We're gonna need a bigger cattle prod.

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted September 14, 2009
Twenty five dollars says quokka can take jane in a wresting match.

Respond to this comment

Quokka reckons...

Posted September 14, 2009
PNB, how many fingers am I holding up?

Respond to this comment

Quokka asserts...

Posted September 14, 2009
I refuse to indulge in your sick fantasies by rolling around in a pit of Jello.

Respond to this comment

El Coqui would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2009
I take that and raise you up 25. :)

Respond to this comment

Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2009
My fear is that she'll become amorous.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted September 14, 2009
How dare you, Madame, insinuate that I indulge in any kind of "fantasy" involving you, Jane, and "jello"?? I am deeply offended by the accusation! Do you take me for a pervert of some kind? Have some respect for, if nothing else, my years!

I was thinking more along the lines of some kind of vegetable oil.

Respond to this comment

Monster Yuppy would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2009
SJS "You know, as well as I, that only one thing equals luck in this world - regardless of nation; it is MONEY."

No Jane. You are wrong again.

Place of birth matters more than luck.

As an Australian, I am lucky on two fronts...

Firstly, I was born here.

Our second stroke of luck is that you were not.

Respond to this comment

Steven Danno asserts...

Posted September 14, 2009
I have something better than health insurance..a gold Amex card...opens doors internationally,... except in the Arab Republics and western NSW but who would to go to a hospital there anyway. Good luck with the implant JB..faster, stronger, better...

Fairyfax pffft to that: we are nothing if not adaptable, that is why we are the alpha virus on the planet, well apart from dolphins who couldnt care what anyone thinks of except the Japanese maybe who think they all look the same...

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sibeen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2009
I take that and raise you up 25. :)

Before raising PNB the $25 perhaps you should be asking whether PNB can raise the $25, global meltdown and laid of lawyers etc, etc.

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted September 14, 2009
Okay, okay. I will change my bet, and increase its value, by converting to Euros (which I do possess in a bank account in Poitiers, France). 25 Euros says quokka can take jane (notwithstanding jane's presumed extra abilities stemming from the aforementioned medical experiments)!

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2009
http://womenswrestling.tribe.net/photos/345e4841-1fbd-4db2-8277-a373c47214b3

http://www.podcastingnews.com/content/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/female-wrestling.jpg

http://www.thehygrade.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/yapb_cache/27wrestling2.er07ljd3ri0wokcswo08c8480.ae6egtt2xvk0sowk84g4ock8k.th.jpeg

http://images.beijing2008.cn/20070823/Img214138161.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_GzXYfK-lDG4/Rtp8Jg4KISI/AAAAAAAADNk/KUglIWsV3sM/s400/women%27s+wrestling+competition+4.jpg

http://www.canadagames.ca/groups/Picture%20Library%202005/Day%2011%20extra/women+wrestling.jpg

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40862000/jpg/_40862834_wrestle300.jpg

And, from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3lqUXfAk2c

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Wrestling Promoter would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2009
Wrestling Inc gladly announces a new pay per view coming soon to JBSPN. Its teh Feral Quokka against the Titanium enhanced SJS! Will SJS' metal reinforcement be enough to hold off a wild Quokka? Quokka's manager, PNB, when not pressed didn't say,

"Quokka will be all over SJS like a cheap suit. Quokka has the power and the style to tear the Titanosaur apart. SJS will be hapless krill to Quokka's minke whale, Ibanez to Stratocaster, Hanson to The Beach Boys. From the Shizzle to the Jizzle to the Ess Aitch izzle, she be gone."

Tickets on sale next Monday or subscribe to QuokkavSJS via your remote.

Respond to this comment

Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 14, 2009
For shame, our noble leader is away for a day and the place turns into a den of iniquity. Gambling, jelly wrestling, slinging of mud and spurting of oil.

I can't imagine what he'll have to say about all this when he awakens.

And PNB, you forget, as a one armed fat man, I am at a gross disadvantage here.

Before the next Jelly Wrestling Championship Throwdown at this fine establishment, I expect all of you clowns to draw straws to ascertain who should be Match Official.

The lucky winner gets to do a cavity search of Jane and check for undescended testicles. If there's more than three, the rules require that you rip them out. And then trim her nose hair. We don't want it dangling over Princess Leia's gold bikini. That just wouldn't look right.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2009
Spoken like an obtuse bitch. Well done (and I mean that).

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Brian puts forth...

Posted September 14, 2009
Gee . . . I dunno about Quok and Jane. I mean . . .has anyone checked 'em out for rabies. IIRC Quokka's are rabid little buggers. . . . .on the other hand they've got one hell of a libido.

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sibeen is gonna tell you...

Posted September 14, 2009
Hold on, are we using jelly or some form of cheap vegtable oil in this contest?

Is it the JWC or the CVOWC?

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2009
It pays to pay attention, PNB.

Now, in the interests of fairness I should point out the flaw in your Vegetable Oil Reasoning.

If you get Jane all lathered up in that, how do you think she'll go when she tries to get a grip?

Something she has trouble with at the best of times, I might add.

Nope.

That's just not a fair fight.

I don't want it said that I don't play fair.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted September 14, 2009
Whereas Jello, on the other hand, should any of the competitors panic and soil themselves, is still on that list that JB tacked up on the bar fridge for 'Acceptable Troll Snacks.'

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2009
Fairness has nothing to do with it, and the ability to "get a grip" doesn't even factor into the equation.

It is painfully apparent to me that virtually none of you have ever seen two or more women wrestling - with or without condiments.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted September 14, 2009
Once again, I feel alone in an alien and uncaring universe...

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sibeen has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2009
Can cheap vegtable oil be considered a condiment?

*Note* I haven't been to the American South, what they do or do not consider a condiment is beyond my ken.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 14, 2009
Oil becomes a condiment when you marinade stuff in it.

Vegetables, trolls, enemies of the state.

Whatever takes your fancy.

Respond to this comment

Patricia reckons...

Posted September 16, 2009
*tears stream for her eyes*

Guffaw!

You've made me laugh. Even SJS

The obstuse bitch comment just takes the cake.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 17, 2009
There's cake?

What kind?

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Respond to 'Helluva week to go national.'

Waiting... waiting...

Posted September 7, 2009 by John Birmingham
... on delivery of MacSpeech Dictate before I can get any real work done. Little blog farts like this I can squeeze out, but anything longer, typing one handed on the wrong side, and it all turns to shit.

The beauty of the interwebz though... I was able to spend a few hours yesterday cruising reviews and youtube demos of the software, and i downloaded the manual in pdf. MacSpeech Dictate is a ground up rebuild based on the Dragon engine which has been powering the vastly superior performance of windows based dictation programs for a while now. From the reviews, both pro and amateur, the rebuild looks very impressive and altho there are some genuine flaws (such as an inability to integrate mouse and keyboard based editing with the program's voice commands - a major problem, that one) many of the frustrations that some amateur reviews in particular experienced seemed to come from not having trained the software properly (which takes about 10 mins) and not having read the manual.

I suspect the real secret to getting the most out of this program will not be training the dictation elements, but the editing commands. They, unlike, simply speaking what I want on the page, are not at all 'natural' and will take a few days to become ingrained. However, having invested the better part of a day studying this program I have some high hopes for it actually increasing my productivity.

When it finally arrives.

Until then I have some books to read for review (surprisingly difficult one handed - perhaps i shouldn't have dissed the kindle so badly). And of course exercise. I'm greatly afeared of putting back all the flab i took off this year. To that end I've been walking a lot - about to trundle into the city to see my sawbones in fact. And I've worked out a pretty basic routine of lower body work and some core strength exercises. Some kicking drills. And I'm also doing some free weights on the uninjured arm, which should give me a nice lopsided look when the plaster comes off.

Two things I've discovered in the last twenty-four hours though. I cant do right handed chopstix. And my xbox controller is going to have a long, well earned rest.

For now, my neck and arm are all cramped from this cap'n hook style of typing. so, l8r.

34 Responses to ‘Waiting... waiting...’

Tarl has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
David Weber reports that he does essentially all his writing through Dragon speech recognition. He occasionally bitches about the effort to train it to recognize particular words that aren't in the normal vocabulary (e.g., "Manticoran", "Clyntahn", ...), but it's clear that it works for him.

Good luck.

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted September 7, 2009
Thanks for the update, its an intersting journey in to the one world of yours.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 7, 2009
Many moons ago I did a four day conference gig for the justices of the Family Court of Victoria. I had a fair bit of contact with one of the beaks who turned out to be a nice bloke with a wickedly dark sense of humour, but I digress.

He used Dragon free speech for all of his file notes. He said he couldn't wouldn't use it for his actual findings but would keep it open as he read documents and used it to take notes while reading submissions. He even used a little digi voice recorder and then fed that file to his lappy.

One feature I particularly liked was any time the laptop thought he had said "Grumblefutz" it would highlight it in the text and when he hovered the mouse over it - it actually played back the audio of what he had said.

He commented it had taken almost a full month to train it to understand his voice, but it learnt "better than most secrataries."

One observation he made was that he had to learn not to dictate around a coffee cup as that buggered it everytime.

Once he had got into the swing of it he reckoned it was as nessecary as his arm.

oh, sorry.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted September 7, 2009
I'm thinking Military terminology and then CAPPIN THE FUCKING MACHINE.

We might start callin ya CRAB..one bi, one little arme and Very ROUND in the middle.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 7, 2009
This is where I say 'I told you so'.

You need a massage.

Failing that, there are some really good yoga stretches that work the horrible kinks out but somehow...somehow...I think you're two or three broken limbs away from figuring out the value of such.

So I guess this means if I bring a batch of my blueberry, white chocolate and macadamia muffins to the WF for you to sample, you'll be virtuously waving them away with your one good arm?

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
http://herpes-coldsores.com/std/pubic_lice_pictures.htm

Now Havock dear that's just not playing nice. It conjures up some very ugly images.

(see above)

Off to the naughty corner with you.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 7, 2009
Wel, quok, maybe one wafer thin slice.

But no yoga.

As if.

NBob, one the things i can do to steepen the software's learning curve is feed it a few thousand words of my own writing and then read the copy to it. Makes a huge difference apparently, but it's not something the average punter can do, not having long samples of their own work.

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Matthew K mutters...

Posted September 7, 2009
My Dad used Dragon a lot, doesn't any more. I'll ask him why.

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lostatlunch has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
Was your assasin called Annie Wilkes & your #1 fan?

She got the wrong limb.. We wanted more writing done, not less.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted September 7, 2009
Righteo.

I'll save the Rum and Raisin Baked cheesecake for when the bionic legs are installed, then.

Dunno about this software.

Voice to Text is convinced that my bloke shares a name with one of the singing chipmunks.

'Hell there Alwyn'

and its all downhill from there.

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Chaz asserts...

Posted September 7, 2009
Yes I see Dragon as the main way I'll actually get works of any length done (due to my pretty crap typing skils).

However I'm dissapointed to note you're surprised that amatuer critics actually feel that they don't need to read the instruction manual!

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
Chaz any gadget that requires reading of a manual is not for the likes of me.

I'm still wondering what all the little buttons on the dash of our C4 do but there's no way in hell I'm reading the manual to find out. That would be Men's Work.

Any instructions that do not start out by 'Grease tray and preheat oven to...' are not for me.

Brisbane Burgers have you lot seen the writers festival program?

We have tickets to the thing that JB is chairing on Saturday evening at 5.45pm.

I don't know how many of you are familiar wtih Christian Lander's 'Stuff White People Like' but he's absolutely hilarious. Heard him on either Radio Nat or 612 a while back and rushed out to buy the book. There's a particularly good section on 'how to choose a name for your child'.

Warning, River Fire is on so wear steel capped boots for the journey home.

Booking info below:

https://www.qtix.com.au/show/BWF_The_essential_hoax_09.aspx

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted September 7, 2009
Chaz, given the amount of time its going to take me, to type up the edits to the HARD COPY, I think this might be well fucking worth it. Not to mention, proof reading rthe edits themselves. Mine ( typing) is my ONLY weakness, but its a real cast iron m#fker of a bitch at that!

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
Ya reckon H?

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El Coqui swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 7, 2009
Hey let's call John software package a Buckley!

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 7, 2009
Yes.

The Bloke has much the same theory, El Coqui...

JB, dictation 'The hapless chap reached for his gun, only to...fuck off dog, get your own brownies...(clink of ice into scotch) be riddled with a spray of bullets from the roof of the tower'

Translation

'The happiness tap reached foreskin only to FUCK OFF DOG GUEST DOREEEN'S FROWNING ...splat plink slurp befiddled witherspoon of bullets from deerhofff's pullover.'

etc

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 7, 2009
Followed by the splash of the software as it hits the darkly rippling waters of JB's pool (yes yes he'd be aiming for the river but he's down a good arm you know) and meets the same fate as Jeff Buckley.

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Orin has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
I think that it may be easier to have trained yourself to use a FROGPAD http://www.frogpad.com/ . They are one handed keyboards (you can buy either a left handed one or a right handed one)

It took me about 2 days intense practice to get up to 40 WPM (two handed I'm > 120)

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DrYobbo mutters...

Posted September 7, 2009
That'd be more the fate that Brian Jones met surely? Jeff fell (ie was pissed as 40 bastards), Brian was pushed... allegedly...

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 7, 2009
I thought you were busy drowing in your own mucous?

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Stephen reckons...

Posted September 7, 2009
JB,

Having read some of Weber's unedited works (snippets, etc) I'll have to say that the thing you're going to have to watch out for is homonyms. The software is really good at replacing bare with bear, break with brake, etc. Hopefully these days they use some grammar analysis to pick up the worst of these, but who knows. specially with a new program.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 7, 2009
Ha!

So, JB, you tell us you walk into the city and yet at 13:46:42 hours I get a text from my spies saying that they see you and your poor sore paw awaiting the arrival of a city cat type hovercraft.

Scared you'll get your cast wet?

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 7, 2009
I walked half hour to the cat, and half hr to the doc. That's all yr getting from me, you merciless harpy!

Stephen, the software is much better at contextual analysis than in the past. Moore's law helps.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted September 7, 2009
Arrh, you're soft.

The Bloke walks 45 mins each way to and from work in the city each day AND he goes out at lunch time to walk off my cooking. Which is how you got spotted today. He was out doing a few extra yards to justify the weekend's intake of date and pecan loaf and the pie that he et for lunch.

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damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 7, 2009
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorded_keyboard

There are a few one-handed input devices around. One that is now defunct, the Twiddler, had many ardent fan/users who had stories about getting up to 50-60 WPM within a week or so. Not sure about existing recent commercial models though, but I'm sure the fine Google can help

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Havock has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
Quockkkka ya should know that sooks are easier to spot. Gotta say the train driver is related to mark webber. Can't fkn drive for shit

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
Havock SHHHHH!

He's having his nap.

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Chaz has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
Quokka, I bet JB made a sad and lonely picture waiting there with his war-wound!! Shame it wasn't raining!

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 7, 2009
All but, Chaz. It was a squirrel of a day here, with chill winds swirling about, rain looming and utter lies from BOM about how we should expect a glorious fine 27C day.

From what The Snitch said to me I gather he did look a bit forlorn and confused, trying to work out the finer details of the city cat timetable.

I fear that visit to the optometrist may be in order.

Which may explain why he didn't see that kick coming...

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sparty has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2009
bet you are glad your books don't have significant sex scenes in them- be damn embarrasing to dictate them....

Saw a suit on the tube today reading AoT 3 -really had to resist telling him the author had broken his arm, the tube is really where i love the kindle / sony ereader so much easier to hang on to a pole and turn pages...

actually heres a thought - record it all and you can release the audio book read by the author (but with strange commands in teh middle of paragraphs...)

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Brian mutters...

Posted September 7, 2009
Tskk . . .you go all to the trouble of training Dragon . . . .and then you get a head cold . . . .just sayin . . .

Thought . . .If'n you can get Havock recognised by the application? Shit . . .it'll work for Inuits with a cleft pallette.

Respond to this comment

NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 7, 2009
You know Brian, I suspect H uses some speech to text software for all of his posts.

It would explain a lot.

[internal monologue from software]

H'm he's shouting at me again, I'll use caps lock.

Crikey he's really shouting now I'll stick in a couple of exclamation points.

Jesus H Christos he's going off his pills now - I'll have to start speliing phonetically.

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Chaz swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 7, 2009
NBob: LMAO soo funny.

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El Coqui has opinions thus...

Posted September 8, 2009
Yeah, that's a Joe Buckley PDA for sure. Hopefully it will not go up in a spectacular fashion, as all Buckleys are prone to do.

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Respond to 'Waiting... waiting...'

First full day of being differently abled.

Posted September 4, 2009 by John Birmingham
Went for a long walk up and down steep hills to make up for loss of cardio training. (Cant use heavy bag or even treadmil according to sawbones).

Did some weights. Leg lifts, curls on the good arm, sit ups, bulgarians etc.

Edited Monthly feature one handed.

Took half an hour to unpack groceries (internet purchased).

Hired a guy to break Havock's arm.

Considered Quokka's massage advice but dismissed as too gay (not that theres anything wrong with that).

Removed dairy and bread from daily diet ('cept for one cup of tea at breakfast).

About to google up some research on comparative calrie counts of various alcohols. Have high hopes for increased whiskey intake.

Reread first draft of AA.

Made edit notes on iPhone's dictathingy app.

Resisted urge to scratch inside cast with chop stick.

68 Responses to ‘First full day of being differently abled.’

Quokka would have you know...

Posted September 4, 2009
Er...that bloke that you asked me about, he wants to know if The Target has had his booster shots this year. He said something about seeing foam flecks around the mouth yesterday and is worried about the possibility of being bitten and contracting rabies.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 4, 2009
Oh, and if you're not brave enough to have a massage, my suggestion is that you get a day spa pass for Mrs. B, who by the end of next week will probably need one from the trials and tribulations of living with a slow, hungry, fractious spouse.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
AND did the dog do anything of interest on your walk?

How'd that work out for you both?

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simon bedak has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2009
I'll only start to worry JB if you start driving an open-topped sports car and growing sideburns.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 4, 2009
bedes in my professional experience, men who are scared of massage generally have a lot of unsightly back hair which makes the experience squirmy and uncomfortable. tug on some nostril hair for a sample demonstration of the pain involved.

I always told them that their discomfort could be alleviated by a simple visit to their local House of Wax prior to their next session.

That's what he's worried about, I'm guessing.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted September 4, 2009
Oh, and by that I meant JB's nostril hair, not yours.

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yankeedog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 4, 2009
Yeah, I heard you busted a wing, troop. Good luck. Not fun at any age. Fortunate for you that you can afford a buxom chauffeur to drive you around in the Brazen Chariot during your stint on the disabled list.

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Naut ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
Isn't there an app that reads barcodes and gives you the calorie count? Or is that only available in the US?

There is probably an app that will break Havock's arm for you too and it would only cost a couple of bucks.

Best way to home remove a cast ('cause you are gunna want to), soak then cut with scissors or tin snips.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2009
There's a free app which will dislocate one of his fingers, but I'm willing to go the whole buck ninety nine for a premium wounding.

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Havock ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
Yd the disabled list ....hmmm I so could but shall not. I fear he might be in a fragile state.

Ooooooh the itch

itch

Mmm itcy itchy scratchy that arm

Lol

Respond to this comment

jennicki mutters...

Posted September 4, 2009
This is your time to shine!

Pull out that sympathy card and display it proudly!

Go to the movies--see a double feature--District 9 and IB--no one expects you to work!

Let the bunnies pamper you with sponge baths and make sure you have a little bell to ring any time you decide you want something like a Kleenex or the answer to Chuck Norris v Jack Bauer in a Wii boxing match--who would win?

Respond to this comment

Chaz mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2009
Funny I wouild have thought such an app would be freeware...

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Chaz mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2009
I believe that single malts have lower calorific counts than blends so time to hit the laphroig or cardhu

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Havock mutters...

Posted September 4, 2009
Jen JFWept we are trying to get him to Cowboy the fuck up, not head off ta day spa and get more god dam girly

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 4, 2009
When I read that you hired a guy to break Havock's arm, I felt so proud.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted September 4, 2009
But Havock, where else is he going to get waxed?

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Chaz swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 4, 2009
Paul, well he couldn't really do it himself could he?

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FKNHVK puts forth...

Posted September 4, 2009
Make sure you get the roit HVK. When is comes to FKN BRKN Arms you dont want ta mess up and geta clone.

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2009
Chaz - John's inability to do it himself isn't the point. Any boy can hit a bloke; but a man hires a thug for the job. And always pays cash.

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Tarl asserts...

Posted September 4, 2009
You don't want to break Havock's arm... Just his CAPS LOCK key.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted September 4, 2009
"differently abled"

Doesn't a broken arm just mean you're dissabled?

Differently implys some sense of equity.

I bet if you asked those guys and girls who use wheelchairs if they would rather stay in the chairs or have their legs back you'd be knocked down in the rush.

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WalkingShaw mutters...

Posted September 4, 2009
JB, excuse the ignorance - but which arm (left or right) got broken? And are you left or right handed?

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 4, 2009
From observation at author events, he's a south paw and I think that's the one that copped it.

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Naut would have you know...

Posted September 4, 2009
Paul a man hires a thug and PROMISES to pay cash. He then only pays up half because there is nothing more manly than having a pissed off, short changed thug for hire chasing you.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted September 4, 2009
Ignore Naut's advice on removing the cast. Just use a blow torch and burn it off. Hey presto, scorchio!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 4, 2009
You are more of a man than I am, Nautilus. And you traffic with stupid thugs. What kind of a thug breaks bones on spec? None that I know of.

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted September 4, 2009
Paul, lots of them used to operate in Melbourne esp in Carlton.....allegedly

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 4, 2009
I should have suspected that. Most of the thugs I know are Blues supporters.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2009
Allegedly, of course.

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DrYobbo ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
Harden up. I'm coughing up my lungs with fricken deadly swine flu and you don't see me complaining. Other than now. Quite a bit actually. OK, as you were.

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Naut ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
Paul, Bedes's tipping contest has really paid off for you. Carlton supporters are indeed thugs (allegedly) and Collingwood supporters are ferals (again allegedly).

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Flinthart ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
Ah. You did get it broken. Ouch.

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HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted September 4, 2009
NAUT, whats with the Allegedly crap. they are.ON BOTH FKN COUNTS!

As for thugs, I guess I misspent some of my day. You know!, remaining in one place awaiting the much heralded arrival of the so called alleged " do me in beast", which simply failed to materialise. Unless of course that 6ft 8 150 kg bloke I BEAT THE SHIT OUTTAwas the emissary in question.

I always thought it would take more than a bug to knock ya over Doc...WTF is going on.

BEN, I do believe that it was the BABIES RIGHT ARM, Ulnar, not radius that got a small fracture in it.

Actually, that raises a QUESTION, do we, have we seen any hard fucking evidence to back up this so called allegation!!!!!.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2009
left handed. and yep, that's what side got broked.

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Flinthart mutters...

Posted September 4, 2009
Hey -- what's wrong with the treadmill? How many goddam hands do you need to walk with?

Oh - and which bone got broken, and in how many places? Inquiring minds with too much goddam close association to medicine want to know.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 4, 2009
ulna, clean fracture about three inches up from wrist. tready ill advised acc to orthopod. great chance of further injury.

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Abe has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2009
That's really bad. I feel for you brother. How's the dictation technology holding up so far?

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sparty mutters...

Posted September 4, 2009
oh dear - time to make a comfort purchase to fit in with your disabled life style - thought activation remote control for TV? Are you getting the right degree of sympathy from Mrs Birmo? Mine teachers austic children with love and attention but has no empathy when it comes to me - I the caring gene in women turns off when they get the ring...

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2009
LEFT HANDED..FUCK doesnt THAT! explain a lot of things

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted September 4, 2009
Sorry JB. I am diverting all my sympathies to Doc Yobbo who is yacking up his lungs in arctic temps. Get well soon Doc.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted September 4, 2009
Then again this is probably what you can expect from visiting Palmerston North.

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2009
You got one of those dictation programs JB? That could help... although my sister's wrote "Hitler" every time she coughed or cleared her throat.

Or you could take Jennicki's eminently sensible advice. I would.

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Flinthart is gonna tell you...

Posted September 4, 2009
My two in-house GPs (it was movie night tonight) suggest your orthopod has a very, very low opinion of your co-ordination. To quote the trained sports-medic doc: "Yeah, maybe if he was an eighty-year-old granny I suppose there'd be a danger of losing control of the treadmill and all..."

I suspect Dr Ortho is carefully covering his arse. If a patient went back on the tready with his blessing then went tits-up and tried to catch himself with the already broken arm, theoretically there might be a lawsuit in it. Doctors get sued for patient stupidity pretty much all the time.

Clean fracture? Damn - must have really caught it hard. At least you have the comfort of knowing it was your forearm, not your hand. The block may have been ill-focused, but at least you were using the right blocking implement - as opposed to a number of other twonks I've known.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted September 4, 2009
just a thought, now I have read Flints comments. Whats the Odds that due to OLD AGE, JB has Brittle bones....??, " Just asking is all"

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2009
Havock . . . .watch yerself . . .you've got 2 arms and John's got mates everywhere.

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Chaz has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2009
All the best people are left handed....

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted September 4, 2009
yeah right!..wobbly headed, unbalanced individuals.

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El Coqui reckons...

Posted September 4, 2009
Hey, I am a southpaw, too. Watch the fireworks.

Anyway, guys. Thanks for the laugh. What a great way to start a Friday.

Now, where is the tip jar to help JB to pay for Havock's visitor?

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2009
This is not the sort of thing I need to read before karate.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 5, 2009
People who write with their left hand are sinister. I'm not revealing a prejudice - just stating a fact.

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Oldsinger swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2009
"Scrached nuts with left hand instead of right. Could only reach one testicle". Or, is it the other way around?

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El Coqui swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2009
Darn, now we are going to get regaled with tall tales about this being a two-hands job

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted September 5, 2009
"Two-handed job" sounds distantly pornographic. I very much approve, and my mind is reeling with possible scenarios.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2009
My Bloke is a south paw.

I read some frightening statistics about how left-handed male drivers tend to have more traffic accidents. It may have nothing to do with left-handedness, though. I spent 18 years telling The Bloke that he couldn't drive and it turned out he needed glasses.

Since then he's stopped tail gating but he's still a bit slow in the reflexes dept.

As for the treadmill, could be caution, then again, it could be the state the Old Bones are in. Men get osteoporosis too and it may be that they found some reduced bone density when they examined him.

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tygertim has opinions thus...

Posted September 5, 2009
JB, my sympathies... Ouch! As to Jenn's advice... DON'T DO IT! Practical personal experience (Patty and I "experimented") suggests a wonderful product called Epil-Stop. Don't know if it's available down under though. You spray this product on the hairy spot and wait ten minutes. Wipe with damp cloth... voila! Sexy skin, and NO burning sensation... wonderful stuff you should be able to find it on the net...

As for choosing this time to cut out Dairy... I've just got to ask, Where is your ulna gonna find the calcium it needs to perform repairs?

As for Havock, Might I suggest Gayle Rivers? Author of "Five Fingers" and "The Specialist: Revelations of Counterterrorist" he's a retired SAS chap, available for a small fee... Read his bio (second title) I bet he'd give another Author a cut rate price... Really talented chap.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted September 5, 2009
Probably not a good time to give up dairy or whole grains, actually.

Although there are lots of good sources of calcium

i.e bony fish (sardines salmon mackerel - you can get all three in one in some cat food varieties) also leafy greens, broccoli, sesame seeds (tahini) tofu, soy beans etc..

WAIT! WTF am I thinking, JB giving up the dairy and scarfing down a meal of tofu and bok choi....

Better stick with the cheese and jatz for now, JB.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 5, 2009
Jatz?

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted September 5, 2009
http://images.calorieking.com.au/branding/dc/runtime/portionsense/104.jpg

Jatz.

A staple of the Australian school child's diet, circa 1960 - 1980.

goes well with chunks of cheddar or even better, smeared liberally with lashings of butter and vegemite.

If I have to explain vegemite to you, a smack over the head for your ignorance of Australian culture must follow.

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sibeen reckons...

Posted September 5, 2009
Jatz?

It's a biscuit of salty goodnees, Paul.

A coronory with every delish morsel.

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Quokka mutters...

Posted September 5, 2009
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3106/2748219023_875dece75c.jpg

Jatz and vegemite, with worms, image above, PNB.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2009
Cool!

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Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted September 5, 2009
Bloody hell...

J.

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Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2009
Speech recognition software sounds interesting. I know they have had problems in the past with recognising words but apparently its improving.

When you get it do a blog and post it unedited so we can see where the standards at.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2009
good idea. i'll do one before i've trained it and after.

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savo reckons...

Posted September 6, 2009
Time to hire a temp.

and maybe a whipping boy.

How are you going to hide this from your missus?

Savo

Canadia

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted September 6, 2009
JB, which package are you getting?

BTW Chaz Day in Sydney is being celebrated on 10/09/09 (ie next thursday) at the Gaucho Grill if anyones available. It should be BYO on that night

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Quokka reckons...

Posted September 6, 2009
I too am deeply suspicious about how well this translating software will work.

The Bloke has Voice To Text which suffers horribly from its attempts to translate messages from the Irish Secretary at his workplace and our builder, whose accent is very like Jake from On The Buses. East end of London I would think.

Makes for some hilarious efforts at understanding WTF the voice-to-text translater thinks they've actually said but can't imagine that would be amusing for a writer with a broken arm.

At least you've got something to club the software with if it fails to perform to expectations.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2009
Spooky. Dave Webber broke a wing some years back and was using Dragon something for his work - not sure how he got along with it. Given that he had a background in printing - probably a darn sight slower than keyboarding.

Puts me in mind of that stupid Telstra service some years back - just couldn't cope with some peoples accents.

Good luck.

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Respond to 'First full day of being differently abled.'

I dips me lid to the Force Development Group.

Posted August 31, 2009 by John Birmingham
They hosted me to lunch in the Mess and a chat on Friday when I was out at Puckapunyal, and as always with the armed forces, they know how to put on a good show. Highlight of lunch was corned beef in white suace which I haven't had since I was a kid. It was fantastic. A really old fashioned meal done really well.

The talk and Q&A were interesting, although I got a much better idea of what they actually needed from me after I'd done it all. FDG thinks long term. Really really long term. As in what the Army will look like decades from now. That was why I asked that question here a week or so back about war fighting in 25 years.

So I have another pepsi challenge. I may well go back to Pucka in Feb next year to run a little sesh for the new staff intake. Something along the lines of How to Geek It Out Like a Champion. The challenge for these guys, whose careers are based upon traditions, institutional learning, generations of received wisdom and so on, is to wrench their minds out of the Army Box and into something akin to what a novelist or film maker does when they set a story in the future.

Hence the interest in the AoT series.

But I'd like to go back with something more than that. Something like an integrated coursing in Advanced Geekery. So, lets put our propeller beanies on, and come up with some books, magazines, web sites and movies/tv shows I should be adding to the recommended reading/viewing list with an eye to actually breaking some of them open and analyzing their moving parts during a geek training session.

Example. The early cyberpunk novels of William Gibson for the way they examine the machine-mind interface.

77 Responses to ‘I dips me lid to the Force Development Group.’

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 31, 2009
Lots of interesting discussion on the chinese hacker actions, when do the efforts of these quasi-state actors become warfare activities?

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Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted August 31, 2009
The Oil Drum website. It examines how society deals with its energy sources and their increasing scarcity. Often has speculative threads about whats to come and how it will be managed.

http://www.theoildrum.com/

I also think most of Desmond Morris' books are pretty good for examining why people act they way they do. Will be more relevant as populations grow and social boundaries change. Also Jared Diamond worth a look too.

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El Coqui reckons...

Posted August 31, 2009
John:

The late G. Harry Stine "Warbots" series. As the Australian Army is small in numbers, they may find interesting the deployment of specialized fighting robots under human command as force multipliers. He also posit the development of neural communications to replace battlefield radio.

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El Coqui asserts...

Posted August 31, 2009
Oh yeah, "Hurrah's for the Washington's Grays" (Third Robot Infantry Regiment)

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Chaz puts forth...

Posted August 31, 2009
nah, corned beef en croute with the beef covered in horseraddish suace...

Stines 'Contact' series as it deals with fully intergrated crews (ie female and male).

James Rollins "Omega section' novels as they deal with gadgetfying and also mixing scientists with military units.

Space above and beyond: dealt with a number of 'issues' that would effect near future troops

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SJPONeill is gonna tell you...

Posted August 31, 2009
The TBOM has a great kitchen!

I haven't read 'em for a few years but I used them as guided for a similar paper I did for my Masters in the mid-90s and that is the Falkenberg's Legion and 'There will be War' series by Jerry Pournelle. With wanting to over-blatantly suck up, if I rewrite it this year AoT will be a reference (certainly 2.1). The other series I found had some really good concepts on future war was the Bolos series based on Keith Laumer's original book - while not promoting the use of giant autonomous machines in the next couple of decades, I do think that they do a good job of identifying some thing about war that are enduring...

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Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted August 31, 2009
Cool challenge. It's pissing me off that I was too sick to go to the mil-sf panels at Worldcon, since this was just the sort of thing I was looking forward to taking lots of notes on.

Lacking that, however, I'll start off with Dave Wolverton's novel "On My Way To Paradise". It's been around for a while but is still excellent. A group of South American mercs are hired to travel to a Japanese corporate colony as muscle in an internal insurgency. Lots of interesting clashes between the cultures - aggressive machismo versus discipline and conformity. The question of how free you can be if you've had human designers deliberately hardwire certain reactions and behaviours into your genes. How the way we think about our bodies and minds might change as both get easier to manipulate and alter. All wrapped up in a mil-sf plot with some memorable action scenes and some cool Matrix-y training sequences.

If we're talking body/mind interface get Greg Egan's collection "Axiomatic" and check out the title story and "Learning To Be Me".

I've owned up to being a David Brin fanboi before now, his ideas of world history as a clash of memes rather than cultures, and about the factors tha make up a benevolent, culturally resilient society with the ability to progress and improve itself. I'll see if I can dig up some of the better blog posts and articles.

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jp swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 31, 2009
They should look at some of the stuff that's developed out of Homeland Security's Analytic Red Cell office -- I'm sure someone in our DoD can get some inside findings from previous year's groups -- and we could do worse than host our own version. I know some of the US authors and film types who've taken part and it seems like a useful exercise.

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MickH mutters...

Posted August 31, 2009
I think the colonial marines in Aliens is worth a look JB

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Tarl would have you know...

Posted August 31, 2009
It's probably worth having them go through Vernor Vinge's /A Deepness in the Sky/ . The use of drugs like /focus/ for military purposes is regrettably likely in the next few decades.

While we're on this author, the /Across Realtime/ duology for exploration how an ultimate defensive construct (bobble) gets used quite effectively for offensive purposes.

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nhamilton@iinet.net.au reckons...

Posted August 31, 2009
The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski, alternate future but without trust in technology.

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Abe is gonna tell you...

Posted August 31, 2009
Is this for real?

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MickH puts forth...

Posted August 31, 2009
Did you manage to read all of that book Tarl? If you did then you are the first I know of who managed it. well done.

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MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 31, 2009
If you can JB get hold of the latest popular Mechanics magazine, it shows one possible future for the military through internet/network control systems and an extension of 3g and 4g phone systems. Very good but very techy but i can see that once they become robust enough, it will provide yet another edge.

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houyhnhnm is gonna tell you...

Posted August 31, 2009
F****n wankers. Nothins changed an nothin will change. Drrrr! Brave new world...1984...Dipshits livin in a mentality that technoville is somehow gunna make a difference. F**k sake...get a life instead of a new gadget

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Enjoy Medway puts forth...

Posted August 31, 2009
I want Corned Beef with White Sauce now.

Must ask mum to supply on sunday...

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted August 31, 2009
Yes Abe, but it's okay. Very little money was spent!

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted August 31, 2009
Oh, and we'll be ignoring hoony for this thread.

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mckinneytexas mutters...

Posted September 1, 2009
Totally lacking any ability to talk techno, let me put out there that in the fairly recent past a USMC general war-gamed, as leader of either a conventionally defeated Iranian or Iraqi army (IIRC), a follow-on insurgency that came out quite well for the insurgent remnants. I may have garbled the exact scenario, but the point is that high tech vs. low tech has its own set of unforeseen problems. A low tech adversary may lack the funds for a high tech inventory, but will likely have the money/philosophy/surrogate status to attract advisers who can degrade/evade the hi-tech advantage. As an example, don't imaging technologies depend on active beaming of some kind that is usually amenable to passive detection and counter-measure? Power suits have to be recharged and maintained, I would think, making secure supply lines and a secure rear area outcome determinative should either fail for a longer time than the suit's field life. What do our 21st century troopies do if their stuff breaks and they are mano-a-mano against a horde of sneaky guys with AK-47's?

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robW would have you know...

Posted September 1, 2009
If they could learn anything it would be nice if it were this: Science is a way of knowing about the world, whereas technology is a way of solving problems that always has both negative and positive side effects. Technologists are not necessarily scientific thinkers. In fact, technologists are the worst transgressors when it comes to misapprehending and then misusing or abusing science. Proof: most of the defenders of “creation science” are respected and capable engineers; they just don't “get it” when it comes to understanding evolution theory, uniformitarianism, hypothesis testing, and earth system science. And, while most all technologists are “rational thinkers” they are not necessarily “optimal thinkers” simply because they never question underlying assumptions, which can be based on politics, religion, or culture rather than tested facts. Received truth is a wicked thing.

The fiction bookshelves are more or less bare when it comes to books that explore this. Perhaps CONTACT (Carl Sagan). Essays in the nonfiction shelf might be easier to identify: THE TWO CULTURES AND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION (C.P. Snow) or ASCENT OF MAN (Jacob Bronowski).

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tygertim would have you know...

Posted September 1, 2009
JB, this occasioned a hard think... and while I agree whole heartedly with O'Neills Suggestion about Jerry Pournell's Falkenburg's Legion as an excellent lead in,I'd like to bring in a classic... Heinlein's Starship Troopers (not the stupid movie though) RAH had clearly given much thought to the future of Military science and as usual, his thinking was way in advance of his time. Dated though it is in some spots Heinlein's thinking on the uses of integrated forces, and what is now called C3 or Command and control is still ahead of it's time more for the way the Tech are used than the Forces involved. It's still on the required reading list for all of the service academies as well on the suggested reading list for all of the services...

Another place to look would be in Johnny Ringo's Aldentata universe, especally VR training, its effect on real time intelligence flow, and applicability to C3 control of the battlesphere on Powered Combat Suit tactics, as I think he has perhaps pointed out how the tec would influence the tactics (ignore the stupid decisions forced on the feather merchants by the author)

Television will also supply much needed food for thought, and I recommend watching the Military Channel's Future Weapons programme for a look at the up and comming weapons systems with an especial look at how their capabilities will affect both tactics and the ability of smaller countries with fewer resources to act in their defense and offensivly. For example; The Predator and it's variants are going to have a huge affect on the battlesphere, much more than they do now in fact. (With the Predator and some of the up and coming variants Australia would be about to control the waters around the Island Continent as far as the littoral coastline environment of the Asian continent and take on a force far larger than it's own, and defeat them handily.)

Another subject worth considering is Materials Science, as things such as sapphire nanotube construction come out of Science Fiction and into reality. We can only dimly glimpse through the murk what will come and its effect on everything...

Of course computer science is also important in the shaping of the future of military science and we have barely scratched the surface there. In Ringo's Kildar series, computer networking combined with battlefeild communications point the way. I leave it to Orin's capable hands to come up with some other applications.

I think we're looking at a revolution in military science, albeit one with many dangers and pitfalls. Some cinematic warnings such as Battlestar Galactica or Terminator are obvious but important to the future of military science.

There, at last my train of thought has faded out, but given time I'm sure I could come up with more...

Tyger

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NBlob mutters...

Posted September 1, 2009
I heard a guy the other morning say words to the effect of "The US Army has a technological advantage never before seen in history. With so much Air support and armour and a profesionalised force the US is effectively unbeatable in a stand up battle. So no one will ever take them on THAT way. To send your army against the US Army is wasteful insanity, instead baddies will look for means of attacking that nulifies that advantage." EG the insurgancies of Iraq & the Stan, Cyber attacks, financial atacks, so perhaps the Army will become a broad focus "response force."

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Tarl asserts...

Posted September 1, 2009
Mick - yes, I read /Deepness/ - a couple of times, I recall. Finding more flaws on the second pass. I found it readable, unlike his most recent book - /Rainbow's End/ , which read like he'd been consuming rather different drugs.

The point I wanted to flag for military thought was pharmacological warfare - not only nasty things to do to opponents (sleeping gasses, paranoia-inducing drugs, truth drugs), but things to do to your own people to make them more effective. We already supply our pilots with amphetamines to keep them awake and alert in combat missions, we'll probably find more drugs which boost various forms of brainpower at some long-term expense.

Of course, if we find drugs that boost brainpower without long-term side effects, I want some :-)

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted September 1, 2009
If it hasn't happened already, I suspect the ability to text communication from brainpan to brainpan is next up. Instead of using hand signals or whispered commands, soldiers will see the text floating at arm's length before them in real time. As that advances, the technology may morph into soldiers who can send their thoughts to each other. Secure commo technology already exists for this, we just need a sophisticated brain interface device that can read the speech patterns in the brain, override the jaw and transmit the information to other similiarly equipped soldiers.

Another thing that I forsee is a weapon that can custom build a round for each situation it faces, switching seemlessly from armor piercing to flechette and back again.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Abe swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 1, 2009
Well at least it wasn't 'corned brisket of wagyu', I suppose.

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Orin puts forth...

Posted September 1, 2009
I finished the Vinge stuff as well - and I *liked* Rainbow's End. I thought the second Realtime book dragged, but I did finish it.

The Augmented Realities of Rainbow's End feel closer to what we will have in 20 years than most other cyberpunk I've read.

Augmented reality is more likely than the full VR of gibsonian cyberspace. There are already some AR apps for the iPhone that hook into the GPS and compass functionality. YouTube has some demos.

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El Coqui is gonna tell you...

Posted September 1, 2009
Murph:

G. Harry Stine deal with a similar communication system in both "Warbots" and "Contact" series. Users have to be trained to control what they send to prevent oops moments.

Another interesting short story is "CAV" by Stephen Coonts, found in his "Combat" anthology. It depicts a near future armored cavalry platoon (7TH Cav no less) centered around one command Stryker type vehicle controlling and fighting with three robotic ground fighting vehicles and multiple UAVs. And of course, the men and women that continued the mounted tradition.

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Chaz reckons...

Posted September 1, 2009
tyger: C3 is old hat, back in the '90's it was C3I (command, control, communications and intelligence), the in about 2001-ish it became C4I (command, control, communications, computers & intelligence). I remember writing a piece on management based on the concept.

I mean look at the Pom's new bird, the ASTOR which is classed as an ISR platform. Our ability to suck in battlesphere data is limited basically by three factors

1, Our ability to access the data

2, Our ability to interpret the data

3, Our ability to utilise the data.

because in the end the OPFOR are always going to try and degrade datalinks to remove our advantage.

Abe, yes it's not like the Mess at Pucka is to the same standard as the memebers dining rooms at Canberra eh?

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SJPONeill has opinions thus...

Posted September 1, 2009
Murph - good point - having watched teen nephews text back and forth and only needing to look to see incoming messages, it's amazing that someone hasn't already designed a 'twiddle stick' device for a weapon hand grip that would allow intra-section texting to come up on a HDU - even into the ubiquitous Bladz shades...

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Abe mutters...

Posted September 1, 2009
I wouldn't know, Chaz. It's my job to save money, not spend it on lunch.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 1, 2009
John, tell your military mates to make sure they are familiar with a program called Wireshark. It is a network protocol analyzer. It seems innocuous, but it isn't.

If we presume that, to a lesser or greater extent, war will be conducted on the Internet, then figuring out who, exactly the enemy is, where the enemy is located and how the enemy is attacking are going to be key to both defending and striking back. Cyber warfare is essentially invisible. Wireshark makes it visible, and is being used by militaries today to analyze cyber attacks.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted September 1, 2009
I never realized I am a geek until just this very moment.

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shifty_mcgee mumbles...

Posted September 1, 2009
I say you should try and get AoT onto the required reading list for the FDG. Nothing like a bit of harmless self-promotion.

I recommend holographic computing. Like JARVIS from the Iron Man flicks. And AI for that matter too.

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Matt Kitchin ducks in to say...

Posted September 1, 2009
Twas a great afternoon. The guys here really appreciated JB's ideas. We are all astounded by the level of interest and support here, and the ideas that came out.

Great discussion from our point of view.

The 'Cav' story in Coonts' book (El Coqui) was referred to on Friday, and we have been talking about a plan to do a short story anthology here to capture some of the ideas we work with in a more readable form the boring old staff papers.

Any takers!

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Jaden3 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 1, 2009
Robert Asprin's "The Cold Cash War" is a glimpse into a possible future where corporations, not governments fight wars. (and use mercenaries as their soldiers) They also feature "killsuits" which are designed to immobilise a wearer when a lethal blow is received.

Tom Clancy's Netforce novels always struck me as becoming a possibility. Attacks that take place thru the internet that then require a physical response..

And then there are loads of books where entire planets are producing mercenary/soldier forces to go to other planets to fight wars for their employers.. Bujold, Drake, Pournelle, Frankowski/Grossman.. to name but a few.

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aaron is gonna tell you...

Posted September 1, 2009
Too right mckinneytexas, Robet Heinliens starship troopers pointed out the importance of maintaining centuries old skills like hand hand combat, target practice etc. the instructor demonstrates by breaking the privates arm - without the use of his modern weapon.

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tygertim puts forth...

Posted September 1, 2009
Chaz, My terminology might be dated but I did touch on all of the points you've brought up....

Thinking about it some more, the way John Ringo's Mike O'Neill uses his Combat Suit's information interface points the way that information and control of the tactical and strategic battlesphere by unit commanders at all levels is and will change the way battles are fought (ATTN:Matt Kitchin). It seems to me that the important bits of Military Science are all about Information, it's dissemination and use, Logistics, and Training... these things lead to successful military operations by the chaps at the pointy end of things no matter the branch of service and come to think of it, the ability to think out side the box is also very important... Was it Patton who formulated the American Military aphorism "hit'em where they ain't? Still a good example of thinking outside the box... You know, JB the guy you really need to talk to is Thomas Kratman author of Watch on the Rhine.... He had some pretty good thoughts on this very discussion on Baen's bar...

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tygertim ducks in to say...

Posted September 1, 2009
Oh, and add The Last Centurion by John Ringo to the list...

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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted September 1, 2009
Matt, Be careful what you ask for...

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tygertim ducks in to say...

Posted September 1, 2009
The Last Centurion is an excellent commentary on the bureaucratic process at its most dangerous and is especially pertinent here... especially for Australians

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tygertim mutters...

Posted September 1, 2009
The more I read The Last Centurion the more I realize that I'm being "Inged" as in Dean Ing, pretty good writer (See Pulling Through)... Some pretty good social commentary and some rather pointed lessons

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Matt Kitchin is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2, 2009
Chaz, why start now?

When I started the job, we were given a copy of 'Crisis in Zefra' (2005) by Karl Schroeder - it was a commission work for the Force Developers in Canada (http://www.kschroeder.com/foresight-consulting/crisis-in-zefra). A fictional work to look at the blend of emerging technologies (nothing fanciful, and like AoT probably things that will be on top of us quicker than we imagined) and the Canadian Army future warfighting concepts. It let anybody get immersed in and understand the future operating environment, adversary, threats etc. I know the US Army use it as well.

We struggle to do this sometimes, because to fully understand the challenges – or the options – our audience has to wade through so much. Of course in the early 21stC, we should just go straight to a fully animated movie and drop it to YouTube!

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El Coqui asserts...

Posted September 2, 2009
Tyger:

Tom Kratman also taught at the Army War College, so he do have ideas worth listening to.

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Robert would have you know...

Posted September 2, 2009
I read a very good short about a global war fought with machines remotely controlled by teen gamers sitting in warehouses in India. That's not much more than simple extrapolation from video games.

For a look at how it's NOT done, re-run the Starship Troopers movie. Heinlein's concept of war hasn't held up well 50 years on. People shooting insects when a can of RAID would do best.

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savo ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2009
I think one of the most important things besides the actual 'staying alive' business for soldiers, will be hardening or protecting individual squaddies from the actual horrors or pys-op generated horrors that will face them. Certainly a new beaut Battle-Net will give the general staff the best possible overview and team leaders all the way down to squad mates better and better battlefield surviability likewise new guns and armour, but how do you keep a cap on retaliatory brutalities against helpful locals or more sophisticated attacks against the families of troops, back at home. With modern communications, the enemy will know how the person they are up against and will be able to find family and relatives. They can't be protected against irregural forces. How can our forces be hardened/protected against the psychological impact of these reprisals attacks to ensure they are still effective combatants, planners and leaders?

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Beantown USA

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Allan Dunbar would have you know...

Posted September 2, 2009
Richard K Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels are excellent if you like sci fi, but also good because they look at a world where life is cheap because you can simply "re-sleeve" someone in a new body. He also has advanced VR technology that is used in both interrogative and theraputic ways.

The idea of tailoring bodies for missions (in one, they use Maori sleeves (bodies) due to their higher resistance to radiation) is pretty interesting. He doesn't go into a huge amount of detail tech wise, suggesting that use of remotes is wide spread and large scale, especially for defence in hostile territory.

Bodies that sweat less, have higher endurance (we're not talking superhuman here, but if you can grow an adult body, you should be able to tweak DNA a little), give off lower pheromone signatures (to avoid detectors), bodies that have better night vision.

Body replacement is not a new concept, Peter F Hamilton looks at it as well in his Commonwealth novels (far more space opera than hard sci fi, but it has a lot of tech in it if you like that kind of thing).

His Night's Dawn trilogy is good fun and also has some interesting ideas, like combat fatigues that harden when struck, controlled by smart computers as well as extensive use of custom grown combat bodies and so on.

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El Coqui reckons...

Posted September 2, 2009
Robert:

First, anyone that think that the movie had anything to do with Heinlein's book other than the title had no read the novel. So far, I had not found any die hard Heinlein fan which I am proud to say I am one, that had liked that monstrosity. Strangely enough, the third straight to video ST release was somewhat closer to the book.

Speaking about movies and TV, we are watching in the US a new SF show tittled "Defying Gravity". Is a tale about a future exploratory trip to the solar system with a crew of 8 astronauts. On the last showing, one of them got badly injured and lost her thumb. They were talking about regenerating the thumb in one month. However, her thumb was recovered and they were expecting her to be back on duty on a week.

Make me wonder about the military implications of medical advances to return soldier quickly to the battlefield.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted September 2, 2009
In outer space?

WTF did they plan to grow it from?

Human waste?

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Mithridates swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 2, 2009
Check out Peter Singer (not that Peter Singer) Wired For War. Its non-fiction and non-sci fi just covering current tech and robots. Two really interesting findings:

The guys and gals running the UAVs out of mainland US are getting up in the morning, racking up hundreds of kills a year, and going home for tea. Lots of suspicions of new forms of PTSD caused by the disfunction of the two lifestyles. No group bonding with the unit and no separation of 'going to war' and the homefront.

More information is being extracted that can be analysed by humans and the complexity of solutions overwealms human imagination and conscious retention. We are slaves to AI.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted September 2, 2009
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound inflammatory, just gobsmacked.

I was at a mental health conference a couple of years ago where a doctor and a cop were both speaking about intervention tactics for hostage situations -it was inherently about the flaws in our mental health system here in lovely QLD where if the cops take someone utterly deranged to the hospital to be assessed, there is this lovely loophole whereby the hospital is not required to hold them. Thus, the psycho is free to walk out and escalate whatever bit of crazy he/she was pulling off back out on the street.

Anyway, there were a lot of questions from the audience to the dr and the cop that referenced TV shows and they were met with guffaws from both. They said that the rule of thumb (pun intended) is that cops cannot sit through cop shows and docs cannot sit through doc shows because of all the utterly stellar factual inaccuracies and fanciful bits of fluff that the writers produce for the show. They said that basically television writing is about stretching the imagination to lengths previously unseen in either of their worlds and that stretch is usually a loooooooong stretch from reality.

Sorry, but if a thumb went missing there's at least one nerve that they could probably never restore and its all about timing, restoring lost digits so that blood/nerves etc can be reconnected and restored to full function.

I had surgery to an ankle some years ago whereby they had to sever the nerve supply to the lateral side of my foot. The surgeon was brilliant but I was warned that I'd probably lose most of my feeling in that foot and there was nothing they could do about it, c'est la vie.

Since then, you don't want me as a dance partner, El Coqui, unless you like your toes squished.

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Chaz mutters...

Posted September 2, 2009
Matt at the very least you'd be able to get a few scenarios from some of the Burgers, myself included.

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Moko has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2009
Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/

Global Security http://www.globalsecurity.org/

Popular Science http://www.popsci.com.au/

Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican.com/

Air Unversity Center for Strategy and Technology http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc-futr.htm

Those would be somewhere to start maybe.

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Moko has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2009
Possibly very relevant.

http://csat.au.af.mil/2025/a_f.pdf (1mg)

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ACK ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2009
PTSD by remote - begs the question, will or should there be a human in the 'future' kill chain loop?

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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2009
ACK good point however it seems that alot of human rights lawyers believe a human should always be in the loop so that soemone is always 'responsible' for each fatality..ie if it ever comes to war crimes.

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Mithridates has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2009
If you can get PTSD remotely that sort of stuffs the theory that mechanised killing removes empathy.

If you take the humans out of the kill chain and it becomes perfectly logical do we end up with the Terminator blind killing machines or the Doctor Who pure logical stand off (Daleks vs Cybermen). Why were logical purists like Vulcans killing machines?

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Mithridates reckons...

Posted September 2, 2009
Woops. That should have been "weren't... killing machines".

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Patricia asserts...

Posted September 2, 2009
Matt, I for one would love to spill my guts out for the benefit of our armed forces, just to stretch their minds and make them think outside the box.

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Chaz has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2009
Patricia after how many bottles of red will the spilling occur?

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Havock has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2009
Matt if you are interested yep so am I. Assuming you are not an axe murderer. Lol jb has all my contact details drop me a line

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Moko is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2, 2009
...or youse could just skip it all and employ Chuck Norris....cause, ya know....guns use HIM for protection.

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2, 2009
Mithridates "No group bonding with the unit " But is group bonding necessary if the job gets done? Surely this is only useful because of the extreme danger of conventional combat. With remote control "teletroopers" or drones the operators could even take decisions uninfluenced by andrenaline. (Although playing Xbox Live I make plenty of dumb, jumpy decisions).

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Moko would have you know...

Posted September 2, 2009
Only Chuck Norris makes decisions. He just allows us to believe we do.

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2009
hmmm, utilising a Bot, has issues. sensory perception for starters, then the issue of wastage, or unserviceability due to operator error let alone combat loss. Wouldn'T be that hard to chew through a shit load of bots, which i don't think would come cheap.

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Murph puts forth...

Posted September 2, 2009
How can you get PTSD using a bot? Part of what generates PTSD is the direct exposure to hardship, danger, etc. I can't see how that would be a problem if someone is sitting in an air conditioned conex in California while their Predator is popping hellfires at Taliban over Pakistan.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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tygertim has opinions thus...

Posted September 3, 2009
Robert,

Even though El Coqui, mi compadre magnifico (we're both barflies AND Burgers) beat me to it let me point out that I wrote "(not the stupid movie though)" on line three of my original post.

Mi Amigo I concur with your comment about any TRUE Heinlien fan. Me too!

From Wiki: "The film rights to the novel were licensed in the 1990s. The first film, also titled Starship Troopers, was directed by Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Total Recall) and released in 1997. The film diverged greatly in terms of the themes and plot of the novel, and received mixed reviews from critics."

In my opinion Paul Verhoeven should be stood up against the wall and shot for the way he raped Heinlien's legacy...

He had a script and Legal pointed out that Heinlien had published a similar storyline back in the late fifties and could result in a lawsuit...So Verhoeven bought the rights, Used some of the character names and situations in a revised script.... Anyone thinking that the movie in any way resembles the original story....Arrrgh!

Rant off. Rabid Heinlien fan...

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Moko mutters...

Posted September 3, 2009
Surely video games are part of the tech deal too?. Many games out out there with tech that caused headaches creating.

There's always emotions when it comes to remote technology too. Granted, angry or happy are your primary emotions when it comes to gaming. But that's only because what's on the receiving end of your pixel fury is merely more pixels, with an under laying knowledge that someone else has emotional value in the pixels you're blasting but there's always respawn and maturity to mix in. I mean, who WOULDN'T wanna take out Birmo with a well placed claymore in CoD4?...but you KNOW Birmo gets to respawn just so you can spend the rest of the game trying to knife him...

But what if those weren't pixels you were destroying?. Are pilots immune to PTSD?. Doubt it. Why would drone controllers be immune. Chances are they're watching the result on Ultra-high definition widescreen. You drop your load - so to speak - and you get to go home to the missus' shocking cooking and to play soccer in the yard with the kid. Certain personalities would struggle with that, and I believe there's an article floating around about it...

Please stand by...lol

Here: http://www.4vf.net/they-circled-above-and-watched-u-s-soldiers-die-in-front-of-them/

Has someone mentioned Wired For War yet?...If not: http://wiredforwar.pwsinger.com/

Anyway, I'll send the goats on a tech savvy game mish...

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Robert is gonna tell you...

Posted September 3, 2009
Tiger and Cockie: I'm sure the Australian Army is not seeking movie reviews--they are looking for illustrations of future warfare, of which Starship Troopers, the movie, is a very poor example. Which was my point.

Personally, I think that what we see from Iraq is indicative of the distant future, in that superior forces highly armored will suffer brain injury or amputation or suicide from the stultifying boredom. Oh, and as we saw in Iraq, governments will short-change their soldiers such that many of them won't have access to the life-saving armor.

Hey, maybe in this sense Starship Troopers (the movie) gets it right. Amputees are rehabbed, fit out with prothesis, and sent back to battle.

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RobinB is gonna tell you...

Posted September 3, 2009
JB, from a biologicals point of view we now have the theoretical capability to construct pathogens targetting specific blood/tissue types. Such an agent could be dropped into an area or water supply and all invading troops would not be susceptible and not need immunisations.

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Moko swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 3, 2009
Hey, about PTSD. I was thinking whilst wandering the aisles of the local woolies collecting random snack for this fucken SHIT HOUSE drive to FUCKING Emerald tomorrow - (SOOO don't give a shit about what's going on there) - .........SIGH.

...anway, PTSD, perhaps the military could improve the psychological side of the recruiting process. Instead of just (not just, but anyone can make it) go by phsyical and aptitude ability but by subconscious profiling.

For example. You really wouldn't want an 'Alpha Male' in the role of attack drone pilot - (or whateverthefuckyoucallit) - due to the sense of helplessness they'd feel watching fellow 'Alpha Males' being slaughtered in HD. You're probably better off putting clinical pointy headed lab tech types in those roles where they know within themselves that even if they were there there's fuck all they could do to help. They might be inclined suffer less from those sorts of situations...

And at the Mayonaise section I realised the military might benefit from the psychological criminal profiling techniques of Quantico and such. I mean, not all psychopaths are psychopathic. A lot of high achievers in business fit the psychopathic profile but utilise those techniques they've learned through life for personal gain as opposed to destructive payoff. I guess that's where nuture enters in to the equation.

Same as if you give a kid whose basic fundamental make up is that of an IT dude but you make him do a butchers apprenticeship. Short term he'll suffer from trauma but will learn to cope - (or not) - through necessity, depedning on his dominant personality, but long term he's affected.

Won't say what I thought at the produce section due to self incrimination, but all I'll say is 'darkhair, early 20's, SHORT skirt, low cut TOP and STACKED...'

That is all. OH, except for the Chuck Norris thing....SRSLY consider it.

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Bangar asserts...

Posted September 3, 2009
I don't believe any one has brought up Haldeman's Forever War and Forever Peace.

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El Coqui reckons...

Posted September 3, 2009
Quokka:

None taken, the show is set close to 50 years in our future. I am a Registered Nurse at the Cardiology Ward at Walter Reed. When I started there over 20 years ago, we used to treat then with open heart surgery and weeks long stay. What we now treat with a visit to the Catheterization suite and overnight observation period.

DARPA is putting funds now in tissue regeneration research and the show writers perhaps extrapolate what could be available then. In another scene, they were shocking someone and the paddles were wireless.

I wonder if any researchers out there see this and have a "star trek" moment. (Communicators are basically cell phones)

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Allan Dunbar ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
I was thinking this morning over coffee that since urban environments are looking to be a major theatre of operations for military and police in the future, are there any sci fi novels etc that look at this particular facet of it? I was thinking maybe of Peter F Hamilton's Mindstar novels. They have some parts on urban combat between insurgents and paramilitary police.

I can't think of any off the top of my head. But imagine an urban insurgency in somewhere like Manhattan. How do you fight that? Do vehicles help or hinder?

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2009
There doesn't seem to be much grey area between full on Fallujah and sitting target Belfast in urban warfare.

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted September 4, 2009
@ allan

Mate Vehicles most definitely help, however it takes extensive training and co ordinations between the MECH / Armour units and Inf units to ensure that they don't get busted up unnecessarily. Its interesting that one Israeli tactic was to armour up a D9-D11 doz er and driver it through successive houses. Given the construction methods over there that's OK, in a Modern urban CBD, its got issues. What it did do, was remove the ability of the insurgents to TARGET the dozer, well, lessen them anyway.

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Chaz puts forth...

Posted September 4, 2009
Matt the lack of SOP between Ulster and Fullujah is basically a lack of adaptation on the part of planners.

However the middle ground is probably Kosovo/Bosnia in their 'endgames'.

Light, precision CAS is lacking. Even the SDB (GBU-39) is in my mind too big, we need to have munitions at least half that to minimise CD to a more acceptable level. Yes it then brings it to the same level as the Hellfire lethality wise but the cost per round is still cheaper.

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Matthew K asserts...

Posted September 4, 2009
You probably all see this but I'll post it because it totally blew our minds in this family:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2bExqhhWRI

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