Sunday, January 23, 2011

The dead have risen ...

I was surprised to discover that Jim Henson, the famed creator of the Muppets and Fraggle Rock is still working hard ... twenty years after his death. According to the New Zealand media Jim Henson created the current, controversial Air New Zealand mascot, Rico, last year (2010).

This bit of information has been repeated in at least two articles.

So it's true ... the dead have risen and are working in advertising.

The problem seems to have been some overly judicious editing which has cut the complete phrase from "Jim Henson's Creature Workshop" in older references down to just "Jim Henson".



Friday, January 21, 2011

Requiem for Bass in Three Parts

Or should that be a Threnody?

This is my new purchase. A very second-hand bass.

It's a Core Evl Z4b, which aren't cheap ... unless they've been run over by a car. Which is what happened to this one.

It's fixable though. My wife is itching to have a go a repairing it, but has some other guitar projects to finish first, like that nice M.Suzuki acoustic we got the other day ...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Journalists. Damn journalists, and statistics!

I don't know what made me click on this article about sunbed use today, but I was sorry I did.

The dire warnings about sunbeds causing skin cancer have gone unheeded, the article would have us believe. However, when you look closely you just realize that maths wasn't a favourite subject of the journalist writing (or cut and pasting) this pointless piece.

The article claims that a "study that recruited around 1000 members of Cross Health Society, found that out of 33% people aged between 21 and 29 who used sunbed, 3% were the regulars while no less than 27% would like to go for it again."

Let's look at those numbers, shall we.

Even if the entire survey was made up of only 21-29 year olds (it wasn't) then 3% of 33% of 1000 are regular users. That's 10 people.

Assuming a standard age distribution of survey participants, and assuming no-one under 21 was surveyed that would suggest about 7 people at best, probably less were discovered to be regular sunbed users. The article does not claim that anyone outside this age group were regular users.

So, 0.7% (or less) of people surveyed were regular users of sunbeds.

Or if you prefer, statistically speaking the number of regular users was insignificant. Practically speaking you can say that for all intents and purposes there is nothing to worry about with numbers like those. New Zealand has no problem use of sunbeds. Yet the article tries to make it read like an epidemic.

The article goes on to talk about sunburn rates from being out in the sun, but somehow uses those to make a claim about sunbed use?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review of Character Development on Drunk Duck Quackcast

There's a podcast review of Character Development on Drunk Duck's Quackcast 11, part one. They start talking about it about 6:30 into the podcast.

You can read daily pages of Character Development at its blog, ... or see the archives in a more friendly to read format at

Friday, January 7, 2011

the Media's "Aflockolypse" Cluck Up

There are sensation media reports of "mass animal deaths across the globe" in the past two weeks, which some have dubbed the Aflockolypse. Is it a sign of the end times, they ask?


But, sadly, it is a sign of the end times of decent journalism.

There are basically two categories of "mass animal death"; birds and fish.

The fish (including some devil crabs, which I realize are technically not fish) seem to have mainly died from .... cold.

In case you haven't noticed, the northern hemisphere has been a tad cold this Christmas and New Year. Humans weren't the only ones to suffer. Some sea and river species are very susceptible to extreme temperature changes like those that have been experienced lately.

So the UK's Devil Crabs (oooh, devil, does that mean the Aflockolypse is biblical?), Chesapeake Bay's fish, and even Brazil's fish deaths are all down to cold weather (and currents). How ... boring. It happens all the time, but normally it goes unreported by the global media.

But it wasn't just fish in the Aflockolypse ... there were birds! lots of birds just dropping from the skies, dead. The sky is falling!

The media suggested the large numbers of birds dropping dead from the sky on New Year's Day could be a sign that the year was cursed, or that the world was going to end. 2012 was mentioned (because many journalists don't seem to know what year it is), and all sorts of conspiracy theories were 'reported'.

So what killed the birds?


Again, this is a common event, usually unreported by the media. Every New Year's (and on other festive occasions) there are firework celebrations at night that startle birds, who fly about blindly in the dark. The crash into things (and each other) and die of blunt force trauma, as autopsies have showed.

Only the "hundreds of snapper" found dead on the shores of New Zealand seem to have a sinister side to their demise. They appear to have been dumped illegally by a fishing vessel.

So much for the Aflockolypse. But reason and logic are too dull and boring to sell newspapers and gain advertising revenue. So expect more conspiracy theories.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Drunk Duck feature

Character Development was featured over at Drunk Duck, which is a very friendly and supportive webcomics community.

Being a featured webcomic suddenly meant that (at least) a few dozen people read the comic ... which I hope they enjoyed enough to stick with it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Secret Santa return gift

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Here's the Drunk Duck secret Santa gift I received in the exchange. All the cast of Character Development in cute chibi-form. This was drawn by theshazerin. Thanks for the wonderful gift, theshazerin. You can check out his webcomic, The Mannequin Waltz over at Drunk Duck.