Stupid ads

I’m not a fan of advertising at the best of times. Even ads I like don’t normally influence me. If I need to buy something I go looking for it; I don’t respond to advertising.

Some ads, particularly on TV, leave me shaking my head in amazement – first, that some agency even had the idea, and second, that the client thought it was a good one.

This ad, currently on TV in Australia, is one of those. What were they thinking?


Today marks the end of my eighth year in my present home. It would be a pretty insignificant milestone if not for the fact that I’ve moved around so much in my lifetime that eight years is the longest time I’ve lived in one place since I left my parents’ home to begin my working life, 43 years ago this month.

I’ve just done a quick calculation. I’ve lived in 23 places in that 43 years, which averages out at nearly two years per place. I spent about four months overseas in 1985 and 1986 in two separate trips; although I actually moved out of my homes on those occasions I’ve ignored those periods in my calculation. Adding them would make the average even worse.

The next longest period in one place is about four years, so I’ve passed my previous record by a considerable amount. When I realised a year or two ago that I’d lived here longer than anywhere else I was rather startled because it seemed to show a restlessness that I never knew I had.

I think I’ll settle here :D.

Drive-by music

I think this is best described as bizarre, and best described in their own words:

“The new music video from OK Go, made in partnership with Chevrolet. OK Go set up over 1000 instruments over two miles of desert outside Los Angeles. A Chevy Sonic was outfitted with retractable pneumatic arms designed to play the instruments, and the band recorded this version of Needing/Getting, singing as they played the instrument array with the car. The video took 4 months of preparation and 4 days of shooting and recording. There are no ringers or stand-ins; Damian took stunt driving lessons. Each piano had the lowest octaves tuned to the same note so that they’d play the right note no matter where they were struck. Many thanks to Chevy for believing in and supporting such an insane and ambitious project, and to Gretsch for providing the guitars and amps.”

They said the magic word… insane… but it looks like it was fun :). The group’s website is here, and has some behind-the-scenes photos. I thought the guys had pinched their suits from The Wiggles until I realised they’d used green instead of purple.

Talented people 2

A brother and sister duo from Wollongong have taken out the top prizes for 2012 in Australia’s most prestigious student science competition.

The BHP Billiton Science Awards are a partnership between BHP Billiton, the world’s largest diversified resources company, CSIRO, Australia’s premier scientific research organisation and The Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), and reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects which demonstrate innovative investigative approaches using scientific methods or who have used technological innovation to design a new invention. The 2012 competition attracted about 6000 entries.

Ethan Butson, 16, won the secondary section with his UView Protector badge. Ethan worked with children at his sister’s school to improve their knowledge of UV radiation and UV exposure using the badge—a wearable circular sticker which accurately measures ultra violet radiation. The badge enabled him to significantly improve the students’ knowledge of UV radiation as well as educate them about when and where they are exposed to it. ‘I came across this amazing statistic, which was that two out of three people will develop skin cancer some time in their life before the age of 70—so if you know about UV, then you are more likely to protect yourself,’ Ethan said.

Macinley Butson, Ethan’s 11-year-old sister, won the primary competition with her project, “Improving solar panel performance and the REFLECTACON 3000”. Macinley’s invention—the Reflectacon—is a pyramid-shaped device which increases the amount of sunlight reflected into a solar panel, thereby effectively boosting the panel’s electricity output. I was struck by Macinley’s comment: ‘The idea came about because I love nature and I want to make a difference. I thought I could make solar panels better.’ Now, that’s the kind of thinking we need from our young people—our future leaders. An eleven-year-old takes on the world!

Ethan and Macinley conducted their research and submitted their projects independently of each other. It’s the first time in the awards’ history that a brother and sister have won the two top spots. Each won $AUD3000 and the chance to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA next May.

Read more…
The Age: Siblings have their day in the sun thanks to interest in solar science. Includes photos.
The Awards website.