Academic sliding scale

As a result of several conversations and an email that I recieved from the med school this week (whatever you do, don’t let me get started on the med school or the quality or content of it’s communiques to us scum of the school underlings), I came to the disturbing realisation of how academically pointless any grades or subsequent academic transcripts from a UQ degree are.

Now this isn’t as big a deal to me as it might have been a few years ago, as I have come to realise that in the eyes of the med school (and it’s assessment department) I will never be anything more than an “also ran”, middle-of-the-pack med student, but I will still come out a perfectly functional doctor, and so I stopped caring about trying for the grades that both my appathy, the atrociously written and abysmally marked assessment, and the frankly bizarre bell curves were never going to allow me to attain.

See it turns out that the University of Queensland does not use a standard grading scale. So the percentage pass mark to achieve a 7 in one department or degree can be completely different from the percentage pass mark necessary to get a 7 in any other department or degree. Worse still (which arose in one of the interesting email from the med school) the grade to achieve a 7 within a single degree does not even have to be consistent from year to year, so that in med you have to get a higher percentage pass mark to get a 7 in year 3 than you do in year 4…

This doesn’t even superficially make any sense. Particularly when you consider that they were so finickety about working out your GPA (the average grade you got during your degree) to get into med in the first place. When a GPA of 7, or 5.5 or whatever it is does not actually correspond to any meaningful value or standard, what is the point in asking for it at all. They can (and in spite of their assertions to the contrary, quite clearly seem to) bell curve the marks to their hearts delight to get the necessary grade distribution, but they should at least then apply it to a grade scale that actually means something.

I suppose that the only real consolation, as mentioned before, is that we will all graduate as doctors (barring major stuff ups), will all get equivalent jobs (even if the equivalence is that we all will get equally treated as scut monkeys), and will all get onto training programs where they rely on personal references for selection, and don’t even ask for a GPA.

Are movie executives smarter?

While this header sounds like one of those teenage girls’ magazine quizes, it is something I have to wonder. After this story on BBC it appears that it has taken the movie industry about a year after the emergence of technology that makes downloading their media viable (namely Bit-torrent (the pre-existing P2P applications realistically were a little average at downloading movie sized files with anything resembling decent video quality)), to them coming out and saying that they were going to start offering means of legally buying and downloading high quality movie content. This is by my reckoning about 4 times faster than the music industry (and in my opinion apart from iTunes they generally still haven’t figured it out).

They also seem to have realised, unlike (or perhaps because of) the music industry, that they should do the retailing themselves, otherwise they will loose revenue and market dominance to some other company (most likely Apple, let’s be honest) who is willing to think outside the box and implement the consumers’ demands in a reasonable framework. I’m all for it, given that if they can sort out a sensible and technically feasible system to buy and download video content then it won’t be long before TV and other video media start to arrive through the same systems. Then we’ll really have a game on our hands.

The problem with pants

I have been having a few issues with my trousers. It all began when I went home for christmas, discovered a chocolate factory down the road from the beach house, and reduced my incidental (and intentional) exercise levels to something which may have at several point become a negative figure, and resided pretty close to zero much of the rest of the time…

As such I arrived back in Oz in January feeling dicidedly blimpish (and looking it too). It was at that point that I discovered that most dreaded of fashion problems: my regular trousers, several pairs of which formed the basis of my hospital dress, no longer fitted. Too tight around the waist you see. Luckily I could squeeze into one pair (don’t try and imagine it, you’ll just hurt yourself), and found a second pair of more seldom used but still respectable trousers that I could wear as well. Problem solved I thought, and challenge set: Loose some kilos!

As such I started to try (with highly variable degrees of success) to control my dietary energy intake, and to increase my daily energy expenditure by going on semi-epic bike rides, and later just riding to and from the hospital each day. And just as the theory suggested, I started to slim down a little (no record setting losses here, but enough to make me feel better and a little more comfortable in myself), but I soon discovered that my pants were once again causing me troubling. Not at the waist level this time, but rather at the thighs, which all my cycling had clearly caused to bulk up somewhat, and which had subsequently started to make the legs on my pants seem awfully snug. Now if I was a hot little latin dancer (named Julio, for argument’s sake…) pants that were tight across the thighs and (to a lesser extent) bum would not represent a problem, but I don’t find tight pants comfortable, and I don’t think my arse is much worth looking at, so seeing as I quite like the slowly shrinking nature of my puku (tummy for the non NZers out there) this time I may have to cave and buy some new pants.

What a fiasco, and all because of chocolate and a bicycle.

Downfall by civilisation?

While in the aforementioned games store I picked up a legit copy of Civ 3 for AU$16, which was definitely worth spending, and I have been allocating quite unhealthy amounts of time to taking over the world since then. I always forget how easy it is to loose entire days to this type of game when given to opportunity.

Movies ruin games…

I fell to one of my numerous weaknesses while up the coast this weekend and popped into a computer games store. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed this before (seeing as it’s not as if I don’t drop into one or other game store fairly frequently) but every second title seemed to be a bloody movie franchise game, and by and large seemed, when actually inspected, to be quite devoid of intelligent independent game development thought or originality (not that the gaming industry can exactly be commended for it’s recent diversity, given the veritable hoard of first person shooters which have flooded the marked in the last year or two, seemingly at the developmental expense of every other genre apart from RPGs).

I got so excited a while back when I thought that they were going to release Sam and Max 2 (which with any luck might have precipitated the release of a few more adventure games in the same vein as the good old Day of the Tentacle or Grim Fandango) and have been hoping against hope that someone might release a new and improved version of Alpha Centauri, or even a completely new game in the Civilisation style (although with the introduction of a few gameplay innovations and additions – unlike Civ 2 and 3, which are basically a 1Mb game turned into a 700Mb game by simply making the graphics flashier, but not substantaially changing (read: improving) the game in itself at all…),

Sandcrawlers (with deskchairs)

While up at the sunshine coast over the weekend I saw a shop whose name immediately amused me and conjurred up many humorous images in my mind.

The name of the store was “Jawa Furniture” and for those of you who remember your Star Wars trivia, Jawa was the name of the little droid stealing guys in dark brown (almost monastic) robes who rolled around in the desent in those honking great sandcrawlers.

As such I had this image pop into my head of a Jawa furniture store….

(Yes, it’s a very scary place in there some times…)


One of the things I discovered last night while I was busy having fun at our BBQ was that people do actually read this site (and apparently enjoy it as well). This was well timed really (and nice to hear on a personal level as well) as I had begun to entertain certain paranoid fears that perhaps no-one else was reading this stuff, that I was merely informing and amusing the ether and the gods. Good to see that this isn’t the case. If you have any suggestions of which bits you particularly like or things I could improve, email me and let me know, or tell me next time you run into me in a dark alleyway…

(No, I’m not fishing for gratification or legitimacy…. honest… (although some nice Salmon would be nice…. I wonder what’s for dinner))


Does it strike anyone else as more than a little perverted that the Republican controlled (and generally conservative) ligislature in the US they are pulling out all the legislative stops to try and keep alive one woman who wished to be allowed to die, while at the same time they appear to be doing nothing whatsoever to implement controls over the swathe of guns that are at the exact same time killing dozens of innocent people who don’t want to die at all…

The FBI’s “Crime in the United States” estimated that 67% of the 16,503 murders in 2003 were committed with firearms – for those of you who don’t want to do the math, that’s 11,057 people shot and killed in 2003 in the United States, and still the government(s) appear reluctant to do anything serious about it, and as the Terri Schiavo case illustrates, it’s clearly not due to a lack of ability on the legislature’s part (after all, they had sufficient numbers voting for the bill in both houses to make the Schiavo bill an amendment to the constitution if they had wished). They just had a lack of inclination. Sick really.


I am quite enjoying having a forum for offloading some of my natural perpensity towards politically and morally oriented ranting. It’s great. I can say (within reason) just about anything I like, and because it’s on the web I am free to believe that the whole world is listening to me, even when the reality is that probably no-one is listening to me (pretty much the same situation as when I out loud rant at my generally disinterested but politely listening friends…). Basically, everyone goes home happy. 🙂