The image above is from the movie Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, which I watched on SBS a few nights ago. I’ve got it on DVD too, and I must have watched it around six times so far. It’s always enjoyable and I get new things out of it.
I picked this image because it was one of the new things I noticed this time through. It’s the sketch where the autumn leaves commit suicide by falling. But, notice the lintel over the columns on the right? See what’s chiselled into it? It’s the word CURTIN, but mirror reversed left to right –
Why CURTIN? John Curtin was the great Labor prime minister in Australia during WW2, in office 1941 – 1945. He took the office of PM so seriously and it weighed on him so heavily that he grew ill and died shortly after D-Day, the allied forces landing in France.
But why would this name show up in a Monty Python graphic? And why are the letters mirror reversed? The man who drew this is presumably the American, Terry Gilliam. I wonder if I could ask him? Watch this space.
Insomnia is still plaguing me. Sunday and Monday nights were completely sleep free, and yesterday I couldn’t even get to sleep during the day when I tried to catch up. After breakfast this morning I was swaying with fatigue, and I’m happy to say I’ve just been able to get about three hours 10.00am to about 1.00pm. I feel much better now, but that’s only three hours sleep in 48 hours. I’ve found a newspaper ad for a company called Sleep Matters: Insomnia Solutions. Sounds hopeful, I’ll try phoning them. (I just did. It rang for about 30 seconds, then someone picked up but hung up. Hmmm, probably taking a nap. I’ll try again later.)
Later: the lady phoned me back and was quite pleasant. It turns out that they run lectures on various sleep matters, and the next one is on Saturday 10 February in the afternoon at Hollywood Private Hospital. It’s not specifically on insomnia, but she said it will be relevant and we can ask questions. In fact the sleep doctor giving the talk will stay as long as needed to cover our questions. The lecture is free but they serve coffee, tea and bikkies for a gold coin donation. Excellent. I’ll go.
About three months ago I bought a small digital recorder, shown above, at Target for $39. Various uses, recording dogs barking, for one. It works OK, except for terrible handling noise, and being a bit complicated to use as an mp3 player. But look at those twin stereo microphones. Wow!
Anyway, I was surprised to see it mentioned in Silicon Chip magazine’s Serviceman pages in this month’s issue. A customer of the Serviceman (a guy in Christchurch, NZ who writes the column each month) brought it in with a few problems. (One of the problems is that at $39, any servicing will cost more than buying a new one!)
So the Serviceman took it all apart and was surprised to find (a) those shiny mics are just plastic dummies – there’s only one mono microphone; (b) this lonely microphone is inside, on its side, getting its sound through small gaps in the side, not through the shiny capsules; (c) there’s no isolation of the mic from the case, hence the handling noise; (d) it bills itself as a stereo recorder, but it’s not stereo – there’s only one mic!; (e) it has a socket for an external mic, but even with a good quality stereo mic plugged in, there’s still no stereo; (f) when he plugged an external stereo line in to the mic socket, it had no stereo spread when recorded and played back; (g) even when an external mic was plugged in, the handling noise was still present on recordings.
So summing up, it’s deception all the way. It implies, even though it doesn’t explicitly say so, that it’s a stereo recorder, but it is not! It implies that it’s good for handling while recording, but it definitely is not. If you handle it, you’ll get loud bangs and scrapes.
Since this is its main function, you could say it’s not fit for purpose and return it for a refund, but it’s hardly worth the bother. I leave it untouched on my patio table to record the dog barking, so it’s a clear recording. But it’s clearly deceptive too.
You get what you pay for.
Did you end up finding anything about Curtin? A colleague who I work with at Curtin University noticed it this week, and we’re trying to find out if there’s any context to it.
Someone did come up with a theory, but it’s a bit hazy. Apparently one of the female production staff on the movie was called Jane (or something) Curtin, and the theory is that the artist had a liking for her, so he immortalised her name. Sounds a bit weird, but that’s all I can come up with, sorry.
Cheers for the response – a bit of mystery isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂 Curtin Uni was named after John Curtin, and things are a bit Pythonesque here at the moment (that parrot’s not dead, he’s resting) so it would have been a well-timed link, but I like the story of a tribute to a girl much better.