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Paul Cowan
Works at Google
Attended Swinburne University of Technology
Lives in Sydney, Australia
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Paul Cowan

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So, dealextreme.com regularly sends me "remarketing" via various ad networks. I'm pretty sure this is a sensible strategy for them, because DealExtreme probably gets more of my income than the bank that holds my mortgage does.

But they advertised this to me in a banner ad yesterday, and I'm at a loss. Can anyone... actually tell me what it is? The item name doesn't help, the description is possibly less helpful than the name, and I have to be honest, the photos aren't helping much either. Especially the last one.

WHAT IS THIS THING, AND SHOULD I BUY ONE?
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God Emperor Lionel Lauer's profile photoDavid Conran's profile photoFranc Schiphorst's profile photoPaul Duggan's profile photo
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Fake finger for making things float with string?
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Paul Cowan

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OK, this made me laugh. Wish I hadn't missed this one...
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Finally finished a run through This War Of Mine, without anyone dying. One of the most startling, eye-opening, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking games I've ever played. You play the part of a small group of civilians trying to survive in a war-ravaged fictional Eastern European city. The danger is ever-present, and you constantly have to make decisions about how you survive: are you willing to lose one of your group for a couple of days to help take a neighbour across town to hospital? That canned food and medicine you so desperately need to help your friend survive - are you willing to steal it from the elderly couple who are holed up in their apartment terrified for their lives? Constant decisions, with risks, rewards, and consequences. It's a struggle to make it through, and it's almost impossible not to get emotionally involved with your characters as you learn their backstories and struggles. Amazing experience.

Yet only one of my Steam friends owns this game. You should all fix that (or, if you own it, add me on steam! I'm "thecowan")
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I've seen an ad of this game back in spring 2014 and thought it was a great idea of showing to gaming community what a war was (and actually is) to most of the people but realised it would be quite heartbreaking experience to play it.
Could serve as an anti-pill to all war and violence games perhaps.
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Paul Cowan

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Great look at why transgender rights, and the attitudes to same, are so important.

Another wonderful piece from John Oliver (unsurprisingly).
 
trigger warning: explaining things too well with video clips of people being awful to trans people. (Thanks, +Fish N​!)
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No LWT for me, I'm Australian! Not available in my country.
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Paul Cowan

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Tony Abbott's reaction to a suggestion that we teach kids coding—one of the most valuable skills they can learn, with applications in nearly every industry these days, and with clear and direct benefits to their maths and science education too: to laugh and mock nonsensically for the purposes of cheap political points scoring.

Anyone who places their faith in this man and his party because "it's right for the economy" or "it's building the future of Australia" is a buffoon.
There’s a shortage of skilled developers in Australia. But when Prime Minister Tony Abbott was asked in Parliament yesterday if the government w...
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If it's coding or whatever. Where did this government legislate (or budget or did any moves at all) to promote hi-tech jobs of any kind? Yip, we support tradies to buy new tools (or a ute). We support farmers and the mining industry with concessions on diesel. Coding? What a silly idea. Get a real job. (aka Joe Hockey, recently)
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Paul Cowan

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"You hug family, mostly. And friends, once you get to know them pretty well. But you don't hug all close friends, because some people just aren't huggers. But... even non-hugging friends will probably hug you if you haven't seen them for a while"

Well, I wasn't paranoid about my greeting and goodbye style UNTIL I READ THIS DAMN COMIC. I blame +Hugo van der Merwe.
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+Kristen Stubbs excellent points, Kit. Thanks :)
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Paul Cowan

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A valuable lesson for us all.
 
Go ahead. Shake and stomp.
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all that effort to make a comic, and then they misspell Arrakis in the last panel >:|
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Paul Cowan

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Fascinating look at some of the finer points of Obergefell. Really interesting; I read the decision, but lack enough in-depth knowledge of US law and Supreme Court precedent (not being, you know… American) to pick up on some of these details.

(This kind of analysis is why you should all be following +Yonatan Zunger, by the way.)
 
I've only just started to read today's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, and I'm in a hurry so forgive a slightly more technical post than usual. There's actually a lot of meat here, beyond the simple fact of the decision. A few things I've noticed so far:

(1) The decision is based on the fundamentality of the right to marry, and the issue of levels of scrutiny was not addressed. So no broader impact on anti-discrimination laws via setting intermediate scrutiny for sexual orientation. Not really surprising.

(2) The decision leaned heavily on Loving, Lawrence and Griswold. The latter is important: that's the underlying precedent that a lot of the fights about Roe v. Wade are actually about, and having another major case take it (and its arguments about "personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs") as a precedent does a lot to strengthen it.

(3) The listed "third basis" was that the right to marry safeguards children. The phrasing here is important and is likely to have a strong effect on future cases involving rights to have children, adopt, etc. 

(4) The fourth basis talks about the "constellation of benefits" which marriage provides under the law. Together with the third, this is an extremely strong precedent for any future cases around this. It wouldn't at all surprise me to see sexual orientation become an intermediate-scrutiny suspect category within the next ten years.

(5) The decision made it clear that it takes effect immediately, not at some point in the future. The Court's general lack of patience with further legal manoeuvering was made pretty clear; as far as they're concerned, it's decided, it's done, do it now.

(6) I read the 5-4 as an interesting sign: Roberts is very concerned with the reputation of the Court (having been appointed Chief Justice in the aftermath of Bush v. Gore) and gets the creeping heebie-jeebies at the notion of a close split in a socially controversial case. I was anticipating 6-3, with him writing the opinion, simply because once it was clear which way it would go he would find a way to convince himself to join the majority just to avoid that. The fact that he didn't, if I'm reading the tea leaves correctly, tells me that he feels in his gut that this one isn't a long-term controversy, but really is largely settled as far as the country is concerned.

So with my apologies for the lack of time to write a proper article analyzing this, I'd say that it's time to celebrate a significant milestone -- but not too much. There are still many critical issues in this part of the law, and we can't consider the problem "solved" by any means.
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Paul Cowan

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I am commonly asked exactly what Google HQ is like from the inside. This is by far the most accurate depiction. Especially the bits about the self-driving cars.

"With elegant, deliberate precision, the Google Car starts its own motor and makes a slow, controlled trip around the quarter-mile track. It comes to a perfect, gradual stop at the finish line. The door to the car opens and the scientist emerges. He now has the head of a falcon. He emits frightened birdlike shrieks from his new beak as he grasps in horror at his monstrous new head. Several paramedics rush onto the racetrack, grab the falcon-headed scientist, and usher him into the backseat of a driverless ambulance."
Google. A titan of the Information Age. From its modest beginnings in 1998 as the passion project of Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google has grown to become one of the greatest tech juggernauts in the world. It is now an omnipresent force in modern society—an inescapable...
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The Hitchhikers Guide was much better IMHO. 
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Paul Cowan

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Australians! I just sent this to Jacinta Collins (senator.collins@aph.gov.au) and Stephen Conroy (senator.conroy@aph.gov.au), the two Victorian Labor senators who seem unlikely to vote in favour of marriage equality.
I urge you all to check http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/whereyourmpstands/states/Vic/ (or your state equivalent), and email your local member and/or state senators accordingly, should they not support marriage equality.
I'm now doing the same for non-Labor Victorian senators (though I am less optimistic there, sadly).

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Senator Collins and Senator Conroy,

As a Victorian voter, I am saddened to see that you are both listed by multiple sources (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/huge-spike-in-labor-mps-support-for-samesex-marriage-20150508-ggx4z4.html, http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/whereyourmpstands/states/Vic/, https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/people/senate/victoria/stephen_conroy/policies/1, https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/people/senate/victoria/jacinta_collins/policies/1) as being unlikely to vote in favour of marriage equality.

As a proud Victorian, I urge you to please reconsider your stance on this matter, particularly with legislation to be tabled next week to amend the Marriage Act. I'm heterosexual, but strongly feel that the time has long-since come for Australia to do not what is traditional, or what is easy, but what is right. Gay, straight, or otherwise, everyone should have the right to share their lives with their loved one and be afforded the same protections and benefits under the law.

Australia is decreasingly a religious country, and prides itself on being open and tolerant; it is time for tradition and religion to step back from being able to dictate the lifestyles of those who do not follow them, and to let the privileges and protections of government-sanctioned marriage be open to all Australians.

This has been a battle long in the fighting, and I am filled with hope that it may be drawing to a close. Victoria has a long and proud tradition of being one of the most socially progressive states in Australia; I urge you to let us be at the forefront of what is good and right once more.

Thank you for your time,

Paul Cowan
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I agree, in the end it all depends on a person to share or to oppose some views of a party he's chosen to be a member of. But in the case one's personal views are vastly different from that of his party, why to stay its member?
All I am saying is that the Liberal Party in my opinion is the one that could be described mostly with the adjectives having the prefix un on them: unprogressive (or should I say retrograde), uncreative and unwilling to change.
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Paul Cowan

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Another wonderful piece from the New Yorker New York Times (edit: oops, thanks +Paul Fisher) the writing is nearly as beautiful as the presentation (which is nearly as beautiful as some of the ideas; I love "sky countries").

I generally fly in a plane twice a week. You'd think I'd be bored; and, sometimes, when there are delays or cancellations or shitty weather or when I have to get up at 5:30 on a Monday morning, I roll my eyes. But after all this time (probably... 200 flights in my whole life? I'm making that number up, but something like that), I still find the whole thing magical. And that moment when you emerge from the top of the cloud cover, and no matter what you've passed through, the sun is shining and you have a big fluffy blanket beneath you... I still gasp, every time. This piece makes me wish I was a pilot, because it sounds the same. But more so.
En route from London to Tokyo, a pilot’s-eye view of life in the sky.
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This blog, sadly no longer active, is worth reading. http://flightlevel390.weebly.com/blog.html
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Education
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • Cobram Secondary College
  • Diamond Valley Secondary College
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  • Crossy Road
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  • Google
    Site Reliability Chappy, present
  • property.com.au
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  • Philips PTS
  • Aconex
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Currently
Sydney, Australia
Previously
Melbourne, Australia - Cobram, Australia
Nothing spectacular, but probably the best local fish & chippery in Greensborough/Watsonia. Good Friday night takeaway.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Amazing store with one of the best ranges of whisky I've seen in a long time. Knowledgeable staff who are happy to share some single-malt expertise. Also a big range of wines, spirits and mixers, though I was too captivated by the whisky to pay much heed.
Quality: ExcellentAppeal: ExcellentService: Very Good
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
Museum full of old arcade and pinball machines. From the old peepshow-style titillating flipshows to old mechanical arcade games to more modern pinball machines through to some relatively recent arcade games, it's got it all. Highlights for me were the old mechanical games (I pumped a bucketload of money into Pikes Peak, a game where you try to get marbles to the top of a hill without them rolling down, and a wonderfully complex baseball simulation game from the 1930s, where half the fun was trying to work out how the hell it all worked) and discovering that, despite being 20 years out of practice, I'm still pretty damn good at Spy Hunter. Turn up, change a crapload of quarters, and enjoy.
• • •
Appeal: ExcellentFacilities: ExcellentService: Very Good
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
Small, intimate bar with an OK range of beer and a much better range of spirits. Not the best example of its breed, but definitely the kind of place Melbourne does so well.
Atmosphere: GoodDecor: Very GoodService: Good
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
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I'll admit, I'm not the world's biggest fan of Greek/Turkish/Maltese food; I'm totally down with big hunks of meat but I'm not big on seafood, olives, or eggplant (all of which you know are going to feature heavily). However, St Katherine's was marvelous. The service was exceptional (friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive, without being cloying), and the food was excellent. It doesn't make the mistake of straying too far from the template (there's nothing too 'experimental' which would be a risky move with such a simple cuisine), but just makes some classic dishes with top quality ingredients, wonderful preparation, and just enough of a 'twist' to justify the not-inconsiderable prices. You can order a la carte, or choose 3 fixed-price menus of varying extravagance. We went for the 4-course 'feast' option (the largest), and didn't regret it. We were stuffed full of truly great food, and could barely walk at the end of the meal. The roast chicken (so succulent!), the beef rump (perfectly cooked) and the 'ancient grains' salad (honestly one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten) were all highlights. One tip: be sure not to skip the dessert. The desserts are _amazing_, and deservedly famous.
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Food: ExcellentDecor: Very GoodService: Excellent
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
Awesome and inspiring collection of colourful, witty and politically pointed murals; worth checking out if you're in the area.
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
I love a good hot dog. These weren't good hot dogs.
Food: Poor - FairDecor: Poor - FairService: Good
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago