Saturday, January 25, 2020

the rock inquisition has 2 methods of torture...


the rock inquisition has 2 methods of torture...

changing all the strings on your electric guitar,
and having 1/4 guitar jacks that need the lead re-soldering,
and FX pedals with flat batteries..

no wait the rock inqusition has 3 methods of torture
changing all the strings on your electric guitar,
and having 1/4 guitar jacks that need the lead re-soldering,
and FX pedals with flat batteries..
and having to carry a bass stack so heavy  up a narrow flight of stairs to the gig, so you cant play after for an hour

no wait the rock inqusition has 4 methods of torture
changing all the strings on your electric guitar,
and having 1/4 guitar jacks that need the lead re-soldering,
and FX pedals with flat batteries..
and having to carry a bass stack so heavy  up a narrow flight of stairs to the gig, so you cant play after for an hour
and having a drummer with a car, but who can't keep time

no wait the rock inqusition has 4 methods of torture
changing all the strings on your electric guitar,
and having 1/4 guitar jacks that need the lead re-soldering,
and FX pedals with flat batteries..
and having to carry a bass stack so heavy  up a narrow flight of stairs to the gig, so you cant play after for an hour
and having a drummer with a car, but who can't keep time
and a keyboard player with a fender rhodes that's slightly out of tune

no wait the rock inqusition has 5 methods of torture
changing all the strings on your electric guitar,
and having 1/4 guitar jacks that need the lead re-soldering,
and FX pedals with flat batteries..
and having to carry a bass stack so heavy  up a narrow flight of stairs to the gig, so you cant play after for an hour
and having a drummer with a car, but who can't keep time
and a keyboard player with a fender rhodes that's slightly out of tune
and a bald singer...

Thursday, December 26, 2019

big cat, little cat

driving through the Mara, you surely get the impression almost everything is on edge. even the rhinos are wary, the hippos are nervous, the buffalo are cautious, the zebra skittish, the giraffes are gently prepared for a slow-motion getaway, and of course the topi, gazelles and antelope are basically breakfast on stick legs. So who's confident? well, the hyenas looked pretty chill, and the lions look like bullying heavies from a mafia movie - everyone stands still when they walk in the room. then to see a cheetah with six "teenage" cubs is almost like a quantum superposition of super-relaxed confidence, with the same wariness the warthogs exactly do not portrait. a lesson in cool.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Striking is Colluding with the Commodification of Higher Education.

a factory worker goes on strike, and the goods are no longer manufactered, the factory owner no longer gets the income and profit from the labour of the worker and the payment by the consumer, while the worker no longer gets the pay. It is a fair exchange, and the negotiation brings back symmetry to the power structure, that before striking basically entailed indentured labour (little to distinguish it from serfdom or slavery).

So when people go on strike in education, they withdraw their labour from teaching, research and administration. However two major pieces of the picture are completely different from the picture painted above.
1. there's no factory owner taking a profit - or (if you like) the whole world is taking a "profit" from having better educated people, but the metric (monetising that gain) is a massive error of judgement - we have no idea what any given education is worth compared to (say) a widget.
2. there's no consumer - oh, ok, there's the whole world - oops - so we don't have a balance between frustrated factory owner not making a profit, frustrated consumer not able to buy a product, and we don't have a product -

3. unless you say an education for a student is a product, then the student is a consumer. so then, if we are withholding our labour from students, they should withhold their pay from us. In the last strike in the UK, som students threatened this - however, this closes the equation down to the price they pay is the cost of the teaching&learning, and the value they get is what the workers delivered. i.e. we have a bunch of plug-compatible units called degrees, workers, students etc.....

The reaction from the admin of some universities makes it clear that already (actually for quite a while) the strikers are considered in this way (you don't deliver a lecture one day, you lose a day's pay - not even the coutersy of considering the way teachers in schools have to make allowances for background work, class planning, preparation of materials etc etc - let alone the fact that much work isn't teaching, it is research, which doesn't pigeonhole conveniently whatsoever.

But by taking strike action, the union colludes in pushing this model of higher education further towards a commodity.

I don't dispute the dispute is valid, but there were other forms of action (withholding marks, just for one effective example, or refusing to process admissions, which would directly hurt the uni admin) , which better followed the direction of power without distorting things towards a market in education. If it was a market, then we'd be competing on  pay and fees would cover pay, so if the universities UK really want that, they should come clean and say so. Half of them would go broke in that scenario, so they should think very very hard.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

not a rock star

like peter cook, i could have been a rock star but for the rigour - i couldn't take the rgour of replacing all the dead batteries in fx pedals and finding the broken guitar leads and fixing or throwing them away after every gig....

alas alack a day.

Friday, November 01, 2019

undercover hippy parents

I'm beginning to suspect my parents were really not just slightly bohemian, but full on crazy 60s hippies in disguise. My dad was hardly ever out of a suit, even gardening or DIY at weekends, and my mum was dressed as if to go to the Albert hall to give a performance (which she did from time to time upon the Pianoforte).

But, then they took me to Hydra in about 1968, where i was told to sing by leonard cohen (see this brilliant film of leonard cohen and his muse marianne. And then they took me to this show at the ICA on robots and dance&music Cybernetics Seredipity. And to the Notting Hill carnival where we walked & danced at the front of the main parade. And then to see Hair in London. And my dad was an expert witness in the cases against Oz, IT and the Little Red Book. And my mum had a standup argument with Pierre Boulez in the Pompidou center about aesthetics. And we used to go to parties at the roof garden at Biba now closed, alas . then they nearly sent me to Bedales school, though i ended up a day boy at westminster - if you think that that is straight, let me tell you Shane Mcgowan from the pogues was there at same time.

This explains a lot...

Saturday, October 26, 2019

pagan rituals in modern government - parting gifts and


halloween 31/10 - the most imminent opportunity  for demonstrative postures and dedications of burned bridges and other votive offerings. sadly, since the avatars of the gods celebrated on this hollowed day have no corporate existence (they're ghosts, mum), the mess is left on the altar overnight and has to be cleaned up the next morning by migrant workers.

yule dec 21 - not yet repurposed on the calender by the fathers of Avalon or the Brothers of Blighty, nor the Sisters of the Smoke, but a likely date for burying bad news. As usual, more recent rituals will be used as a cover for darker movements.

candlemas fire festival feb 1 - unlike the new kid on the block of nov 5, feb 1 is the original date to appease the fire goddess. It hasn't impinged on the consciousness of the wickermen yet, but it looks like a likely backstop for an inferno of vanities - favourites to be burned at the altar are blond adulterers and latinate pedants.

vernal equinox - mar 20 spring - hope eternal as days and nights are of nearly equal length on this day - at stonehenge at noon, we will find the 24 hours divided into 48% moonlight and 52% sunlight. or is it the other way around? ancient stones do not lie, but they are not very accurate for casting runes, so we often find haruspication employed for precision prediction. The Hare, of course, needs be most afraid for its longevity at this time.

Le Poisson d'Avril - the original leavings, passed, almost without comment. More fool us.

May day went unemployed completely last time around. Perhaps this was to confound any mythos of nominative determinism?

midsummer jun 24 is, according to english heritage, when people look for lost property as the sun aligns over the megaliths and messes up everyone's selfies.

lammas aug 1 - i won't visit the space shoes of the gods again here, but suffice it to say that lammas would make an excellent time to find yourself on a greek island, or perhaps Sicily where the unusual use of umbrellas originated in Phoenicia to keep of the plagues of frogs and locusts and save them for dinner for the Grain Mother.

Harvest festival/autumnal equinox sep 22 - this of course, is now cancelled due to the lack of fruit pickers able to bring in the harvest.


Friday, October 18, 2019

i'm typing this on a 2009 Macbook running macOS Sierra connected to eduroam and then on the computer lab vlan, with a kerberos ticket so that I can access the department filer using NFS securely.
this is mostly so i can upload the picture below, which is a screengrab of my calendar as viewed in calcurse, a neat app that lets you graphically browse your calendars on a "dumb" terminal, which I often use (well, ok, a terminal emulation running a shell via ssh). The reason i look at my calendar that way is that it is a lot clearer than if I use the fancy calendar apps on OSX or android, or web based ones - this got worse in recent years when I started working in the Turing Institute where, like many "hi-tech" institutes, for mysterious reasons all the admin is done using microsoft office (365/Azure based or with web access or whatever). So I'm forced to use an Outlook calendaring system there. Luckily, it is possible to integrate this with one's Google calendar (yes, I have one of these too) and I can then export all the iCal data to a file and synch it via the filer in Cambridge. I can also synch outlook&google direct.

I also have a simple ascii text file in my home directory, which (derives from v6 Unix days) has a date in a standard unix string form at the start of each line - back in the day, Unix had a cron entry that e-mailed you anything in lines with matching dates for yesterday/today/tomorrow, as a todo reminder (this is 1970s tech, of course - still works, but now I have a perl script that translates the text file daily into iCal, and then I synch it to Google and then Outlook synchs that.

All of this is running in cloud servers running in data centers with millions of cores clocked at several Ghz each, and many petabytes of storage, connected by networks running at 10s or even 100s of Gbps, yeah, even as far as the 1Gbps wired ethernet to my desktop in my office.
That desktop used to be a 17" Macbook pro, which worked fine, but cannot run even OSX Sierra (despite being slightly younger than this Macbook, which can) due to Apple mysteriously not supporting that hardware in that OS version. who knows why - all i needed was the kerberized NFS.

So in a cupboard at home I found an 8-year old 15" Macbook pro which supports High Sierra, so I connect that to eduroam; need signon to the lab VLA; need signon; to the kerberos ticket server; need another sign on; to lab db servers (need another signon) =land now my desktop is ok.

So now on all these machines, with super fast cores (even the 10yr old machbook i am typing on has 100Mpbs and two 2.4Ghz cores) and a nice screen and NVideo GEForce graphics etc

and I mostly type text and look at my ascii calender.
it worked fine on the MHz PdP-11 44 with 2Mbytes of memory, a 10Mbps cambridge ring, and a glass TTY connected to a 19.2kbps serial port.

Where did we all go wrong?