Thursday, December 07, 2006
No really, he says cyclists are cheating coz they ride on the roads and don't pay road tax.
Well, Mr Clarkson, you seem to forget that a lot of cyclists have cars too (e..g this one) and DO pay road tax for the car, but don't trhen use that as a reason to use it every avaialble congested occasion.
SO when I cycle, and give you road space in your stupid fat polluting, overused, metal death machine,
I have MORE rights than you (and more courage:-)
Jerwemy Clarkson is not a pouf, of course, but he does talk almightly offensive bollocks frequently.
On the other hand, I find him very amusing, and (like Earth in the Hitchikers Guide) mostly harmless....(and cannot rteally complain, coz I don't _have_ to watch him or read him) - I just wanted to be annoyingly pedantic, like most bloggers... ... ...
Saturday, December 02, 2006
My review is that they are not symptomatic of very much about the UK at all, and it is very sad that the people that carry out radicalisation of young men exploit a well-known psychological weakness in them, to completely irrelevant ends - neither did it cause significant backlash (as such attacks in netherlands and france have done) nor did it do as much to cause more muslims (or any otherreligious group) to become more radically religous (fundamental), not even as much as, say, Jack Straw talking about the veil. The fact that 50+ people died including these bombers has become like roadkill, rather than martydom - its just not the same part of the landscape that Guy Fawkes, or the Miners striking (and some dying) against Thatcher, inhabit. Perhaps its partly the british phlegmatic nature, or just the sheer SIZE of the multiple cutural and religious groups in the UK - it would take a huge, protracted incident to make long term impact - we dont do stuff that way.
Meawhile, the plight of women in Islamic nations and Socieities from Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, and the wrong parts of palestine and syria is really quite depressing, and enough to put me of my pea and ham soup.
Monday, October 23, 2006
MInisters' comments about the Veil (or Niqab -not sure why we can't use the perfectly good english word). Well frankly
this is bogus as blaming it on the weather - if some racist idiots decide to attack
another bunch of idiots, that is THEIR decision - what other people SAY isn't a reason or an excuse
except for people not prepared to take responsibility for their own actions. This applies as much to any party - Muslims that threaten violence to cartoonists are criminals. W People that attack anything or anyone whether a pub or a mosque or a synagogue or a pig farm or an abortion clinic or a
person, are criminals. Other people's words (whether in the Koran, Bible, Torah, Sun Times, Hansard) are irrelevant - words cannot be sufficient provocation. period. words, cannot be reason enough to lose reason.
why do such people abnegate responsibility for actions in themselves or in other people?
well, my belief is that there's three reasons.
1. they are exploiting liberal fear - bad idea - remember we got the guns
2. they've never been required to take responsibility for such actions,
often because a fascist priest or a liberal government have taken away that requirement, or else because they think they wont get caught.
3. they are repressing something.
oh wait, maybe they are just plain STUPID. you know, lots of crims in chokey apparently claim that "they don't know why they did it" - their "hand moved of its own accord" or "their brain went on holiday". No it didn't. they were bad AND stupid.
Listen, Marx said "combat liberalism". This applies to the other side of the coin too.
tough on liberalism - tough on the opponents of liberalism.
Freud talked in his work on "beyond the pleasure principle" about the darkside. he was wrong. there's no fun in this, not even peverse.
god I am starting to sound like some kind of libertarian - if you read this, I'm not:) I am a syndicalist anarchist (but its damn close:)...
net neutrality and regionalisation are pretty much the same thing - larry lessig has a lot to say on this - personally , i dont see the problem - clearly people that do cross-border arbitrage should be hung:
Many companies are faced with the awful prospect of reduced profits
due to globalisation, where the price they set in the poorest plaecs
on the planet isntantly becomes the price everywhere - products from
DVDs, MP3s, and completely innocent things like AIDS drugs and http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.spell.gif
automatic weapons and ammunition are available at knock down prices in
places where the rich should be fleeced for every penny (e.g. Saudi
Arabia, USA and other friendly states).
We propose the use of embedded, lat-long sensitive nano-tech cookie
cutters within the product wrapping so that anyone trying to open
their new xmas prezzy to
fire on the insurrectionists, or treat the unwitting HIV victim, to
the accompaniment of the sounds and vision of the latest hits, will
have to make sure they are in the right place at the right time, else
its "bye-bye skin and bones".
suitable nano-technology would have to include GPS and Galileo
receivers which might make it quite bulky, so one thing to do would
be to desing some sort of decentralised mimo sensor net GPS receiver
that would collaborate over a number of wrappers and products - after
all, where there's one M16/AK47/AZT-dose, there's probably 100.
You know it makes sense: price discrimination isn't unfair at all. No
it isn't, really
I don't have a emoticon for massive irony, so you'll just have to figure out for yourself if I am serious above....
Friday, October 20, 2006
The sois-disant Great Firewall of China, for example, is designed to
prevent people within PRC accessing information from certain sites
via various search engines such as Google, based on various keywords
deemed to be subversive by the Chinese government. (Actually, the
mechanism is much simpler than that, but the effect is as described).
Of course, other countries, and many commercial organisations
implement mechanisms to limit users' access to various kinds of
information. Many of these are merely extensions of censorship
to New Media, that makes sure there is consistency- for example:
In Germany (and several other countries)
holocaust denial is illegal (even criminal) and just as much on the Net as
in other forms of media. Many search engines (such as Google) filter
such content for users from those countries. It is still possible for
users to obtain the information by masquerading as users from elsewhere,
just as one can buy censored books from foreign bookstores, and risk
shipping (or carrying) them back.
In the UK, what constitutes pornography is rather more strictly
controlled than in many countries (in Europe, but even the US for example)
and many Internet Service Providers implement filters that censor such
In most commercial organisations that use the Internet extensively,
staff are often prevented from misusing the network resource by limiting the
sites they can reach. This is largely no different than limiting the access
that telephones can be put to (e.g. think student lab phones not having
international access). Of course, some industries go further and log all use
(including all e-mail content and web access) and check for abuse. This might
be regarded by some as an invasion of privacy, but others would say that you
choose where you work.
So we must ask why this topic is such a hot button to press with many people.
I think there are three reasons:
Firstly, the Internet was not originally censored (much, if at all -
and I have been using it since 1981, so I have a fairly good idea of its
origins). Thus when it first appeared as a service in many parts of the
world, it could be used to access information that was previously difficult,
expensive or impossible to obtain. This international (or global) nature of
communications happened before national or international law could comprehend
the effects. This is still largely true. As an aside, we should note that it
is almost impossible to police the Internet by location perfectly.
Identifying server, content, and client by Internet address is insufficient.
Mechanisms such as anonymising, peer-to-peer, and encryption all undermine
any centralised attempts to impose control.
Secondly, anyone can provide information on the Internet. It removes
intermediaries (newspaper and other media magnates), and democratises the
information providing processes. Even powerful presences
such as the BBC or CNN are not providing as much information as the end user.
In some cases, the immediacy of this information makes it more valuable that
traditional sources. In other cases, the provenance and accuracy of the
information make it less valuable. It is not clear what the balance is, but it
is clear that censorship may be arbitrary, and remove more valuable information
Thirdly, the Internet provides information about diversity just as
much as being a tool for uniformity or globalisation. Many Internet users form
their own communities (whether youth users such as MySpace or YouTube, or
language and culture based). Censorship threatens to lead to so-called
balkanisation of the Internet, where these groups are completely disjoint,
whereas today, they are simply ways to organise subsets of users and
interests, and do not represent actual boundaries.
In conclusion, many people are incensed by Internet Censorship. Technology is
not terribly effective at enforcing the arbitrary and local rules: our global
society needs to develop new social and legal processes to which we all have
input, so that the "baby luck" we have had in gaining the low cost advantages
the Internet brings is not thrown out with the "bathwater" via high-cost dodgy
and false content control mechanisms.
I would propose to start by refining two principles, those of
freedom of speech, and freedom from persecution.
Both of these principles are already subtly different depending whether
the means of expression is spoken or written (e.g. libel versus slander), and
indeed whether the spoken or written (heard or read) material was communicated
privately or publicly. What the Internet does is to introduce at least a 3rd
type of communications channel, which needs to be comprehended by its users
(recipients as much as transmitters). The Internet provides the ability to
distribute information at nearly zero cost to arbitrary (unforeseen) users.
[Aside: this is why Internet piracy is so attractive too].
Indeed, the receiver may have chosen to hunt and retrieve the information.
This is a very different world from the traditional channels of printed or
broadcast words, or even of private letters and telephone calls.
For writers, a refined version of the principle of "freedom of speech" should
include a middle ground in terms of consideration of audience, and in terms of
channel. A blog is nothing like a TV or Radio item or a newspaper article. Nor
is it directed like a letter. It has soem of the elements of a pub
For readers, what is retrieved on the net should be subject to a refined
version of the principle of "freedom from abuse or persecution". What was
written on a blog may well have been put there in a different culture, with a
different readership in mind. Sense of humour and cultural conventions vary
across the world, and normally, physical difference isolated receivers from
witnessing these differences. Downloading offensive material is a matter of
choice, and not of the authors' intent. Cartoons satirising Islam in poor taste in a dutch newspaper would not normally appear on the street in a village in Sudan.
Between these two refined principles, there still has to be room for
respect and negotiation, no different from the application of the principles
in the more traditional channels and media.
Of course, there are parts of the world when these principles are not
respected even in the traditional form. Nobody's perfect.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
has written widely on the (non-)existence (probable) of God.
In his latest tome, I believe he commits 3 errors of argument, and several mistakes in terms of the tactics he uses, as well as
potentially leading us strategically down a dead end. While I don't disagree with some of his goals or many of his conclusions, I just wanted to point this out (amongst all the other noise:)
Firstly, there's a tendency to be unimaginative about alternative possible universes. There is a lot of material in the God Delusion dedicated countering arguments about
the existence of God from the complexity of the Universe. Understandably, given Dawkin's background, the argument that complexity emerges from the (simple) evolutionary (selection/crossover) processes is used widely, and reasonably. However this begs the question: why is the universe suited to the hierarchy of systems that allowess complexity (counter-intuitievely, negative entropically etc etc) to emerge? there are LOTS of alternative organisations that one could imagine of the laws of physics upwards that would not lead to such a possibility. The fact that energy, time and matter are organised arccording to a remarkably simple set of rules that do allow this is, obviously, remarkable - it doesn't prove the existence of god, but it is very very hard to argue about the probability of laws being this way rather than another way - we don;t have necessary priors to do the Baysian inferencing - we don't even have the level of evidence that SETI folks use in arguming about the probability of intelligenyt species on other planets (in other solar systems tec etc) _ we don't have alternative physical universices to look at except in simulation, and precious few (even in Sci Fi literature) have the ability to cook up
viable alternatives and examine their relative likelihood in the "best of all possible random choices". [footnote:- there was a competition in the New Scientist, I think, a few years back to see who could achieve most for the human race with the smallest change to the laws of physics - the winner was someone who observed that altering the speed of light by a very small amount could make the threshold for fission and fusion bombs impossible to achieve on earth, but let all of chemsiitry and important physics liek the stable fusion process in stars, continue largely undetectably the same. More please:-]
Secondly,there's a failure to look at a LOT Of anthropology literature - a common failing of Oxford academics (Penrose is similar in lapses of citation of colleagues elsewhere:) which addresses the question both of diversity and numbers of (e.g. languages, but also) religions. There are reasons why diverse languages evolve rapidly, and they are to do with increased survival of the gene pool (in line with Dawkins' own theories). A good summary of some of the ideas behind this is in
"Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language" by
Robin Dunbar, which referenecs a lot of evidence anthropologists haev gathered on the topic (not just nice headline grabbing stuff about potlatch or cargo cults).
Thirdly, Dawkins says that children may be natural thesists - well I'd love to know his evidence (admitedly, there is the Israeli study, but Jewish studies conflate culture, race and religion, and so are not good at pulling out any inate religiosity, imho) - anecdote: a Latin teacher tried to claim a bunch of religious views as fact to a class of ten year-olds that I happened to be in. The class objected - he said "you are too young to decide not to believe", to which they ALL retorted: "So are we not too young to believe, by the same argument" - this was in a church school - yet the children were able to see that "default off" was just as good as "default on" in the face of no evidence - I bet there's plenty of evidence that default behaviours are established by culture VERY early by peer pressure and example (c.f. gender role/behaviour etc).
I believe that Dawkins does no favours to his case by including a tactic that too often includes ad hominem remarks - for the examples of ludicrous behaviour (e.g. televangelists), he will preaching to the deaf or the converted. For some other examples, we may (or may not) know who is talking about:)
More seriously, I question the entire strategy behind writing the God Delusion. While I see there are many dangerous religious extremist groups trying to set global agendas today, I feel that taking them (that is to say, the extremist components) seriously at all (and taking them alongside the moderate reglious) is an error - as John Sladek said (quoted) in Roderick at Random, if there's somethign more dangorous than a disbelief in the existence of intelligent robots, it is too much of an unhealthy belief in their existence.
Finally, a note on humour. All the humour in Dawkins' work is quoted - does the man actually have his own sense of humour, or just the ability to recognize it in others? Douglas Adams wasn't just funny: He was also succinct:)
Vonnegut said that the true message of the New Testament is not
"turn the other cheek". It is that people should check who the Mr Big is behind someone before they plan to crucify them. There's lots of simple examples like this that Dawkins could also use to stengthen his arguments through simplicity. Or not.
Joke: what if life was just a hologram of a french 19*19 board game - Le Go d'Illusion ? :-)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
however here is an even worse one:
so i've been thinking about applications and usability
a feature of handsets is that there are limited resources
but the famous success of handsets is SMS - so the
popularity of txt messageing is sometimes attributed to its use
not as a tool for information, but as a channel for emotional
communication - studies (e.g.
so is there a case to be made that we should design
oppprtunistic applications' UIs very badly
to FORCE users to think outside the box (ie.. play the
hacker/workaround game) to find the ways of using our applications
in new and creative ways
i.e. is there a case for the
Really Stupid Interface design paradigm?
(RSI is not just a conincidence:-)
MP jack straw doesn't want to let women wearing a veil over their face into his castle (sorry, i mean constituency meetings)
The british army want to give their soldiers a tax break/bonus
for fighting in Iraq
This is all very odd, since these people are all essentially evading the job they are PAID to do. obviously, the solutions are simple and is an example of the type of joined-up-thinking this government claims but fails so visibly to employ:
1. the british army should guard the israeli embassy, and the british islamic policemen should be required to fight in Iraq, but wearing a veil to avoid being recognized.
2. jack straw should be required to wear suspenders, high heals and a bra (and nothing else) when seeing men in his constituency
3. Tony blair should retire immediately and take over running afghanistan, as he is so good at sorting out people's disagrements.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
whenever anyone criticises another religion (including atheists), extreme members of said religion threaten the critic - whether it be a cartoonist or a pope quoting from 500 years ago.
I get very disappointed when the critic then apologises - the _point of both of these criticisms was that there are extremists in religions (and elsewhere), not that all members of said group are extremists - if you listen to the threats from the extremists, and respond, you are _appeasing_ extremists.
Do not appease people that use religion as a cover to threaten you - i dont care if its muslims or the israeli defense force, the pope or bush - if I say they did something wrong, and I believe I am right, then I don't see why I would change my view about a subset of them because of threats - seems like bordering on hypocrisy.
Of course, the Pope (and the catholic cheurch) have a history of apeasement (e.g. Nazis in second world war), so I guess one shouldnt be surprised:( Before anyone starts protesting in the UK (or most of europe) they ought to remember that most EU countries are secular, and the pope speaks for very few people - next time the muslims protest about something the pope says, do it in africa or south america where most of his followers are as it will have more effect -
of course, its hard for religious states (esp. extreme ones under sharia law) to understand that there are secular states, let alone states where any individual can say what she likes about stupid muslims, israelies, chrsitans, zoroastrians and agnostics, and not represent anyone else or any organisation or even any consensus - we are allowed to talk rubbish if we like - if you listen to it, and worse, react to it, it reflects more on you then on the speaker:)
Saturday, July 08, 2006
only model that many of its citizens and friends have for
defense is attack. This starts with words, and slips rapidly
into actions, and shows an amazing lack of adaptability. While one understands
the historical reasons for dropping the fatal passivity that led many to the gas chambers
of the nazis, there are alternatives to simply assaulting the person who has another viewpoint
in this world - I wonder how long it will take for the culture, which has had several generations
now since the 2nd world war, to develop a bit more range of response.Of course, the large numbers of
people from other cultures without any real culture (viz escapees from the collapsing ussr)
that exploited the right of return don't help as their model of the world doesn't include any
idea of society let alone multi-cultural society. Tolerance, integration, cooperation, co-existence,
all sorts of ways for differing groups to live side by side have been tried succesfully (visit Toronto if you want to see one of the widest range of peacefullly co-existing groups - entire cities-worth of Chinese, Russiam, Italian and so on with many different styles of interaction).
In the long run, the survival of the once radical society in israel depends on the evolution towards some of these capabilities - but there's little signs of this - the current trend reminds me of Harry Harrison's
doomed inhabitants of the deadly planet in Deathworld...read it and weep...
Of course, I get shouted at by israelis every time I say this sort of thing, but I am used to this and have learned to ignore it - like many essentially arab socieities, the jews have only 1 volume setting: loud:-(
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
israel eyeless in gaza again - basically,
aside from all the usual rubbish talked by either side
about justifiable war, and disproproportiate responses,
with regard to the tanks rolling into gaza and
missiles falling on bridges and other infrastructure,
all to "rescue" one "kidnapped" israeli soldier
(kidnap? he aint a kid, he is a _prisoner_).
what amazes me, though. is
that a nation appears capable of the same pathological behaviour
as an individual human, viz:
victims of child abuse are most likely to become child abusers.
israel, a state (re-)made for explicitly for victims of attempted genocide,
appears to be embarking on the same doomed course itself to the palestinians.
this cycle is familiar too in other conflicts (balkans etc) and is generally solved
by long term concerted peaceful conciliatory action - nelson mandela's scheme in south africa
was a remarkable example of renouncing vengence, even when it mgiht be vaguely justified
simply because it is counter productive.
israel: you want long term security? you just threw it away for yet another generation.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
So the network broke in London on 7/7. Gosh, well TETRA Isn't going to help much is it - surely people have learned from this - you cannot expect the unexpected but the cell phone system really is a crock - the slotted aloha channel allocation would fail far less gracefully under high call arrival rate/attempt, and call gapping is TOO LATE - what you need is wideband cdma, but also what you need is diversity (wifi skype phones all over) AND whayt you need is delay tolerant networking.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
this is offensive to chrstians. They seem to have missed her previous shows
and perhaps failed to spot the clue in her chosen stage name -they
are all meant to be fairly annoying to people who have no clue, no sense of humour
and probably are a bit wobbly in their faith.
Or perhaps the people compllaining have shares in her company, and are just boosting her publicity
(which of late was flagging a bit)
Perhaps Madonna could do a Da Vinci tour? Perhaps the people who spend so much time complaining about
troivia like movies and music could get a life and look at things that people of allegedly christian beliefs
are meant to like aid in darfour, or peace in the middle east or something that actually MATTERS for a change.
Jesus, these guys are hipocrites.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
ways to dice and slice a server (farm) at different granularity from
processor, core, or thread, and for its isolation, migration, and
multi-OS support. To date, its targetted at Intel and the desk/server side.
What we desperately need is to virtualise handsets and also processors in cars.
Right now, the tussle between the various service providers to create walled gardens has led to a disaster which is that there are now far more OSs (and even just incompatible variants of OSs) in the handset/pda world than any other computign world - linux, symbianos, windows mobile smart phones, nokia, ericsoon and samsung ownbrand OS and re-badged symbian and java and other OS - despite ample resources (CPU and memory in a typical 2006 phone is more than an internet host or router of 1990), these folks produce bluetooth and wifi and camera APis that are stunted, they don't ship location services, or p2p/manet tools, and basically have NO clue- in the interest of short term profit, they misunderstand that the LONG term profit will be bigger if the service*network is bigger (see Metcalf's law, or dave reeds version of it) - killer apps wont "appear" for 3G or wifi enabled phones unless the community can program them. Frankly, its an embarassement.
Don' even get me started on in-car devices... ... ...
So if we para-virtualized them, we'd take these problems away -= application writers could write to a single platform, instead of 11, and know that that platform would work on the VM on any phone - since many phones use either ARM or (a few) xscale, the processor is pretty friendly, so the lower level of a "xen-like" system, would be not too bad - the page sharing stuff in Xen 3.0 would allow a lot of efficiecies too so the memory footprint of running n variants of Symbian OS and Linux and windows smart phone OSs, would not be n-times - it would be a fraction more...
show me the money:)
Da Vinci, Da Vinci, we all fall down
protests from religious fundamentalists about the da vinci code movie and book, only made worse by the movie hype, are yet another symbol of the corruption of thought in reglious groups. A well trained jesuit would never misunderstand the difference between fictional entertainment, and blasphemy. Frankly, the christians are very very lucky that the dominant religion in the west is not (say) orthodox judaism where the portrayal of humans (since they are in the image of god) is forbidden.
More importantly, where to they get off objecting to a speculative, amusing, and quite well made movie (but terribly written book)? Look at the bible - its full of inaccuracies - for example, the commandment translated by Christians as "Thou shalt not kill" is an incorrect rendering of the Aramaic which meant "Thou shalt not murder" - I will defend my right to the death to _talk_ gibberesh, and christians have by the own rules, given up that right, so they can go away and sulk in the corner and turn the other bloody (==by my lady) cheek.
Gosh, they never complained about Dogma (very amusing film with Alanis morisette as god), or Time Bandits (very very amusing film with Ralph Richardson as God). What is wrong with a religion that has a terminal sense-of-humour failure? Read the Name of the Rose and weep:)
Sunday, April 23, 2006
So now it looks like Conencting for Health have put the ball back in the court of the academics and other signatories of the letter asking for a review of the
programme - viz
say, ok so you want a review, please describe its terms of reference. Good call.
My take is that the review should be _by the people, of the people, for the people_ - i.e. it should be user centered. This means NHS employees and healthcare customers should define its contents, without fear (so some form of anonimity, which ought to be bread and butter to an NHS IT project should be assured for people who wish to be critical but are worried about their jobs- however, care should be taken that this doesn't lead to un-verifiiable whinges - this also, should not be beyong the wit of medical researchers to define:)
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Why would anyone want to review the NPfIT ?
1/ its just a waste of time
2/ its going fine (see the websites)
3/ if it doesn't deliver, we don't pay
4/ any other reasons?
1. having an independant review of a large project doesn't typically increase project times - actually ,its a chance to improve documentation, and to get low cost objective fedback so you can re-factorize and change priorities. Aside from any accountability questions (and if the project fails, and we don't pay, we are left with a god almighty mess AND waste of NHS resources - time of training of medical and admin staff to use a failed system wouyld represent a massive sink of effort - the project must not be allowed to fail unless there's somethign crucially wrong with it, but it must also be bought in reasonably close to budget - this is not impossible, but I don't believe a self-monitoring programme has ever done that.
2. the website and other data on the programme are extensive, but so is the NHS - 14,000 siginficant sized sites with 1M employees - The story of how well its going down to grass roots is not captures through a few case studies and glossy PDFs or even some (laudible) Best Common Practice material. An _evaluation_ of the programme progress, and SWOT analyiss mid point should be public (the last annual report is not deep.
3. If the project misses part of its deliverables, the affect on not only the NGS but the suppliers is going to be fairly bad (think share price, think sunk cost, think committed opex as well as capex) -
The negative response to what is essentially an offer of help is suspicious.
The public will respond with "so what have they got to hide". Thats not helpful.
On the other hand, it might be good if an industrial conortium did an independant review (on the other hand, several of the candidate companies didn't bid for the NPfIT because thye assessed it as infeasible.)
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
So having spent some time to look through as much of the documentation on the NPfIT website as I could (most, exlcuding a few documents where links were broken) I Have to say that it is really impressive. I think there is ample evidence that the programme will deliver a lot of useful pieces (e.g. electronic presscriptins, picture arching and comms) and that is a fine thing - the pieces that look less likely to work for a while, to me, are the ones where policy is embedded in technology (.i.e. public facing systems), but they may yet work. The cradle to grave ambitions of the original NHS, translated into cyberspace, are clearly there, and the progress monitoring/reporting and visibility of a lot of the work is clearly also being carried out with the best intent. I wonder, just wonder, if this might not succeed? It would be very nice if the folks involved manage it (what would they do for an encore?).
Recent conversations about the
National Program for IT in the NHS or NPfIT, make it clear to me that the public understanding of academic computer science contributions to the world is sparse.
I've been an academic since 1981 (and even before that worked teaching remedial math in High Schools in Toronto, and spent 2 years as a systems/program advisor in North London Polytechnic. In all that time, I've observed that academics in CS like to build stuff. In fact, as part of both teaching and researching computing, one tries things out. Oftem the things one tries out are new (as thats more fun to teach and learn or because its research) - sometime later, you find lots of people using the thigns you built, often unaware of the origins of the stuff- the Net, the Web, lots of Unix stuff, sure, but what about more "commercial" systems? well, cisco, sun and google all started as stanford University EECS department internal projects. Microsoft's first TCP stack was done as a C port of a macro-11
stack that UCL worked on, and then handed via Spider Systems, Mentat and other companies to end up in Windows (since re-written, some of the re-write, e,.g the mobile IP code based on work by microsoft research with Lancaster University. There's a LOT of examples like this - it wouldn't surprise me if a significant fraction of software today didn't start out in a university lectuters spare time project. Some of the really "odd" theory things some folks in cambridge do like theorem proving are done using theorem proving programs. These programs turn out to be quite useful.
Some day, we'll do some cyber-archaeology and trace the family tree of software systems and discover whether my conjecture is even half way right. In the meantime, if you use ADSL to access the Internet, you have more than a 50% chance of using a modem with a chip in it designed by a colleague of mine here in the University. Oh, there's only about 6 million of you in the UK alone:)
Now, do we have the right to call into question whether the NPfIT programme should have due diligence (i.e. progress report/study, etc) done? Not only do we have the right, we have the duty AND the skills. One of the folks who signed the letter
asking for this to be done _invented_ software engineering.
Another, while he has written a quite good book, has also worked _in_ banks IT departments. Qualifications (real world or ivory tower)? well, it seems they wear them on their sleeves for all to judge, which is fine, so what is wrong with asking for another government group to do the same?
I wonder if it is Philip Gould who wrote some rather inaccurate
statements about my fellow academics on
Naughty Academics for daring to suggest the NFS National Program for IT might need to haev some transparency about its plans and progress, just like ANY well run project ought to
It has the same aggresive assertive style one associated with said person - see a response by a frend of mine,m which I thoroughly endorse - I don't know any academics in ivory towers any more, least of all in hothouises of technocracy such as Cambridge from where Ross ANderson hives, where most Computer Scientists have worked with industry and have to produce results to get funded, and have done more useful things for the world in their lunchbreak than any Government Department in a decade.
I wonder if it is Phillip Gould who wrote some rather inaccurate
statements about my fellow academics on
It has the same aggresive assertive (and factually wrong) style one associated with said person - see a response by a frend of mine,m which I thoroughly endorse - I don't know any academics in ivory towers any more, least of all in hothouises of technocracy such as Cambridge from where Ross ANderson hives, where most Computer Scientists have worked with industry and have to produce results to get funded, and have done more useful things for the world in their lunchbreak than any Government Department in a decade.
Monday, March 13, 2006
now then now then whats all this about - so dan brown lifted the idea for the da vinci code from someone else? amazing- if I had been plagiarised by such a poor writer, i wouldn't be drawing attention to the fact:-)
Note, more importantly, the basis for the post-structuralist framing of such books is that they are "true" - so basing it on other works is STANDARD PRACTICE - people that do research and expect people not to use their results need to learn what their trade is about - i cannot believe how someone could be so transparently greedy as to claim they had really come up with something that dan brown used to make lots of money - if they had such a good idea, how come their book didn't sell so well, eh? probably because it wasn't as readable - so why is his book worth a lot and theirs not? because the public vote with their purses. that doesn't mean much...
Monday, February 20, 2006
According to the UK government, one has to make allowances for British Troops behaviour in Iraq, as they are under tremendous pressure.
Ha! They're soldiers - did they join the army to go collecting butterflies and make cucumber sandwiches on a spring day in the Loire Valley? I think not.
What kind of excuse can you make? they have permission to shoot people dead who shoot at them (something british police aren't allowed to do except to Brazillions). They routinely beat each other up in training - why do they need to beat up some random civilians as well? to chill out? Ha! I think not. Nope, its just plain sadism and racism,. same as always.
Friday, February 17, 2006
In the future, the Internet will be mainly hard to find. This is because instead of using expensive heavy electrons, the Internet will mostly be made of photons. These are hard to see as they are very fast, and also don't weigh anything (as far as anyone can tell) so they zip along in straight lines without falling to earth, and then they're gone - whereas electrons fall down any potential well they pass.
Guantanamo Bay of Pigs...
So right wing (libertarians) often lsah out at liberals and say "How come you are always criticizing America - what about all those other bad people".
Well, what I say is they should take a look today (or ANY day) at
Where you find Sudan, Iran, Congo, Brazil, Nepal,
as well as the US and UK in the news for violation of human rights. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance - criticizing the US exclusively is dodgy, but those of us that care, care about injustice ANYWHERE, whether its Bush or Mugabe or whoever.
Friday, February 10, 2006
I am maissively disappointed in DC and Marvel Comic spinout movies - its quite clear that they are using SFX and CGI instead of real people and stunt doubles nowadays, because the physics is all wrong - after all didn't Isaac Newton say that for every action there is an equal, and opposite, reaction? well he didn't of course, he wrote it in latin, but anyway, a true card carrying geek like me cares about this stuff - at least Gene Roddenbury had the nerve to pretend that the physics of star trek made sense. Even Dr Who has a _sonic_ screwdriver (I hope he never has to use it to fix the hedgehog). But what about Spiderman or Superman or the Fab Four eh? where's the opposite reaction, eh?
so according to some folks retaliating for cartoons of the prophet by publishing cartoons of the holocaust is just the same. No it isn't. The former is insulting to Islam if you believe in Islam. The latter is insulting to anyone killed ina a genocide, including Rwanda, Eritrea, Armenia, etc etc - many people were kiled by the Nazis were not jewish - there were a lot of russians killed, many Romany, a lot of gays etc etc. Plus this was a deliberate national policy.
No, sorry, making fun of a religion is not the same as making fun of the victims of genocide. However, in this country (the UK) it is not currently illegal to deny the holocaust (although some letter writers in the papers seem to think it is) - because we believe in freedom of speech, including the freedom to talk rubbish (e.g. sput on about some religion or other).
Frankly, the amount of rubbish talked about this on all sides just goes to prove that the main risk of freedom of speech is spam.
Monday, February 06, 2006
consider this. whiel the UK still has an )obsolete) law of blasphemy, most europe doesnt. We don't, bevause reliegions are a matter of faith, not state, and insults to a religion by non believies are irrelevant to believers. Of course, insults on racial or other prejidicial grounds are not tolerable, but religions are, by definition, matters of choice in our community. As a non-muslim, I cannot blaspheme Allah - nor can I offend Yaweh or the god of christians, if I do not believe in them. I can deny them. If I use this as a basis for not employing people, I would be breaking the law. But if I simply am rude about the religion, it is like being rude about a football club. I'd be stupid to do it at the wrong time and place, but its not anyones business otherwise.
is an interesting document that has a bunch of examples of increibly offensive cartoons about jews.Someone on the BBC newsforum website made the point about the descruction by taleban of the Bhuddist statues in Afgahnistan.
So its interesting that we havn't had the guts to boycott arab OPEN oil, given the absolutely rabid anti-christian and anti-jewish press in Saudi and other countries that unfortunately for the oil-hungry west, control our lifestyle choices - viz we should be boycotting the products from these countries that burn our friends' embassies, and carry illegal placards glorifying terrorism in London. They aren't just offensive - they are criminals.
Oh, by the way, when they showed those cartoons on Al Jazeera, I hope they'd paid for the copyright :-)
Friday, February 03, 2006
PUT DOWN THE PEN AND STEP AWAY FROM THE DRAWING BOARD
The cartoonish sheepishly puts down is tool, and puts his hands in the air, and "assumes the position".
"What can I say? It's a fair cop - you caught me - satirising Islam. Yes I have WMD (Weapons of Muslim Defamation). You can try and me and cut off both my hands, and then my head in a public execution in the Champs Elysee, to be broadcast on Canal +"
What a load of bull. Islamists beware - there is a fundamentalist right to take the piss out of anything in countries with free speech, and WE WILL KILL anyone who tries to interfere with it. We wont mess with your oppressive regimes in your countries even though they oppress the women and poor, but if you mess with us, believe me, you will reap the whirlwind and we already have the nukes. How stupid can you get - if you push us too far, sure, we'll stop being liberal - but last time Europe did that, what did they become? Did the Nazis like Muslims? I think not. God, how completely moronic can you get playing with such fire. We don't care if you don't buy Danish bacon - hey, don't by danish newspapers either. Hey, dont go live here if you don't like it - you have that choice - but you don't have the choice to remove OUR choices.
Monday, January 30, 2006
So I just read "Is it just me or is everything s**t" by a couple
of Working Class Neros called Lowe and Mcarthur. Quite a musing and a few gems, but it does harp on every now and then about toffs - a couple of comments on rich rock stars gives away the fact that these blokes (contributers to Q magazine and ex _students_) suffer from inverse snobbery and working-class-cred-envy problems
so I read the history of the english working classes and other romantic writings of EP Thompson as much as the next middleclass overeducated geek-class-warrior, but frankly, since the begining of the 20th century, I don't buy that the working class has achieved a whole lot on behalf of anyone else in Blighty - in fact, there's precious little of it left since 60 years of decent free education and healthcare - sure there's an underclass, but pretty much anyone else from Builder to barworker has some aspirations and stuff that simply don't fit the mould.
And what else?
A list of things actually middleclass kids (like the sex pistols are really) did for us:
Rock Music (aside from bits stolen from african-american liberated slaves
Decent rock festivals and raves
stuff I think is destructive, hypocritical, rubbish and is white english trash product:
oppression of women and violence
poor personal hygiene
I come from a mixed bag of yorkshire working class and posh - I don't have pride in either class - only in indovidual ancestors who were admirable. I think that people that do have class loyalty are tantamount to people with race loyalty - they have one big problem, and I would happily throw then in the river and drop all my old bicycles on top of them.