Monday, December 31, 2007

the politics of privacy, the privacy of politics

one thing I think seems to have slipped by the britpopliticians in their mad rush to get all of our lives into government databases. we get all their lives too...

we know where you live, my brown, and the color of your cars, and your bank account details, and your tax return status, and... ... ...

surely you;d think that'd make them more afraid than us - after all,we know they have something to hide, whereas they can never be sure about us...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

a fairytale of New York - PC Madeness

So PC (as in political correctness not Police Constable) Madness temporarily reigned at the Beeb when some bozo of a censor decided that various words in the glorous Pogue's xmas song, a fairytale of new york, had to be bleeped out as they (e.g. strumpet, fagott) were offensive - as one fan said "isn't this just about christmas food:)

the song is fabulous because it is so resonant - even the fact that it appears to be a love song between a couple of drunken homeless crusties, whereas the singer Kirsty MacColl couldnt ever have really be described as anything other than glamorous (alas she passed away in a bizarre scuba diving accident), and Shane McGowan[1] is alarmingly still alive even though he is a drunken crusty m just adds depth to the duet (Shane sings
"Well, I could have bin someone", and Kirsty retorts "well, so could anyone" - perfect punk ethos, and delicious in that they are both someone, but both "someone of the people"

so the Beeb moron who decided to ban the offensive bits in the lyrics (despite them being a little bit Olde Worlde archaic uage, and not even words in contemporary slang) was obviously not aware that, and how ironic is this (shades of that oirish standup routine about Alannis Morisette's crap "how ironic" ditty) - the band, the Pogue's full name is the Irish phrase "pogue mahone" which means "kiss my arse". Shane must be laughing all the way to the next pint of martini.

Kirsty (RIP) was once known as the Electric Land Lady (after Jimi Hendrix ELectric Ladyland:), but also, according to many, including Billy Bragg (who's beautiful song St Swithin's day she also sang beautiflly), was an angel....she sure was.....

[1]Shane's punk credentials don't seem to be dented by the fact that he went to a very posh school (this is not hearsay - i was at the same school at the same time, Westminster, and vaguely new Shane there; of course, I certainly have no punk credentials at all, despite playing in a band called Intensive Care Unit:) Perhaps this was coz I was let go from a band run by Matthew Seligman (very good bass player)...)gratuitous, Little Feat style extraneous parenthesis....()

Monday, December 10, 2007

I was kindly given a copy of the history book, Thunderstruck (signed by the author, erik larson, thank you kindly, sir!), by Rex Hughes at a luncheon to celebrate his recent doctorate. In this book is a marvellously rich, deeply researched history of the twin tales of the mild murderer, Crippen, and the seminal entrepreneur, Marconi, and how their lives (like many later) were entwined by long distance wireless communication!

but more to the point, there is a description of london in the late 19th and early 20th century - around that time, italian and french anarchists were highly active (see Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent (filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as Saboteaur) - apparently, half the houses on Charlotte Street (near UCL, in London) were under surveillance by the New Scotland Yard and the Surete (interesting that the victorian and edwardian british let the french secrete service operate within london) - there was of course a famouse bomb at new scotland yard, amongst others

so today's hysteria by UK (and other) goverment agencies saying there's a "new threat from terrorism" and we must reduce rights so that terrorosts can be tracked and caught, is yet again shown to be completely bogus- there was always such a threat, and, of course, we need eternal vigilance, but that doesn't mean there's a change such that we need to relax habeus corpus or other (inalienable?) rights

oh, the way the marconi wireless telegraphy (sometimes beatifully known as "space telegraphy - prescient of Vint Cerf's Interplanetary Internet:), was used to warn american police of Crippen's imminent arrival on a boat, is eerily reminiscent of the way that cell phones were used to track the 2nd lot of london bombers to....italy, where Guilgemo Marconi came from...

are all novelists high functioning autistics?

was thinking about this - one thing that very intellectually smart but empathically challenged folks on the autism spectrum do, is apparently, to run simulations of what other people might be feeling...rather than actually experiencing empathy - isn't this what novelists do?

Monday, December 03, 2007

mohammed bear

so the teacher in sudan who entertained a classroom of kids with a nice
engaging game of "lets pick a name for the bear" is set free - and "pardoned".
(see, for example bbc report on this, amongst zillions of others).

frankly that is not good enough. frankly, the people that accused her are unbelievable hypocrites, and should be comdemned - the religious teachers who should have told the kids in the school that perhaps naming an inanimate doll after the prophet was inappropriate, they are the ones who are guilty - the teacher who was clearly very good at her job, and popular, was a victim of prejudice, and the appropriate thing would be for a trial under sharia law of those who levelled false accusations against her out of jealousy and bigotry - they clearly lacked understanding, let alone compassion. As has been made obvious by the (majority) sane part of the muslim community, this was an unjust case in the first place. So who will be tried for hiring the "rent a mob" people who cried out for her to be whipped? You know, I'm not a christian, so I'd be happy to throw the first stone. What is the punishment for lying in Islam? For threatening jihad/violence without justification? The sudanese religious leaders need to think very hard about just what they stand for, and how much the rest of the world will stand for them talking this sort of gibberish.

Monday, November 19, 2007

saint pancreas internationale - critique

so i've now arrived in st pancras international from paris 1ce and departed 1ce - and though the station is (imho) a marvel comic to behold, the arrantements are not as good as waterloo or gare du nord for travellers in 2 regards

1. where do i put my bike in st pancras, eh? this has already been protested about but it is a joke to have 22 bad ground level weedy bike loops for a really big station...

2. there's 1 cafe 1ce you go thru registeration/passport and it has 2 people serving AND they wont let you bring coffee in from outside (thats new!)

for a 7.30am train, this leads to a MASSIVE queue, which is ludicrous...where's the "retail experience" in that then, eh

so 11/10 for architecture, but 3/10 for green, human facing stuff...

coming from paris, where there is velib, this is a bit annoying - see
geo. coulouris report on the joys of the system, even during a metro strike....

hmm - so i take some of it back - in just a few days, they have put a BUNCH of bike racks in the eurostar car park - much better than the adjancent King's Cross ones, and the cafe situation seems a tad better - well done!! very fast improvement AND the train has been early (just over 2 hours and 5 minutes, TWICE!)....impressive - indeed, it has been late by 5-7 minutes twice, but due to delays on the french (shared track) side

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rashomon 2.0

so (and I am sure kurosawa though of this anyhow) one thing one could do in a Rashomon re-make in a post-modern era is to have the same person tell ALL the stories (after all the film is a fiction, and there is only reall the narrator and the audidence) but the story would change depending on the audience

this is a bit like human memory and behaviour - each time you "recall" something ,actually, you re-tell the story a slightly different way- but imagine its a story (memory) that matters a lot to you - you will certainly recall and retell it differently to your lover, mother, father, daughter, son, policeman, lawyer, doctor, judge, teacher ...etc etc

that would be a fun story to write (and maybe to read, a few times) a few times

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

shut the haburger joint or the smiley dame gets it

walkin round the louvre this weekend with my 10 yr old, we concocted this plan
to kidnap the Mona Lisa and hold it to ransome - the fee - france has to close
ALL the McDonalds branches, or we will cover La Jaconde with "special sauce"

no, really....oh, ok, not...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire and Rain and the Governator

If>this was a movie, then the governator would have built a Time Tunnel and conencted the waters of the mississippeee to the fires of california and put the poor of New Orleans and the Rich of Malibu out of their misery at one swell foop. But it isn't a movie, so Joni's friends will all be saved, while Sachmo's legacy was washed away when the levee broke (again). Maybe Zepplin could do a special gig and play that one extra loud? Maby Dick wil happen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gore Blimey with Science

Some people seem to criticise the Gore film and Peace Prize (and global warming arguments) because
of inaccuracy (sometimes deliberate, sometimes accidental) - I think it is clear that if
someone makes up a completely false argument to reach a completely false conclusion,
then that would be pretty bad but I think theres a misunderstanding of the role both of
of science, and of the public understanding of science here.

No science is 100% accurate - anyone who claims so is a religious fanatic:)
Science (and its apparent progress) is a series of successive approximations
to more useful predictive rules about how the world will operate based on the past,
with a set of public instructions on how you can verify the rules yourself,
or see other people do so.

Occasionally, rules are even overthrown, although usually, they are "improved"m giving rise
to the unfortunate idea that they are converging on some sort of accurate model of the true
(or "platonic ideal") universe, although most scientists would make no such claim.

The errors in the Gore movie are well known and do not detract from the overall argument -
a recent court case in the UK about showing the movie in schools as part of education
was wo in favour of the movie, provided the discussion of the errors is part of the

THis is entirely a Good Thing, since the general argument, but also the fallability of scientists
is an important lesson. But more so: the fact that Nothing is ever 100% proven, but that a
statistical argument has to be made "on balance" is an even more important lesson. Systematic
as well as random errors are part of any science - indeed, in biology (as well as in Computer Science)
both systematic (mistaken assumptions, methodological errors) as well as random errors
(noise, stochastic variation in the environment - e.g. users:), are a fact of life,
so deal with it:)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Monkeying about with the Internet in Myanmar

So how an the Burmese Junta oppress people so much and even suppress the use of the net
pretty effectively, when similar uprisings (e.g. in former USSR to support Gorbachev during the abortive coup) worked so well using "underground" networks?

1. wasn't the top level design goal for IP was ever thus (attack proof/survivable)??

2. Yes, but what changed was it got embedded into infrastructures by incumbents
(dont care if its cisco, microsoft, isps, telcos, governments, organised religion, power, water, whatever)

3. Most people working in dtn and extreme (e.g. developing world) wireless have your
architecture and goals in mind...but we aren't there yet, sorry t say...

4. read "The 9 billion names of god", before you say that monks are part of the solution.

buddhist soldiers maybe...

Also, imho
the reason the grassroots net worked in russia during the attempted regain of cntrol by central forces resisting GLasnost and Perestroikia
was that RUsiians could not "organise a piss up in a brewery" so despite 70 years of the kremlin, the kgb and politburo had a completely useless idea of
things like telephones and other means of organised resistence

despite cold-warriors insistent ranting, this is not a feature of communism - it was is strong cultural feature of _russia_ - they've been like this under
Tsars, Mongols and post CIS - other communist/fascist regimes, or sorry, military dictatorships (China, and, alas, Burma, and, alas North Korea)
are well organised and can control modern technology to use it
as yet another means of oppression (oh, and lets not forget Saudi Arabia...)

interestingly enough, the US probably has quite a robust set of alterantives to the centralised control of internet/telephone (e.g. cb radio etc)
so if Bush goes completely mad and invokes special powers to stay on instead of letting Hilary return to the WH, maybe you'll see
decentralised armed resistence once again for the first time since you kicked "us" out (I use the term "us" loosely since back thenm my ancestors were
being disorganised in Russia, Poland, deepest Yorkshire and Scotland...
so didnt have much to do with British colonies, thank you very much).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blair through Blur - an interesting companion piece

A weird experience reading Alex James' Bit of A Blur (his autobiographical
recounting of the rise and rise of Blur) and Alastair Campbell's Diaries: The Blair Years, back to back - a bit like a history teacher of mine who insisted on reading the Morte D'Arthur acccompanied by Sibelius 4th....complimenarity, eat your heart out!

for example, Alex is astounded at meeting famous (really famous) people like royals
and the Old Brigade/royalty of rock, and Blur are a bit downhearted when they go to tour america to support the release of an album the day kurt cobain blows himself away and Grunge comes to town - Campbell seems similarly besotted with Diana, and famous US Clinton type people, and is upset when the press dont report his beloved T.B.'s wonderful works in favour of some lurid tabloid tale. Oh, and both feature silly abbreviations of names (everyone in Blur-land is reduced to one syllabul, every one in Blair to Reggie Perrin's style dual-initials). Oh, and people namecheck awfully the whole time, and hang out in Camden (the awful Good Mixer - knackerish pub I used to avoid near Arlington House (doss house), or the Camden Brasserie (knackerish faux-french place which is always full of people trying to sit next to famous people).

One difference (and this may be key to Blur getting my vote over New Labour every time) - Alex expresses remorse at his bad behaviour but admits that a) it was fun and b) rock musicians are MEANT to behave this way - its their job. Hey, and Blair had the poor taste to invite Oasis to No. 10, not Damon:)

There are loads of other parallels, and i wont spoil either book by reciting them here, but suffice it to say that Blur didn't go on to invade Iraq, and Zlex dance music taste isn't bad...

advices and queries...

don't come much better than this from Geo. Fox, 1656:

"Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I strongly believe that the neo-cons deliberately have had a policy (since the war in former Yugoslavia) to discredit and undermine the UN because it would have been a possible source of world government, which obviously goes against purely selfish US interests - they've cast the UN as incompetent - I am surprised they didn't try to claim it was communist (and therefore obviuously the axis of evil of the old kind) but its clear to me that the US has been (as chomsky put it) the only real Rogue State since the fall of the other "super-power" - the fact is that most of the situations the UN once might have helped in (aforesaid balkans, somalia, darfur, sri lanka, peru, middle east) where they are the only potentially neutral agency, the lack of resource engineered by the US has meant the UN is not seen as much help - fact is that neither has the US been any help in any one of them - history will tell, but if we were to write about Good and Bad Empires, I don't think they'll be a phrase "Pax Americana" anywhere in the books

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Muddle East (again) & commentating

1. so there's this book about the excessive influence that the israeli lobby has in the US, just being touted around (e.g. guardian blurb) - the interesting thing is that
no-one ever really comes out and says the two important sides to the equation:-

i) any vaguely anti-zionist text is a great way to flush out all the zionist loons and so identify the people to ignore in the real debate - lightning rods are useful...

ii) the real debate for israelis is that withotu the 3billion a year in US aid, not only would their country be bankrupt, but they would probably all be dead and the country overrun with fairly hardcore islam - this would also not be v. nice for the palestiniains (most of whome historically are educated moderate) or some of the neighbours (lots of the lebanese and all the other groups in neighborouing states that don't subscribe to some of the extreme debate (Egypt, obviously not being arab, but also baatist syria, oddly).

On the other hand, one could imagine a 3rd party sponsor of peace if only !

2. meanwhile, also in recent press is the US handwringing about pulling troops out of Iraq - here's a mitigating thought aboute how the chaos that ensues could be excused as not a result of the US (&UK) intervention, but (at least eventually) would have happened when saddam died (say of old age) - the Sunni-Shia civil war (which is what is really going on) was just on the horizon one day - perhaps making it happen sooner rather than later is not necessarily a good thing, but is it a reason to continue to support a mess that has 3+ parties instead of just two (three party problems, like 3 body problems, being intractable)???

3. The guardian has a nice recent article on how politicized islam now a stable state that we have the US (and UK) to thank for.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

scambled eggs (porridge): are they really worth the hassle?

yet again i find myself scraping clean an allegedly non-stick pan after cooking scrambled eggs to go on sunday breakfast toast, and i find myself asking:

where they really worth the bother?

answers on a blogsite near you now!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

here's today's bizarre error message (from blogger:)

in KAIST today, tried updateing a blog entry and got the following two errors (the second one looks like it is from some local proxy though)

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:

* Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
* Provide the following error code and additional information.

Additional information
blogID: 19062127
postID: 608001519340849006
uri: /

This information will help us to track down your specific problem and fix it! We apologize for the inconvenience.

HTTP Status 400 - Invalid path /post-create was requested

type Status report

message Invalid path /post-create was requested
description The request sent by the client was syntactically incorrect (Invalid path /post-create was requested).
Apache Tomcat/4.1.31

How useful:)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

iraq cheney prediction thing

I finally got around to looking at Cheney's 94 interview about why not to go into iraq, and now there's nothing more to be said on the matter.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

what's all this talk about peace, love and underwater

glastonbury was awash with wet, and rumours of wet (apologies to marley brothers:) but then it appears reading
aint a lot better and not bein wetter though
looks green without bein a drain

what's all this talk about global warming, i just want to set the world on fire:)

Comparing Iraq to Vietnam is like comparing Bush to King Minos

Obscure joke (King Minos ran the minoan empire who worshipped bulls! Bush&Bull - Bull is what Bush mostly talks) - anyhow, to cut to the chase:

So, the Wall Stret Journal and Financial Times battle it out to
see who can win the argument over Bush's typical confused
comparison of the "success that could have been vietnam" argument on why to stay
in iraq

WSJ and
FT and
more FT comment on Bush's recently fabulously insulting speech about how Vietnam informs Americans about what to do in Iraq (or what not to do:-)

Fascinating stuff all this albeit completely irrelevant to any possible
useful way of finding an effective way forward.
Reasoning by analogy has always been a very poor intellectual tool.
If one can relate iraq to vietnam, answer me these simple questions, by way of an
excercise in thinking about this mode of debate:

Who is the equivalent of China, or more generally, is there
an equivalence between the Sunni/Shia fight, and some internal
communist/capitalist debate?

(more close to home for me:-)
Who is the equivalent of France's role in Vietnam, in Iraq?
Who was the equivalent of Syria's role in Iraq, in Vietnam?

Why did the UK send troops to Iraq, but decline to support the US in

Is 9/11 some sort of deep metaphor for the the Cuban Missile Crisis, and
the march of world socialism supposed to be a plugin for Islamic Jihad/Al Queda?

Frankly, this all looks like high school kids debates, and for me really doesn't
do any more than show what a skewed view of the world journalists and politicians
have, and how little interest ether have in solving things.

Most worryingly, it continues the US-centricism which is just going to piss off
more people in the region, as usual.

No it is clear to me that the nearest lesson in history to the US role in Iraq
is Ancient Rome's role in Carthage. Or maybe, the Bay of Pigs fiasco:-)

Saddam is Fidel. Viva la Revolucion!

Consused yet? no more than Geo. W. Bush, illiterati supremo!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

paleochora is fractal

wheer i am right now, a small town in south west crete, is compressed in an interesting way - unpacking it is very amusing, and can, effectively take forever - i just found this pic of my oldest kid visiting here on the site
of a rather fine (*but surreally english run*) calypso restaurant!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

floods of tears, veils of rain

all i can say is that its damn lucky no african americans live in tewksbury or oxford and that the country is not run be neo con texans

Thursday, July 26, 2007

utopic vision and religiousity in world leaders

I just finished reading "Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia" by
John Gray which is quite persuasive in its argument and evidence - one interesting thing about the illusion of progress is that initial conditions matter so much - witness guns, health care and education work very differently in different cultures - so a lot of socio-politico-"science" is about bogo-hypotheses that are supposed to explain how one progresses (how a market or a welfare system operates etc). In reality, we can see from the examples that actually cultural pre-determination might be far more important -

for example, guns: there are as many guns as adults in switzerland and crete, yet gun related crime is virtually un heard of - the UK has some of the toughest antigun law in the world, and yet gun related crime is on the increase - would Gun Law in the US have a beneficial effect or not? i dont pretend to know.

for example, health care -the UK has one of the largest state run/funded free healthcare systems in the world (actually eyesight and teeth and prescriptions are no longer free, but so long as you dont need drugs, aren't short sighted, and are a descendant of slave trade, you're fine:) - some liberal countries (Denmark) leave it up to local decisions whether to have private or state provison of health-care - the state underwrites insurance for the poor, but refuses to pay unreasonable prices - since there are a lot of poor, the state is the biggest customer and gets to have good control of both private and state provided health-care seems to work - what doesn't work is America but i dont see why. I dno t pretend to me Michael Moore (is he related to dickless brit sci fi writer?)

for example, education - private education in the UK is increasing in price at 12% per year in the last 5 years - despite competing against a state system that is improving, and universities that bias against private school kids - no i can;t explain it - its cultural -

the point about these (and I could say a lot more about each and how they operate in practice in many other cultures differently) is that there is no evidence of "progress" towards some improved (asymptotically platonic ideal) state - there's just a bunch of different systems which operate well or badly, and yet what determines which operate well or badly is outside the scope of any traditional "explanations" offered - its arbitrary - its pragmatic, dummy

UK-US special dysfunctional relationship

render unto bush that which is anti-american, but will he even notice that the brits help him? will he heck.

the "special relationship" that this portraits is one of a bully and his victim, where the victim keeps sadly going back for more as its the only kind of attention they get. why is it after countless evidence that most people in the US (government/population, you pick) don't even know where england is let alone who blair and brown were and are, that UK government persist in relying on a special relationship which is thin air?

There used to be some trade advantage, but there's precious little britain makes that the US would want. we have the old commonwealth and new euro partners - why do we care - let the US go sink, as far as I am concerned:) but is so sad and pathetic to be part of this abusive and degrading dependancy that seems to obsess people in whitehall. would we have had the bombs in london of 7/7 if we had taken more of a laidback approach to defending the US right to defend themslves without helping them to attack random innocent (in the sense of not being the perps of 9/11) other targets like iraq?

who knows, but the one-sidedness of the security forces "trade" reports above(we help them, they take our citizens to guantanamo, and don't actually help us catch our own bad guys) is surreal and begs for us to leave it and find a self house for abused nations - who knows, we might form a club there :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

pocomoco, neopomo, momo, and plain nono

so its becoem de rigeur to deconstruct the slightest post modern, semidiotic piece of media (scream, dr who, fake steve jobs, whatever) and reveal that it is, of course
un peu mot dit, or pomo for short - that aint nutthin to do with Dune, y'know, but everthin to do with fouccault (was ever there a name that sounded like a french person saying fuck off) and derrida (he who derides).

watching the really fabby jekyll on the telly recently, i was struck by how formulaic the pomo tendancies have now becoem - this is not to deride or f-off the very very fine writing of this work, but to point out that if something is now so much part of the wallpaper or tools-of-the-trade, it can't be very post-anthing anymore - its
current (cumo), and not very neo or meta, or uber at all. in the words of amy whinehausfrau, it aint gone to rehab, no-no.
"Look, Dr Jekyll, you can run, but you can't Hyde" :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter - the End, or is it?

"know this, harry potter. I am your father"
"No you aren't - that's Darth Vader and he's Luke Skywalker's father"
"look out, behind you - a Dalek"
"no, voldemort, that's Dr Who, and you don't look much like david tennant"
"But harry, all i have left is these tears in the rain"
"nope, that's the replicant, batty in do androids dream"
"speak, friend, and enter"
"no, gandalf"
"look at me ma, i'm on top of the world"
"jimmy cagney, public enemy no. 1"
"look harry, after 500 years of peace, all hogwarts ever produced was the damn cuckoo clock"
"nope, harry lime, the third man"
"prepare to die"
"inigo montoya, the princess bride"
"I don't think I can do that harry"
"Hal, 2001"
"you know how to whistle, harry, you just put your lips together and.."
"lauren bacall, to have and to have not - hey, voldy, are you by any chance, uh, gay"
"I thought you'd never ask"
...exeunt off to the sunset (well, the club, heaven) pursued by sundry daemons and other long running Unix programmes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Poles apart

So I'd heard about the polish arrival in dublin (estimates vary, but on the order of 250,000 apparently) but what was truly impressive today on going between DUblin Airport and TCD in the City Center is that the only language I heard on public transport was polish, and the first newstand I saw in O'Connell St was selling polish papers alongside the Irish Times - Europe works:)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Our friends eclectic

Aye, Dis Pie's Good
or , perhaps, I dispise good?

The Ants are my friend,
he's blown in his win

from earcorn to giant toke, treee!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

i'm insulted by islam so there

so some people in some islamic groups feel insulted that salman rushdie was knighted for his contributions in literature. so what. I'm insulted by their treatment of 51% of the world's population _every day_. i don't want them ignored except when the spout rubbish about what happens in other countries - i want people to take action against them in their countries. we wouldn't tolerate slave trade jsut because of sovereignty, so why to we tolerate the inhuman treatment of women under sharia law? i think we need a fatwah against them in the name of humanity.
Groups that hate half the population have n moral authority - groups that show no compassion (threaten to kill people for mere words (rushdie) or film (van gogh) - have no right to tell us (look, we just lock up people even when they try to blow up hundreds of people - at least we don't stone them or cut their hands off)

such an asymmetry of applied ethics tells us something - it tells us there's a fundamental incompatibility, and that one side in this "debate" is wrong.

I think the UK government appears to be changing its tone a bit perhaps towards the line that
australia is taking

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NHS healthfair state

I am sick to death of people saying "you need to charge fo health care
otherwise people a) don't understand its cost/value/utility, and can ask for arbitrary amounts more" - this belies a fundamental truth about large deviation theory and how humans are really bad at comprehending risks that arrive in a self-similar fashion - the way to fund health care _requires_ either that you shift peoples' understanding of risk over non-normal time frames (i.e/ you need to insure for an uncertain future, when you may either be sick for a long time, or drop dead unexpectedly, or else live longer than you thought and need more pension than you planned) or you need to _spread_ the risk over multiple people (the purpose of public, tax funded healthcare) or both - since the cost/benefit and outcome of health-care itself is a product of rapidly advancing research and technology, you cannot expect individuals to judge this correctly, so all the libertarian and right wing views on this are, frankly, bollocks.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

NHS trying to kill us all

I keep having a vision of the London Eye raped with dead bodies and the capsules full of people having a masqued ball

so my mum went in to hospital (UCH) to have a fairly routine procedure which involves putting a tube down the oesophagus (i.e. your throat) to look at her insides - unfortunately, (3% chance) the procedure resulted in a puncture which means she is unable to eat or drink for 2-6 weeks (depending) - 3 weeks later, after visiting almost every day, I am shocked at the appalingness of the NHS today (and UCH is supposed to be one of the better hospitals). The nursing at nighttime is largely done by people that hardly ever speak to patients and do not respond to calls from patients - sure they have a large ward to look after but this is a bad scenari o - in many cases it is clear that there is a significatn "jobsworth" attitude going on, particulalry amongst people who take advantage of the NHS massive overeas recruitement just to get trained in the UK then head home - they often do not even speak english well enough to have a conversxation with an elderly person with poor sight and heating - in some cases they tried to offer food/drinks/drugs despite a large sign o nthe bed saying "Nil by Mouth".

continuity of knowledge amongst doctors visiting the bed was por - often they spent less than 10 seconds (3 times in my sight) looking at the patient notes and relied on the patient - a bad idea with an 85 year old person with problems with sight and hearing.

The fact that the patient was only there because of hospital error (no I am not blaming them completely, but it ought to be a factor) should mean they are ALL aware that they ought to be extra careful - the only times I've seen them act profrssionally is when I (as an ex UCL professor) mention my affiliation or my sister (a doctor) show up. That is unfair on other patients, but also means that the bar for adequate care is simply way too low to be acceptable.

Other problems - the wards are not that clean (not as bad as the Free (also run by UCL) where my father died of MRSA, or Addenbrookes, where I was with a broken leg, treated very very well, but not much good compared, say to my bathroom at home, and I am not a OCD about cleanliness:)

Problem is that everyone is spending (visibly) significant time on management processes (forms on PCs and paper) rather than listeing to patient, family and colleagues - the silo-mentality is obviously driven by the constant re-org;s the NHS has had to undergo - I don't hold much hope out - I havnt seemn Michael Moore's SIcko movie yet about US healthcare, but I would be interested in a comparison...the TV documentary recently on trying to clean up UK hospotials was quite amusing, but there are far more fundamental problems, if UCH (which is suppsoed tobe good) is anything to go by. The NHS connecting for care and NPfIT programmes are irrevant, and infinite sink of dosh whoch should be used to fix personnel and medical professional morale and community immediately or the system will spiral into complete irreperal position.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

whats the different between wily coyote and a terrorist

so the weird thing about wily coyote that always puzzled me is that every time he tries to catch the road runner, he tries out a new, insanely baroque device (always acquired faster than amazon can ship, from ACME, for some reason - i wish I could buy things on the net from them!) but why, when you see how it always goes wrong in some equally baroque way, does he not refine his method and try again with the same weird gadget? Why oh why?

on the other hand, the recent terrorist attacks in the UK have been monotonously similar, and yet have failed - are they even more stupid than wily coyote? They certainly seem to be darwinianly challenged in terms of blowing themselves up, or catching fire, or using cell phones to call all their mates while on the run. luckily for (most of) us...

meanwhile, do NOT mess with glaswegians

Monday, July 02, 2007

end to end arguments in social engineering

so edge versus core seems to be a political position as much as an (internet) article of technical faith but its founded in some naive model of the way humans, societies and network technologies work - either extreme, fully centralised or fully decentralised, suffer from an absolutism which I find amazing - command economy or networks are rigid, fragile and dont scale in safety, security, responsiveness etc. anarchic systems are resilient, but don't harness resources to any particular goal - why would you want to run any system by either extreme? what is wrong with a middle ground?

the smart network = communism
the dumb network = free market

neither really ever existed or worked. time for something more plausible

Saturday, June 30, 2007

terrorist cell

my mobile phone is a source of attacks to my peace of mind - it is far more scary than people putting bombs in busses, tune trains and Mercs that fail to go off - i am thoroughly terrorised by my cell phone - it is a terrorist cell. what can i do about it? call me and offer me advice - i wont charge you, even if my cell phone provider does:-)

my number is....oh, no, you're not getting it that easily...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Glastonbury 2007

The Good

(beeb has the recordings online for another few days at
glastonurial ground

amy winehouse (yes, she is actually amazing despite being half soused ) and one hell of a great gig - the band were good, the weather just about held out, and (at least in the pyramid set) her voice and singing get classier and classier

lily allen + the specials re-union! up town top skanking - lily has actually gottne way better as a singer (throws her voice around a bit - e.g. on cover of blondie heart of glass) - i actually think she may be the next kirsty day! all this and the sun came out!

rufus wainwright in drag and torch songs - but before that, a lot of his recent normal fare, with a fabulously tight backing band

eric bibb, gospel blues with dignity and charm - fabulous

seasick steve - very "authentic" whatever that means, but seriously good hardcore electro blues

bat for lashes, the gossip, kt tunstall - all in fine voice and fettle too, as was dame shirley bassey who bought serious glam

kids reported that the Marley Brothers were ace, Maximo park fine, iggy and the stooges (orlando went on stage with them in the end!) awsome, and also that Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Mr Scruff were jolly good and rather different - Bjork, the Who and the Kaiser Chiefs did what was expected of them, and very Big it was too...

oh, the kids field was extremely good (we had an 8 and a 9 year old to keep happy) - particulalry the puppetry/theatre by DNA, but all the people working there were good.(especially the mad nuns and the tardis!)

oh, most the beer tents had Wherry, which was very pleasnt given the weather (as well as usual somerset cider)

The mud
was slightly annoying plus (arise sir michael eavis and take note)

The not very good:

the arrangements for coach+ticket were REALLY annoying
1. we had no choice when to go/return - given proximity of A-levels to glastonbury, this had us nailbiting about whether we'd be able to bring some folks as we didnt know coach time til last second
2. coach dropped us far side from the (better) family field, and NOONE on the gate had a clue whether there was any space left there - given they had radios, this was careless of them - give n we then had to walk 2 miles in rain and mud on thursday night then find a space in the dark and given the extra people the family fields were pretty much full, this was UNFAIR on people allocated tickets with coachs

luckily, 2 14 year olds we bought with had a lot of gumption and just moved two empty tents a couple of feet further apart so we could fit between.

3. the return coach ride arrangements were bollocks, frankly - the place to wait at 2am in the rain weas crowded and had no cover and nowhere to sit and NOONE had a clue which coach was for whome.

4. two other (minor) wines and moans (as lily would say):-
a) I cut my hand on a loo (my fault I admit) and the folks on the nearest security thing had first aid kit with NO antiseptic - brilliant, not.
b) we wanted to donate 1 of our tents (we had about 12 people in all in 3 + tents over several places as well as our cramped familiy field setup) - but we found you had to lug it to the farm. why? why not have pickup points in each field- we packed it up, but we were gonna walk the OTHER way to get to our bloody coach, mr eavis, so this was not a sensible offer.

however. music, PAs, food, Lost Weirdness (sorry, vagueness), Trash City, and many other fine things were as usual, well worth it.

but please fix the coach setup for next time (give people some choice or at least rpough preference for when/where) and sort out tent donations

Footnote: the older kids came back the next day by train - apparently there were zillions of abandoned tents, so they boght a few extra home with them...makes up for
my lost boots (20 year old fine hiking boots finally disintegrated under the assault from the damp - the screws rusted!, and my sandels finally fell apart ofter 3 years of walking in seawater and mud)

so just found the nme video blog which definitely sums up the whole thing very well indeed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Anti-Airport-Bogus-Security Rant

I am so sick of the absolute moron behaviour in airports - here's today's (gatwick)
1. the whole re-sealable transparent plastic bag thing - there was never any evidence that the alleged attack woudl actually work, and so there's this bogus waste of time, but worse - why re-sealable - whats that about eh? so you go thru security and every now and then they pull someone out who has a few tubes of cream (face cream, toothpaste) and have failed to put it in a clear resealable plastic bag and they are sent bag and given the choice : bin it, or check it. why? why would the clear re-sealable bag make it safer? what a load of complete bogus tosh.
2. why do i need to show my boarding pass when buying a bottle of water in Boots? there aint any duty free out of euro flights any how and I wasnt gettign a duty free price it was thhe high street price, and they don't do a discount for non EU flights)
3. why do the currency exchange places still swipe credit cards, as well as asking me for my PIN? surely this is a massive potential identity theft opportunity? (e.g. set up a fake currency exchange place for a bit, mine a few credit card magstripe data +PIN, scaper and use).
4. so they're still asking most people to take their shoes off - but if I am wearing sandels (e.g. by preference or for vacation in sun), this means I have to walk over a public, extremely busy section of the airport floor in bare feet. What are the chances I catch some foot thing off someone (or they off me)? surely Health and Safety people ought to care about this?
5. Why do they still ask those stupid questions at check in ("are you carrying any weapons of mass destruction", "do you have any A level chemistry experiments in your bags", and "do you have 175 kilos of fertilizer in your pocket, or is that just the foot infection you got from your last trip"?)

as usual, none of this is actually going to do real security much service but it is causing more than just inconvenience.

Oh and smug americans can't laugh - their airport "security" stinks - I've been through US airports twice post 11/9 (sorry, that's the rational date order) and been asked by security staff to hold someone's coat while that person is searched.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

econovation: expiration of money

what if money expired? what if coins and notes and e-cash had a "use by" date?
what would happen to an economy based on time-limited currency?
hoarding cash would be silly, obviously. so is this an idea worth kicking around?
I dont think i've seen it before

there are examples of things like this (air miles, air time on cell phone contracts etc) so why not just apply it to the base exchange tokens themselves?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

new religion, new computer game or new drug

to paraphrase NS's snow crash gag about snow crash, so if i _really_ wanted to make a lot more money than being an academic or a Sci Fi writer, I might invent a new computer game or a new drug, rather than, say a religion like
scientosophy or scientography or scientogeny
or whatever.

or cold fusion, perpetual motion, and 1 year cell phone battery lifes

any of those would be better than having to take money from hollywood

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

boycottaging conferences in all their highest carbon footprint

carbon feetprints are all the rage: so how about we declare the carbon footprint of major conferences (INFOCOM in Anchorage must take the biscuit) - but we want the "total cost of ownership" model of carbon footprint - so if people choose to have the PC meeting in Perth, the Conference proceedings for 11,000 people printed on unrecyclable 18 point acid paper, and distributed by motorbike messenger in bundles of two copies each, then it might be high, wheeras the internet's first virtual conference on plagiarism is just a web site with a load of URLs so it ranks very well in low carbon emmissions

academic metrics are all the rage too, so can we combine google scholar impact with carbon offsetting perhaps to come up with a lean, green, intelligent machine?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

boycottaging academia in all its worst pendantry and pretentious forms

so the UCU has decided to discuss the proposals for an academic boycott of israel

so the israeli foreign minister and the usual zionististas wade in with a "counter threat" to boycott british goods. bloody hypocrits - the UCU boycott is not fact, its a phantasty propossal which was voted out last time in line with democracy in the union -= the counter "threats" by israelis and academic US supporters are an attempt to suppress a public debate by, just that, threats. who is making gestures of no impact?

facts are 1/ its a stupid ignorant idea of a UK academic union to boycott israeli academics because they are one of the strongest sources of sanity in said sad country
2/ its out of order for a middle class over educated essentially liberal union to act like it has a mandate to do something purely political instead of its day job (getting better working conditions and pay for employees in tertiary edication in the UK)
3/ its a matter of personal conscience

But the retaliation before the fact is hysterical, ignorant, and counter productive. I am sick of middle eastern aggresive mode of debate - the only form of defense is attack - what good has it actually done them (when i say middle east, i mean all the folks there - i can't see a whole lot of cultural difference between the hassidim and hammas in the way they treat each other or 50% (women ) of their own side - these facts matter more than whether people let a few token folks into their universities or conferences.

why are people so up in their own view of their own importance that they think either UK (or israeli) academia matter that much - or the UK or israel - places that things are happening that are much worse abound (sudan, saudi arabia, the US of A, etc) and failing to deal with things with a sense of proportionality is a classic sign of insanity.

Friday, June 08, 2007

amazoned out

so amazon's recommendations to me are really quite interesting - they appear to intersect about 75% with stuff I bought from them and they know this as if I go to "my store" I can see how much I can sell the same stuff for.

so is this a concurrency/consistency problem or is a cunning ploy to get me to buy stuff from myself, gaining them a second profit in delivering it to me, from me?

clever? not half:)

Monday, June 04, 2007

lies, damn lies, statistics and citation impact

nature reports that most impact rankings are flawed - depending how you sort things, you can swap oxford and cambridge (we knew that anyhow:-) - see
article on flawed eval for details - full table is the thing that matters!

Monday, May 21, 2007

god causes cancer!

Scientists have recently found strong evidence that God causes cancer - prolonged exposure to God over a lifetime leads to a significant increased risk of dying, especially of cancer of the brain. Professor Richard Dorkins and Lord Robert Winsome said in a press release associated with their paper in the world renowned Nurture&Seance Jounal that their findingers were beyond a shadow of a doubt - "95% confidence limits were used, and there was a 3% increased risk of death by God than for atheists, and a 1% increase for agnostics", claimed the famous pair.

Fellow scientists quickly rushed to defend the pair saying "we do not know which God is the principle cause yet - whether it is Yaweh, Allah, or indeed God in generally Abrahamic Gods, or if it is perhaps the theistic tendancy that is the underlying root of this scourge". Further research is required

In the mean time, the Health Projection Agency has issued a warning that people that worry about this a lot should stay away from Mosques, Churches and Synagogues until
further results are confirmed, and a cure or treatment are found.

One preacher was found who said "I've known this ever since I discovered a funny callous on my knees from praying".

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

celebrate what's good

Just went to see Loz Speyer's Time Zone at the Pizza Express on Dean St - excellent band, excellent CD, excellent venue - people should celebrate the fact that we have such excellence in the world! Cuban Rhythms meets cool tunes and great arrangements, with very fine set of musicians able to play ensemble and impro with brio!

Friday, May 11, 2007

misery guts books

I just read these three tomevs this weekend:
Burning Bright by tracy chealier (the gurl with the purl earing) - what a load of sentimental tosh and manipulative childish rubbish!

On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan, how miserable does this man have to get!

Tomorrow, by Graham Swift, tak about a suspension without cause - stephen king, for all his (many faults) could have written this book better in 3 days.

shocking - i want my money back:)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

be careful wat you wish for now blair is out

the effect will no doubt not be what you expect, even allowing for the effect of blair's departure not being what you expect, especially if you don't expect anything at all, or something in particular.

brown noses ahead?

Q: What's the difference between Blair and Brown?
A: The Ayes are too close together.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

anti-americanism for USA-philes

the beeb reports on the OU debate on regrettign the existence of the USA

a lot of the backchat is about antiamericanism. one of the things that is most annoying about americans is that they assume criticism is anti-americanism - something a lot of Israelis dotoo by the way - you are not allowed, apparently, to like America conditionally, like you are not allowed to like Israelis without disagreeing, even though a lot of the things non american's say when criticising america are said by americans themselves (ditto Israel). For example, when most people attack "america" over (say) Vietnam, Iraq (or other middle east policy) they are explicitly disagreeing with american forein policy, which they have as much (or more) right to do as americans, and they are explicitly disagreeing with what the US Federal Government is doing "on behalf of american people" - yet most of these areas are also ones in which many many americans either massively disagree with their own government (a Good Feature of america is their innate distrust of government), or else one where the vast mass of people don';t care (how many can find Palestine on the map ? :-)

The debate at the OU wasn't about the existence of North America as a contenient. It was implictly about who governs it, and by implication, what the policies are of those who govern it. This is a legitimate cause for debate as much outside as within the borders of the USA. As to whether people in the mid west should use Aluminum siding (and learn to spell Aluminium properly) or folks in Louisiana use white picket fences, well that would be something that is None Of Our Business.

Electronic traffic War Den

so yesterday as a nice May Day holiday present, I came out of the house to find
a parking ticket on the car - ticket said "failure to display a valid parking
so we have a residents parking permit, which is an electronic (RFID?) tagged
blank card that you stick o the windscreen.
the traffic warden (who was still there and was very nice) said "oh, its expired,
the computer says so". we said "but we don't have that computer, and there's
nothing printed on the card, and we didn't get no notice to say it expired". and
he said "ah, well you may be OK, and i didn't tell you this, but the council
appears to have forgotten to continue to remind people when it switched last
year to electronic parking permits so just pay the fine and then appeal...
personally i think the idea that we didn't "display" a valid permit is wrong and
that the ticket is dodgy even if we had been reminded (which we weren't -
i went to the town hall and their record was of an e-mail reminder, but the email
address they had was wrong:) - doncha love modern technology !

actually, to be fair to the council, their system was pretty damn cool - i was v.
impressed that i could see scans of all the docs I'd used to register originally
for the permit, and they came up on displays(real displays) in the town hall with
almost realtime the people were all rather nice, which was a bit
of a surprise... oh, and the new permit (now i have one) was issued electronically,
but with a peel off sticky on the receipt that has the expiry on as a reminder to put
on the back of the electronic tag in the car! really quite thought out now (they now
post a reminder as well as emailing and fixed the email address too!!!)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

may day, may day, blair didn't resign

why not? surely he's got other phish to phry now that the geese have come home to roost on the NHS, MI5, Iraq, Schools, Europe, the "special relationship" we don't have with America, and so on. If it wasn't for a vaguely ok economy, I think one would take a dim dim view. Oh to live in scotland (except for the weather, mostly).

Things can only get battered.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

captain over

walking, as one has to do for miles and miles these days, as well as waiting in lines at least 4 times (checkin, passport control, security AND boarding) in Dublin airport, i passed many, many, many white courtesy telephones

I was terribly tempted to pick one up and just say "good day to you kind sir" as a courtesy, but for some strange reason, i refrained.

meanwhile, why are there 4 lines? why can't they do all the checks in one line?
why not have the crew at the security line, check the ticket, bags, passport/photoid,

what is their problem? are the stupid or something?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

not for prophet, guns and cell phones

so with virginia tech, who needs al quaeda? as for the NRA, words fail me.

so what is weird about this is that there was no community of people txting/emailing and making cell phone calls - is there no cell phone coverage on the campus, and are there no people with laptops and wifi access?

yet again a failure to use the technology to provide _information_ in a timely way to warn each other of impending disaster and avoid it...(viz tsunami, and katrina and so on).

meanwhile, if I were a moslem in some of the poorest countries in the world, i'd ask what it is that is so great about islam (just like christianity) that it fails its believers so badly. like all religions, it is a palliative for poverty, and a poor excuse for not fixing things.

Friday, April 13, 2007

oleagenous spondoliciosity

winston v. dawkins - marvellous spectacle of taking two great men and reducing a fine argument to irrelevance - the fundamentalists must be laughing all the way to the weapons salesmen

Thursday, April 12, 2007

listen, kilgore trout's come unstuck in time

I'm surprised people didn't notice how much Douglas Adams owed to Kilgore Trout, the fictional (yet somehow real) SF writer in several of Kurt Vonnegut (RIPs) novel and short stories- quite a few of the plot outlines Vonnegut sketches are pure DNA - this is not a bad thing - Adams did fine things with his ideas (if they came from there - if not, then great minds think alike).

There is that one book "authored' by Kilgore Trout - I heard it was ghosted by Philip Jose Farmer. Nevermind, its fairly terrible (sub Bill the Galactic Hero stuff).

Vonnegut memorably deconstructed the true message of the New Testament:
"Don't sarcfice people, because you never know how important their Dad might be".

No longer punctual, Vonnegut, Like Adams is now late, and spread out over the ample memory of many people as if he too, like Winston Niles Rumfoord III had entered a Chronosynclastic Infundibulum, just to see what it was like. Thank heavens his brother didn't really discover Ice Nine.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bush's Possion d'avril on Blair was...

to reset the GPS signal from the satellites above Ira[nq] to fool the brit sailors into sailing into Iran's waters embarassingl blair into an apology/climbdown, and cunningly stabailizing the rtegion by allowing the Iranian Premier to sound sane, and humane...

would be a great consipiracy theory, but its TOO CLEVER BY HALF and no way could the Yank foot-in-mouth president pull it off....

oh well...

[for non francophones, Poisson d'avril is the french name for an April Fools joke)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Expedia (Expletive Deleted) Ripoff Artists

we booked a flight for 500 quid on a mainstream US airline
on Expedia for an aunt called (lets say)
Marie Gleeson

we then notice her given name on the passport is (lets say)
Anna-Maria Gleeson
(though everyone knows her as Marie)
and ask Expedia if they'll change the ticket.
Answer: "No: you have to cancel, no refund, and buy a new one."

We ask the US airline - someone says - that should be ok, but then later someone else says
"no its too much of a change". This is an electronic ticket.
We have not been asked for a passport number at this point,
so its not to do with security as the ticket was paid for by a third party with a completely different name their credit card.

This is simply an arbitrary Expedia "policy".
I'd happily pay some (even outrageous) admin fee for re-doing the booking, but I cannot believe this BS from both Expedia and the Airline -
in fact we are emailing (and writing to, how old fashioned)
Watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading and the Ombudsman,
as its clearly bad business practice

(yes, their web page says they won't change names, but what is a "name" ?
it is clear the main purpose is to stop arbitrage and transfer of ticket,
when its obvious we are not doing that.
It is also clear that one could risk showing up with a ticket in the name
M Smith but be called MA Smith on the passport -
why would the airline care so lloing as only 1 smith showed up?
(note I have travelled on a passport with Jonothan Smith on it,
but with tickets saying Jon Smith for donkeys years without problems -
I assume J Arthur Rank had no problem booking as J Arthur Rank,
but showing up with a passport that said John Arthur Rank...)

Frankly, we are pointing them at the watchdog programme
(and have complained to the credit card company about this)
c.f they already had a programme item about this just last week
watchdog on airline ticket name change
and its clear that it is shoddy practice, even if "legal",
which I doubt in UK fair trading law.

1. we tried to change the name _same day_
(there were still other tickets at the same price -
this is a ticket for july being booked in april.
so we just booked another ticket at that price in the right name to prove our good intent
(and to make sure aunt could travel!)

2. this is an e-ticket only and they do not have passport number,
so the name is an arbitrary thing at this point
(i.e. only later when someone shows up with the
booking reference at the airport would the actual ID matter. so "post 9/11" arguments are
nonsense, esp. given its a relatively common name.

3. the person paying is a 3rd party, so the name is arbitrary, however, why would we do all the above if we were trying to get a ticket at one price and then sell it on to someone else?

i.e. from this you can infer :
i) we are not trying to transfer the ticket
(just make the name accurate w.r.t passport)
ii) there's no security check going on so its nothing to do with that
(since they only have a name, and a relatively common one at that.
iii) these are the only reasons I can think of
(other than that perhaps their software is rubbish that a name change between now and 3 months from now would not be possible, for Expedia, or the US airline)

580 quid - if it was me I'd just turn up and blag it,
but its our 70 year old aunt, and i do not think it is fair, reasonable, and from now on I will
not use Expedia and will recommend none of my friends ever use Expedia, and will make sure that such stories about Expedia are well known. I have for example just told 100 people at
a conference we have today in Cambridge this story. They all could not believe it either. (well they could believe it but thought it extremely bad behaviour by aforesaid company). These 100 people were estemeed academics from all over Europe and the US who travel a lot. hint hint.

So long, Expedia, and thanks for all the phish.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Global "positioning" system... ... ...

Where 15 sailors and Marines were when they were seized by Iranian forces on 23 March appears to be the subject to a dispute. Given all sides are military organisations, and presumably have access to the most accurate positional system information, it aint exactly heartwarming to see them dispute the location accuracy +/1 more than 1 nautical mile - indeed, Longitude was determined more accurately than this by many sailors even before Harrison won the prize for measuring time accurately enough - but wait, these guys were all only a few miles off shore so ground based radar would have located them trivially too...what goes on here ? it aint plausible - and to think these folks all have (or soon will) nukes - if they can't get to the nearest meter, how they gonna deploy weapons in any kind of scary way, eh?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

two gedanek experiments on the middle east

so I have two not incompatible solutions for the problem of palestine/israel

1/ we give the palestinians the Internet,
in exchange for gaza and jerusalem

the internet wont get used up so its much more useful than oil and makes more money
and then we can stop arguing about governance, and on the internet, no-one appears to care what your land claims are and everyone has the right of return.

2/ we give the israelis the entire border between USA and mexico. they'd turn it into productive farmland, move a lot of Intel chip design and fab theer, and do a much better job of policing it (maybe even build a big wall along it, or perhaps just employ a lot of mexican chip designers)
and frankly, what else is the land good for - and they have no historical argument with the peoeple on either side.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

didja ever order something off the net and then discover...

...that it didn't work - for example, i got this book by richard dawkins on the God Delusion, and frankly it wasn;t about god at all - it was about people being deluded - i had the idea that it was one of those zen things about creation was a delusion of god, and in fact she was still sitting in her primeval cave ulling over some big pot full of magic herbs, and had fallen asleep and dreamed the whole think, woken up in the belief that that was the day of rest that was done, and here was a whole new world she'd just built from scratch -

no - its all about people fooling themselves 17 million different ways that there is no god.

by the way has he never stopped to think that 17 million wrongs don't make a right?

i mean just because all those the proofs that 1!=1 are wrong, doesn't prove that


otherwise I might have to write a book about
The Dawkins Delusion, where someone writes a book about god not existing in the belief that people who agree, care, and that people who disagree will notice, and not kill him.

of course, most the fictional books one buys are wrong - for example, they have endings (there are worthy exceptions, but few) - whoever heard of an ending?

then they lived happily ever after they didn't - they might have been happy, but not if there wasn't anything ineteresting happening before they die, and if there was, why didnt the author write about it eh? I want my money back - either its wrong, or its a lie or both, or maybe neither - can't remember....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

shoplifting for fun and profit

I want to encourage people to shoplift in ways that are good - for exampe,
dress up as a server at Mcdonalds and go in with a friend, go behind the counter, serve them, take their money, and leave. that way you get lunch. for poor people this would be much better than stealing sweets. It would also deprive someone else of the Big Mac, which is probably good for them, and would keep people from thinking of actually taking a job at McDOnalds too....

no, really...

oh, ok, i dont want to encourage peple to break the law - no not really. but think about it - peer-to-peer burgher sharing networks - so much better htan music piracy!

Monday, March 12, 2007

bronte, what were u thinkin, gurrl?

the tenant of wildfell hall by anne b, so whats that about then eh? what a reacionary load of twadle dressed up as proto-feminism!!! i mean really. I cannot believe the smug senitmental, annoying Mrs Huntingdon - frankly, made me wanna throw up both my hands,
make me wanna ...rockets, moonshots, spend-it-all, have-nots - natural, fact is, man's gotta pay his, taxes etc etc

no, the eyre affair is an entirely more satisfactory snare - and to think i used to know bronte (a branwell descendent in la belle france, by way of sloan square) - what is the world comming to - currying favour with bells on!

back to the myth of the black book, and the mystical significance of the number 23 for me, before i get lost in all that uber chick lit again!!! rehab is just a state of mind!

a short history of dangerous ideas

last nite i saw the lite - there was part i of a fine program about (superficially) modern politics - the programme was in fact much more fundamental going back to the ideas that are roots for conservatism, reactionary concepts and revolution - essentially, the "left" and "right" in their crudest defintions differ mainly in the belief that people are fundamentally cooperative, or fundamentally selfish. This goes back thousands of years - patriarchy, religion, state intervention, all stand as proposals based in the idea that, when left to themselves, cooperation will not work to organmise a society of individuals. The programme is clever as it identifies the most dangerous idea of all that: given rational selfish behaviour, an ideal society will emerge. This is bullshit of the smelliest sort for a HUGE number of reasons - not the least, the Nash model (and others) of optimisation requires (i) perfect information for a "market" (read, ecosystem) to optimise and requires ii) perfect rational selifhs behaviour - a spec of obfuscation./secrecy, (even just DeLAY in getting information) and a spec of irrational behaviour (c.f. stock market "panics") and it all goes pear shaped - apply this to personal relationships and see just how far you get - mass schizophrenia. as with other dangerous ideas, it is pusuasive as it has an elegant, powerful simplicity - like monothesism, nazism, and the divine right of kings. It is a ubher-meme that is hard to shake off. How do we (syndicalist anarchists of the world unite) combat this? with an anti-meme, or a better meme?

a major problem with uber memes (the dominant idea-gene of the pool) is that not only are they infectiously persuausive, they are hard to counter because they are meta-stable - they create a self fulfilling profit-base (sorry, prophesy) - as the programme rightly portraits, people adapt (they are neurolignusitcally programmed) to the newspeak and newthink - cooperation emerges from tribes/herds and predator/prey relationships, but a tribe can be crteated for whch cooperation does not emerge - how fragile and brittle is that, eh? eh~?

the problem with Blair and his gang , as with Thatcher before them, is that they are second class thinkers who are suckers for Big but Stupid ideas. And their are first class bastards out their with Big Stupid ideas to sell.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

tragedy of the commons, comedy of the lords

the real tragedy of the commons is that its full of people who are so common, but not full of any common sense

the comedy of the lords is that they don't lord it over anyone, and there's
logical or involved either

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

is religious extremism a form of autism?

this idea struck me yesterday - a lot of the "failure to communicate" or empathise with the other of religious extremists (whether flyover state fundamental christians, or jewish settlers or suicide bomber islamic nutters), is very like the behaviour of autistics....discuss:-
litanes, chanting, nodding head etc etc look a lot like people disengaging and not managing human relationships properly - a lot of the other things (obsession/compulsion with detail, completeness, interprestation, trainspotting) is very like the stamp collecting mentality of the extreme asperger....

perhps its genetic ? maybe it is treatable

richard dawkings should talk to the sanger institute to see if they can find the "got god gene" and remove it:)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

mappa mundi - topographics of meaning

so it seems to me that there is some sort of principle of conservation of obscurity with maps - looking over the map room in any good museum, you find what appears at first sight to be increasing knowledge about the world - the accuracy of the outlines of coasts, rivers and so on, improves visibly over the centuries, no matter what culture and history you survey.

however, this is at a cost - it takes people to survey areas and logistical support, and a reason to want to survey an area - typically, this means that a population is growing into an area (or a culture is invading it), and the complexity of views of what the area is for must necessarily grow exponentially with each consciousness that forms a view on what "this land is for". Indeed, this works equally well in cyberspace - as we map the Internet better and better, we add more compute resources, and they hold ever more data with ever more logical interactions, so that, no matter how accurate a physical model we form of the net (or the planet) is, the logical, virtual, social, economic, political, and other human maps will more and more dominate.

This explains, for example, why drawing lines on maps to solve political problems (viz Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Serbia, CIS etc etc) is a pointless excercise - a line is the shortest distance between two mistakes.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

conspiracy theory #101

clearly the US presidential elections have been controlled by Al Qaueda for the last two terms - how else would you explain them being handed Bush on a plate?

All super-villains need a superhero, and, as in the so-so movie, unbreakable, if the superhero aint their first, the supervillain has to create one. Ergo, Fiat Bush!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

joan baez and george bush

I can't decide who is more evil - joan baez is so triumphally smug that she has an opponent - personally, i think that that is a really really weird reaction. I think i will have to go back to listening to the klaxons really loud...that or else the good the bad and the queen

bah humbug

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gene Patent

I didn't think i'd find myself agreeing with Michael Crichton, but in his new book
Next, there is an authors note with some remarks on the state of modern research in botech, and an appeal to repeal the Bayh-Dole act in the US, as well as comments on Gene Patents which I thoroughly recommend!! just do it! madness must end!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

apologize or else

The fact that someone is too stpuid to know that what they say is racist, does not get them off the hook - the fact is it makes them a stupid racist.

Jade and her two chums are both incredibly offensive human beings, but the people who make big brotther should be taken to court for inciting racial hatred, especially since they probably are all posh tv producer people with degrees and educations which means that they ought be able to tell the difference between irony and literal bone headed hate.

apologize or else

I just bought Neil Young's newish album, Living with War, since I
a) like Neil Young's songs (both the folksier goldrush, and the grungier weld)
b) was interested to hear that it was virulently anti-war, but still very patriotic (in the odd way Neil Young is patriotic about the US of A whilst being originally Canadian, but lets leave that aside:)

I like the songs and the 100 voice choir takes a bit of getting used to but melds in quite well BUT:
there's never heard, not a solitary word about the real victims of war - the iraqi civilians - there are admittedly a few thousand dead and maimed american soldiers who never bargained to be fighting like this. but there are, by conservative estimates, 50,000 and more likely 350,000 iraqi dead and most of their families probably dont think its a very good price
to pay for getting rid of saddam... ... ...

still, i don't blame Neil for missing part of the story - at least he's singing strongly about another part in the right direction:)

reading Hotel California (about laurel canyon in the late 60s and early 70s of the "me" generation of singers and songwriters, and he's pretty central (along with joni mitchell and the usual other suspects) but was surprised not to see the new riders of the purple sage mentioned at all - and very little about tim buckley and his crowd, or the links between joni and the jazz scene in LA (e.g. LA Express, and onwards to crusadaers and weather report etc) or the links from the dead (and airplane) to the art scene...oh well, thats what you get if you read books by an english public school boy who was a tad to young to have been there:)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

apologize or else

Pit Stop Terror

so yet another kid dies because some stupid white trash macho man has to have a dog that is so dangerous it hosptialises an adult trying to stop it kill a 5 year old. Why do people want dogs like that? well if you ask me (and I know you didn't) its same reason redneck morons in the US want guns: its a bigger willy type thing. certainly people i know that have dogs because they _like_ them, pick dogs for company - dogs are pack animals and normally trate humans as the pack leader, even kids smaller than themselves - only some breeds designed (yes, genetically selected by breeders) have aberrant behaviour and are cosntantly o na hair trigger to try to become alpha male - not great comapny unless you want to keep excercising your ego in re-imposing will power over the beast - what kind of ego boost is it to someone to triumph over a small animal like a pit bull? obviosuly, its a sad expression of superiority which really represnts an inferiority to the rest of the human race, from which these folks should be evicted for a few years to learn their lesson.