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!