Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Steil style

Brixton CLimbing WallReally pleased with climbing progress today. Finally managed to get out a tricky move on part of the 'Squares' traverse: a Dynamic from an awkward hold down to a right foot hold a loooonnnnnng way away!

In the piccy (stolen from UKclimbing) the right foot is stretched far out, and then there is a right-hand grab for another far-away hold.

I found a route map for the wall today, with a nice route "up and over" the chimney at the right - that's next!

Women of Ireland

Listening constantly at the moment to Mna Na hEireann:

Tá bean in Éirinn a phronnfadh séad domh is mo sháith le n-ól
Is tá bean in Éirinn is ba bhinne léithe mo ráfla ceoil
Ná seinm théad; atá bean in Éirinn is níorbh fhearr léi beo
Mise ag léimnigh nó leagtha i gcré is mo thárr faoi fhód played by Ceoltoiri Chualann and Sean O Se

New photos - Rachel Whiteread etc.

Image hosting by PhotobucketI uploaded some more photos last night: here is one of the Rachel Whiteread sculpture at Tate Modern, with DPJO:
Also some new pics in the Urban Life series.

The Whiteread boxes were impressive, but only I think in terms of scale (feeling like an ant, or some kitchen cockroach amidst the sugar-cubes). You could say something about "space turned inside out" but, meh, why not with 10,000 cardboard boxes? An awful lot of hydrocarbons went into that sculpture.

I enjoyed the Rousseau exhibition. It was interesting to go twice and see actually how good he was: his compositions and use of colour are both particularly interesting. He always balances his colours very well - I suspected that a histogram would show nice bell curves, as indeed it does. Kahlo's work is less balanced. R also had an unusual way of composing pictures - the jungle scenes all follow pretty much the same lines, and are almost exactly the opposite of the heuristics in use for photography: central, small focal point, symmetry, lots of distracting detail.

Grey matter

Linkdrop: Web 2.0, Amazon API and future Search

All from

MIT is, of course, a rival to Stanford, whence Google came...

mooter.comMooter is interesting. I like the graph approach, although NOT the stupid session-based URLs: a bit like a spider diagram. The 1D "ranking" of search results is very geeky, thinking about it. Associations are often much more useful.

WOTD: skunk-works

skunk-works - A small, loosely structured corporate research and development unit or subsidiary formed to foster innovation.

[After Big Barnsmell's Skonk Works, where the bootleg Kickapoo Joy Juice was brewed, in the comic strip Li'l Abner by Al Capp.]

Clear local DNS Cache

C:\> ipconfig /displaydns

  Record Name . . . . . : localhost
  Record Type . . . . . : 1
  Time To Live  . . . . : 31499754
  Data Length . . . . . : 4
  Section . . . . . . . : Answer
  A (Host) Record . . . :
  Record Name . . . . . :
  Record Type . . . . . : 5
  Time To Live  . . . . : 727
  Data Length . . . . . : 4
  Section . . . . . . . : Answer
  CNAME Record  . . . . :

Also: ipconfig /flushdns

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Taking stock

Stock photography would be one damn simple way to get my kit to pay for itself. Interesting in the sense that often the simpler, the better. Good discipline to compress an idea onto the simplest visual cues.



Optical? Sound.

Image hosting by PhotobucketConfused by the phrase optical sound in a description at Tate Modern about a Gilbert and George piece, I tracked this curious phrase down to the digital encoding of the soundtrack onto the 35-mm film itelf.. It sounded initially rather oxymoronic.

Image hosting by PhotobucketRelatedly, some nice background on the Golden Rectangle, math, beauty, and one Oskar Barnack.

Also, see the [mysteriously-named] Golden Rectangle group on Flickr, and:

...a little tool to calculate Golden Rectangles: the GoldenRectanglizer.

The "rule of thirds" (erm) exposed:

However, I would venture to say that the Rule of Thirds is merely a specific application or simplification of the Golden Rectangle...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Abramoff and the Israeli Connection fraudulently obtained from Indian tribes went to subsidize fanatical Zionists from Brooklyn out to grab more Palestinian land...
...the political atmosphere has reverted back to, say, 1986 – the year of Iran-Contra. That was the scandal that rocked the Reagan administration, in which money that went to buy missiles for the Iranians in exchange for the release of American hostages was diverted to fund the Nicaraguan contras – yet another neocon act of adventurism, where personal profit, interventionist ideology, and clandestine government rogue operations converged in a nexus of criminality.

Washington sleazebag funneled money to Israel's "settler" movement

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Reconnecting orphaned users in SQL server

EXEC sp_change_users_login 'Auto_Fix', '<username>', NULL, '<userpassword>'

[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]The row for user 'jimbo' will be fixed by updating its login link to a login already in existence. [Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]The number of orphaned users fixed by updating users was 1. [Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]The number of orphaned users fixed by adding new logins and then updating users was 0.

From SQL Server Books Online

Sodom and Gormless

Michael’s wife Sarah is blindsided by his affair. Throughout her struggle to deal with the truth she must find a way to maintain her sanity and strengthen her children for the fiery events ahead. She holds on to her faith amidst the turmoil that plagues her family and her church. Michael abandons his church, family, and home for his new life with his lover Jimmy. His one choice sets off a firestorm of events that will consume everyone in its path.

Thank, er, god for some sanity and clarity about Sodom and Gomorrah. e.g.:

The word translated as "homosexual" or "sexual pervert" or some other similar term is Greek arsenokoites, which was formed from two words meaning "male" and "bed". This word is not found anywhere else in the Bible and has not been found anywhere in the contemporary Greek of Paul's time. We do not know what it means. The word is obscure and uncertain. It probably refers to male prostitutes with female customers, which was a common practice in the Roman world, as revealed in the excavations at Pompeii and other sites.

Why is there no outrage against Shellfish-Eaters, Wearers-of-Mixed-Cloth, or any number of other "abominations" in Leviticus?


"Needless to say, there's a great deal of jism on display in Amit Saxena's directorial debut. In the first half, there is little else....

(Not) gay cowboys

Oh, and when I was on the ranch, the guys definitely, definitely got up to all sorts of sexual hijinks (including some suckling calf action), but that's for another blog entry.... brokeback-bi-shepherds-not-gay-cowboys.html

Some people I know will be highly disappointed by this revelation, particularly as the author herself makes the point clear. ;o)

Monday, January 23, 2006

New photos - Urban Life

New photos up: from December 05 to now...

Aw: Imps!

Imps! at is a children's stopmotion animation using plasticine and sculpey claymation and cgi. Imps is set in Dante's Inferno, Hades and the Egyptian underworld.

Interestingly, the creators are incorporating deaf sign language into the series: all the characters have four, not three, fingers, and bodies will be shot from waist-up, so the creatures can produce most words in sign language.

On a related note, this book (reviewed rather boringly by AS Byatt) about creatures in English folklore looks fascinating:

...a South African who said she could not get used to the fact that the English landscape - all of it - had been trampled by thousands upon thousands of feet since the beginning of history. There is nothing vast, nothing empty. Our creeks and bogs and potholes and standing stones and ponds are inhabited by hosts of invisible creatures and wraiths and stories. Our language is formed by them...

And another thing:

Originally coined by Thomas Keightley in The Fairy Mythology (1850) from the Irish "Leith bhroyan" or "Leith phroyan" meaning "one shoemaker," comes the name Leprechaun. They are also known by the name Gentry. In addition, Jewish folklore tells of a similar creature, the Sheedem or Shedim. It is now demonized and the name used derogatorily in reference to pagan deities.

Also there are details of the Boggart.

More: Nickel, demon, rascal, from the deceptive copper color of the ore

Friday, January 20, 2006

Verisign acquires

The blogosphere will continue to grow – rapidly – but we already note signs that RSS and the mechanics of feed-based publishing will extend well beyond the blogging perimeter, and be adopted as an enabling technology in areas like mainstream media publishing and corporate data distribution. In short, we believe that it won’t be long before terms like ping, feed, and trackback become part of the conventional lexicon for Internet publishing as a whole, not just the realm of blogs.
...we’re committed to maintaining the integrity of the free and open ping stream, in all its wild and chaotic glory. But we believe that many will want to take advantage of filtering services – screen out the splogs based on a threshold value in the analysis – in much the same way that mail users see value in spam filters for their email inbox.


Replacing SQL with RSS

On a related note, I have been thinking about the possibilities of using RSS as a plugin-in replacement for SQL for content retrieval for websites. Slower, maybe, but lots of potential for optimization. Now, not every bit of content naturally fits into an RSS style format, but perhaps with some tweaking, or some sort of RSS Style Language (RSL?) conversion, it ought to be possible to publish the majority of non-forms-based content on most websites in this format.

The advantages? Sites can be built up from completely heterogenous components - RSS acts as a common language linking (say) a Java Servlet, an ASP.NET Web Service, and some old CGI app. The integration needed to get these technologies to work together normally is not worth the effort, but how about a model where each sub-system, in whatever language/framework, publishes its content as RSS, and then a front-end just aggragates this and displays it for the browser?

Google, schmoogle

I fucked up the Google interview.


Update: maybe working for Google is not such a good thing after all: Google could stand up for US users' freedoms while controlling what Chinese users can search for., though of course all organisations that size will come under simlar pressure. Arguing that not hiding search results for .cn is "inconsistent with our mission" is a bit lame. Morals?

Interesting review on Googol Google at LRB:

A strength of the firm – its rootedness in grad student nerd culture – is also a weakness, in the form of a certain arrogance and unwillingness to pay attention to views emanating from lesser forms of life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Poetry: Girl


All win her smile
But few like me seek her frown.
Her callousness takes
The air from within me,
So I smile and laugh.

Her wall-eyed gaze, 
Though veiled by hair 
Of dark shadows, I return.

She thrills me with
Dervish dancing;
Her partners more fleet than I.
Her fingers tap rhythm
On every surface, hinting at
Her inner song.

Murmuring, she soothes 
By conversation:
The languid heat of her, 
Pressed full against mine.

With joyous, howling laughter,
I brace myself against her strength,
In awe of her fury:
To battle her is to feel alive.

Hosted at

Javascript considered harmless?

I found it really interesting to listen to Anders Hejlsberg at PDC explain that javascript has its origins in languages like LISP/Scheme and not really java...

From archive/2005/10/05/1718.aspx - another reason for LISP.

Elven beauty

Loads more where that came from...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Ten Top Trivia Tips about Liz!

  1. The average human spends about 30 days during their life in Liz!
  2. It's bad luck to put Liz on a bed.
  3. During the reign of Peter the Great, any Russian nobleman who chose to wear Liz had to pay a special Liz tax!
  4. Liz is the only bird that can swim but not fly.
  5. 99 percent of the pumpkins sold in the US end up as Liz!
  6. Contrary to popular belief, Liz is not successful at sobering up a drunk person, and in many cases she may actually increase the adverse effects of alcohol.
  7. The pharoahs of ancient Egypt wore garments made with thin threads of beaten Liz!
  8. Liz can squeeze her entire body through a hole the size of her beak!
  9. The canonical hours of the Christian church are matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, Liz and compline.
  10. If you put a drop of liquor on Liz, she will go mad and sting herself to death!

Motorcycle parking

I was stung with a £50 fine by Westminster Council for parking on the smallest bit of pavement in the world - too small for anyone to bother walking on, in a quiet "mews" area. Utter cunts. The classification? Parking with two wheels on the pavement. I only have two fucking wheels!

Gabriele Rigon

"I must be the luckiest man alive. I not only get to meet and photograph the world's most beautiful women, but when I'm not in the studio or on location I fly Chinook and Huey helicopters for the Italian army!"

Cheeky bastard.

Iraq - the debate we're not having (archive)

The London Necropolis

During the first half of the 19th century, London's population more than doubled and the number of London corpses requiring disposal was growing almost as fast.
Cemetery space in the city had failed to keep pace with this growth, and so the vast new Brookwood Cemetery - the London Necropolis - was built in Surrey. Brookwood was the largest burial ground in the world when it was opened in 1854 by the London Necropolis & National Mausoleum Company.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Schizophrenia: progress

The fact that some two-thirds of people diagnosed as schizophrenic have suffered physical or sexual abuse is shown to be a major, if not the major, cause of the illness. Proving the connection between the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, Read shows that many schizophrenic symptoms are directly caused by trauma.
Poor people are several times more likely than the rich to suffer schizophrenia, and urban life increases the risk.
In fact, if you become ill in a developing nation where hardly anyone is treated with drugs, you are 10 times less likely to have any recurrence of the illness - a huge difference, also nothing to do with genes.
What it may have a lot to do with is the administration of drugs (see British psychologist Richard Bentall's book, Madness Explained). They have been shown to impede traumatised people from understanding their voices or visions and recovering from them. There is a close relationship between the drug companies and the psychiatric establishment. While it may not be the intention, the establishment explanation of the causes of and solutions to schizophrenia are crucial components in the process of selling drugs. If patients can be persuaded their illness is an unchangeable genetic destiny and that it is a physical problem requiring a physical solution, drug companies' profits will grow. story/0,,1598133,00.html

Certainly, people I know who have been inside the mental health system in the UK say that their time inside made them much worse (psychologically) than they were beforehand. Let's hope that this research will begin to improve the treatment and support of those with mental disorders.

Lies about drug addiction?

Rat Park was a 200-square-foot housing colony built for a group of white Wistar laboratory rats in 1981 by American psychologist Bruce K. Alexander at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.

The colony was built to examine Alexander's hypothesis that drug addiction is a myth and that continued drug use, particularly the use of heroin, is largely the product of unhappiness, not neurophysiological compulsion. Alexander hypothesized that the addiction to morphine commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to it is attributable to the conditions in which they are normally kept, and not to any addictive property of the drug itself. Laboratory rats are "gregarious, curious and active creatures," Alexander told the Canadian Senate in 2001, but are isolated in cramped metal cages, then "subjected to surgical implantations in the hands of an eager (but seldom skilful) graduate student, followed by being tethered in a self-injection apparatus." Such experiments show only that "severely distressed animals, like severely distressed people, will relieve their distress pharmacologically if they can," he said.

This seems to have parallels with the MMR debate, in the sense that apparently important and significant findings by one researcher were not only condemned roundly by others in the field, but the researcher was then ostracised, and attempts to replicate the original research (essential as part of the scientific process) were stymied.

I am not really one for conspiracy theories, but research in science should not be subject to such obviously politically-motivated censure. The implications of both Rat Park and the Wakefield MMR research are so serious (if their findings are valid) that extra research should be supported with urgent funding, not suppressed and vilified.

If, in fact, the methodologies of specific scientific research are seen to be flawed, then further experiments should correct them, but with a view to replicating as closely as possible the original experiments. Dismissing such studies out of hand is neither scientific nor morally justified.

Life inside Guantanamo: talk by Moazzam Begg


Former Guantanamo detainee speaks of his imprisonment and the effects of 7/7 on the Muslim community in Britain.

Over 100 people attended a talk (organised by Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique) given by Moazzam Begg, the British man formerly incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Begg described the terrible conditions inside the Guantanamo prison, where around 600 "prisoners" are kept, many in solitary confinement. Of that number, only about three of four have been "charged" with any offence, and even then by an extra-legal military process.

The speaker related how Members of around 35 nations are represented inside Guantanamo, and how - if one considers the family and friends of the inmates - there are potentially tens of thousands of people across the world who know of someone inside Guantanamo, and who therefore have a serious grievance against the US. Because most of the prisoners and their families are Muslim, Guantanamo itself is turning Muslims all over the world against the US.

He also addressed issues of identity within Musilim communities in Britain, particularly since the attacks of 7/7, and spoke of his frustatration - felt by many Muslims here - of the level of debate around the issue. Specifically, how Musilims such as himself are often asked how/if they justify terrorism, as if all Muslims are extremists.

Amongst several spurious comments regarding a "link" between terrorism and religion, a woman from Italy spoke of the "religious fanatics of this newer religion - Freemarket Capitalism" and how these fanatics kill thousands of people every day with IMF restructuing programmes and debt repayment plans, issues largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Begg said that he made close friends with many of the prison guards inside Guantanamo. These guards were generally members of the (reservist) National Guard, and were deeply unhappy about their role in Guantanamo. Talking to prisoners in Solitary was forbidden, but Begg said that some of his closest friends were now ordinary US citizens, and he was proud to have had the chance to meet these people.



The talk was this:
Saturday 14th January, 11am
Moazzam Begg on "The Effect of 7/7 on the Muslim Community in Britain - A View from the Inside"

Friday, January 13, 2006

Harold Pinter – Nobel Lecture

Everyone knows what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought. All this has been fully documented and verified.
But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. ...
Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US. ... laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html

The secret of Google: MapReduce

Gooooogle The continuing success of Google can be put down to their increasing use of the MapReduce algorithm, it seems, allowing for huge parallelism of all sorts of computing tasks.

Also, the Sawzall language for processing chunked data, and a resulting map of hits to

Time to learn LISP, perhaps.

Composing Music online

Finally, I have found a way to note down music in a blog-friendly format: abc

When scraps of melody or rhythm swirl about my head, I write them down in (dunno, wassit called?) standard classical notation. However, trying to do that for a blog is not an option, as I do not have access to Sibelius (at £100 a pop [though I sing with the guy who owns the company]) and I am buggered if I am going to fart about with some cr4ck3d copy of Cubase just for a line of music.

Anyhow, I start off with this:

T:Driving Rhythm
|G G z G G z G z |

...visit this site

and end up with this: Image hosted by

Rather good. Further info on abc here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Second Skin

I would be willing to shell out big money for this outfit, as found on a flyer for Fridge Bar Brixton: Leather Bikini







No, not me me to wear ;o)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

NWS Awards 2006: Winner

Saturday, January 07, 2006

New word: swoft

swoft 1.(n.) soft, swooshy material which feels like fur. 2.( to use (1.) upon something or somebody else: e.g. "I'll swoft your peachy buttocks with this furry paddle". Portmanteau word from swift, swoosh and soft