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Nick himself

“Net Neutrality”

I live in NE Cheshire but in a real sense I live on the net. My ISP is SKY but it is over BT lines because I have no choice other than yodelling. Well, I have spent the last 6 plus months seeing the BT Overeach folks (as an IT guy – sort of) I shall use a technical term “fucking around” with the green boxes to no apparent effect. The broadband here is still (another techie term – I apologise) “utter shite”. Now why might this be? The UK coms biz was not privatised correctly. The end result was BT still owns the majority of the Cu and is doing nowt to the purpose about fibre. Virgin owns the rest. Even that is a lamentable story. Cable was allocated to two companies that both went bust (hence the Virgin takeover) but they weren’t allowed to compete. Each area had one or the other. What is the point? Especially when you consider they could only cable 50% of the properties in the UK and were banned from further digging. And yes, the law that allowed them to dig prevented them from running overhead lines.

So what is the problem? Is it new overhead lines being an eysore? drivel! You can wrap fibre around overheads such as the existing electricity cable that come into my house. I saw that on the BBC’s “Tomorrow’s World” when I had a ZX Spectrum. Is it digging the roads? Well, as long as they do it with alacrity (I live at the end of a cul-de-sac) OK. The short-term pain is worth the long-term gain and maybe (in an ideal World – you know the one where I’d have y’all round for unicorn steaks) that road needs re-metalling because it looks and feels like a Somalian goat-felcher’s trail. It is a fucking disgrace. When we had snow we made it passable. By which I mean us lot who lived on it did. Do I get a rebate on the council tax? I think you can guess the answer to that one.

Back to internet. The problem is whilst sort of nominally a PLC BT owns the net in the UK. You might go with a different ISP or whatever but BT own the infrastructure and that ain’t changing. Add this to their interior culture because when I worked for a bit at BT I was trained to not to put to fine a point on it push the BT as default telecoms provider. My trainer actually stated that “People want to like BT because it is an institution like the NHS”. Me and my mate J exchanged a glance worth a thousand words. Another guy on the training group took her on and said, “Isn’t that just market inertia?”. Precisely and a market inertia (I doubt she understood the meaning of either “market” or “inertia” though she was fat enough for the latter) that BT was and still is prepared to sit on it like a potentate on a copper throne. There then followed a talk on the current product (I was working in sales) BT was rolling-out which was the already obsolete ISDN. This included an explanation of the difference between analogue and digital that was beyond parody (I would need a whiteboard and you’d need good bladder control). Me and J exchanged knowing glances. J and I then went off on a tea-break and discussed various ADSL outfits.

That’s BT for you. They might be private but they still think they are state and act as such. They are utterly anti-competition and are a true dog in the manger. They have a legally protected semi-monopoly and it is not just legal but how they aspire to make people think and how they try (successfully) to make people think and that is company policy. Croney capitalism at it’s worst. They never truly became private.

And they are still doing it. If you live in the UK you might see the ads on telly about how the government DCMS is supplying “superfast broadband” (they make me want to perform GBH on Gideon). Why is it their job when BT was allegedly privatised decades ago? And need I add the green boxes down the road are emblazoned with EU logos claiming, “Superfast broadband is here”. They have been for over six months. Is it fuck!

The upgrading of the broadband round here has already taken longer than the ALCAN highway.

I despair.

Credo

“You should make a point of trying every experience once, excepting incest and folk dancing.”

- Sir Arnold Bax KCVO, “Keeper of the King’s Musick”.

Off to see the Wizards, the wonderful Wizards of…

… Er… Manchester Metropolitan University. This afternoon I am attending an open day type thingie for MSc computer science type stuff at Manchester Met. Now I’m not interested in the standard “career change” MSc computer science course available from practically everywhere (I could even do that at the University of Derby’s Buxton Campus which is HQed in a Victorian lunatic asylum) to practically everyone* or Manchester University who seem about as friendly as a “social disease”. More to the point Manchester Met offers specific courses and the only one I’m interested in is Computer and Network Security. One year, GBP5490.

I’m just currently gen-gapped. I’m too old to crawl under desks eating dust-bunnies and untangling cables. I’m not too old but as Galadriel said, “She can taste it in the water”. The World is changing. The default computer for most people is a laptop and they are difficult for an indy like me to do anything hardware on not being exactly modular like a classic box. Bah and indeed Humbug!* Security though is a big and indeed embiggening thing and it is a software thing so it is universal. And these “leetle grey cells” support “a mind most convoluted mon ami”. Not that my French is any good but the Hell with that!

But codes and cyphers are a long-standing interest of mine (I have a crackerjack BTW) as is computing and formal logic (though I shall dress in my usual attire – jeans/combats and a hoodie – well it’s Manchester).

Anyway, this is the course and well, what d’ya think? I would appreciate feedback.

*I once had had to deal with a high-end Acer laptop with a bust firewire port. So I give it the full exam. The owner’s kid had shoved jam into it. Strawberry jam (I never thought taste would matter in this game but you never know). Nothing I could do except advise a trip to the local Acer accredited repair place. I was not prepared to get the soldering iron out because apart from anything the new firewire port would have to line-up with whatever proprietary form-factor Acer had been working on. That and I’d be taking a soldering iron to densely-packed board. What could go wrong? A lot but not on my watch it wouldn’t. I was paid for my meagre troubles and did sort some issues with the AV codecs which meant I got to see the owner’s performance art which consisted of her dancing naked whilst about 8 months in the bun-club. I was paid in Stella for my 20 minutes. Fair enough and that is South Manchester for you.

Frosty the imam.

It is a winter wonderland outside my window in Cheshire. Apparently so it is in parts of Saudi Arabia. This is rather unusual there…

Here’s a picture

You see how unusual this is? No Brit or Canuck or Swede etc would give their snow personage a hot coffee. So are the Saudis all enjoying the novelty of snow? Yes and indeed no.

There has been a terrible moral outrage about building snowmen (and indeed snow camels – Allah knows about snow-women with snow tits and icicle nipples) and at least one imam has got his pantyhose in a twizzle

But with photos of snowpeople and snow camels popping up everywhere, Munajjid made it clear that Islamic teachings strictly prohibit the practice.

Asked whether the unusually snowy winter in Saudi Arabia meant that parents could build snowmen with their children, Munajjid delivered the bad news.

“It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun,” Munajjid wrote on his Web site, according to Reuters.

He is also available for children’s parties. I hear his, “Death to all Zionazi Imperialists” act is a side-splitter (possibly literally).

***

“We have snow for fleeting days, maybe even hours, and there is always someone who wants to rob us of the joy and the fun,” wrote a blogger identified by Gulf News as Mishaal. “It seems that the only thing left for us is to sit down and drink coffee.”

***

But Munajjid has his supporters.

“It [building snowmen] is imitating the infidels, it promotes lustiness and eroticism,” wrote one person, according to Reuters.

I don’t know where to start…

The first point is to acknowledge this is not a “funny”. Oh, it is easy to laugh. But depriving folk of “play” and “fun” (and how often does a significant snowfall happen in Saudia Arabia?) is horrendous. What is humanity without play and fun? The imam also mentions the creation of images of critters (recall the snow-camels of horror?)

I will tell you what such a life is like. It is Hell on Earth. It is also a complete technological stagnation. I love the society (imperfect though it is) but whist I find in this day and age opposition to gay marriage (say) a bit odd I find opposition to building snow-crits is so far beyond belief as to defy… Well, I dunno but it is but it defies it. Building a snowman is the most innocent thing imaginable (and if we get a bit more snow I’ll build one myself and send a selfie to this “cleric”.)

And it matters. It really does. The more absurd a cultural argument is then in a very real way the more it matters. And not least if it is taken as ridiculous. “Imitating the infidels”? By building a fucking snowman? You wait until said cleric gets the selfie of me drinking single-malt whilst being bummed by a ladyboy who is smoking crack. I mean if building a fucking snowman is strictly verboten why not go the whole hog?

I have to add I have never had dirty thoughts in front of a snow-person – but then you knew that. “Mr NickM was apprehended for a public-order offence at 11-45am whilst he attempted to…”. Gods sakes! Mr Frosty was unavailable to comment but a puddle shall appear in Stockport Magistrates Court.

I though do hate the cultural shuttering. Some think this attempt at cultural monolithism is a strength of the Islamists and they couldn’t be more wrong. Ludicrous defence is a sign of weakness.

Banning fun is ultimately self-defeating.

The best snowman I ever built was as a kid and it was when I was a kid. My brother and me built a huge effigy of a Franz-Ferdinand (one of the Holy Roman Emperors) in the back garden. I have no idea why but it was fun. Which was the point.

H/T Dick

PS the imam also regards gingerbread men as evil.

Julia is mint.

We had quite a snowfall overnight. I go out this morn to buy a lighter. As you do. It was lethal on the lane. I fell and spacked the little finger on my right.

But as I walked home I passed the bin by Sayeed’s newsagents. Someone had scrawled “Julia is mint” in the snow on the top of it.

I have no idea if Julia is indeed “mint” but if she is then I’d like to meet her.

I suspect she ain’t all that.

That is the tragedy of the World. Julia almost certainly isn’t “mint”. She’s probs a tuppence ha’penny scrubber. She probs swallows rather than spits but she does that with anyone.

I could be wrong.

I usually am.

We stand.

“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.

Paris.

We have all said things contra Islam (and the rest). My awkward streak arguably started at the Kard Bar (just off Westgate Road, Newcastle) as a nipper. It was there I (illegally) bought my first Viz many, many years back. I have heard many comments on the Parisian Massacre along the lines of, “Let’s have concealed carry”. This misses the point. Utterly. Undoubtedly there is a reasonable possibility that one of the cartoonists could have slotted one (or more) of the perps (and that would’ve been good).

This misses the point as to why firearms ought to be allowed. I play here with power greater (I hope than guns). I hope this laptop is more powerful than any Browning. I’d like a shooter. I think I’d be good because it is the sort of thing I am good at but moreover why not? I’m 41 years old with no convictions. That is why as a mature responsible adult (I hope my family aren’t reading this*) I should. Simples. You lose the argument the minute you cite reasons beyond the basic principle – why not?. Would I pay to go to gun classes? Hell. yes! That would be fun. Guns can be beautiful in the same way watches can be. Mechanical precision and all that.

That is a side point (though an important one). But not the really important point. It is this simple. We have an existential struggle on the go. I have heard many commentators say that Charlie Hebdo “went too far”. Ah, diddums! As someone said over at Samizdata during the MoToons of Doom(TM) frenzy, “If they can’t take a joke then fuck ‘em”. We may get killed along the way but the point is not to have heavily armed cartoonists (or bloggers et al) but cartoonists who will take pen to paper and draw what they like not without fear of nutters but despite that fear. It is a dangerous World. Giving in to fear is the ultimate defeat. It is a defeat for everyone including (perhaps especially) the very pleasant Muslims I have met throughout my life. I saw that just a coupla years ago in Istanbul where you’d see folk knock off from work, go to prayers and then grabbing a pint**. It isn’t about a perversification of the Qu’ran and or the Hadith. It is about perception filters (as are most things***) because most Muslims don’t take it all that seriously. Neither do most Christians (for example) take their faith to the n-th.

I mean it says somewhere in the Bible that a menstruating woman is “unclean” (this seems a catch-all for the Abrahamic faiths) and must dwell in a shed. Nobody who claims to be Christian (apart from some madcappers) takes this seriously and I suspect only the most Orthodox of Jews do. The radical Muslims do (not most Muslims – the Muslim owned Newsagent just down the road from me flogs porn). The difference perhaps is that the nutty Christians and Jews tend to be insular whereas the nutty Muslims are on a mission. I don’t know why that difference exists. Maybe it is the nature of the Qu’ran. Maybe it is a stupid feeling of inferiority over colonialism. To which (with a wry smile) I have to say, “Polish Hussars” (seen their wings in the museum in Krakow). Well, it was their last realistic chance. This terrorism lark feels like some bloke outside a pub with a bloodied nose saying, “And another thing” through bust teeth long after the fight is lost. I am not exactly proclaiming the superiority of The West. No, I’m saying that living in a state of victim-hood is corrosive and this was a very long time ago. Nick is likely to say,”That new Audi looks pretty tasty”. Nick is unlikely to say,”Bastard Krauts – they bombed me Granny’s fish shop!”. In order to make progress people have to get over such stuff. If you do that remarkable progress can be made. If you want to look at it like this, and I’m not advocating this as such, doing well is the best revenge. I guess the curse of oil and all that plays a part too.

When I am low (and I am sometimes low) I read Tolkien****. I do not read hatred. Recently I saw a contestant who said she’d spend her GBP3,000 on a new door “for the mulcherry” but she was from Shropshire… We must all live our dreams I guess. Difference is a lesbian mulcherry in Hobbiton (aka the Welsh Borders) matters not a jot to me at the mo. The shooting of cartoonists in Paris matters little either. People who have lost the intellectual war can go fuck themselves but more than that so can the so-called “apologists” (“blow-back”, Bushes etc). This was Islam related and whilst Islam has it’s place in our society it has a place the same as other religions do be use they should know their place. It is not “It”. My continent has been through more than enough with wars of alleged Christianity against itself (I had no religious upbringing and regard the whole thing quite ambivalently).

What I do know?

I know this. I know my keyboard lights-up when I press “Fn” + “Space”. This is handy because it is getting dark now (even though I can touch-type). It’s cool. I mean really cool. Shit! I have to see to a buggered Acer this evening. Oh, fuck me up the chuffster! Anyway…

Islam needs (in parts) to get the house in order. Nobody but the nutters hasn’t said “nyet” to them but fundamentally it is about giving-up the “saucier parts” in the Qu’ran in much the same way “Christianity” (however defined) after a long struggle has largely given-up such parts of the Bible. I, for one couldn’t give a toss who one worships. It is all drivel as far as I can care – which isn’t very far.

I’d best finish here though there is so much more to say.

Except…

… I wanted to post today about so much fun stuff. I couldn’t. I had to post on this. I am sorry for this and my heart bleeds for France.

*I almost knocked Steven Jauncey’s heed (not an sp) off with an acclerometer-thingie but that was GCSE Physics and I was bored and when the teacher said,”On no account put more than half a kilo on the weight”. Well I stuck five kilos on and Elon would be proud. There are many other misadventures in the Nickopeia but I am all in one piece. Jauncey was a cunt, mind. Probably still is. I missed. I mean there was fuck all else to do in GCSE Physics other than to use an opposed weight to chin Jauncey. Fuck all, really.
**Although the ubiquitous Efes beer is a penance in itself. It tastes very American and I’m not talking Sam Adams. I’m talking Coors Lite. Of course Mr Erdogan is doing his level to drag Turkey (a country I liked) back into the Dark Ages. A crying shame.
***This is why I like maths. Unfenced and absolute reality. Unusual.
****Nothing better. h

2015

This is a politically based blog. Some of you may have noticed I have been posting less. I am still politically a classic liberal but I don’t care that much about politricks. I never have really. When I was younger I couldn’t give a toss. Quite how I got quasi-interested is beyond me (thanks Mr Marks!) but this is a new year (the cause for calenders and such). I had a Polish New Year’s Eve so I am hung-over but I am clear on one thing – have been for some time. What I shall post shall be my stuff which is about sciencces/tech/philosophy. This Lenovo S440 Thinkpad shall no longer darken your towels with jack-assed political opinions.

Now, here is an interesting one. Should Lesbian couples be able to have biological children? It is doable. I am not sure it ought to be done. There are “issues”. Most revolve around homophobia of some form or another. I am not equivocating here but I know blokes who will log into “dykeswithdicks.com” but would write angry letters to local rags if a lesbian couple moved in next door. I don’t even care about that. Why would I? I don’t even care about the fact this is de-facto sex selection (where would they get a Y chromosome from?). No, I care about the issue (yes!) of the morals of the foetal research. Should technical developments (and it is tech – the basic science is there) be allowed if it involves peril to the unborn. And what do those qualms mean for my usually gung-ho attitude to science or indeed sexuality. And how does that relate to my view on abortion? I don’t know which is why I wish to pose these kind of questions. It is why I couldn’t give a monkey’s chuff as to what Lord Palmerston or Karl Marx or Muhammed said. It is why I can’t give a fig for LVT versus income tax. I just don’t care.

In a very real sense being a libertarian means not caring in the best possible way. It means caring for sure but not meddling and not trying to impose morals of any description on others. And I don’t mean “Victorian Values” (whatever we think that means or the thinking (such as it was) of T Dan Smith who wrecked half of the town of my birth (which do you prefer – Georgian elegance or something that looks like a 1970s Albanian car park?). I don’t even see that as political.

I guess what I’m saying is the reason libertarians don’t get much traction politically is we tend (certainly I do) to see issues, problems, opportunities not in an a political sense. This doesn’t mean we don’t care. That is why I mentioned the lesbian motherhood. I am conflicted morally. I don’t see anything wrong in principle but the research needed concerns me. It isn’t a political issue (or shouldn’t be) or even a social issue. It is a sci/tech/phil issue.

So my New Year message is this. Be less political. Stop caring. By all means give a few quid to the dog’s home but if you think politricks will solve anything then you aren’t a libertarian. I have bust ribs from a fall on the ice. I was helped-up by a motorist passing by. Single acts of mere kindness are what make us human. A majority vote in whatever parliament or assembly ain’t.

But you would be stunned by the number of people who think otherwise. There is an Oscar Wilde kid’s story set in winter where a group of forest animals are complaining about the snow and one suggests, “The government should do something about it.”

It is that mentality that leads to T Dan Smith.

Anyway, that’s it. Libertarianism is (or ought to be) totally apolitical.

Not quite it. Obviously. I have wittered on for too long not to wish y’all (and your friends and family) a jolly good New Year!

Oh, the irony…

It’s a bit like bronzey or Goldie (looking chain). I need some dental work doing. So this is how it works out. My dentist says she could do it but it is potentially complicated (nudge, nudge, wink, wink – oh I get you). So she could do it but if she boots me upstairs to the clinic either in Manchester or Macclesfield it counts as a hospital referral and is therefore free. Otherwise her or her partner could do it but they aren’t quite as specialist as the dental hospitals mentioned so it would be best for me to see them. OK, I trust her judgement. Fine, cool, we are all the Fonze here. But there is a kicker to the deal. If she treated me further I’d be on the hook for GBP219 to the NHS but if it is done in a hospital it is buckshee and paid for with fairy tales.

I shouldn’t mock. The Disney Company made a lot from fairy tales. So, let’s get this straight? If I opt to see a specialist rather than a local GP-type dentist I get this free? I guess it makes sense in the sense that getting it done by the top folks probs saves on further dealings (and this is a crown on a front tooth so we are not currently at home to Mr Cock-Up). I mean definitive treatment by the best place is a good thing and all and saves further costs either to the system (or me) not that “the system” comes free…

The last time I bought a computer with VAT at 20% I… Well, it’s hard to say what I thought (for the bill specifies VAT). For a normal human to even pronounce what I thought it would require vastly more extensive dental surgery than I am looking at. It would require a quart of Strangeways toilet-bowl gin and a windy-pick. And it would sound something like an Oompah Loompah yodeling a One Direction medley through a National Distress bus station urinal. Whilst it was on wobbly eggs. And with a banjo up the arse, sideways and lubed with R Kelly’s baby-fruiting juice.

Anyway. /rant off. But it is bizarre that the potentially better treatment (which admittedly isn’t too local – more on that later) is free whereas the treatment at my local dentist is GBP219. There is something wrong with this but I’m not entirely sure what it is. Perhaps that is how they get away with a profound capuchin-jockeyed donkey-derby. But if I get the tooth re-capped on the nowt this way then OK. I mean “on the nowt” with the above cacophonous caveats noted. As it ain’t free is it? But if I’m not charged again for it that is good.

I got a letter today from the local dentists with the NHS form for my ref to one of the above clinics. I had to sign a form – a blue form – Gods help us! A blue form!!! It came with another blue thing – a 2nd class stamp. Now seeing as the nearest post-box (which is gold – thank you Barney Storey*) I hand delivered the form. Less hass than posting it. The first girl I ever snogged was a Brosette** and she used the phrase “mass hass” a lot. Not that that ever involved me. I was a cipher. Run fast and low. Keep supersonic and off the radar.

I hope I made some sense here.

*That lycra-clad assassin nearly killed me once. I would have been dead’d and he’d have been in the paralympics for real.

**Yes, she had Grolsch bottle tops in her shoes and wore a red neckerchief.

Battles…

This is a long term pet hate of mine. I hate it when people use military language such as “fight” or “battle” outside of context.

I have long hated it in sport. Since at least Euro ’96 and The Mirror mocking-up Stuart Pearce in a Tommy hat before England played Germany in the semi. It is crass at best.

Now The Mail reports on a study that such language is often unhelpful to many cancer sufferers. The implication due to a study by linguists at the University of Lancaster is that people who succumb to the disease haven’t “fought” hard enough. I get that.

So a thumbs up to The Mail for reporting this point.

And two thumbs down for following it up days later with this.

I hate this metaphor of battle. Ms Gibbs died because she was unlucky or the diagnosis was made late or the treatment wasn’t good enough or some combination of the three. I lend clock-cycles to the likes of Folding@Home. I lend my Intel Core i5s. I am part of 164,000 giving a little bit of tame lightening to help provide 38,000 Teraflops of computing to help cure or treat (note I don’t say “defeat”). Flops are floating point operations per second. And that is 38 Petaflops or 38 quadrillion sums per second. Or 3.8 x 1016 calculations per second. Not even Michael Gove demanded that many using times tables and slide-rules. It is quite possible the sum total of human endeavour in the field of arithmetic is greater since 1950 than since those folk in Sumeria all those millenia back invented place system arithmetic.

Forgive my emotion here but I watched Rosetta/Philea touchdown on Churyumov–Gerasimenko. I had to go to the dentist this morning to see about a crown being replaced which was not the start to a day I wanted but by about 4pm when we got the news from Darmstadt that Philea had landed I was marked this day with a white stone. Sometimes we slip in the bathroom and crack a tooth and sometimes we have petaflops and land on a comet half a billion km from home. That is about 30 light minutes away. My degrees are in physics and astrophysics. That was my Apollo moment. Neil and Buzz of course did their thing before I was born. For me this was better and even more awesome than Voyager 1 hitting the heliopause. And that was awesome. Some of the US Christian Wrong objected to the images of naked people on it. Well that is 15 billion km away and doing 17 km a second so they can pick-up our interstellar porn. Because that has like so gone.

We can be magnificent. And Rosetta has been. ESA landed something the size of a washing machine 500,000 km from home and it worked. I wish (in a frivolous sense) they’d landed that bloody dreadful Hotpoint from my kitchen in outer space. That thing once went completely tonto and lifted the kitchen work-top about 3cm. The sound was awesome. I thought Al Queda had bombed my kitchen – possibly because I had bacon in the fridge. The kitchen work-top is solid granite. It was like having R2-D2 break dancing.

I’m just (for once) in a good mood with my species. ESA got it there within 2 minutes over a ten year mission covering billions of km (it did gravity assists on the way). The dentist was twenty minutes late. The train from where I live is never on time. That mission is awesome. Yeah it cost GBP1.1bn but somethings are worth it. The dentist cost GBP18.50 (well cost me that directly). I am a happy camper today. And I hate seeing the dentist – does anyone like it? ESA – I salute you.

We are a mixed species. We can make TVs (amazing) and then make shows like Geordie Shore to show on them. Have you seen that? Don’t. I’m a Geordie and my heroes are folks like George Stephenson and not some slag (not a word I use lightly) crawling across a bathroom-floor whilst venting urine in a desperate bit to get to the toilet to vomit. She was out in time and distance by more than Rosetta and she hadn’t gone billions of km.

You want something done spot on get a physicist. Richard Feynman once compared his theory (Quantum Electrodynamics) in accuracy to measuring the distance from LA to NYC and getting it to within the width a human hair. Just ponder that.

Update: Philae is not out of the woods yet. But even getting it down is magnificent. I so hope it works. This is as important as Viking or Voyager.

This is Fermilab with a jetpack. This is the reason I still trog on. I recall the discovery of a quark and this guy run into Lecture Theatre B1 – University of Nottingham told us that at CERN they had confirmed it. And we all (and there was a lot of us) spontaneously cheered. That was the Standard Model down.

I just love science and techie stuff. I had a flatmate doing English Literature and he wound-up (through no fault of his own) doing “Old Icelandic Edda and Saga in Translation”. He hated it. I was in the second year lab with interesting kit and the preserved blackboards of some fellow called Albert staring down at me. Can’t imagine who he was. It was all Greek (and German) to me. But I wound-up knowing both the Special and General theories of relativity. How cool is that!

I am going into rhapsodies for it is late.

I am going to contradict myself (but as a physics grad I have earned the right – Nick has a cat – Timmy – and so did Erwin Schrödinger).

I don’t do weird things with Timmy in a box but he has to go in one to go to the vet sometimes. That is fun.

C:\>

I have been using Windows 8 on my new Lenovo S440 (great little machine) for some time (though I’m not sold on the new trackpoint but then neither was Hitler). It’s OK – I guess but the scrolling is a pain. I guess I can jiggle that but – and this is the J-Lo but(t) – I have had to re-install Win 8 twice due to the machine locking down or simply playing les buggeurs risible – so I guess I shall have to reset again. Today I had some semi-malware – a browser hi-jacker and though ’tis gone I had to go through a frigmarole to get an MSDOS-ish (yes, really!) prompt up and nix it by hand. Worked like a dream but at first I tried the new Windows Powershell which doesn’t recognise post ’95(?) long filenames (D’oh!!!). Old Skool MSDOS (remix) does so Steve Ballmer can take his Metro interface and stick it up his hairy, sweaty arse. And he can be burnt in a wicker penguin with his fucking charms round his neck. His neck if he is lucky.

I mean I reboot – and it goes back to the (I thought slain) Metro interface which informs me that Benedict Cumberbatch is trending. Apparently he’s got engaged. Great. Very happy for him and his future bride and all that but it does the square root of a weasel-fuck for me actually getting Chrome to work. I ‘m sorry – I can’t recall exactly what the hi-jacker was but it was some “local” thing connecting to Ask.com.

I did a hard-reset – another thing MS has made like the stations of the cross – after Malwarebytes (free version) had quarantined, reboot, Powershell – no dice, the good old C:\> did the trick. The Buddha on a hoverboard! Muhammed with a jetpack! I had in certain senses more power in my paws with a MSDOS 5/Win 3.1 Elonex with a 386SX16 and 4Mb of RAM in 1993 than I have with this machine chained as it is to the rotting idiot that is Win 8. This machine I ordered with 8Gb of RAM (2000 times as much!) but when you consider Win 8 takes 2-3 Gb of RAM just to get it’s boots on I do wonder. What the fuck is it doing? Working on the Nork nuke? Decrypting for the NSA? photoshopping jihadi selfies? Fuck alone knows. This machine has 8Gb so the overhead doesn’t really matter but it still pisses me off.

I want control. I have never had any designs on invading Poland but I want total control over my “toy”. I want a Lego set and not a Barbie*. I want my C:\> back. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to go back to the 640K limit and having to create boot disks just to play Falcon.

Before anyone starts… I tried 8.1 but it was worse. Win 10 had best be good or I’m going Linux for most stuff. Obviously I’ll keep a Win machine for games and some stuff. You have been warned Ballmer. You are treading on a very slippery Surface. Because I swear to the God of Circuits I am not alone.

Here endeth the rant.

*An ex of mine who’s Mom was a very senior mathematician (went on to become head of the AMA) successfully lobbied Mattel to drop a certain “talking” Barbie over one of it’s phrases, “I’d like to be an animal doctor [sic] but math is hard”. Of course “math is hard”. So is hacking through a computer Old Skool but at least you feel in charge and my Speccy didn’t want to tell me celeb gossip.

Modern Art & Godzilla’s Butt-Plug

Now, don’t call me old fashioned here. I am a liberal kinda guy butt (ho ho!) this shocked me…

This is Paul McCarthy’s “sculpture” “Tree” exhibited (this stuff writes itself) in France. The only reason I spotted that was I first misread the link as “Paul McCartney’s butt-plug in Paris”.

Anyway, it lacks any artistic merit other than the capacity to shock. Now, I note I said I was shocked but not in the way Paul McCarthy meant. It isn’t “challenging”, it’s just dreadful. It’s shocking in a way because it is so boring.

Marcel Duchamp produced “challenging” art a hundred years ago and some of it was quite clever. This is more sh’ite than an Ayatollah. Things that I am specifically interested in such as maths, physics, aviation and computing have made tremendous advances in the last 100 years but art seems stuck in a rut of childish petulance where you can win a Turner Prize (God knows what Turner would make of it) for puking into a jiffy bag and mailing it to The Pope.

So, this “installation” was vandalized by outraged Parisians and whilst I deplore vandalism I can kinda see where they were coming from. Oddly enough the first Dada exhibition actually provided a hammer for visitors to smash the exhibits. That was new and dappy and kinda cool back then. It has now become very serious. It has caused Mr McCarthy to do this…

McCarthy decided against re-erecting the Tree, which was deflated by security officials, and has instead planned an artistic response. Paris Mint spokesman Guillaume Robic said the chocolate factory was already up and running and had been producing 250 chocolate Father Christmas figurines, each with a butt plug, each day for the past few days. Eleven rooms where the figurines are stocked have been made dark to resemble a long tunnel. Visitors will be able to move through the halls, where there will be a strong smell of chocolate, and where a video and “aggressive sounds” will be playing. “It’s a dream, or a nightmare,” Robic said. “It reflects the aggressiveness that McCarthy felt after what happened in the Place Vendôme.”

The chocolate factory – a reproduction of a 2007 installation by McCarthy in New York – is operated by pastry makers who have been trained to perform by McCarthy.

Alas dear reader you can’t expect a butt-plugged choccy-wocky Santa in your Christmas box for they go on sale in January.

I shall re-iterate I am not a philistine and I like some modern art but what really shocks me is the capacity of these folk to get away with shock for the sake of shock. More than that the capacity of certain people to fall for it. I mean it isn’t shocking in the way intended. I mean you can buy a butt-plug in Anne Summer’s on Market Street in Manchester. There is nothing shocking about McCarthy other than he is considered shocking, provocative, challenging etc which he isn’t any more than a small child having their tenth tantrum of the day.

I might go out with my watercolours and paint landscapes of the Peak District. Now that would flummox the critics.

But before I go… I have to mention the “comedian” Jimmy Carr who apparently at a music awards do recently made some off-colour remarks about Oscar Pistorius. Oh, they were edgy! They just weren’t funny. To commandeer a phrase from the Duke of Wellington, “In comedy there is no substitute for being funny”.

Like Paul McCarthy (with his admittedly hilarious strop on (or should that be strap-on?)) Jimmy Carr has jumped so many sharks he ought to be working at Sea World.

It is the same thing. I am not offended except by the fact I am expected to take offence. If your only trick is to offend the Daily Mail and Nick ain’t leaping at the bait I couldn’t give a…

…I could have used some “bad words” there but what is the point?

I mean these are people who shouldn’t get a fuck in a monkey whore-house with a truck-load of bananas.

Vultures

Yesterday I was at the Gauntlet Bird of Prey Centre in Cheshire.

I learned a lot. I learned how to handle a Harris Hawk called Pablo. I also learned that vultures are critically endangered. For a large animal they have had a decrease in numbers unparalleled in recorded history over the last few years.

Now this is a problem. Obviously it is a problem for the vultures but it is wider. As the primary garbolists of the Animal Kingdom they are a vital link in the ecosystem. They can eat almost anything. But in South Asia a generally banned (but of course freely available on the iffy market – consider the prohibition of heroin for example) cattle drug kills ‘em. They eat a bit of dead cow and they die. Now lots of people don’t like vultures but things that clear the land of dead things help prevent disease in other animals including humans.

Now that is bad in Asia but the situation in Africa is appalling. This is how it goes. Our fun-loving criminal mates, the Russian Mafia, have taken a strong interest in rhino and elephant poaching. Now obviously they take the horns and tusks and leave the rest. Alas, due to the size of the game reserves of Africa, the only way the rangers patrolling them are likely to get a chance of catching the poachers is by spotting the vultures hovering over the remains. Now, if you are the sort of scumbag who will unload a clip of 7.62mm into a rhino to flog the horn to the Chinese (it is apparently worth four times it’s mass in Au) you are pretty ruthless and obviously you don’t want to get caught. Note that the park rangers pack some heat. You have to against Russian Mafia sponsored types with AK-47s.

So, to reduce the chance of being caught the Russian Mafia has been systematically eradicating not just their prey animals but the vultures. They have been doing this by lacing the corpses of the dead rhinos and elephants with cyanide.

Vultures have essentially no sense of smell or taste. This enables them to eat things that would make you and me reflexively vomit profusely. It is their strength in the whole chain of life and also their weakness when it comes to Indians drugging cattle (apparently this is a Hindu thing – the beef is not good for people to eat but the milk is OK and of course Hindus don’t tend to eat beef) or the Russian Mafia deliberately poisoning vultures.

The truly shocking thing. Well, there are a number. Deliberately killing a truly useful animal (with all the knock-on effects) is dreadful. And they are of course magnificent and very friendly birds. And as you can imagine (if you are regular you will know) that as a fanatic about fighter ‘planes I have a soft spot for our pre-Wright Bros. winged warriors. But it ain’t just my soft spot that is agitated here. The ecosytematic damage is extreme and via disease it also kills people. Imagine how healthy you would be if no-one picked up the bins? You’d be pegging it from dysentery and cholera. And vultures do this service for free in some of the poorest parts of the World.

But they are deliberately being killed by the Russian Mafia to sell the Chinese stuff that should be banned. Well it is banned but has that ever helped anything? I mean US prohibition only boosted the Canadian whiskey industry. How were the Feds to patrol a 3,000 mile border? How does a Kenyan park ranger patrol an enormous game reserve without spotting the circling vulures?

I am not saying theses vile trades ought to be legalized but very clearly the illegality has not helped.

I do not know what the solution is. How could I? But shooting some of the buggers might help. I mean they won’t do it again will they?

I’m only saying this because I suspect many readers will not know about it. Because vultures have an undeserved bad-rep, because I just love everything that flies because I just do and always have and perhaps when it is properly explained you begin to understand how complex ecosystems are not just to the critters but to us. I don’t want to see a rhino being shot and a vulture being poisoned so some Mafia oligarch can flog the horn to a Chinese plutocrat. I really don’t want to see this so completely innocent Africans die from diseases that nobody in Europe ever gets.

I’m quite serious here. If you support one animal charity this year – make it the vulture.

Apparently, and the guy who showed of his vultures had done a lot of work in Africa, at least one Russian Mafia boss has a plan. He wishes to stockpile as much rhino horn and elephant tusk as possible before eradicating both species entirely so he gets to corner the entire market. The destruction of the vultures is merely part of this insane (but lucrative) scheme.

That is what it is about. Extinction for temporary profit done by very evil people.

Quote of the Day

There is another name for “disproportionate response”.

It is called “winning”.

NickM of this parish, coming down firmly on the side of the IDF

Just a normal day for Manc-ish folks…

Well, I had some shopping to do so I went into central Manchester. I know the city well enough that this is not really a chore. I knew pretty much where to go but I had a sit in Piccadilly Gardens to collect my thoughts. As is my wont I had a cigarillo. Now this moocher comes up to me and asks for a fag. I have to describe him. He looked forty-ish – much of it spent living in dumpsters – but I was feeling generous and gave him a tab and a light. He then insisted on paying me back. Now at this point you have to appreciate he was wearing a pair of trainers that would disgrbbace a Harold Ramp, a ball cap older than Abner Doubleday and a pair of ratty generic football shorts and nothing else. I was somewhat glad I was in a crowded place in broad daylight. He tried to offer me money (which I knew was a blind) and then rummaged in the front of his shorts (which by then I had noted without joy were packing some heat – Good Golly Miss Molly! I’d just gone into town to buy a birthday prezzie and now I’m about to be sodomized by some fucker with a cock the size of a bleach bottle. It was not how I’d planned the afternoon to pan out.

But he doesn’t whip his gentleman’s gentleman out. He has an already opened 2L bottle of Strongbow cider in the undercart and offers me a swig. I decline as politely as I can.

So I make my purchases and get the train back. It’s all good. Until I realise my wife is out and I have no keys. Locked out of my own home. You can imagine the swears. No you can’t – they were beyond comprehension in rapidity and violence (I can swear for England). So what does Nick do? Well, my house is co-extensive with the Quaker Meeting House and they never lock the ladies toilet window and I know that nobody is in on a Monday afternoon and the communicating door only locks from one side so I build a ziggurat of garden furniture and break in. I come close to spackering myself but I get in in one piece. It was dicey for a while because the window only opened to a vertical 45 degrees and I had to crawl, rotate and drop onto the toilet. And I did that with bust ribs (from an incident a few days back). And I’m 40.

So just an average day. But that was fucking Bravo 2-0. That was Sailor Malan on the R/T yelling “Tally!”. And why not? My wife is astounded at my window creeping. So am I. I had to take my trainers off to fit through. That is how tight it was. That is how cool it was.

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