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August, 2011:

“The Teleprompter Jesus”

The Whited Sepulchre has a post about Robert Reich’s idiotic idea of

… a “severance fee” on any large business that lays off an American worker and outsources the job abroad

and the stupidity of politicians trying to second-guess business decisions generally. A sample:

Before we started bringing some of the simpler products in from China, our company had 300 employees in the United States.  And less than a decade after “outsourcing these jobs”, in Reich’s phrase, to China, we had….
600 employees.
Yep.  We started making some things in China and this allowed us to double our U.S. workforce.  (We’ve cut back to around 500 since our peak a couple of years ago, but then, there’s a madman in the White House.)

It’s really rather teriffic and you should all go and Read the Whole Thing.

But what caught my eye was his nickname for El Presidente, His Highness King Barack, as per my heading here. Ridicule is like kryptonite to political types, and that’s quality ridicule. Made me laugh, anyway.

Open forum

Talk amongst yourselves for a while, but remember, play nice.

More Nonsense Inspired, Incidentally, By Apple

No, this isn’t another post having a go at Apple, or Steve Jobs, or Mac Users, or any of that. Instead, we’re looking at an article in The Daily Telegraph and some twat called Michael Gartenberg, who is an “analyst” and this glorious gem of “analysis”-

Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, says: “Consumers have shown that the price they are prepared to pay is not associated with [manufacturing costs] but with the perception of value, and the way Apple products are perceived, they have an extraordinarily high value.”

And how else, precisely, would you expect buyers in a market to judge value, Mr Gartenberg? Sigh.

(more…)

Enough about bloody Apple

If it weren’t for a certain resignation* at Cupertino, CA, every geek and his dog would be quoting this Usenet post from twenty years ago today:

“From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?
Summary: small poll for my new operating system
Message-ID: <1991Aug25.205708.9541@klaava.Helsinki.FI>
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki

Hello everybody out there using minix – I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback onthings people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work.

This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-)
Linus (torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi)

PS. Yes – it’s free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.

It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that’s all I have :-(

Two decades on, and there are six seven running copies** of that kernel in this very room: two desktops, a netbook, a cellphone, an eBook reader, and a Freeview STB and a little ARM-based file server. Not bad for a hobby without The Steve’s marketing savvy.

And a spectacular example of individual effort and voluntary co-operation. Much is sometimes made by opponents of free and open source software of the fact that Torvalds’s parents were (whisper it) socialists. Well, I don’t know Linus’s politics (he’s careful not to say too much these days), but he’s certainly talked in the past of how projects like this thrive on enlightened self interest – if you don’t get paid directly (although most kernel hackers these days are employed as such by various firms) you fix bugs and add features because you want them yourself – and yes, he did use Smith’s expression.

I recently read the second volume of Steven Fry’s autobiography, which covers his discovery of computers. Alas, by the end of this one he’s a commited Acolyte of St. Steve, along with his good chum the late Douglas Adams. I’d have posted this passage on its own, I expect, if this anniversary hadn’t come along:

For some people, computers, digital devices and machines of that nature will be functional objects whose purpose is to serve by performing specifically needed tasks. If there is a little tweaking required to ensure that such functions can be better fulfilled, then so be it: let there be a little tweaking. For other people, people like Douglas and me, tweaking is the function. Using a computer to write a book, fill in tax returns or print out an invoice is something you could do, but how much less fun than messing around.

Today’s post-1997 Apple is unequivocally for the former type of person (although, as Fry can attest, it wasn’t always thus). Linux was, and is, made by the latter. Here’s to the next two decades of messing around.

*Surely he didn’t time his announcement to spoil Linux’s birthday? I have a suspicious turn of mind…

**And several hundred copies on various CDs, DVDs and USB sticks.

Edit: Forgot about my server. Seven Linux kernels.

The iBook of Jobs

Jobs will be a hard act to follow. He brought the company back from the brink in 1996, presiding over a remarkable turnaround in its fortunes. I’ve been an Apple loyalist since I bought a Macintosh Plus in 1987, but at times that loyalty was sorely tested. The lowpoint for me was probably the PowerBook Duo which I bought in 1992. I seriously considered switching to a PC, not least because Mac users were so few and far between. In the battle with Microsoft, it felt like we were on the losing side. But my faith was restored when I bought an iMac, one of the first products Steve Jobs was identified with after returning to the company in 1996 [would that be an eMac?]. After that came a rapidly improving series of laptops – the iBook, the white MacBook, the black MacBook and, finally, my current model, the 2008 aluminium MacBook. I can think of few companies I have such an intense brand loyalty to and that is in no small part due to the technological and marketing savvy of Steve Jobs. As a colleague said last night, he’s been the outstanding CEO of our generation [apart from when he was sacked].

So what you gonna do Toby? Put your first-born son on the altar? Just re-read that Toby. Steve Jobs is very successful businessman but… All this talk about “faith” and “intense loyalty” and “being tested” – you’d think He came down the mountain in Cupertino with an iTablet engraved with fire by God himself.

iQuit

It’s a sad day for the technology industry: one of its most charismatic figures, a genius in an industry filled with brilliant minds, has stepped aside.

I wouldn’t go that far. Nothing against Jobs as such but there are some right numpties in the computer trade. Our own dear Alan Sugar springs to mind. Not that he is in that trade anymore – thank God!

Anyway is Jobs charismatic? He wears a black polo-neck well but quite frankly he is hardly the life and soul. He is moderately more interesting than Bill Gates.

I have a love/hate thing with Apple and Jobs. It’s in the little things and the big things. It’s little things like putting an “i” in front of everything and the one button mouse and keyboards designed to be looked at rather than typed on. And it’s big things like the sense of entitlement Apple seems to feel. Recall the war of the trashcan? Or the recent appalling persecution of Samsung over the Galaxy pad? And the way Apple fans are so, well, fanatical. You see it in the TV adverts for iPhone 4 and the iPad 2. A Martian could be forgiven for thinking Apple invented the internet. The ads are that smug. They are basically saying, “Can’t afford this you pleb – well bugger off!” And it annoys me because they do make some nice kit. I wouldn’t find Apple so annoying (is perplexing a better word?) if this was not the case.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish Steve Jobs all the best and hope he gets well. It would be mean of me to gloat over the ill-health of the chap. But… Apple are legends in their own lunch-time. They are not actually anywhere near as important technologically as they like to think they are and relentlessly tell us. In terms of marketing though… Different kettle of fishes. They figured out how to sell computers to people who don’t like computers. They also figured out how to seem “anti-establishment” whilst being the establishment and that is a hell of a trick.

The Divine Argentine

This morning I wrote to my pal and co-conspirator Paul Marks. My subject was that idleness, not malice, is our biggest foe.

Then I wrote a piece about the genius of Borges. Then I read this.

Known for the nightmarishly dreamlike, surreal worlds he conjures up, Borges struggled with blindness and steered clear of writing novels, preferring to concentrate on shorter works.

This is almost true. Borges is on record as saying he wrote short stories and sometimes just paragraphs because he simply couldn’t be bothered to write novels. Other folks have said it was because he could say in a thousand words what lesser mortals would take a hundred thousand to say. I’ll buy that. Yes, blindness was an issue but so was glorious laziness. And so was the ability Borges had to condense. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius is 1984 in a nutshell. Both are stories about the ultimate betrayal – the betrayal of reality itself. Orwell has 2+2=5, Borges has this…

“The metaphysicians of Tlön are not looking for truth or even an approximation to it: they are after a kind of amazement. They consider metaphysics a branch of fantastic literature”.

Borges is slightly more optomistic than Orwell. He states in an end-note to Tlön that it is a human labyrinth and therefore decipherable (meaning “destroyable”) by humans. What man can create, man can tear asunder! Reality is another matter. Being real helps for a start. And that is why Borges matters. He saw the ultimate issue was not left or right but reality versus invention.

A Universe without Borges is unimaginable. A rather Borgesian thought.

Despite the debt he is owed by authors from Gabriel García Márquez to Mario Vargas Llosa, Borges himself never won the Nobel prize.

Well, he wasn’t a magic realist was he? Borges wrote fantasy that saw the world more clearly than any “realist” – magical or otherwise.

My favourite story is “Death and the Compass”. It just edges “Emma Zunz”.

Seriously though. If you haven’t been reading Borges what the fuck have you been doing with your life?

The Aleph

Today – as celebrated by Google – is the 112 birthday of the greatest man to ever lay fingers on a keyboard – Jorge Luis Borges. Certainly the greatest writer not to win the Nobel for literature.

I have stolen this. Perhaps. But unless you are utterly potless do buy it (if potless read it anyway – it is that good). The best English translations (Borges was fluent in English but tended to write in Spanish) are to be found in “Labyrinths” and “The Aleph And Other Stories”. This is “The Aleph”.

Tired of his inane words, I quickly made my way. The cellar, barely wider than the stairway itself, was something of a pit. My eyes searched the dark, looking in vain for the globe Carlos Argentino had spoken of. Some cases of empty bottles and some canvas sacks cluttered one corner. Carlos picked up a sack, folded it in two, and at a fixed spot spread it out.

“As a pillow,” he said, “this is quite threadbare, but if it’s padded even a half-inch higher, you won’t see a thing, and there you’ll lie, feeling ashamed and ridiculous. All right now, sprawl that hulk of yours there on the floor and count off nineteen steps.”

I went through with his absurd requirements, and at last he went away. The trapdoor was carefully shut. The blackness, in spite of a chink that I later made out, seemed to me absolute. For the first time, I realised the danger I was in: I’d let myself be locked in a cellar by a lunatic, after gulping down a glassful of poison! I knew that back of Carlos’ transparent boasting lay a deep fear that I might not see the promised wonder. To keep his madness undetected, to keep from admitting he was mad, Carlos had to kill me. I felt a shock of panic, which I tried to pin to my uncomfortable position and not to the effect of a drug. I shut my eyes — I opened them. Then I saw the Aleph.

I arrive now at the ineffable core of my story. And here begins my despair as a writer. All language is a set of symbols whose use among its speakers assumes a shared past. How, then, can I translate into words the limitless Aleph, which my floundering mind can scarcely encompass? Mystics, faced with the same problem, fall back on symbols: to signify the godhead, one Persian speaks of a bird that somehow is all birds; Alanus de Insulis, of a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere; Ezekiel, of a four-faced angel who at one and the same time moves east and west, north and south. (Not in vain do I recall these inconceivable analogies; they bear some relation to the Aleph.) Perhaps the gods might grant me a similar metaphor, but then this account would become contaminated by literature, by fiction. Really, what I want to do is impossible, for any listing of an endless series is doomed to be infinitesimal. In that single gigantic instant I saw millions of acts both delightful and awful; not one of them occupied the same point in space, without overlapping or transparency. What my eyes beheld was simultaneous, but what I shall now write down will be successive, because language is successive. Nonetheless, I’ll try to recollect what I can.

On the back part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realised that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded. The Aleph’s diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror’s face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror; I saw all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me; I saw in a backyard of Soler Street the same tiles that thirty years before I’d seen in the entrance of a house in Fray Bentos; I saw bunches of grapes, snow, tobacco, lodes of metal, steam; I saw convex equatorial deserts and each one of their grains of sand; I saw a woman in Inverness whom I shall never forget; I saw her tangled hair, her tall figure, I saw the cancer in her breast; I saw a ring of baked mud in a sidewalk, where before there had been a tree; I saw a summer house in Adrogué and a copy of the first English translation of Pliny — Philemon Holland’s — and all at the same time saw each letter on each page (as a boy, I used to marvel that the letters in a closed book did not get scrambled and lost overnight); I saw a sunset in Querétaro that seemed to reflect the colour of a rose in Bengal; I saw my empty bedroom; I saw in a closet in Alkmaar a terrestrial globe between two mirrors that multiplied it endlessly; I saw horses with flowing manes on a shore of the Caspian Sea at dawn; I saw the delicate bone structure of a hand; I saw the survivors of a battle sending out picture postcards; I saw in a showcase in Mirzapur a pack of Spanish playing cards; I saw the slanting shadows of ferns on a greenhouse floor; I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in the drawer of a writing table (and the handwriting made me tremble) unbelievable, obscene, detailed letters, which Beatriz had written to Carlos Argentino; I saw a monument I worshipped in the Chacarita cemetery; I saw the rotted dust and bones that had once deliciously been Beatriz Viterbo; I saw the circulation of my own dark blood; I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth; I saw my own face and my own bowels; I saw your face; and I felt dizzy and wept, for my eyes had seen that secret and conjectured object whose name is common to all men but which no man has looked upon — the unimaginable universe.

I felt infinite wonder, infinite pity.

I feel infinite wonder (that is the point of Borges). (current word count 1111 – fitting). There are two authors ever who utterly took me away. One is from Birmingham and the other is from Argentina. Oh, OK! Honourable mentions to Conan-Doyle, Gibson, Chandler and Dodgson… But I have only read Tolkien and Borges quite like that. Lying in bed and ravished like a two-bit whore. It’s that emotional.

If you haven’t read Borges you haven’t lived. He was that good. Other writers told stories. He told reality.

Martyrdom or Victory!

It would appear that Col Gadaffi (God knows how you spell it) has buggered off leaving only that somewhat cryptic statement. Like a sort of turbaned Cheshire Cat.

The whole thing is a bit odd. Yesterday I saw on the tellybox a “technical” with an aircraft/attack-helicopter rocket launcher mounted on the flat-bed! Respect! I kept on watching the news to see if Max had got his paws on the last of the V-8 interceptors but it was just blokes in leisure-wear with AK-47s.

The whole thing looks like Scrapheap Challenge went to war with a drag-artiste out of torch-songs. I know people have been killed and maimed but isn’t it brilliant?

If freedom is a loaded gun (and it is) then what is a rocket launcher on the back of a Hi-Lux?

Turn off the Lights for Healthier Sex Organs!

(NaturalNews) It turns out that setting a romantic mood by lighting candles during sex may be good in more ways than one. Several scientific studies have linked artificial lighting at nighttime to breast and prostate cancers.

Have they also linked the use of artificial light during daylight hours to idiocy?

Note the use of the word “artificial”. We shall return to that…

One study completed by the University of Haifa in Israel found that of 164 countries studied, the countries most brightly lit during twilight hours had the highest rates of these two cancers. These industrialized countries also had more than double the cancer rates as those countries in the dark, so to speak. Research has also been conducted in the United States by the American National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Their research also concluded that there is a greater risk of breast and prostate cancer when people are exposed to artificial lights in developed countries.

So is light the issue? Or industrialisation? The later could mean anything. Also, seeing as breast cancer tends to inflict the middle-aged and elderly and prostate cancer really is primarily an issue for the older gent are we normalizing here for life-expectancy in these “industrialised” countries? I mean if you’re likely to die from some shitty water-carried infection contracted by “living naturally” then living long enough to get prostate cancer is probably on your wish-list. The last line makes no sense. “exposed to artificial lights in developed countries”. So I’m OK if I turn a lamp on in Rwanda, but not Rotterdam then?

The key to this discovery lies in the melatonin levels in one’s body. Melatonin, a hormone produced to help regulate your sleeping and wake cycles, or circadian rhythm, also plays a role in your immune system, body temperature, and endocrine functions. “Melatonin interferes with the tumor`s ability to use linoleic acid as a growth signal, which causes tumor metabolism and growth activity to shut down.” Dr. David Blask, M.D., Ph.D., a neuro-endocrinologist said. He is a researcher for Bassett Research Institute and a lead author on one of the studies. Blask also states “Evidence is emerging that disruption of a person’s body clock is associated with cancer in humans, and that interference with internal timekeeping can tip the balance in favour of tumour development.” This is where the problem with artificial lighting comes in. Your body is unsure if it is day or night because of the lighting and it begins decreasing production of melatonin which in turn, causes your system to go haywire.

OK, I might buy that by which I mean it sounds like science and, note, is highly caveated with, “evidence is emerging” and “mights”. But that is neither my point nor very clearly the point of the writer in “Natural News” -whatever form of theatrical gayness that might be. I shall now lay all my cards on the table. I am by training an astrophyicist. This means knowing a thing or two about the oscillations of the electro-magnetic field mere mortals call “light”. It doesn’t come in “natural” or “unnatural” varieties – it is all best expressed in terms of vector differential or integral calculus (or possibly tensors). So, shocking horror, whilst candles may or may not be romantic their light is not better or worse for you. But recall…

It turns out that setting a romantic mood by lighting candles during sex may be good in more ways than one. Several scientific studies have linked artificial lighting at nighttime to breast and prostate cancers.

Artificial? Like candles just happen but evil men like Nikola Tesla (one of my all time heroes) make light in a way that is “unnatural”. Oh do please just fuck off! Just re-read that. It is classic, “nature is good stuff and peeking below her undergarments is wrong. I have at times gone positively gynaecological here – astrophysics is… Kinda primordial – my tutor at Nottingham (his field was RF wave-guides) when I asked for a ref for an MSc in astrophysics in London said, “That’s the engine room of physics”. Dr Chamberlain must have wrote a hell of a ref because there were just 6 fully-funded places in Britain that year and I got one – that’s a result isn’t it? I mean the funding wasn’t a plus – it was vital). Clearly it was about pawning the planet, wasn’t it.?

And I feel it. In a nation of 60 million I was one of 6 deemed smart enough to be paid to do an MSc in something not even I could justify on purely utilitarian terms. But one day you might visit me and we shall lie on our backs and look at the stars (our homes) and I shall tell you their names. If you are really bored

The mystery has to stand because it is a faith system. I appreciate it’s a jokey, tabloid-ish, opening to a piece but still the natural/synthethetic dialectic is at play. A false dialectic. I am not now a physicist (though by God it runs through my veins like a superfluid*) but there is no natural/unnatural thing. The unity of is physics. The entire point of Newton and his apple is the unification of terrestrial and celestial dynamics. Not “natural” (whatever that means**.

Except I know what it means. My discipline is natural philosophy. I know Tartaglia’s way of finding a cube root. I know how to demonstrate the speed of light in vacuo derived from Maxwell’s equations. I know the thermodynamics of a steam engine. I know things they would not believe. I know how to have sex with the lights on or off. Sometimes that did actually involve vaginas. Sometimes not. But the real wankers here…

Their chant is against electricity. They try and make their miserableness sound “cool” by adding sex but those same sparks are the ones we read books by, or visit Green websites by, or right filth, or whatever…

Electricity to us (if you are reading this you’re using it) is what iron was to the iron age folks. It is not good or evil – swords or ploughshares? – it just is. And it was ever so since the forces broke symmetry shortly after the Big Bang (they wouldn’t have done if Jonathon Porritt had collected enough signatures on his petition). We’ve just figured out more cool stuff to do with it though of course we’ve been using it since we were primordial soup. Cool new stuff like blogging and double-intruders and not going a-kip when the frigging Sun goes down after eating a mess of potage or some such medieval repast and thanking Gaia (or some other numpty) that Grandpa has hit forty and still has some teeth. Indeed we now know that The Sun is not a god – it’s a pretty average class G2 yellow dwarf located in the unfashionable end of the Orion arm of the Galaxy. Not a special galaxy by the way. There are another 100 billion.

Now we can do one of two things. We can be this…

Or we can sign “no-flying pacts” for the planet or indulge in similar such horrendous gaynesses such as shagging by candle-light like fucking animals.

You ever wondered who pilots the Green movement? I mean what they have in common? They are all wealthy and old money. Take the Prince of Wails or this twat who has a face you could gleefully hit until any given Tuesday…

He was born in London, and educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. Like many other environmentalists of his generation he lacks any formal scientific training. Despite training as a barrister, he decided to become an English teacher at St Clement Danes Grammar School (later Burlington Danes School) in Shepherd’s Bush, West London in 1974.

Porritt is the son of Lord Porritt, 11th Governor-General of New Zealand. His father, who served as a senior officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II, was also the bronze medalist in the Olympic Chariots of Fire 100 metres race. As well as receiving a non-hereditary life peerage, Lord Porritt had previously been awarded a baronetcy. Jonathon Porritt is entitled to claim the baronetcy, becoming The Hon Sir Jonathon Porritt, 2nd Baronet, but has so far declined to do so. He has two daughters.

Emphasis mine.

Well, that about sums the cunt up really. He could claim the baronetcy! What an epically well-chiselled twatter! I honestly could not make-up a cunt like that. Fortunately the universe just pitched one to my door.

Ah, the emphasis! I shall pass no comment on the fact that a bloody English teacher is lecturing us on science. My mother is an English teacher. It is a fine profession but like all professions it is defined by it’s limits. If Mr Porritt lectured us on the use of metaphor in Shakespeare’s histories then I might be inclined to listen. On the subject of atmospheric physics less so. In a right Universe he’d be outside a railway station with a sign saying, “Will drop pants for food”. This brings me to the disagreeable matter of the fruit of his loins. Yes, he has two daughters which makes this rather convenient for him. I mean really! My wife has two sisters. (It’s sometimes like the “Witches of Eastwick” round here – certainly after they’ve had a few…) so which one goes on the altar of Gaia? The translator? The English teacher (also doing a PhD)? The post-doc geologist? You can only think about “surplus population” if you are are a despicable cunt who cunningly (is this coincidence?) has exactly the number of children recommended by oneself! How wise of Mr Porritt! Either that or the wisdom of Mrs Porritt who obviously didn’t want any more of that nonsense. Well, the things I’d do to avoid having sexual intercourse with Porritt are legion. There is no hedge too scratchy for me to run through naked and screaming if it came to that. .

You have been warned.

*Top of my year at MSc level in General Relativity (Queen Mary College, London). I have seen reality (I live in it more times than I like) and fucked it under a 200W incandescent bulb (now illegal – so I have my stash – like a frigging drug dealer).

**Nature is just what is. Physics is about… well, everything, really – whether it is made by Gaia or IG Farben. I have nothing against the “lesser sciences” but frankly what is the fucking point of chemistry? Didn’t Linus Pauling prove it was all just Q-Mech in a waistcoat?

Stop the Environment

What’s an environment ad without a Native American?

H/T No Frakking Consensus…

Sie kommen

The Arab Autumn

So it looks like Gadaffi is finally screwed beyond all redemption. His sons are caught and the fat lady is warming-up with scales. For all the hellfire, damnation, death and suffering that the Idi Amin of North Africa has caused I hope he gets to meet Mussolini by a similar route Il Duce took. Satre said “Hell is other People”. Well Muammar and Benito ought to get on like a house on fire. The revolutionary and the former colonial potentate. Excellent! They shall have so much to discuss. And next stop Syria. That’s you Assad Minor! Is the scalp of Comrade Kim too much to wish for? I think it would be fitting and sweet for him to be beaten to death with 42″ Samsung LED panels. South Koreans of course having been so oppressed all these years…

What I haven’t heard about though is the effect the fall of Gadaffi will have on his great mate Bob in Zimbabwe… Zimbabwe is through the looking-glass fucked which is appalling because it is essentially a very rich country. I am informed by that from my parents who taught in neighbouring Zambia in the early ’70s. Rhodesia (as was) was an agricultural wonderland. We can argue till the cows come home (assuming there are any left) about how the pie is split but the question becomes somewhat academic when it’s only crumbs left to scrabble for. We all know about the land “redistribution” at the hands of “war veterans” but what is less well known is that the landlord for much of that is (hopefully) soon to be hung by his knackers in Tripoli*. Yes, Libya did land for oil to grease the wonky wheels of Mugabe’s jalopy. Let us hope they fall off soon.

Revolutions of course work out all sorts of ways. But that should not take from the fact that we can rejoice (for a moment) in a mad dog getting put-down.

*A more moderate (and commercial) solution is these loons are put in the Big Brother House because Jedward dressed as mummies and Mohammed Al-Fayed doing a turn dressed as a pharaoh isn’t floating my boat. Not that I watch. No really I don’t. I just see the papers.

Red 4 Down

I was really quite upset to hear Red 4 was down. I watched the news – flicking between Sky and BBC with little hope. I saw him a month ago in the skies over Southport. Alas, I have no photos. I used the last of my battery charge on XH-558. The Red Arrows go on forever of course – or so I thought. I have seen them before and I shall again. I should have saved some time but… Isn’t that life? And death.

I should have said something earlier but I wanted the dust to settle and didn’t really know what to say.

Then I picked up an old collection of sf stories called “Master’s Choice Vol.1″ I’d bought recently for pennies in a second-hand shop and happened quite by chance upon “Requiem” by Robert Heinlein – a story I had never read. It starts with this quote:

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will!

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

- Robert Louis Stevenson

The story is about an elderly businessman who due to his personal passion invested early in space, made a packet from it and despite the better judgement of his company and his legacy-seeking family, employs two washed-up rocketeers and burns it all for one lonely impulse of delight – to visit the moon. Where he dies.

Flight Lieutenant Egging, it shall go on because you are not the only one to love the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Per ardua ad astra!

We just want to go home.

Server outage

Sorry people.

A network interface on the CCinZ server died earlier today. It took me a couple of hours to diagnose the problem, find and fit a replacement, and then configure the new interface.

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