The Blog

30 Sep 2014

Reality needs less cowbell, say cows. And I for one, agree.

But it does need a saxophone on the bridge.
 It turns out that cowbells make cows miserable | Geek-Cetera | »
A field of cowbell-equipped-cows may create a soothing soundscape of wind and chimes, but what’s soothing to us doesn’t translate to the cows. Though Christopher Walken and internet humor from over 14 years ago require [...]

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Some things to think about re Fermi's paradox. Life should be all over the galaxy, let alone the universe. So, where the heck is everybody?

Well, maybe, on any Earth type planet, If there is insufficient stored carbon available, the species will not be able to develop a technologically advanced society due to insufficient energy for the development of enough complexity. But if there is sufficient stored carbon available, the species will inevitably destroy itself.

It's just thermodynamics, innit.
 Solving Fermi's Paradox »
The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations. The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi and Michael H.

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21 Sep 2014

When we marched against the Iraq war, the demands were fairly simple even if they were ignored.

But when we march against "Climate Change" what are we asking for? What do we want to happen next?

I suspect marching about climate change is like dancing about architecture. But if it makes us feel better, maybe it's still worth while.

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20 Sep 2014

New Taboos

From an essay by John Shirley.

What if the phrase "Obscene Profits" were not just a figure of speech?  What if the practice of amassing huge profits while exploiting one's employees, or while contaminating the environment, or while lying to the public, was actually regarded as revolting, and the people who engaged in such practices were shunned as pariahs?

We need some new taboos that we reject utterly. That make us sick. That we will not allow under any circumstances. That are never acceptable. No end ever justifies these means. In the words of Rorschach from Watchmen, "Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon".

Here's a short and incomplete list of possible new taboos:-
1) Polluting or toxifying the environment. Particularly by corporate action for profit but also by individual action.
2) Lying or deceiving for profit. Especially to manipulate children for profit.
3) Using political influence for personal gain.
4) Hiding someone else's theft, fraud, dishonesty or pollution to protect one's own part in the system.
5) Discriminating on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation.
6) Making unreasonably large profits. eg. by taking advantage of a monopoly position to price gouge, or by avoiding tax, or paying absurd top salaries
7) Exploiting workers via uneconomic wages or contracts. eg zero hour contracts or paying minimum wage as opposed to living wage.
8) Exploiting workers via unsafe workplaces and practices for profit
9) Torture under any circumstances
10) Engaging in warfare except in the most dire necessity

These aren't hard. They're just the basic kindergarten rules of behaviour we teach kids.
- Don't poison other children
- Don't lie
- Don't steal
- Don't hurt other kids just to get what you want
- Don't take more than your share of the pudding

So now apply them to adults.
 New Taboos (Outspoken Authors): John Shirley: 9781604867619: Books »
New Taboos (Outspoken Authors) [John Shirley] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

Mixing outlaw humor, sci-fi adventure, and cutting social criticism

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16 Sep 2014

PM Press (2013), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 128 pages
[from: Librarything]

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I'll just leave this here.

"If there is no centre, we're all on the edge."

From this review.
 Review: Various - Worth The Weight Vol. 2 »
Punch Drunk's second compilation reflects the dubstep diaspora a couple of generations deep.

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I was looking for something else and just found this from 2004. Dig those forgotten cultural references! Not entirely sure where it came from so needs citation.

The revolution will be blogged.

You will be able to stay home, brother.
You will be able to plug in, turn on and get your own IP.
You will be able to lose yourself on generic V.i.a.g.r.a and Prozac,
Skip out for a Frapuccino during the free pr0n download,
Because the revolution will be blogged.

The revolution will be blogged.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the NY Times
in 4 parts with commercial popups after a one time registration.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Bush
landing on a carrier and leading a charge by John
Ashcroft, Douglas Rumsfeld and Dick Chaney to eat
the profits stolen on the way to Iraq.
The revolution will be blogged.

The revolution will not be brought to you by
the RIAA and will not star Britney
Spears and Paris Hilton or Eminem and Madonna.
The revolution will not give your iPod a new battery.
The revolution will not lock you in with DRM.
The Atkins diet will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will be blogged, Brother.

There will be a webcam of you and Winona Ryder
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
and Marsha Stewart trying to sneak the drug money past the SEC.
You will be able to predict the winner at 8:32
and get reports from 563 districts because,
The revolution will be blogged.

There will be phonecam pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers on TextAmerica.
There will be phonecam pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers on TextAmerica.
There will be pictures of Rush Limbaugh being
run out of ABC on a rail for "Addiction to prescription drugs".
There will be slow motion and 360 degree QTVR of John
Kerry strolling through Watts in a doubleknit leisure suit
that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Gap, Starbucks, and Hooters will no longer be so damned relevant,
and women will not care if Aleks finally gets down with
Carrie on Sex in the City because people of colour, or even
no colour at all, will be online looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will be blogged.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of heavily pierced women
activists or Condoleeza Rice blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Moby,
the Red Hot Chili Peppers, nor sung by Beyonce, Justin
Timberlake, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, or R.E.M.
The revolution will be blogged.

The revolution will not be right back after a message from our leader about weapons of mass destruction, homeland security, or the axis of evil.
You will not have to worry about anthrax in your
post, armed sky marshalls, or biometric ID cards.
The revolution will not give you a transportable TV entertainment center.
The revolution will not help you to be all you want to be.
The revolution will put you in control of the keyboard.

The revolution will be blogged, will be blogged,
will be blogged, will be blogged.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.
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15 Sep 2014

Tor Books (2014), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover, 336 pages
[from: Librarything]

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Tor Books (2014), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 384 pages
[from: Librarything]

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14 Sep 2014

It's late 2014 and there are cultural critics still arguing that creativity stopped in 2003, using examples from 2004 and 2006. Arctic Monkeys vs Burial as symptom vs diagnosis? That's * so * last decade!

I think we fairly desperately need a Post-Retromania and Post-Hauntology in pop cultural analysis.

ps. He's got a book out. How drole.
 Mark Fisher // - Crack Magazine »
Do you miss the future? Mark Fisher interviewed In 2002, on the band’s debut single Losing My Edge, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy sang of “borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered ’80s”. With that line he playfully skewered the Brooklynite hipsters in “little jackets” whose instinct to look back to pop’s golden past, instead of forward,... Read more »

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13 Sep 2014

A while ago I went looking for cocktails named after places and boroughs in New York. There's really quite a lot of them from the well known Manhatten to the Harlem Mugger. That led to trying to do the same thing for London but that proved much harder. Scanning the whole of the Savoy Cocktail book only turned up the Piccadilly and the Mayfair.

This week's cocktail is the Piccadilly.
Gin (Portobello), 25ml French Vermouth (Noilly Prat), Dash Grenadine (Monin), Dash Absinthe (No Absinthe so I used Bourdin Pastis), Shaken, Martini Glass. The end result is pink so I added one fluorescent Opies maraschino cherry as a garnish. I'm not really convinced, especially as the Pastis overpowered the other flavours. The Grenadine is really just colour. I think there might be a drink in there though where you make a wet martini (say 4:1) add a dash of grenadine for colour, stir so it doesn't dilute so much and then do a absinthe/pastis wash of the glass the way you would making a Sazerac. So there's just the smell of the Anise without so much of the flavour.
 Piccadilly Cocktail | Savoy Stomp »
Piccadilly Cocktail. 1 Dash Absinthe. (Verte de Fougerolles) 1 Dash Grenadine. (Homemade) 1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth) 2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Beefeater 24). Shake (I stirred) well and strain into a cocktail glass. Like the Phoebe Snow, there's nothing particularly deep ...

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10 Sep 2014

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly? For a Fistful of Dollars, Los Trios Paranoias ride forth. But independently, on separate trains.

Meanwhile Thatcher-Lite in the form of "Grinner" Brown tries to throw the electorate a bone.

Less than 10 days to go, postal votes are in, and now they're trying to make up Devo-Max on the fly because they hadn't planned contingencies for something they've known about for 2 years.

You couldn't make it up, could you. Are they trying to fail?

Bonus Link:

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09 Sep 2014

So farewell then, iPod Classic.

Well that sucks. If Apple won't build and sell the 1TB iPod Classic I want, then maybe now somebody else will? I seem to have been saying this for quite some time. There's a small but genuine market for a high capacity, high quality personal media player. It's just not a mass market.

I could rush out and buy one of the last remaining 240GB Classics on eBay available from people that mod and upgrade the official 160. But unfortunately the firmware doesn't really support the extra space. And the extra space still isn't big enough.

So what alternatives are there for those of us with too much music in our collections? And no, storing it in the cloud and accessing it via streaming on a smartphone is not an option.
 The iPod Classic Is Dead | TechCrunch »
My friends, I come to you with sad news. Our old friend, the iPod classic, is no more. Apple unceremoniously removed the much-beloved media player from its..

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Glenn Greenwald nails it again.
Americans Now Fear ISIS Sleeper Cells Are Living in the U.S., Overwhelmingly Support Military Action

But not with boots on the ground. And not because it will change anything. But to "flex muscles" and "show toughness" and "send a message". And because They're a "clear and present danger" because they threatened to "fly the black flag of ISIS over the White House." As he says: It’s hard to believe the fear-mongering is anything but deliberate. Because it's not just the US media and politicians because this same brand of bullshit was all over the weekend papers in the UK.

He also references a Sept 2003 poll that showed 70% of Americans polled thought Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11. "Is it even possible to imagine more potent evidence of systemic media failure than that (or systemic success, depending on what you think the media’s goal is)?" But here we are again, embarking on another war in the state of permanent war. This time for "1 year, 2 years maybe even 3 years but as long as it takes". 

-- Cut here --
 Americans Now Fear ISIS Sleeper Cells Are Living in the U.S., Overwhelmingly Support Military Action - The Intercept »
How long will we have to wait for the poll finding that most Americans “regret” having supported this new war in Iraq and Syria and view it as a “mistake”, as they prepare, in a frenzy of manufactured fear, to support the next proposed war?

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07 Sep 2014

About a new analysis of the Club of Rome's models:

You decide. Can you spot the logical fallacies in each viewpoint?

Or is it simply that with exponential growth, if the resource limits don't get you the pollution will? Always assuming there's enough excess energy available to fund the continued exponential growth in the first place. And if there isn't then there are other problems with a global system that borrows from the future on the basis that exponential growth can continue indefinitely.

Bonus link:
 Limits to Growth is a pile of steaming doggy-doo based on total cobblers »
The Guardian praised it? Right, now we know for sure

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05 Sep 2014

Space, says the introduction to the guide, is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind bogglingly big it is.
Laniakea: Our home supercluster

But is it self similar at all scales?
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Let's party like it's 2099.
 Global resources stock check »
If we fail to correct current consumption trends, then when will our most valuable natural resources run out?

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03 Sep 2014

I'm a bit late commenting on this story

You've no doubt noticed that Theresa May and David Cameron have been warning us that the UK's terror threat level has been raised from "substantial" to "severe" but that there is no imminent danger of an attack.

This feels a bit like those notices you see by the side of the road "Beware low flying planes". Well yes, but what are you supposed to do? Duck and Cover?

So instead of meaningless words like Substantial or Severe or meaningless codes like Yellow or Red, I suggest we have terror levels based on traditional British pastimes you should hurry to enjoy during the time left to you. eg

- A nice hot cup of tea
- A Pint
- A Chicken Tikka Masala and a pint of Carlsberg

And then when things get really bad, 
- Doner Kebab

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25 Aug 2014

Yet another warning

"If we discovered tomorrow that there was an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and – because physics is a fairly simple science – we were able to calculate that it was going to hit Earth on 3 June 2072, and we knew that its impact was going to wipe out 70% of all life on Earth, governments worldwide would marshal the entire planet into unprecedented action. Every scientist, engineer, university and business would be enlisted: half to find a way of stopping it, the other half to find a way for our species to survive and rebuild if the first option proved unsuccessful. We are in almost precisely that situation now, except that there isn't a specific date and there isn't an asteroid."

Then there would be a large number of people who didn't expect to be around in 2072 and didn't want to give up what they currently have in the mean time. There'd be the people who denied the asteroid existed. And then there would be the 5 Bn people who didn't even know about the asteroid and were mostly focussed on getting enough to eat and drink to survive another day.

Of course a world of 4B or 2B or 1B people in 100 years might well be a more pleasant place. But nobody will talk about the process of getting from the current 7B to the peak of 10B to a sustainable 1B. Because it ain't pretty.
 Humans: the real threat to life on Earth »
If population levels continue to rise at the current rate, our grandchildren will see the Earth plunged into an unprecedented environmental crisis, argues computational scientist Stephen Emmott in this extract from his book Ten Billion

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20 Aug 2014

I'm pleased to see that the 1000 minute Longplayer choral project has reached it's funding target.

I still need to make the pilgrimage to the Longplayer installation at Trinity Buoy Wharf. Open at the weekends, 11am to 4/5pm.

Longplayer is a one thousand year long composition that's been running so far for 14 years 232 days 07 hours 52 minutes and 05 seconds and counting.
 Longplayer for Voices - the next step »
Help us to create Longplayer for 240 Voices, the next step in an incredible 1000-year-long musical journey.

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