Monday, December 31, 2007
This was not the year that I started writing blogs, I've had a web presence for a long time, but this is the year that I started reading them. And it is the year in which I finally started a regular routine - once a day every day.
But that is only one of the rules. And even though I noted with irony that the rules only developed to match what I was actually producing, they exist to make life easiest for you the consumer, not for me the producer.
But blogs are rated by all sorts of metrics, and my rules don't count. There is no official guide to the blogosphere. This year I tried to write one objectively. Next year it's personal.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
But even for the best zoos I'd still draw the line before whales and other sentient beings. They should be free and exempt from zoological restriction.
Yet we still encourage the confinement of apes in small enclosures, taunt them, provoke them, laugh at them, deprive them of normal social contacts, restrict their exercise, give them artificial diets and generally create the complete antithesis of the natural environment in which they are evolved to thrive.
Of course I refer to The Human Zoo. Thank you Desmond Morris.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
For example, the king of Nepal has long been considered by some to be an incarnation of the Lord Vishnu, and hence exempt from normal human laws. The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt used similar myths to ensure subservience. Obviously no-one in the western world today would accept a line that a particular family was chosen by God to control huge swathes of land forever, that would surely be ridiculous.
Some actions of Nepal's royal family have been quite strange. For example only a few years ago the crown prince gunned down his father, so he was technically the divine ruler, until he shot himself too. But the people have finally opened their eyes. Today I learned that parliament has voted by a majority of 270 to 3 to abolish the monarchy. The current king will not be tortured and executed, he will just have to pay his taxes like everyone else.
Meanwhile in the UK we still encourage the caste system. Madness.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Many years ago I read a prizewinning novel, and amongst the opening rambles before the story really got going was a general discussion about the ethics of keeping large animals in zoos. As the child of a zookeeper the narrator was obviously on the positive side, and the main point of that little justification is worth trying to remember...
If the gates of an enclosure are left open, the animal may go for a quick wander outside, but will invariably wander back. Why? Because the enclosure is its territory. It has well defended boundaries, plentiful food, shelter and protection. Unless searching for a mate, most animals could not ask for more.
Those are my recollections, but that was recalling a work of fiction that I last looked at many years ago. The narrator Pi might have been deluded anyway, he claimed to have been stuck on a small boat with a fully grown tiger. Was there any evidence for his story? And if there is none, what can we learn from his delusion? Could a delusion justify the killing?
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The article suggests that she may have been "provoked". Obvious enough, though I'd go so far as to say that for any stranger to violate the animal's "territory" in any way is natural and understandable provocation. In a zoo that territory is very clearly defined.
No suggestion of common motive, but a completely different story springs to mind from last year. A man jumped into a lion's enclosure at Kiev zoo apparently shouting out "God will save me, if He exists". You can guess what happened next.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
We have had enough of these foreigners. We have had a tradition in this country for hundreds, no thousands, of years.
But recently a bunch of immigrants have come in and hijacked those glorious ancient traditions. Bloody aliens, bringing their weird eastern practices. They have no real relevance to this island. They don't belong here.
I wouldn't mind if they were doing their own thing, keeping their own rituals and not interfering with our great traditions. But they won't rest with that. They want to hijack our ancient festival and gloss over the real meaning of it.
Enough is enough.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
But am I sorry? Not completely.
For anyone with multiple thoughts swimming around their brains, it is surely much easier to write long and variable rather than short and consistent. It's actually difficult to keep to my self-imposed limits. It's difficult to make every word matter. But I do it for you. So that you could completely read each new post in thirty seconds.
But I hope you spend a lot longer than that on each one. Not because I have advertisers to feed, but because there is (I think) always a lot more depth than may first appear. You will only get the nuance of a highlighted word or phrase by following through the link, unless you can visualise the entirety of this site. If you can visualise the entirety of this site, then there is no need to.
Basically, each one is independent, yet intrinsically and multiply linked to every other one. The posts are like the resource footprints of our lives. I did say this blog was holistic :)
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Totally unjustified in real history but somehow perfectly fit within that fictional story was the character of Geoffrey Chaucer. I had mentioned him before in my first note about language. And that was not even the first time that I mentioned A Knight's Tale...
Back one March many years ago, I went on a little day trip to Canterbury with a couple of friends from school days. At the time I was employed by a large management consultancy company, but I was contemplating an offer from a senior client to leave the corporation and do some independent consulting work.
A few days later I handed in my resignation letter to the company. This was the letter.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Although it could be argued that there are some serious themes, I hope the tone here is fairly light and playful. More than that, I try to never use any vulgar language. Not because it offends me, but because I don't want to get blacklisted by anyone who is trying to prevent corruption of sensitive minds.
So why on earth does this site get a rating of NC-17? I'm not living in America, but I'm fairly sure that rating implies a level of depravity and lewdness that is even unsuitable for most high school students? The rating site gave this explanation:
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
- death (13x)
- dangerous (9x)
- sex (6x)
- hell (5x)
- crap (4x)
- dead (3x)
- murder (2x)
- bitch (1x)
What! So kids shouldn't learn about death? Aren't loose roof tiles dangerous? Could web site design vary by sex? Could killing a whale possibly be like murder? Is satire dead?
Americans should be very worried if their actual movie ratings are so senseless.
Finally, irony. Only the last word, used just once, could really be considered rude. And remarkably it is the very last word of my very first post. And why did I quote it. Not to shock, but merely to publicise my friend's site ... thanks a lot Deirdré :/
Friday, December 21, 2007
Now I don't usually just post reviews here. But I think the amateur psycho-analysts of this world (including me) may wonder why this sort of film appeals to me.
Because I don't really like fantasies, other world stuff. Lord of the Rings was execrable. Even Star Wars was good but not great. And I don't really like real history stuff - educational but tedious. But when I recall my all-time favourites in fiction, they seem to involve the fantastical distortion of real history.
In film - Highlander. In television - Edmund Blackadder. In books - Dirk Gently.
On reflection, each features someone who is basically an alien, but in time not in space. On more reflection, that's surely just coincidence...
Thursday, December 20, 2007
One example of this was the wholy book. It has sold thousands of copies, it should have sold billions.
But I have just been reminded of a second example. One that, like this blog, only a handful of people will have read. I refer to the epic that was Wasted. A terse detective story in the style of Philip Marlowe, and yet also somehow a dense historical allusion in the style of Christopher Marlowe. Hidden crossword clues and cipher codes. Online components tied in with real books and papers. Virtual worlds and real treasures. A work of genius.
It was an example of an armchair treasure hunt organised annually by employees of a large IT service provider. In their spare time. If only they made systems that good.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I might be considered slightly entrepreneurial in two possible areas: I have original ideas that might be worth something, and I run my own marketing consultancy business. However those two areas are not well integrated.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
But sport is not the only medicine. Remember a recent post where apart from a laugh at homeopathy, I specifically linked to the wonderdrug called Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin
Bringing in a totally different subject, the final conclusion of a recent scientific study about the effectiveness of face creams was that pricey skin creams don't do much more than cheaper drug store brands. They moisturize. ... If you're happy to smear lard on your face, that would work just as well.
In other words:
cheap old lard is just as good as pricey skincare lotions
Sunday, December 16, 2007
A few years ago, a similar result spurred the classic headline:
Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious
Today my local Premiership club is West Ham United. I remember that at the time of the Scottish headline the Hammers had a couple of talented young midfield players who seemed to be destined for glory. They haven't quite lived up to their promise, but tying it all back to the start of this post, today these two guys play for the big four. Back then I was just waiting for one of them to get three goals, the headline was waiting in my head:
Super Carrick scores a hat-trick Cole is so precocious.
I could have used an easier variant any time, methinks still better than most tabloid headlines...
Super Cole he is fantastic Carrick is precocious.
Unfortunately some kids never quite live up to that early potential...
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I do not watch X Factor. Honestly. I don't even read the publications that are constantly promoting it. But while I sit reading other stuff or tapping away at this computer, my wife watches it. So I heard today's final result.
So I knew that in the three-way final was a stereotypical young pop singer, a cheesy brother-sister duo and a ballsy Welsh balladeeer who was generally acknowledged to be the one with the biggest future. The winner is contractually obliged to take up the "million dollar contract". His career is going to be micro-managed, every step requiring the prior approval of Simon Cowell. I thought that the young Scottish singer and the cheesy pop duo needed that win.
But for anyone with talent and confidence and ambition, the best thing is to get to the final but not win. You get all the exposure but none of the strings.
Friday, December 14, 2007
It is not easy to find a stable solution. In the efforts to get things right, many processes swing too far one way then the other. In the theoretical world of control theory from college days, there are mathematical equations for this, and consequently the optimal solutions can be calculated. In the real world, we tend to swing well past the ideal point before we realise that we have passed it.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The Sri Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan just claimed the world record number of test wickets from the legendary Shane Warne.
Unfortunately, there have been some in the media, including some well-known ex-cricketers, who have sounded less than gracious. There is continual insinuation about his action, that he should be banned for throwing rather than bowling. I accept that he is a freak of nature, but a rubber-wristed double-jointed glorious freak whose action has been certified by the ICC and who lights up the ground.
However, unless we are talking about English wicketkeepers, there is always a catch. The number of test wickets is not a measure that is proportional to greatness. Unlike the number of runs scored, taking wickets is a zero-sum game. If you take more wickets, then your bowling colleagues have probably taken less.
Most of you are paid to work in corporations not in sporting teams. But I suggest you support a team that is stronger in batting than in bowling.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Put academically: While the Shakespearian functional shift was semantically integrated with ease, it triggered a syntactic re-evaluation process likely to raise attention and give more weight to the sentence as a whole.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Nothing original today. It seems that my thoughts have already been divinely revealed to the meme machine:
Let us take responsibility for our own actions, inactions, strengths and frailties and not project them onto ghosts, spirits, stars, portents and gods unseen.
Let us have the courage to accept that one person's faith is another person's bloody-minded pig-headed refusal to accept the obvious.
Let us have the courage to accept that the person at the front of all crowds, including this one, doesn't know all the answers.
Let us have the wisdom to accept that if our ancestors had fared differently in wars our communities would be holding different absurdities up as sacred truths, and the willingness to accept those absurdities would be seen as the badge of social trustworthiness or even the right to be allowed to draw breath.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.
Let us have the courage to accept that wanting to believe in something with every fibre of our being does not and cannot make it true.
Truth needs no help, no believers, no bowed heads and no amens.But it does need thanks to Martin Willett.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Obviously client confidentiality rules so I will never publish any practically used rules here, let alone any actual results. However, there are general issues that are known to everybody in the marketing world. So let us assume that we are selling sofas from manufacturer X.
We could define a sofa conquest as a sale to someone who has never bought one from X before. But what if they have earlier bought armchairs from X. Footstools? Table lamps? OK, so we could record as conquest anyone with any relationship with X.
Some buyers collect sofas then sell them on, so at any time they have a few extra in the warehouse, how would we treat them differently to people who always dispose of a sofa before picking up the new one?
Equally, there are people who regularly buy from X, but who also buy from Y and Z, maybe more often. However they are still loyal to X aren't they?
And it gets more interesting if, whenever we record a sofa sale, we keep a separate record of the person choosing the sofa, the name on the credit card, the person who will be signing for delivery … so which of these people do we include when determining conquest rates? Do we have separate rates for all of the different permutations?
Perhaps it would help if the government kept a record of everybody buying a sofa. Then all we would need to do is to get hold of the government data and match up our purchase records with government records. So surely ID cards will solve everything…
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Various estimates quoted ranged from 216 to 616 to 665, the neighbour of the beast.
Having won the 20-20 World Cup, in which Yuvraj Singh scored 6 6's in an over, India are currently playing a test series against Pakistan. They are playing splendidly. Just look at the first innings scores. In the first test match, which they won comfortably, the score was 276. That looks a bit like 216. In the next , they scored 616. And today they scored 626.
Going up at 10 per match, by the time of the deciding match against Australia, I predict a first innings score of 666. That'll show 'em.
Although what's more likely is that, like England, we'll get soundly thrashed there.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
As I briefly mentioned the United States yesterday, another quick word about US politics before the moralising gets too demoralising. Most of it is sickening. But one statement was almost funny. "It's scientifically impossible for the bumblebee to fly ... But the bumblebee, being unaware of these scientific facts, flies anyway."
It would be easy to dismiss this proposition as a harmless urban myth, except that such statements are deliberately used by those who delight in defeatism, those who want to retreat from evidence-based development into a mythical fairytale bronze age theocracy.
Oh well. According to another idiot, Freedom Requires Religion, so I'd better convert to Islam, that's a religion, so that will increase my freedom.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I don't write here to expound my general political leanings. I do sometimes write here to make rarely heard (but obvious) political points.
So I suggest that these mass shootings do not really encourage more gun control. In fact I have some sympathy with the right wing NRA view that having "everybody" armed might have restricted the number killed yesterday from eight to perhaps four.
But it is madness to relax gun control. Not because of these isolated major news stories, but because of the intrinsic variability of human behaviour. There are always people who react badly to little incidents. From cutting them up in traffic, to looking at their girlfriends, to just not showing enough "respect", some lunatics react unpredictably and violently. Imagine if more of them were allowed to have guns.
So the thing that warrants even tougher control is that slow drip of unnecessary murders in areas where everybody has a gun, not these rare major incidents.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Obviously I am not a cannibal. In fact, I share with the rest of humanity an instinctive, almost inexplicable, disgust at the very idea.
However, back to other animals, I said before that we should be perfectly happy to eat animal protein if it were harvested and eaten safely. This could basically be like farming animal cells instead of farming plant cells. But if we were growing cells that were unconnected to any nervous system, let alone to any seat of consciousness, then would there be any moral issue if the DNA in those cells had been derived from humans instead of from sheep?
I think that only religious fundamentalists and those who want a regression to a hunter-gatherer society should answer yes to that.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
In complete disregard to rule number 6, time for a current benchmark score. The links are often to the "exceptions that prove the rules".
1. Frequency. 9/10. Well actually it's 146 out of 159, but marks out of ten.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Because I am not so offended by the fundamentalist madmen who are orchestrating demonstrations in poverty-stricken Sudan, I'd expect nothing less of them. I am more offended by those in the west who say that the reason that she should be pardoned is because it was the children who named the bear, not her. Implication - it would be ok to imprison/lash/execute her if it had been her own decision.
At least we don't have blasphemy laws in the UK, we can mock bronze age superstitions without fear of reprisal here? Or maybe not.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
1. Frequency. One post per day, no more, no less.
2. Topicality. The stimulus should have happened within the last 24 hours.
3. Length. About 100-200 words. That's only 3-4 paragraphs of 3-4 lines each.
4. Usability. The whole thing should be able to be skimmed through in a few seconds or analysed carefully for subtexts. Every link should be optional, not an integral part of the post.
5. Multimedia. Those files are big and slow to load. Worse, it tends to run at its own speed, it is harder to skim through or linger over.
6. Subject. There should be a developing theme, not just a random personal opinion.
7. Cohesiveness. Although independent in itself, each post should connect with others in the blog.
8. Advertising. No.
9. Pictures. As with words, should be original, and the minimum needed to get the point across. A small monochrome bitmap will often perform better than a large cluttered one.
10. Title. Include a stupid unnecessary pun.
OK, number 10 was a joke. And of course these are common sense rules, not yours.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
... although I just drew this picture, everyone should remember these images from basic school science classes. So let us visualise each blog post as an atom.
A is for Air. These are the random blogs that I may like to read but only if I like the blogger. There are all sorts of subjects mixed together, almost nothing connecting them.
B is for Boron (or any other metal, but that one seems appropriate). This would be a very structured homologous blog. All posts basically cover the same subject area.
C is for Common Sense. Actually it is for any blog like this with lots of very long threads, all twisting and merging and diverging. Those that have more internal cross-links tend to have greater structural strength. This one is definitely less like Polythene and more like Nylon.
D is for DNA. The ideal. Only a couple of threads, but they match together almost perfectly. And the replicating pattern seems to take on a life of its own. See, I told you this blog was holistic :)