Monday, December 31, 2007

The lost room

A couple of weeks ago I watched a DVD called "the lost room". This was a box set for a TV series. The lost room refers to a motel room that no longer exists. There were a series of objects in the room that have special powers, such as a key that could open any door, or a pair of scissors that could rotate things. There were groups of people, known as collectors, trying to get the objects. Some people thing the room and objects were part of God. Now that I look at the synopsis above it all looks a bit nerdy, ok it looks very nerdy. But I think I would enjoy life a lot more if I was searching for every day objects that had magical powers. If you see me wistfully clicking a new pen, then I am actually testing its magical properties, so I suggest you step back. There were very few episode (approx 6), so I was disappointed when it ended. I was talking to some people about DVDs in the pub. I noted that box sets were worse than cocaine, because they soak up so much time. (I would like to point out that I have never taken cocaine, just in case some nasty human resource person is reading this).

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Can't stop Won't stop

I have just finished reading a book called "Can't stop. Won't stop" by Jeff Chang. This book is a history of hip-hop, mostly before 2000. It is one of the best music books I have ever read, because it also deals with racism and being creative in a corporate world. I now know who Afrika Bambaataa is and the importance of Grand master Flash. The book contains a lot of interesting material on political organization and compromises. When I read about the million man march in Washington, I kept thinking that I lived in the US then. My recollection of that event was through the prism of the media.

Christmas wishes (not)

I can't say I am A great fan of Christianity. The links my family have had with the church have never been a positive thing. I have always regarded Christmas as a holiday from the cold of winter. I usually send blank Christmas cards, where I write "happy holidays". (Ok sometimes I forget to write peoples names as well, because I am always in a rush). Thanks to Dawkins I now know that I should wish people "a happy Newton's day". Bah humbug!

Last year's resolutions

It is nearly the new year, so it is time to make some new years resolutions. I pulled myself from my lethargy on the couch, limped to the bathroom, and looked at myself in the mirror. My blood shot eyes, and beer destroyed body, shimmered with stress, and told me in the no uncertain terms that my dreams of a modelling career were finally over. But I thought what new years resolution could improve my elagantly wasted appearance. Last year my new years resolution was "going more mainstream". Instead of snorting when someone mentions that they like the killers or snow patrol, I was going to try smile and fake some interest in that person, even though they didn't deserve my attention. Anyway somehow hating the killers is hardwired into my brain, so that resolution lasted about 5 seconds. Also after reading Cope's last book on underground Japanese bands, I had to buy the CD Satori by the flower travellin band. When I heard the first track, I was disappointed because I thought it would make my head explode. After the second listen I think it is incredible. Even better, the CD cover for Satori claim that only 1000 copies were made. I have copy number 188. Fu*k mainstream music!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Vodka from Liverpool

Someone told me that there was a brand of vodka from Liverpool. Seemed unlikely, but it may have been true. I tried to order it in a Russian restaurant in Liverpool, much to the disgust of the waiter. Even the mighty google let me down, because I couldn't track vodka from Liverpool down. I found a bottle of Imperial Vodka, distilled in Liverpool, in an off license in Glasgow. The evidence is above. Now I need to search for something else. It passes the time.

Friday, December 28, 2007


I have spent the last 5 days at my mum's house relaxing and doing the Christmas holiday thing. I was talking to my mum and brother about various technological things about TV. In particular the merits of digital TV recorders. I learnt how to use the joost internet TV while I was at home. Nice, but the interface needs more work. One of my other questions is what the f*ck is smileTV. It is one of the freeview channels, but is only on from 3am to 7am. As I get older I can't stay awake until 3am, but I am taunted by the TV page when I switch channels. Umm now I know.

Physics under attack

Although this is not a science blog, I feel moved to comment on the attack by the funding agency (STFC) on fundamental research into particle physics in the UK. Apart from the cuts in funding, what is also particularly annoying is that STFC have a number of "big questions" that are meant to focus research on important areas. The older funding agency called PPARC had questions such as "what are the basic properties of the fundamental particles and forces?", that can be potentially answered. With a new funding agency comes new big questions, the only one that is potentially relevant to particle physics is "why is there a Universe?" What sort of question is that? If you are nine years old then this is perhaps a reasonable question, but it is hard to even know how to start answering such a question. Who wrote that crappy STFC delivery document? If you put "why is there a Universe" into google scholar (that searches books and journals), then you only find that phrase in books on theology, philosophy of science, and one entry in "Nursing Administration Quarterly, 2000". If you search for the phrase "why is there a Universe" using google you find hits from Hawking and string theory people. So this question has nothing to do with physics, reality or experiment. Things would be much simpler in the US, where I would sue STFC because they broke the separation between church and state. In the UK I can only complain to that nice Richard Dawkins bloke, and let him spew some polemic at STFC. Things don't seem and better in the US, where the accelerator I have been focussing most of my phenomenological studies on has just been cancelled. However the funding for a new machine has almost been approved.

blood music

I know I keep promising to read at least one book by Doris Lessing (from the two I already own). As a warm up, I read "blood music" by Greg Bear. This is a great science fiction novel about a scientist creating intelligent cells. He injected the cells into himself, which frankly was a bit stupid. The novel works on many levels and is full of ideas. If you are wondering why reading "blood music" is a warm up to reading Doris Lessing, I would like to point out that Lessing is quoted on the wikipedia page about her as mentioning "blood music" as evidence that science fiction is an important literary form.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

six the mark unleashed

I watched a fairly strange DVD called "six the mark unleashed". I thought that this was an action movie. There was a resistance movement who were fighting a supreme leader (by stealing cars). Normally action movies such as this one, end with the leader being overthrown, and everyone going off into the sunset. This film was different. It seemed to involve a lot of Christians, who were rebelling against the system by happily geting their heads chopped off. Looking at the reviews I think I would have got more out of the film, if I knew more about the bible, than that Jesus turned water into wine. Anyway this is what happens when you rent DVDs from the local library at Hillhead. There was an offer on, that if you checked out 6 books, you could rent a DVD for free. Given that I hardly read at the moment, this didn't seem like a good idea. (The cute librarian didn't look pleased).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mountain Goats

When I lived in Lexington Kentucky during the early part of the 90s, I used to buy a lot of tapes from the Shrimper Record label. The tapes were mostly by lo fi folk bands. One of the bands I really liked were called the Mountain Goats. Tonight, I am going to see the Mountain Goats play at he Oran Mor venue that is just down the road from me! I am so excited. Emmy the great is playing support as well, so that will be cool. When I was in Lexington I think I was hoping that I could put one over John Peel by listening to stuff he had never heard of. When I came back to the UK, I heard that he played the mountain goats and Simon Joyner, so there was really no way to beat the man. Of the bands signed to Shrimper, I really liked "paste". Paste were some intense singer and complaining guitar. I was happy to see that the Shrimper Record label lives on (in a sense).