Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Christmas

Although the older Bob Dylan is not a patch on the younger Bob Dylan. His last few albums have been good. The first volume of his autobiography was just fanatastic. So I was disappointed to hear rumours that he wanted to collaborate with Paul McCartney. Why, oh why? I am not a great fan of the Beatles, but Paul's solo stuff is just shit and dull.

Even more weirdly I learnt that Bob was going to make a Christmas album. The one track from youtube I have seen, I really like. So perhaps, Bob is trying is hand at making good art from unpromising building blocks. Will he get pot head Sir Paul to change a habit of a lifetime and produce a reasonable song. If he does I will be impressed.

Christmas shopping

I really hate Christmas shopping. Although I mostly buy everything from Amazon, sometimes I have to actually mingle with the great unwashed masses and goto the shops. Today I went to the cityarkade in the center of Wuppertal to get that last elusive remaining gift.

The main problem is of course what to get people. I remember the brother of the unibomber in the states, felt that giving him Conrad's "the Secret Agent" started him on the path to terrorism.

I almost bought a tin of Sauerkraut, but since I am only taking hand luggage. I couldn't face explaining to the security what the tin was for. I did see what I thought was the perfect gift. I saw two thin tall glasses. Perfect, I though two traditional German tall glasses and a couple of German beers from the local Tesco should do the trick. On a second look though the glasses looked liked vases.

On the bright side I did find something nice for me. In a bookshop I found a package containing a hip flask and a knife. Why the two things were in the same box, I don't know. I will look so cool, sipping water from a hip flask, rather than using one of those nasty plastic bottles. It ill be useful to stop bullets as well, just like what happens on TV.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The future of Technics and Civilization

I reckon I only have a cubic meter of books to read in my unread book collection. Thanks to the general crappness of the German postal system, I have not been buying too many new books. I spent part of the weekend speed reading "The future of Technics and Civilization" by Lewis Mumford. I think I got this book from the Anarchist Freedom press in London.

The book is about the effect of the development of machines and automation on human society. When I was reading it I did think I should really read it more slowly to really absorb the content. However, since I was also writing perl scripts to extract data from xml files I didn't really have time. So I really misunderstood the whole point of the book, since it is partly about how automation could be used to free us from drudgery.

What the scientific spirit has actually done has to be exercise the imagination in finer ways than the autistic wish -- the wish of the infant possessed of illusions of power and dominance -- was able to express. Lewis Mumford

PS on dreams

I spoke too soon in my last post. I slept badly last night and I had many confusing dreams about work and calculations. I awoke late in a bad mood.

Even in Germany the cartoons on the TV tend to degenerate after 9:30. No spiderman or Xmen if you get up to the TV late on a Sunday morning. I noticed the same pattern in the US and the UK. Only people who get up at the crack of dawn get to see the interesting non-sickly cartoons.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

action dreams and thriller

For a long time I really feared my dreams. It was not that they were scary, or that I feared Morpheus's arrogance, but somehow I felt destroyed and unrefreshed the next day. (I wasn't dreaming about work either). So I did understand a little bit why Junky Jackson used his oxygen bottles and drip to help him sleep.

Last Tuesday I dreamt I could weep bullets out of my eyes. Somehow my motorbike was hidden somewhere, but hidden like an interesting challenge to find. I talked to some people before they went into suspended animation. I awoke with the thought that I am dreaming my own action movie. Perhaps then I have made peace with my dreams, if I spend all night dreaming of action movies. Luckily, Freud is out of fashion, so I can just enjoy all the explosions in my dreams.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Freemasons

I spent part of today reading "the freemasons" by Jaremy Harwood. My life is wondering more towards failure than success, so before I get too deep into my studies of the occult, I thought I would check out the "freemasons" as a compromise.

Perhaps surprisingly, there was a huge Mason lodge in Salt Lake city. The size of the pillars always impressed me. Now I know there was a reason for that. I was depressed when the main character in War and Peace joined the Masons.

Their belief system is fairly strange. I was more impressed by it, that I was by reading about Scientology or Mormonism. Their view of the Universe as weird enough for me to be interested.

At first I thought I couldn't join the Masons, because I don't believe in God. Later in the book, I found that certain Lodges would admit atheists. Also, I was happy to see that sodomy didn't feature as part of the initiation ceremonies. Given that some people claim that the Masons come from the Templars I wanted to be sure, nothing nasty would happen. So I was about to look for a local Lodge. I liked the idea of joining a secret society. However, when I saw that I would have to wear an apron, i decided against joining the Freemasons. It is fine line between weird and stupid.

Food

I always used to be ashamed of the English in Spain. I like a cooked breakfast like the next man, but really is a full English a good way to start a nice hot day? Although I am living in Germany, I have been trying to live my life by the phrase: "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

However, sometimes I need proper British food for dinner. Yes I need curry. They do serve curry in the Mensa, but it doesn't have the correct kick. It has taken a while to find the correct shops to get the ingredients, but I made my first curry on Saturday.

For lunch today I ate Gebackene Bohnen, so I am back on the German food.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tulip

Given the state of world economy, particularly after the recent jitters with Dubai, I decided I should try to learn more about the dismal science: economics. So from my unread book collection I started reading "The Tulip" by Anna Pavord.

The connection between economics and Tulips is that there was a famous speculative market in Tulip bulbs in the seventeen century in Holland. Rare tulip bulbs could cost as much the equivalent of 80,000 pounds. When the market was stopped a number of people were ruined. All through the history of the tulip there were people who spent too much money on them. The message from the book was that people were a bit stupid to invest in tulips. Much the same can be said about Dubai.

After reading the book the question I mostly want answered is what the difference between a Tulip and a daffodil? After reading the book, I am not sure that I want to start a garden, but perhaps I should know more about plants and things. I know that a flower is not the same as a tree, but that is the extent of my knowledge.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Goodbye

People are very friendly in Germany. My neighbours are always wishing me "Schon Abend". I am not sure what to say back. My German books are of no help. I have taken to going out early and coming back late, so the issue doesn't arise.

Trouble is I am not sure what I would say back to the equivalent phrase in English. In the US, if someone says "Have a nice day", I think how nice and polite people are in America. In the UK, if someone says "have a nice day", I think "how vulgar, why are they using US speak? What about a good old traditional English, now bugger off".

Rather than ask anyone I have done some web searching. I did find a research article on linguistic politeness in German-speaking Switzerland

There is even a theory of linguistic politeness, Wow I might indulge in a little "negative politeness".

die Fremden wissen nicht einmal wie man richtig grĂ¼sst' [foreigners do not even know how to greet properly.

That's me.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blue sky

I live on the 8 floor of block of flats. I look out on a forest of trees that have lost their leaves. If I look to the left, I can see the grimy city center of Wuppertal.

This morning I looked out to see a beautiful clear blue sky. The sun was also shining. It will be a wonderful day I thought, perhaps I will go for a walk later on.

I was about to jump out of bed to go onto the balcony and smell this crisp new Winter's day, when my body decided that I should go to the toilet to throw up first. When I came back, I could see clouds taking over the sky from the left. If you don't take the moment of beauty, you lose it.

The Mass Psychology of Fascism

This afternoon I finished reading "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" by Wilhelm Reich. I can't remember why I picked this book up. I dimly remember buying it in the left wing books shop called "News from Nowhere" in Liverpool. But why I wanted it, I have no idea.

Anyway the book is a mixture of Marxism and Freud. It was written during the early 30s, when the author was trying to understand why "the masses" don't always do what is in their best interest, such as supporting Fascism. Reich points out the importance of sexual health to democracy. (Perhaps if I was getting more sex, I might start voting again. Trouble is, I will have to vote at the next UK election by proxy, because I am living in Germany)

Given that large parts of the left were supporting Stalin at the time the book was written, it is refreshing to read an independent thinker present his ideas.

Now that I look at Wikipedia, I see that Reich led a very interesting life,

Saturday, December 05, 2009

CNN

In the UK I like to listen to the Today program when I get up in the morning. This usually gives a good overview of the news. As much as I love TV, I can't stand morning TV, since it is patronizing and shit.

In Wuppertal I have been watching CNN in the morning. Frankly I can' take it any more. It is not just the content, this is pretty terrible of course. Is it really a big news story that Tiger Woods crashed his car? The amount of content on CNN in the morning makes Twitter seem verbose. It is the adverts that are really destroying me mentally. All the adverts are the same day after day. No I am not going to invest in Georgia. There was a fucking war there last year. It is the piano playing that is really doing my head in. Every advert has the same chords/notes played. I feel they are trying to brain wash me.

If you are thinking "well why don't you stop watching?". Well I can't, because I am in love. One of the female weather presenters (Jill Delgado??) fascinates me. She is so happy and smart. She wears different clthes everyday, like a really classy chick. I don't stalk her or anything and my feelings about her are chaste. I don't build here into my masturbation fantasies, but if I did think about her physically, I think she would make a lot of noise in love making, and her partner would wake up exhausted with scratches on their back.

If any lawyer from CNN contacts me to complain, I do need to know where the storms are. It is a basic human right to know the delays at airports, because of tropical storms.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Marx is back baby

A spectre is haunting Wuppertal - the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.

Nowadays Marxism is almost a forgotten memory. Even as the banking crisis has started the death of capitalism, you don't see the dialectic being taken up. (Although I did see a poster with "Marx Lessen" on it at work). But I still feel the pull of Engels. Engels was born in Barmen -- one of the towns that Wuppertal is made of. And there is a house I can visit.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

art

Two weekends ago I was entertaining. As part of this, we went to Cologne for a visit. The Cathedral is always impressive to see, however the huge rail station, a monument to science and technology, helps to dwarf some of its power.

We also visited the Ludwig Museum, a museum of modern art. I like the disintegration of modern art, from cubism to Warhol, but the "product" from the Turner prize crowd leaves me cold. Perhaps reality had been stripped so bare visually, that only making money by weaving the Emperors new clothes was left.

I was more excited by looking out of the windows on the top floor, than by the video pieces. I wish we had gone to the Chocolate museum as well. I was told it has a huge fountain of chocolate.

I also saw a Bier museum that looked just like a small pub. The next time I am in a Wetherspoons pub, I will say "there is the great new concept from Germany."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

books

People often wonder why people buy so many books. To make myself more interesting I got a copy of "Fun with Hypnosis - the comlete how to guide". Before I have even opened this book I find from Wired that "The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception" has been found.

So even before I have started on hypnosis I will have to get the CIA book, just in case.

Chair destroyer

I know I have put on some weight these past few years, but I am starting to get worried. The chair I use when I am using my computer collapsed on me this morning. One minute I was browsing the web, the next I am lying on the floor. I am not sure where to buy chairs in Wuppertal. I guess that there are no Argos shops here. In my defense I think the chair was poorly made.

Visit spam and Caviar

I usually take various measures to stop myself dreaming. However, last week I slipped up and my night was poisoned by a dream. I dreamt that I had bought a desktop lamp. I awoke with a feeling of regret once I found out that the lamp didn't exist.

My imagination must be very sick indeed, if all I dream about is buying lamps. I have tried to think about something remarkable about my weekend to write about.

On Saturday morning I was reading "The mass Psychology of Fascism" by Wilhelm Reich. Suddenly the door buzzer started ringing. They have come for me I thought. What to do? Given that I had no appointments I didn't answer the door. The door lock is broken, and I didn't feel like going down 8 floors to have a misunderstood conversation in German, with someone trying to read the gas meter.

I have wanted to try Caviar for sometime. Now Caviar is very expensive and I think the original fish are dying out, so it is probably unethical to eat it. I was surprised to see a jar of Caviar in my local supermarket. Given that the jar cost 3 Euros, I don't think it was authentic. I had some on my bread for lunch. It was tasty. Hopefully nothing will grow inside from ingesting those black eggs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monet

I was entertaining over the weekend, so I went to the Monet exhibition in Wuppertal on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I am no sophisticated art lover, but this exhibition seemed like a big deal, because the yellow posters advertising it are all over the city.

As we went to the gallery there seemed to be a lot of people at the door. As we got closer, it became clear that there was a queue to get in. I don't think I have ever queued to get into a gallery. The guy controlling the door mentioned something like "zwei Stunde," but it only took 1 hour to get in.

The exhibition was an impressive collection of papers from all periods of Monet's life. He was an impressionist, so the paintings didn't get too weird.

The souls of black folk

Sometimes I wander why I read the books I do. Sometimes I read for guilty pleasure, and sometimes for knowledge. However, I have now idea why I bought "The souls of black folks" by DuBois. The book was published in 1903 and discusses the problems of black Americans after slavery was abolished. There is a weird feel to the book, because it is written in a classical Princeton style, but it deals with poverty and much humiliation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Course of German History

As part of my introduction to Germany I thought I should read a little bit of history. The book I decided to read (based on some hints from Amazon) was "The Course of German History" by A.J.P. Taylor. The kinds of things I was interested in was Prussia??, Austria's relation to Germany, who the fu*k was Bismarck, ...

I really enjoyed the book, and I learnt lots of interesting information. It was written at the end of the second world war, with the controversial aim of trying to show that the problems that occurred in Germany between 1930 and 1945 were partly caused by the way the German state was created in the nineteenth century. Taylor did compare some political developments in Germany to those in England. Unfortunately, my knowledge of British history is based on 1066 and that Henry VIII had 8 wives, so a detailed study on voting rights in the British Parliament was really lost on me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What's left

When I was in my teenage years I used to get very angry when the media used to report that the communist party was supported by the USSR. However after I read "Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell, I find that virtually all communist parties were under Moscow control.

Still knowing this I still had a lot of problems finishing "What's left -- how the left lost its way". Nick Cohen is a journalist from the left who writes for the Guardian newspaper and the New statesman magazine. He had written a book called "Pretty Straight Guys" about the nasty new labour using fear for political purposes.

Cohen starts the books with the good things that the left has achieved. However, he also recounted the many problems with left in particular in relation to Stalin and the USSR. He also criticizes people like Noam Chomsky for various strange views.

To give you an idea of the main topic of book, one of the chapter titles is "The disgrace of the Anti-War Movement". What he particularly didn't like was the support for Sadim Hussian and pals, and Islamic extremism, by a vocal section of the anti-war movement on the left.

Cohen is in favour of an interventionist policy where the UK sends the troops in whenever we see bad things in the world. This seems in impracticable to me, particularly as the UK is broke at the moment. It is not fair for the troops, some of whom joined to protect the UK (or for the water-skiing). As recent history as shown it is very difficult to impose order from outside. Of course things get complicated when genocide occurs.

I am glad I read the book. It made me think about the issues more.

The diamond age

I can't tell whether the fever is leaving me. I couldn't do any work today, but I did manage to read a bit. I finished off "The diamond age" by Neal Stephenson. The book contains many different threads. There were a number of children being raised by an AI based e-reader, much better than the modern practise of sitting the child in front of the TV and watching Disney DVDs. The nature of Turing machines and the Turing test was also integral to the plot.

Also an engineer uses a human orgy to design a new enginnering technique that would allow the decentralization of production. This adds a whole new perspective to cloud computing. I want to do all my calculations via the new orgy technique.

Neal also wrote "In the Beginning...Was the Command Line" so is one of us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky Jim

When I packed up my books to move to Germany I found that I owned two copies of "Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis. During my recent travels I decided I should by the book, before I got another copy.

The book is about a junior lecturer's attempt to not get fired by sucking up to his boss. This all goes wrong, because he really only has contempt for his boss. One occasion is at the Prof's house for an art weekend. By Saturday he has enough of medieval singing, so he goes to the pub (very reasonable choice). He managed to burn big holes in the bed clothes and a table because he is drunk, and his attempt to hide the damage, and apologize when he is found out, are very funny.

The book is set in the last 40s, a much gentler age. Although given the choice of dealing with "knowldeg transfer" and listening to medieval instruments, I know which one I would choose.

I carry the plague

I have picked up some kind of cold/flu when I was in Vancover. I guess that it was from the plane trip back. It used to be so simple when I had a cold. I would still go into work, but I would complain to everyone constantly about how ill I was. If I had flu, where I couldn't face coming into work, I would stay at home sitting on the couch and watching videos/DVDs, until the fever past.

Now if you even sneeze in public people avoid you. People you know treat as if you are carrying the plague. Forget any possiblity of sympathy, people just think that the disease you are carrying will wipe out their family.

On a brighter note, now that I live in Germany, I do enjoy saying "Ich bin Krank. Fuck off. Krank! Ich bin Krank!"

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Vancouver reloaded

This trip has been my second visit to Canada. I am starting to get the hang of Vancouver. I even found a pub close to the guest house we were staying in , although I didn't go in for beer. I managed to take the bus downtown and then get the train to the airport. Hopefully I had the correct tickets, but who can tell, when they are not checked.

I wanted to visit UBC's anthropic museum, but I didn't note the map, so I gvot lost. As I went intp the airport, I saw a huge flock of black birds circle the sky. If I had been in an American city, I would have thought satan's business was abroad, but in nice Canada, I just thought that the clouds of birds looked cool. Everyone is so friendly here.

Free wireless at the airport too.

On the road with the road

On my travels I managed to read "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. The prose was really sparse, but powerful. A father and his sone are walking on a road trying to find the coast, where they think (or hope) things will be better.

One day in my life

What is one to do with a free day in Vancouver? Given the showers, I decided to spend the day reading. The book I decided to read was "One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. One day of my life spent reading about one day in Ivan's. This is a great book, hey it won Alexander the Nobel prize.

Ivan's day was worse than mine, because he was in a prison camp courtesy of Uncle Joe Stalin. his entire day was just surving.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Dear old blighty

I spent two days last week in England. This was the first time I have been back for three months. So this post is an attempt to analyze my thoughts and feelings.

I can't help feeling that buying a small can of Stella for 5 Euros on the flight over was a bad sign for getting back into the UK. I went for a drink in Leeds around 22:00. The first pub was shutting just as I walked in the door. After walking around for a while I saw a lot of students going out "on the town" (disgraceful). I hope they are studying hard, so that the UK economy is rebuilt and I can come back and not to have to sign on the dole. The pub I did end up was full of crazy wasted people, but they still started to call last orders about 10:45. Not much of a party in Leeds.

In the morning I watched breakfast TV. Gosh, someone is leaving East-enders, and there was some piece about toys. The cooked breakfast helped wash away the brain rot from the TV.

Mind invaders

I bought "Mind Invaders" because it looked interesting and cheap. It is a strange book full of short pieces about various forms of culture warfare. One organization wanted a proletariat program of space exploration. There was one piece about a game of cards, where cards are strewn about a city. It takes chance to a new level.

The pieces were written in the 80s and 90s, so the writers may have now renounced chaos and magic. The wikipedia entry on neoism is as unreliable as anything else. The editor of the collection may be a good starting point.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

dreams

I have been feeling a bit uncreative at the moment, probably caused by not reading enough fiction, and a general exhaustion.

A few years ago I was in a pub in Liverpool just off Hardman street. We met up with someone who told me he was recording his dreams for a creative writing course. I had a couple of beers, so perhaps impolitely I told him that I thought that if you wanted to be a writer you should have something to write about.

Anyway all I have is dreams at the moment. I am glad that Psychoanalysis is out of fashion. One night I had a vivid dream of being in an elevator. It stopped and as the door opened a huge black cat stared at me. The cat looked hungry, so I woke up. A little later that night I was in the same blasted elevator. This time I ended up on a floor where a person was eating someone else.

My interpretation of these dreams is based on the fact that I don't actually do anything bad, but I am just a victim. It is other people who are scheming and plotting against me. I suppose if I was in Psychoanalysis my natural and well justified paranoia would be misdiagnosed as sex mania.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How many theorists does it take to change a light?

I was going to complain about how difficult it is to change the lights in my flat, but I think the problem is me. I have never seen this type of bulb before. Youtube is of some help.I know this is a boring post, but you don't want me sitting in darkness. After reading about this on the web, I saw that if you touch the glass, the bulb could start a fire. Just, great. Perhaps I will try to work by candle light.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

transparent boards

Because I work at a University, I sometimes get the chance to choose to either have a white or black board in my office. As a regular watcher of the American TV show numb3rs, I really want a transparant board, but I can't think of a good scientific reason for having a transparent board, so I will never get one.

Of course the real reason I want a transparent board is so that I could clean it. I would then ask visiting scientists to come into my office. They wouldn't see the board and walk straight into it and break their nose. I would then take a picture of them bleeding and then post it my victims blog. Perhaps then I would get some coverage in Physics World.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Empire

I have just finished reading "Empire" by Niall Ferguson. I would like to point out that I wasn't reading it because I was homesick for dear old England (or Scotland). I do see tins of Heinz baked beans in the supermarket, but I don't buy them because they are not German enough.

The book was a history of the British Empire. I was interested in this because two famous TV wamkers: Clarkson and Hislop kept making remarks by our old Empire. I personally never think about the Empire at all, because it was gone before I was born. The book is an interesting study of a small country ruled a large fraction of the earth. It was interesting to see the use of technology, such as the telegraph and steam ship to help bind India to the UK. I was also impressed by the way they adapted to local custome to secure power. When the nasty Christains tried to change India, there were mutinities and much death.

Perhaps it is politically incorrect to enjoy reading about the technique of Empire building. LOst of bad things were done, there is no doubt. In a political journey, that started from a vague anarchism, moved to a misunderstood Nihilism, flirted with Marxism, and then back to the cynical arms of Nihilism. I can feel myself moving to the right. There must be some new movement, I can get involved in. I like the idea of futerism, but Technocracy may be a better match if I could be bothered.

Wuppertal

High above Wupperal schemes are plotted.........

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Solitary fitness

I have just finished reading Solitary fitness by Charles Bronson. Bronson is a strong man, but he is in prison. He was orginally sentenced for a couple of years, but by his bad behaviour he managed to extend his stay to 28 years.

Please note that I didn't include the phrase stupidly in the first paragraph, because that would make him mad at me. There are standard excercises such as press ups, but there is a lot of hard core yoga stuff in there as well that I have never seen before. I was surprised to see a chapter on penis enlargement. I felt a bit weird reading about that, but what harm could it do.

Od course some pruddish people would say that I shouldn't be supporting a violent prisoner. I would say that if anyone does sayb that to me, I just make one phone call to my gangland connections and they will get their kneecaps broken.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Orange juice

Now I am not the kind of person to complain, but I miss not being able to buy concentrated orange huice at supermarkets in Germany. This is where I add water and get a refreshing orange drink.

I know there is no point in complaining. All my German friends will just say that the English orange juice was just sugar and chemicals. "Aren't you happy to be drinking water and real orange juice from cartons instead?" Yes, well, perhaps, but..

The next time I am in Englan I will buy a big box of tea with a proper number of tea bags in it, such as 400. I will take it to bed and cuddle it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A fighting man of mars

Although I am completely destroyed by my move. I am slowly getting back into reading again. I read "a fighting man of mars," by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The book was pure pulp fiction, but I enjoyed it. I was amused to see that main character was called Tan Hadron.

I picked the book up in a charity shop for 35 pence, so you can imagine my shock when I discovered that I could have read it for free. from the project Gutenberg.

Cable TV in Germany

Even though I don't understand any of the words on cable TV in Wuppertal, it is giving me hours and hours of fun. I was totally freaked out to watch a Steven Segal movie in German. The dubbed voice was totally different to real voice. It not only totally changed the nature of the film, but also the nature of reality. I really worry about Germans whio come to live in the UK or US and they hear his real cocky voice.

Dein Hund sprechen kein Englisch

Although I am currently using this blog to make some remarks about living in Germany, I have this nightmare that soneone will come up to me and say "I have read what you said about Germany and I am going to refute every point." This will then degenerate into a shouting match as to whether a nation that sells 100 teabags for over 5 Euros should be a allowed a seat on the security council. I am having a good time in Germany, so I am not meaning to be so critical.

The only way to reach my flat is to walk through a forest. The pavement stops for the route that cars take. With German efficieny the path to my flat is well lit through the forest. Having to walk through a forest to get home does seem to be the German thing to do. However, the forest is used by many people to walk their dogs. I am constantly getting barked at by dogs. I do what I normally do, which is to say "good doggie", but that doesn't help.

This proves to me the lack of enthusiam in Germany for the European idea, because people can't be bothered to teach their dogs to understand a few basic commands in English.

This is not a science blog, but ...

This blog is more for tales of alien abduction and oral pleasure, but I couldn't resist posting the following paper.

How to write consistently boring scientific literature

I am trying to stop being surrounded by big piles of paper, so I have been trying to use CiteUlike to organize my references. The piles of paper still seem to be rising though.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wuppertal compound

Above are some pictures of my top secret compound in Wuppertal. I have got a great view. I am on the 8th floor. Trouble is I am getting obssesed with the forest. The spirits in the ancient woods seem to call out to me. I want to strip of naked to dance to the swirling leaves. To get payed I had to state that I would observe German law (whatever that is). I am not sure whether dancing naked on a secluded balcony is against German law.

CDs are back

I am happy to say, there was a second shipment from the removal company from Glasgow. I now have all my CDs! The picture shows a moving box full of my CDs (with no cases). I started buying CDs when I left Edinburgh, so it could be all I end up with to show for my life since then.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I hate steps

Don't get me wrong I like living in Wuppertal. I had been here before for a pleasent workshop, so I knew I could live here. What I hadn't realized was when people describedWuppertal as the San Francisco of Germany. I had a nice holiday in San Francisco maybe 10 years ago. I stayed in a cheap hostel above a strip joint. I drank some beer, read lots of books, and ate lots of Chinese food.

However, when people (as in the tourist office) describe Wuppertal as the San Fransico of Germany what thay mean is that it is hilly. I seem to spend all my time either walking up a hill or coming down a hill. Given how superunfit I am these days this is a pain. You might think I would be happy walking down a hill, but no I just think "I have to walk up on the way back." Why isn't it flat I whine.

Now that I think about I mostly stayed at the bottom of the valley when I was first visited here, for the very good reason: that was where all the bars were.

Anyway I can't complain if I decided to live at the top of a hill for the view. I am getting fitter from all the hill walking. Perhaps at the end of this I will feel that I could live in the South of England,where it at least flat. Or maybe not.

Nowhere

After all the stress of moving and then settling in, my brain has been dead. Howvere, I am slowly starting to read again. After moving a huge number of unread books to Germany, I thought I should start reading those before I started on getting anymore. We shall see how long that lasts.

I read "Nowhere" by Thomas Berger. This books was witty and a lot of fun. A private eye/playwright goes to a foreign country as a spy maybe. Very low down in Amazon's list for nowhere.

One down another 4 boxes of books to go, until I am upto date.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tea in Deutschland

To celibrate getting online (although with a slow internet dongle) let me make a few observatins about living in Germany. Although there is a big shelf of boxes of tea in the supermarket, there is one crucial difference to what I would expect in a British supermarket. The standard box of tea in Germany contains 25 tea bags. The English translation of 25 tea bags is two days supply. In Glasgow I would normally buy 300 teas bags in a huge box. If I go to the supermarket at the centre of Wuppertal I can get a box of 100 tea bags. It is not as though I am an addict or anything, but I do need reasonable supplies of tea. I feel like a total freak clutching the only box of tea that has 100 tea bags in at at te register. Also at 6 Euros for 100 tea bags, it is not cheap. Perhaps ironically, my favourite brand of German tea is Teefix.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Radler

I don't want to complain, but it is starting to happen again. The last time I lived in Germany, I wouldbe having a quick drink. I would open a can of beer and it would nasty and wrong. I would look at the can and see the dreaded words "alcohol frei", and I would have to run to bathroom to wash my mouth out. They mix the beer and alchol free beer on the shelves. I thought I was being careful, because I put back a bottle of Alt beer, because I couldn't see the % content

On Thursday night, I opened a brew, and tasted a sugary substance. Apparently, I had bought two cans of Radler. You can see from the picture that the cans are almost identical. Do I really need to read every piece of text on a beer can before I down it?

Zoo

I have been feeling really burnt out after my move. I am really exhausted. Anyway I decided to take the day off to go and visit Wuppertal zoo. This involved a fun little trip on the Schwebebahn.

I had once tried to go to Wuppertal Zoo, before when I was a meeting here maybe 6 years ago. There was a conference lunch and then afterwards we were supposed to have a free afternoon. The lunch took about 3 hours, because it took them ages to bring the food. On the plus side they did keep bringing lots of little beers.

Today I did manage to look around the zoo. It was a fantastic day, with a blue sky and a dry sun. I am not sure I am too happy looking at caged animals. The lepoards look particularly unhappy. It was clear that if they could get out they would go on a big killing spree. Some of the cages looked small.

Today I did manage to look around the zoo. It was a fantastic day, with a blue sky and a dry sun. I am not sure I am too happy looking at caged animals. The leopards look particularly unhappy. It was clear that if they could get out they would go on a big killing spree. Some of the cages looked small. The vultures looked as though they were just waiting, and then they would pick over the bones.

Above is a picture of me baiting a bear. I am giving it the finger. Pretty brave. You may need to zoom in on the picture to see the brown bear.

Friday, August 14, 2009

CD castration, free download and no self harm

As part of my move to Germany I was forced to look through the things I own. I started buying CDs when I was 24, and I guess on average I bought 2 CDs a week since then. When you stop to think about it, and particularly if you think about the cost of it all, its a bit depressing.

To cut down on the weight and volume of the CDs, I tried to digitize many of them. Also I removed the cases of the rest.

When I looked at the CDs I had bought in the US ten years ago, I noticed I was buying a lot more hard core punk ten years ago. I was surfing the tail end of the early to mid 80s scene that I only knew the tip of with the Dead Kennedys.

As you get older you start to worry about your legacy in this world. I had this horrible vision of my mum giving away my CD collection. Some chick with red hair and wearing leather (my favorite color scheme) is looking through my CDs. She gets excited by what she sees. This guy must have been really cool she thinks, I wish I could have known him, and perhaps dated him. Suddenly she opens a box, and sees an Oasis CD. Yes my friends it is true, I did own an Oasis CD. In my defense I missed out on the original popularity of Oasis, because I was living in the US, when they became big in the UK, so I wanted to know what was up.

Anyway I destroyed the Oasis CD. There are standards don't you know.

Anyway, this post has been made pointless, by the people who moved my stuff to Germany losing all my Cds. How could they do this me? I have been musically castrated. Well, that's me, I am only downloading music for free now!

Germany

And so I have moved to Germany. Thoughts, impressions. I seem to have been throwing stuff out of my flat for weeks, but I still didn't get it empty before I left. I had about 2 hours sleep before I handed the keys back. I had too pack an additional bag, because I had misjudged the amount of stuff I had.

I could barely walk with the four bags, (one of which was fairly small). Everything was OK at the airports when there was a trolley, but I ran into problems at the German railway stations. There are fairly steep steps to get onto the platform, and I am not very good at getting up stairs, without a lot of bags.

Anyway, as I was burst into tears, and sweat myself to death, I was helped by two women. (Thanks). This was of course a bit humiliating, particularly as one of the women was probably about half my size. When I got to the apartment I found there was a gym at the bottom of the building. I was going to pledge, that I would pump iron, until I could bench press all my possessions. However, I see that the gym is for ladies only. I see, I see, I am not a lazy broken weakling, I just have not had the opportunities....

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Hair

As part of the general clear out I found some old students IDs. These are perhaps the last remaining evidence for what I looked like with long hair.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Swine flu

This swine flu is driving me crazy. I used to take pride in not washing my hands when I went for a piss. But now the UK government is telling me I might die if I don't wash my hands. Normally, I would relieve my self and give a dirty finger to the powers that be, however I have had a life changing experience, so I am now washing my hands all the time, not because I am worried about swine flu, but because I have been fucked in the brain.

Around the time of Burns night we were in the "three judges" pub in Glasgow. In the toilet there was some tape loop "telling us to wash our hands", that I decided to ignore. Two days later I was drinking a beer while I was on the Internet. Suddenly I found that I needed to throw up and go for a very wet shit. This set the tone for the weekend: puke, shit and watch TV. I couldn't face solid food at all on Saturday. What was worse that my body felt repulsed by beer. I have had periods when I have been ill with some plague before.. I just watch TV and sweat it out. This time seemed different, why did I now hate my good friend beer so much. I thought I had food poisoning from eating a burger from a van.

Sunday started the same as Saturday. I didn't know what was happening. On Saturday I thought the problem was food poisoning. I struggled out to the local shop to get ice cream, soup, and yogurt. It must gave been after my tenth shit of the day. I was sitting on the toilet, thinking "so this is what it means to have shit for brains", when it struck me that I had been genetically modified. Why else would I hate beer? I did have some clues though. I did watch a number of programs about Darwin. It seemed to fit, because the Scottish goverment was always trying to stop people drinking.

Anyway if you are thinking that this post has a lot of cuss words, I would humbly like to point out that the newspapers are claiming that swine flu is going to wipe out a large segment of the population, so you want to prioritize your indignation you stupid c**t.

On reflection I think my weekend of vomiting was due to some "winter vomiting illness." Say what you will, but at least these new CIA designed diseases, burn out in a couple of days.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Mixing into the perfect

I have been reading the official Harvard student agencies bar tending course. I am trying to up the image don't you know. No more pints of Tenants, but classy cocktails. After a good deal of experimenting I have decided that a good Martini does need some actual vermouth rather than letting the sun shine through the vermouth bottle into the gin.

The book contains many suggestions for cocktails. There is one for a mixture of stout and champagne. The book suggests that you if pour the drinks in VERY slowly you will get a glass with the liquid separated. You can see the results so far. I have never really liked champagne. Sometimes it gets served as part of the pre-dinner drinks part of a conference. I like the challenge of creating this super-cocktail of guiness and champagne. In my minds eye I see myself surrounded by cheering people as I finally create, what the Harvard book describes as a "black velvet". I will give a little bow and say "I have recreated a drink that beats the second law of thermodynamics. My next project is to create a drink that cheats death."

What is more likely to happen is that when I take a glass of champagne from a waiter and pull out a can of stout from my jacket, people will start whispering about "losing it". People will start edging away from me as I hold up a glass of murky black stuff, and start ranting about death and thermodynamics.

Still you can't live you life worrying about what other people think.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Belgium

Happy birthday Belgium! When I was passing Hillhead underground station, I was given a flyer that told me I could celebrate 179 years of freedom for Belgium, if I spent the evening at Brel's bar in Ashton lane. If I had been at work today i would have been there, stuffing my face with mussels, and drinking expensive Belgium beer. There was a Jaques Brel tribute band too!

Instead I am at home drinking Hoegaarden and Duvel beer. I did also eat a Belgium chocolate pudding of some kind. Time for some Brel I think. I doubt that I could love anyone who didn't like this song.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The power of ideas

After I finish some books I can't help feeling I should get some kind of certificate of merit. One such book would be "The power of ideas" by Isaiah Berlin that I borrowed from Hillhead library. The book was a collection of Berlin's short essays.

He was a famous philosopher at Oxford University. He dealt more with liberty and history rather than the more abstract ideas I thought that philosophers of the twentieth century specialized in. You could tell from the essays that he was a good speaker (but not someone you would talk about last nights TV with).

goodbye CD hello disk drive

I have spent some part of the weekend converting my CDs into an electronic format. I am doing this mostly because I am going to move soon, so I can't be bothered to move more boxes of CDs and DVDs.

The good news is that I will probably play more of the music I actually own. Some of my older Cds were hidden in boxes. I usually just play the new stuff. I was surprised and a bit ashamed to see that I owned, a CD by Alanis Morissette and the Kaiser Chiefs. Do not get me wrong, I don't have anything against the Kaiser chiefs, but they are a bit too main stream indie for my taste. Still I seem to have bourght one of their Cds.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Germany / Japan

I am getting stressed about organising my up coming move to Germany.

On qtype I find You just missed Japanische Live Musik und 3rd Tokyo Rock Night in Wuppertal
Hopefully I will make it next year.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The revenge of Gaia

While I was on my travels to the US I caught up with some reading. One book I manged to finish was The revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock.While I was on my travels to the US I caught up with some reading. One book I manged to finish was The revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock.

Gaia is the idea that the planet is adapts to make life possible in some way I didn't understand. Anyway my natural gut feeling would be to slag it off as hippy shit, but my impression from the book is that there is a lot of published work in Science/Nature. In fact Lovelock sounds like one those scientists who reminds people of their achievements at every opportunity.

Although he is a hero of the environmental movement, he was very keen on nuclear power, and less happy with wind farms.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The God Particle

I have just finished reading "The God Particle" by Leon Lederman. First off I really enjoyed reading the book. He was one the great heros who helped build the experimental case for standard model of particle physics. The book is written in the Feynman style of popular science, that has long since been given way to bullshit PR books on stringy and insane theory.

Lederman guy was arrogant, but that is part of being a physicist. the book was clearly written just before the SSC got cancelled. If that had not happened we may already know about the Higgs boson.

I have one minor criticism of the book. WHY THE FUCK DID HE CALL IT THE GOD PARTICLE?

Leon named the book "The God Particle", because his publishers would not let him call it "The God damm particle", because is so elusive. But still calling the Higgs boson was clearly the worst decision of his career. In the book he complained about books such as the "Tao of Physics", as being misleading. This is true. I wouldn't mind but it is not clear that finding the Higgs boson would help with understanding the pattern of quark mass. The God particle is just such an emotive term.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Tom Hanks
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

The worse thing is that Leon could apply for money from Templeton foundation. I really need some of that Templeton foundation money. I can't enjoy my late night Martini knowing that I have had to pay for the ingredients myself.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Big football match

I got a taxi home on Friday night after some post shopping beers. The driver tried to make conversation by saying "that it was a big football weekend". "Yes", I said, " if Burnley win on Monday they will be in the Premiership". The taxi driver, then muttered something like "I don' think that anyone in Scotland cares about that". True of course, so what was I thinking by making that reply

Given that I heard the honking of horns today. That normally means either that war has been declared or a local football team has won.

My Mum was born and raised in Burnley. My cousins live there. It would be a very big deal if Burnely get into the Premiership. I am happy that the whole town gets a day out at Wembley. Good luck!

Transmetropolitan

I have been slacking of this weekend. I have so much to do, but I didn't feel like doing much. One trouble with a hobby, such as reading, is that it doesn't really relax me. I would try reading outside more, but I am living in an area where they like to throw rocks.

I have been reading another issue of the Transmetropolitan comic. This comic series is about the exploits of "Spider Jerusalem" a journalist, who is loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson. Anyway there is a lot of booze, drugs, violence and politics.

Patrick Stewart wrote the introduction, so it is hard core literature. Spider's great enemy is known as "the smiler". I hate people who smile as well.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Accelerando

I have finally manged to finish reading Accelerando by Charles Stross. What was the story about? Well frankly, I am not sure. The plot used a lot of complicated ideas from virtual life. There was an alien router that allowed people to download to an alien civilisation.

I had to renew the book about 4 time because it took me so such a long time to read. Now that I look atthe web I see that the book has been released as a free e-book. Interesting extra textual stuff.

Angels and Demons

I am not sure why I am writing so many posts on religion Perhaps my tooth ache problem has made aware of my own mortality

I went to see the film "Angels and Demons" last week. This was an action film based on Dan Brown's book of the same name. Dan Brown is a member of the cult know as the illiterate, dedicated to the destruction of a well crafted sentence.

I enjoyed the film, since it was more an action movie with some symbols thrown in. The movie starts in CERN. As the review in the guardian notes, CERN looks much more impressive than St Peters.

As part of the plot, one character complains about the "God particle". This is actually the Higgs boson, and has nothing to with God, (unless it doesn't exist). The Higgs boson was named the "God particle" by the nobel prize winning physicist Leon Lederman. He probably thought that this was a good idea at the time, but somehow "the God particle" quest has cheapened and confused the purpose of High Energy Physics. I am slowly reading Lederman's book, which that I really like, so I don't want to criticize the guy.

While I was sitting on the toilet this morning, I was pondering on the amount of complete bullshit that is used to "explain" particle physics to the masses, and thinking how I could make things worse. I had an idea, as my bowels finally moved.

In super symmetry, a candidate theory for physics beyond the standard model, there are actually two doublets of Higgs bosons. So there is not just one "God particle", but two! Given that is is pretty important to Christianity that there is only one God, it is clear that the prediction of the bible is that super symmetry doesn't exist. If more than one Higgs boson is found then the pagans were correct, and Christianity is wrong, irrespective of anyone's faith.

The key question is how I can dress this up so that the Templeton foundation will give me money. I need to write this up as a popular book. I will be shunned by the high energy physics community, but I will be rich and a celebrity, and I will still have my integrity, because I didn't mention black holes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mother Teresa

Sometimes when you read books by people on left they see evil everywhere and you start to not to trust their polemic. However, after reading Hitchens book "the missionary position", I really feel that Mother Teresa was an evil woman. She was a religious extremist who did not believe in dying in dignity.

Hitchens has an interesting history. He was a darling of the left, but he supported the second gulf war and the Bush administration. Partly because he felt it was correct that Sadam was ousted.

Martini

When I was about 18 I was very impressed with the autobiography of Luis Bunuel called my last breath. I am going to discuss Bunuel's films, or surrealism, but focus more on the perfect Martini.

In the book he describes the perfect Martini. A martini is made from Gin and vermouth, and sometimes vodka. I tracked down a bottle of vermouth from a shop on Byers Rd. Unfortunately, I don't have any proper Martini glasses, and I am reduced to splashing vermouth into a shot glass, and then filling it with gin. Also I can't fit an olive in the glass as well. In the past I am sure I could have got the correct glasses from Woolworths. I watched the recent James Bond movie, where he drinks Martinis on a private jet.

I am so classy. In the book by Bunuel he recommends letting the rays of the sun pass through the vermouth and into the ice cold gin.

Obviously please drink responsibly. In particular please keep away from gin and tonic. In my experince the people who drink G&Ts are wankers.

Tomorrow Stories

I have been on a voyage of discovery through the world of comics and graphical novels, provided by the kind folks at Hillhead library in Glasgow.

One of the heros of comics is Alan Moore. He wrote the Watchmen novel, "V is for Vendetta" that are classics I have happily read.

So I had high hopes for "Tomorrow Stories" by Alan Moore. However, I found the irony too heavy. It was as though Alan felt that comic books were read by sad losers. I could cry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

late night taxi

I am living in a quiet residential area. Occasionally I hear children playing outside and the descrete closing of car doors, but usually not much more.

However people in this building are taking a lot of taxis. I regularly hear the honking of a car horn after 22:00. This makes me feel miserable, because somebody is going off into the city centre to some nightclub or some boozy Glasgow dive. I am sitting at home watching TV (or youtube videos). Perhaps I should rush out and steal their taxi.

"Where to sir?"
"Take me to the party"

Kierkegaard

I am feeling tired, depressed and unwanted at the moment. So now is not a good time to learn about the philosophy of Kierkegaard. I picked up a graphical book (introducing Kierkegaard) of his ideas. as part of a 2 for 1 offer with a book I actually wanted.

What i actually get out of reading this type of book is sometimes beyond me. Sometimes the ideas of recent philosophers is hidden in blocks of text (padded out), so the graphical books gives me the basic ideas fairly fast (I want knowledge now), but is probably uncool to admit.

Persepolis (book)

I had planned to spend the day doing some fits. But in the afternoon I read "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi instead. This is a graphical novel about a woman's upbringing in Iran and Austria. The book hooked me in so that I had to finish it in one session.

It was interesting to read about the problems of growing up in Iran. However, the author seemed very self centered, and would probably annoy me if we ever met. When she came back to Iramn, I was expecting that her parents were driven into poverty, because they had to pay for her bring abroad, but no, they had disposable income.

The last paragraph seems a wee bit critical, she did stand up to authority in a way I can't be bothered to do. She also looks cute on the wikipedia page.

I now know about Iran.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Letter to a christian Nation

I was listening to some religious program on radio 4 just after East. The priest was boasting about his Easter service. Somehow this involved a huge burning fire in the early morning. He led his congregation into the darkened church for mass.

Now I don't know too much about Christianity, but it struck me that the Priest was in the wrong organisation. i would have been an enthusiastic member of his congregation, it a few changes were made. Perhaps some of us could wear black robes, and others would be naked. It would be "fun" to chant some of the prayers backwards.

On a similar theme, I just finished reading "Letter to a Christian nation" a book by Sam Harris. This is a very short book, with many good points. In the past I have had "a live and let live attitude" to these Christians, but extremism on the rise, perhaps I should argue more.

In the end, you die. There is nothing else. Get over it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The car is gone

I got up this morning and I decided to have a bath. I wanted to relax and let the hot water melt away the stress from my soul. Well the hot water and bubbles worked. My body was tingling with happiness.

From my kitchen window I can see a convenience store. In front of the store there used to be a silver sports car with its tires slashed. I found that sight to be comforting, as it was a pleasant mix of unattainability and wanton destruction. But today when I looked out the window, in place of the sports car, there is a van with "dial a keg" written on it.

Anyway my day is ruined!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

legacy of Jonathan Richman

You know when you are getting old, when you start worrying about your historical legacy. I bought my first Jonathan Richman album in the Virgin megastore in Liverpool. I didn't shop there that much, but one Sunday, I was taking a break from work, and I needed some new sounds. For some reason, I got a modern lovers CD on spec I really like Jonathan Richman's velvet underground inspired sounds, and super-smart lyrics.

These days I have wireless at home, so I don't need to go into work at the weekend. Also I download music. I was disappointed to see that the first result for Richman on youtube is "Dancing at the Lesbian Bar" It is a great clip, but he has done so many other great tracks, such as Roadrunner (that Bob Dylan even played). It is a great video, but...

As part of "my research" for this post you can see another side of the modern lovers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Design

Last weekend I read "The non-designers design book". This was an useful short book on making documents look cool and interesting. The book was all about choosing fonts and layouts . As I write most of documents using latex, where Knuth has made most of the design decisions for me already, this may be of less relevance. However for talks and seminars, I am getting bored of seeing the same style files constantly in use.

I was intersted to see that it is better not to center everying on the page, but it can look better to either left or right justify text and pictures.

There are four basic principles

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

Perhaps I will now try reading Designers Are Wankers

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter morning blues

When I got up this morning, I opened the blinds. On top of the aerial of the house opposite from me was a nasty black crow. It stared at me, but didn't move.

On a red roof close by, a fat bloated seagull pottered about. Two bad omens for the start of good Friday.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Invisibles

I am really enjoying renting and reading graphical novels from Hillhead library. For example I have read 3 volumes of a series called "the invisibles" written by Grant Morrison.

The invisibles are a 5 person cell fighting authority using violence time travel, and various other chemicals and meditation highs. Pure fantasy reading, well perhaps not.

The bus stop for the bus I take to work overlooks a canel. One day there was yellow sign on the grass by the canal warning people not to walk there, because a company was spraying for Japanese wank weed. On the other side of the canal men in huge black gas masks were marching up and down with huge yellow casks on their backs. People mostly ignored the signs, when their dogs need to shit, no deadly weed is going to stop them.

At work more workman walk outside my office on the concrete balcony wearing huge shiny gas masks and muttering to each other in some strange topologically twisted language. The building manager said they were removin asbestos. But that doesn't seem likely for a building built in the 1960s.

One day I walked out to the bus stop. There was a cracked car, its windows were all shattered. White silky fluid was sprayed all over the car. When I came home at night, the car was gone. Perhaps someone was trying to reach me, to give me some kind of message, but was stopped. Too many strange things are happening close to the canal.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

death and beans in the afternoon

I don't want to ring your depression bell, but I have predicted my own death. The picture is of my stove top. If you look at carefully you will see that gas is still on. I only use the minimum amount of gas, so that my beans come slowly to the boil. However sometimes I forget to turn the gas off, partly because it not very noticable. One day I will forget and the flames will start, and my bones will become crispy.

Note that one of the reasons that I have survived past the age of 40 is that I know that cooking hot food after coming home from the pub is as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. I am talking about normal day time cooking.

It is very hard to focus on my life, when I know that it will be ended by my need for a can of beans.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Why I am a master non-criminal ?

I was planning on showing a picture of an expensive car, perhaps a Porsche, that is parked in the parking area of my flat. This was to demonstrate that I live in a reasonable area. However, I thought that if I went outside and took a photograph of an expensive car, that would make it look a bit suspicious, as though I was planning on stealing the car. What if I posted a picture of the car on the internet tagged with the location, then a crack team of car thieves would come and nick it. This is the type of thing that makes Daily Mail wet their pants with cowardly rage.

So I took the picture of the car from my window. You can't really see anything, but I don't need to go to prison. The next time you meet me, you may call me "Professor Moriarty", and if I remember this post,I will chuckle wildly.

Where my energy is sucked away

I was forced to move last year. I am now living in a more sedate area. There is a rural canal (convenient for drowning) at the entrance to the crescent where I live. The view is a bit crap, because of the skyscrapers. I can't feel that I am losing my edge because of the village atmosphere hidden away in the Maryhill area of Glasgow.

Google street view doesn't too close to my flat (bastdards). If you are interested and the technology works, you can see that I have to pass through a dark wattery tunnel to get home. This middle class life really is hell.
View Larger Map

The final programme (software still lives on)

While on holiday I read "The final programme" by Michael Moorcock. When I was between 18 and 24 I used to read many books by Moorcock. He wrote a more literary and confusing kind of science fiction, that fused 60s hedonism with surrealism that warmed my loner heart.

I am surprised that I hadn't read this book before. It is the first novel in the Jerry Cornelius quartet. Even with the ravages of time and overslurped wine, I am sure that I have read the other three books in the series. I always wanted to read the first book, because Jerry had a non-stop party at his house for a couple of months (this was actually a bit of let down, as it is described in a single paragraph).

At the end of the book Jerry, either died or became everyone. So I don't think that the Cornelius quartet has a linear time line. The programme in the title refers to software.

Feel the fear and do it anyway (again)

I admit it, I read self help books sometimes. I needed some "positive self talk" to counteract my usual reading about: death, narcotics, torture, software, and business logic. On my books to read shelf I found "Feel the fear and do it anyway" by Susan Jeffers, so I opened it and put it on my reading in progress table. When I started reading I realized I had actually read it before, so the first time I had read it hadn't changed my life. So now I am feeling positive, and if I didn't have a hangover I would really be productive.

Pole dancing

I was in Tesco on Thursday. I dropped my bank card on the floor. I was just gearing up to bend down and pick it up, when a little old lady picked it up for me. "Are you having problems bendind down?", she asked. I didn't thank her! I limped away in shame. I am so unfit at the moment. Too many late night cocktails, eating big meals at lunch, and taking the lift,rather than the stairs. But I can change (hopefully). There used to be a shop near me that rented cars. Now it offers "pole dancing" exercise classes. I could be so fit (and maybe sexy too).

Party on

So the QCDOC is finally switched off, for some of us at least. This was the occasion of the wake for the QCDOC held in my office. The evidence is below.

Invitation to a wake

Invitation to the wake for the QCDOC

On Tuesday 31st March we get kicked off the Edinburgh QCDOC
.To celebrate this event, there will be drinks and snacks in office 527 (Craig's office) at 16:30 on Tuesday 31st March.
A short obituary of the QCDOC
The QCDOC was born two and a half years late, to parents who had already divorced. The QCDOC was a sickly child. It would only work for brief periods of time (20 minutes). However it was guarded by jealous and proud parents. After a great  deal of pain for its carers, the QCDOC  started to be slightly useful, just as  the money to keep it in electricity ran out. So on Tuesday 31st March we celebrate the death of the QCDOC, although technically the QCDOC is still alive, as some  people are unwilling to switch off the life support machine. We are still waiting to see whether the QCDOC will be survived by any  dependents (new computers).



Monday, March 23, 2009

Watchmen

I finally got my act together and I went to see the Watchman film last Wednesday. It was a great film, but I still prefer the many layers of the book. Some critics claimed that the film makers were too worried what the fan base of the book might think, so they tried to hard to stay faithful to the book. The ending of the film was a bit different to that book, but a film audience might be confused by how the teleportation of a giant alien on top New York City would help stop war. In the book Dr. Manhattan was trying to find a SUSY particle called a gluino. In fact he was trying so hard, that he let his girl friend slip away and hang out with more normal, less blue people. The gluino is totally missing from the film.Another big blow to SUSY. In the clip below, the Prof. talks about the physics of the Watchmen film. He was the consultant on the films, so he was probably the person responsible for removing an SUSY references. Good work dude!.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

In praise of the Flat Duo Jets

When I lived in Salt Lake City I used to go to a little music club. One time I thought all the bands had finished playing, and I was jut going to th bar for one final drink, I saw that a new band were going to play. The band was "the flat duo jets". There really were just two of them. This was around 1997, so before the White Stripes ripped through the world. I remember a very inten\ se set. Bob played the latest single from Dexter Romweber, who was half the band, on the Marc Riley show. The good musical memories came back.

The Road to Reality

I have done it! I have finally finished reading "The Road to reality" by Roger Penrose. I probably started reading the book about 5 years ago, but I thought I should finish it before I move in August. I now know that Roger really really likes complex numbers. It was interesting to read the work of someone who thinks geometrically. Ok, so now I know Physics. Don't bother to ask me any questions about fibre bundles or twistors. I didn't do a very deep read.

Some thoughts on the hippie question

I must have told you that I hate hippies. Perhaps I am being unfair, or I just being bitter because Southpark is no longer shown on standard British TV. One issue I had with the Michael Gerber book was that he quoted Carlos Castaneda a number of times. Castaneda is always good for providing new age hippy quotes. For example I just pulled the following from a web site
Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use. Carlos Castaneda
I bet you are feeling a better person because you have seen the above quote. Maybe ten years ago I read his first book: "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge," The main part of the book was him going into the desert and taking peyote. He would dream and try to find his spirtual guide. The people who didn't take the peyote would tell him the next day, that he had stripped off naked and ran around like a mad foaming dog. The dreams seemed crap as well, and he didn't get a good party experience either. This guy was a hippy theorist.

The E-myth revisted

I was trying to remember why I bought "The E-Myth" revisted by Michael Gerber. I did wonder whether it was a recommendation from Joel on Software, but after searching that site, I think that Amazon tempted me. The book is about small business and why many of them fail. He is really dealing with a business with a very few people, even just one person. I was interested in his breakdwon of roles into Entrepreneur manager and Techician. He makes the point that most people who work for themselves are actually just technicians (people who do things), so because there is no one to do the other roles, the business fails. He then introduces a franchise management process that can be used by the business. So far so good, but it was also written in a self help book style that I found grating. His main example was a woman in a pie shop. Apparently there is something spirtual about selling pies. No I am hungry.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Declare

I am trying to clean up some of the books lying on the floor so I can hoover in the next couple of weeks. Another holiday read was "Declare" by Tim Powers. This book was a mix of spy and supernatural thrillers. One of the characters in the book was Kim Philiby. I found the first half of the book, that dealt with the spying part a bit slow, but everything picked up in the second half. I think I would make a good black magician. Tim Powers was a friend of Philip K. Dick and he is a character in the novel VALIS. Many people though that Dick had gone insane after he published VALIS.

COSM

I bet that many people don't know that that there is a sub-genre of science fiction that deals with particle physics experiments going wrong. On my travels I read COSM by Gregory Benford. This novel was about the RHIC accelerator accidently creating a small wormhole to another Universe. There is a lot of physicis politics going on. The experimentalst who finds the wormhole takes it away from Brookhaven lab and studies it at her University. When the lab management finds out about it, they are pretty annoyed and try to get it back. Gregory Benford is a professional astrophysicist so the University politics is fairly accurate and believable. I don't think he meant the novel as part of the war between Astronomers and particle physicists, but just in case I may start my own novel with a astronomer starting the Aids Epidemic by looking at a dangerous star. The disease is then cured by closing down all the astronomers and using the money saved to build the linear collider that discovers a new source of limitless energy.

Party on

I want to party! The trouble is I am not sure I can cope with the aching head, and er blackouts. Its getting close to my birthday, and I feel the need for a good night out. I was ill with flu on my birthday last year. I did drag my sorry body into the West End of Glasgow to get a bottle of Sake. I then got sent to another shop close to the Kelvin bridge, but I felt the effort was worth it for traditional birthday bottle of Sake. The people at the store were surprised, because they very rarely sell Sake, but that day they had sold three bottles. Perhaps I have two Doppelgangers, or just one who really likes Sake. I had a Chinese in a restaurant on the Great Western Road. I tried to order something different, by asking for "chicken in a pot." The curry came in a source pan. There is a war going on inside me. One part of me thinks I could spend a profitable evening reading "the power of ideas" by Isaiah Berlin that I borrowed with the a Sandman graphics novel from the library, when I was trying to impress the chick at the library desk. Who will win? The "scholar" or the wild drunkard?

Zorro

I like to read when I am on holiday. I usually make some attempt to make the book relevant to the holiday. For example I read "Zorro" by Isabel Allende when I stayed in Marbella. I would like to point out that Isabel Allende is a famous literary figure and journalist, so I wasn't just reading airport book trash and boys own fighting book. I had a really good relaxing two days in Marbella. It is a good place to read and just hang out. Wikipedia claims that "well heeled" people holidaty there, but the credit crunch and total collapse of the once might pound,now means that plebs like me are allowed with in the town walls.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1984 again, or perhaps not

Have I read 1984? I have read a number of George Orwell novels, so I can't believe that I haven't read 1984. I have read War and Peace. Oh dear either I am faker, or my mind is going? Thanks Charlie.