Monday, March 23, 2009


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


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.


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?


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.

How to Win every argument

I have just finished reading "How to Win every argument". by Madsen Pirie. I am not sure why I bothered to read the book. I always just use the phrase: "I am right. You are wrong, so get over it" from Bill Hicks.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

From a sandcastle to the Universe

I have a few more memories of Tangier to share with you. I writing this in Marballa, a pleasant town on the Costa Del Sol in Spain. There is a sandy beach here. Last night it was cold and the wind was howling. I saw that someone had created an artistic sand castle close to the beach front. It had clearly been made by an adult, because of its clever high towers. As night came down, the sandcastle was hidden under a taupalin. What I thought? When I was a child I used to build castles with friends. As the tide came in, we would try to stop the water destroy the castles, by pouring sand on the walls. We would always fail, and our constructions would always be destroyed. The next day we would start afresh. At the time I thought that this was fun. However, as cynicism seeps into my old bones, I now think that we were modelling existence. Whatever you do, it will be crushed and cleansed by the waves of time. The only option is to start again. What a wonderfull metaphor for life in the ever expanding Universe. I did wonder whether I should sneak to the beach after the pub and piss on the hidden sandcastle, just to help its creator see the agents of chaos always win.

Afternoon in Tangier

After the excitement of the morning´s tourist activity, I spent some of the afternoon reading the novel: the final programme by Michael Moorcock. More of this later, if fate will it and I can be bother to download my memories. I now want to talk about time in Tangier. I did assume that the time in Morroco would be the same as in Spain. Things turned out to be more complicated, because Morroco and and Spain treat summer time in different ways. As far as I could tell in the winter the time in Morroco was the same as in England during the winter. Nearly every clock in Tangier showed a different time. The only place where the time was correct, as far as I could tell, was in the Cafe Paris and in the dirty cafe at the bottom of the ferry port. Electronic clocks outside banks in the city were different, even the clock in the departure lounge of the ferry port was wrong. People didn´t seem to care, but by God did I worry about the lack of a consistent time, and whether I was on it.

Wasting but not wasted in Tangier

And so I was finally in Tangier. The truth be told I am not sure I really wanted an adventure like holiday. I think I would have been happy to sit on a beach somewhere, and occasionally lift a finger to get a another bacon roll or glass of beer. This type of holiday requires planning, that I never seem to have time for. Also my guidebook kept warning of street hustlers, that make any walking about in a city a pain, because they keep stopping and telling you the same tale about how they used to work in London, and they want to recommend a place to eat. The book, the rough guide to Morroco, mentioned fates even worse, such as getting mugged. I wasn´t in a positive mood for this holiday, even though I had originally decided to decided to visit Tangier early last year. Actually, according to my guide book, there are beach bars in Tangier, but frankly I could only forsee ba things happening involving confusion, vomit and a beating, from spending an afternoon at a beach bar. On the first night that I arrived I had a quick wonder around, and not just to hunt up some beer. There were lots of restaurants and cafes close to the hotel. Only one person tried to talk to me, although the streets were full of people. So that was a good sign. Anyway dealing with the emotional blackmail of street hustlers has helped me become a colder and less emotional person, so perhaps they are helping me. I had one full day in Tangier. I started by finding the Paris square in the city, because this was close to the hotel. I found the place, but it wasn´t much of a square, but did have a clean view of the sea and the docs. There were a couple of cannons pointing to the sea. I had some mint tea (like a mohita but with no alchol) in the famous Cafe Paris. This cafe was a place where political deals used to be cut in the early part of the twentith century. I sat on the leather seats and plotted, and I decided that Spain is no longer in the EU. Although Morroco has the reputation of a place where dope is freely available. I didn´t smell anything on the streets. I have certainly smelt more weed on a Liverpool bus, or in this cyber cafe in Spain where I hammer this tale out.

Ferry to Tangier

In my quest for a cheap holiday I travelled to Spain out of season. One problem with this was that it was raining as I waited to get the ferry. The rain was nice Spanish rain, rather nasty soul destroying Glasgow rain. I hadn´t planned anything, but I managed to get a ticket. Things went down hill, after waiting around to get a boarding pass with no information, the ferry I had picked was cancelled because of bad weather. I looked at the sea and saw some ripples and felt the light rain. This is like "leaves on the track" Spanish style. When I was sitting on my bigger ferry and it was swaying from side to side, that perhaps if I was more of a seaman I would know that the sea is always calmer in the habour. The journey took 4 hours whcih was twice as long as I expected. So I didn´t look like Jason Bourne in the last Bourne film, when he escaped to Tangier on the ferry. He stood on deck, while I didn´t move from my seat the entire journey in case I fell over. They wouldn´t let me leave the ship when we go to the port, because I didn´t a stamp, I should have got one on the ferry. I had to rush back on board and hunt for the pursor, up and down steap slippery stairs, as big lorrys spewed filthy black fumes over the decks. As I got out of the ferry building I got caught by a hustler. I stupidly didn´t have any local money with me and I didn´t see ATM machines. So even though I knew the correct TAXI fare to the hotel, as well as the rip off fare, I still ended up paying more that the rip off fare and ended up in a big argument at the door of my hotel. To protest, I decided not to eat that evening. I sure showed that hustler something!

The journey to Tangier

I guess my real journey to Tangier started when I read various novels by the "beat generation", although perhaps my main interests in this trip were less literary. I first flew to Malaga. I think I will know when I have grown up, when I go to bed at 22:00 before having to go to the airport by 6:00 the next day, rather than staying up late watching bad karate films and drinking beer. Still how else can a holiday start? From Malaga I got the bus to Algeciras. I should have planned this better, because the journey took about 4 hours. The bus journey was very scenic, because the bus goes by the coast and there are many mountains to look at, if a passenger tires of reading his book. I stayed the night in Algeciras. There is a big ferry port at Algeciras and it is one of the main ways to get into Morocco. My hotel overlooked the ferry terminal, not very classy perhaps, but cheapish. I was talking to an elderly English couple in the lift, they said the people at reception told them it was not a good place for an older people to wander around at night. I did want to reassure them that it wasn't so bad, I only got stopped once by one prostitute when I was looking for the hotel, and prostitutes are easy to brush off. If you live in the UK, you worry, when you see lots of people hanging out on the streets. This is normal in Europe and doesn't mean you are going to get beaten to death by hordes of cider swilling neds.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Jim Bean cola

When I lived in Salt lake City, a guy across the hall from me occasionally used to invite me into his apartment for drinks. His drink of preference was whisky and coke. I don't drink much whisky, but I prefer it neat. I certainly don't like these fancy cocktails of ice and whisky. However, drinking coke and whisky, while listening to someone talk about their problems getting the correct pension from the US army was fine. When I was in Tesco today I found they were selling 12 Oz cans of Jim Bean cola. This brought some memories back from Salt Lake City. Anyway to cut a long story short, Jim Bean cola tastes a bit nasty. I am going to have invite a "guest" over to generously offer them a taste of the US.

beat tour randomness

And so I finally get to visit the interzone. My body is collapsed with exhaustion and disolution, so some time in the Sun is required. I am flying to Malaga tomorrow. Then on Wednesday I am going to take the ferry over to Tangier for a couple of days. Burroughs's will Perhaps William appearance. spirit an make