Sunday, February 27, 2011

Return of the Master

I was at some friend's last night. We were discussing politics. I do try to make an attempt to remain calm and rational about the terrible things the Conservatives are doing with their liberal buddies to the UK. They seem to be asset stripping the UK. No doubt we will long for the time, when an MP just used to take money from the state illegally to clean his moat, rathefr thn give money to the banks. No doubt manry of the conservative MPs will endup working in thefinancial sector when they leave parliment.

There has to be a better way! The final years of the labour goverment were spent trying Keynsiam economics. As s result the ression didn't seem as badas one the during the 80s. Now that the conservatives are back in power things are getting worse again. I kept thinking I should know more about this John Maynard Keynes, so I purchased "Keynes: The Return of the Master" on Kindle

Part of the conservatives plans never made nay sense to me. Their idea that any jobs lost from the state sector would be immediately taken over by the private sector, never made any sense to me what so ever. After reading this book I realized that this is an assumption of classical economic models. As far as I can tell the assumption of the jobs going from the state into the private sector is just to make the equations easier to solve.

All you hear in the mainstream press is the idea of the efficient market theory, but after this last crash -- it doesn't look so efficient to me. It stunned me to see that a goal of Keynes economics was "full employment".

Keynes was also a part philosopher, as well as a speculator in the money markets. So the author recommends that the practitioners of the dismal science also learn about history and philosophy, rather than just concentrate on mathematical models. .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Allen Ginsberg

During my 20s I was a bit obsessed with the beat generation. This may have been due to me living in the US for 6 years of course. I did see Allen Ginsberg read poetry in Lexington. I can only remember some poem were he suggests that you something other than a cigarette in your mouth (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). He looked like an old uncle, but he was old, and such is fate.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The tipping point

I have just finished reading the tipping point by Malcom Glasdwell. The book discusses how things like street fashion can be very small at one time, but then can grow very big and become major national trends. I think many people read this book and think how can I use this to my advantage?

The cartoon is from a series that I semi-regularly read. I was looking up the author "Malcom Glasdwell" on Amazon when I realized that I knew who it was. I felt so busted....

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I listen to many radio plays when I try to work -- thanks to the BBC iplayer. The Iplayer works for radio outside the UK.

I have also started to listen to the audio-books from the project Gutenberg. In the last couple of days, I have listened to Allan Quatermain by Henry Rider Haggard. I had heard of of "Quatermain" from the graphic novel (and the crappy film) the league of extraordinary gentlemen.

Quatermain is a fictional African explorer and the novel is about one of his adventures. Some of it is a bit bleak, because he is writing when he is close to death.

Anyway, think that he in some weird sense is a good representative of the aristocracy. I look at Prince Charles and I look at Cameron and I wander how the UK was an Empire was built around the ancestors of these useless public school educated idiots. Perhaps, Quatermain is the missing link, or more likely he is a fictional character to amuse blog posters over a long weekend.

Bill FAY

Today the freakzone radio show featured a forgotten Bill Fay album. I think he is great!

On the pleasure of walking ...

When I was a young student I used to have to go for a walk as a break from studying. when I was a student at Imperial College I used to walk a circuit along Cromwell road to relax from studying Physics. As I got older I stoped walking, so much, and the walks tended to be to the supermarket for food and beer.

In Germany most of the shops are shut on Sunday, so there is very little to do (OK, there are many things to do, but not in tandem with work). So over the winter I sometimes don't go out of the house over the weekend -- particularly when there is snow on the ground.

There is a big wood behind the block of flat where I live. Today I decided for a quest for the mythical Kneipe. I wanderd around the wood for a bit in the bitter cold. I found nothing, but dead leaves. My body felt tingely after my walk in a way that never happens after I after I walk to work. I never found a close by Kneipe, but perhaps I will explore more of the forest.

On getting high ....

I am trying to live a more European lifestyle. For example, in my German class at a night school in Glasgow, when the teacher said that many German kitchens did not have kettles, the students gasped in amazement.

Obviously the first thing I did was to buy myself a kettle when I moved in my rented flat. Recently I thought after over a year, I should try to use the coffee maker as well. So on Sunday or Saturday I move to coffee after two or three cups of tea.

I mostly drink tea, but I do drink coffee as well, but only maybe one or two cups a day. However, after drinking half a jug of filter coffee, my entire system starts to speed up. I feel slightly high. Ideas rush through my mind, but it is too unfocused to do anything useful. My body shakes more than normal. So this is what it is like to be European? I will get a coffee maker for my office as well.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Low lying fruit

Fucking Kindle. Yeah, Ok I can download a book in 1 minute, but I still have to read the bally thing.

I spend way too much time reading the online newspapers over the weekend. Last weekend I read an article by Will Hutton. It was a review of a book about the problems with the American economy. Like many people I am reading books about the general crapness of Western economies, particularly as our Tory government seems determined to destroy the British economy.

The title of the book was: The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better.

The basic idea was that the American economy had grown in the twentieth century because America had exploited lots of empty land, immigration of smart people. The author claimed that this was "like picking low lying fruit", because very little effort was required. Now things have stagnated, more effort will be required for economic growth. I think the central metaphor of the book was interesting, but I wasn't convinced by the facts in the book. In fact I probably just needed to read Hutton's summary of the book. (He did make the point that google and twitter, the great hopes for the twentieth century economy, don't employ that many people.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Everyday drinking

I was excited to get in the post on Friday my copy of the book: Everyday drinking by Kingsley Amis. The book is a collection articles about booze in all its forms. Amis clearly liked to drink. There are many recipes for different cocktails. He was also fighting a losing battle against the overuse of wine at meals. As he points out, it is better to drink beer with fish and chips say, and most other traditional British food.

He quit drinking for a couple of weeks. He restarted with the second drink being a can of Carlsberg special Brew. He was excited by the intense taste of beer, after his little break. Special brew is a very strong beer at 9%. Many people in the UK, think that only tramps drink special brew. I sometimes used to drink one can a session when I lived in Glasgow. It seemed too dangerous to try more. Amis suggested mixing Special Brew with standard Carlsberg to make a cocktail. Wikipedia tells me that Carlsberg brewed Special Brew especially for Sir Winston Churchill in the 50s -- you see it really is the beer of choice for alcoholics.

One of the great quotes in the book is: "Food is the curse of the drinking classes" Here he is complaining about the decline of pubs, with music, children, and the smell of food getting in the way of conversation and drinking.

Some readers of this blog may worry that I, of all people, should not be reading books about drinking. When I was around 18, I was explaining to someone's parent, that I was drinking some type of home brew wine, because its was the favorite drink of Dylan Thomas. The parent retorted that "look what happened to him." I took another small sip of wine as a reply.

After reading the book, I am going to make a point of only drinking red wine with fish. Why? This will make a statement that I am not part of the establishment -- this is particularly important now that the public school educated have disgraced themselves in their greed in (mis-)running the country.

my work on the big society

Yesterday lunch time I worked in a soup kitchen of Wuppertal. There is something inspiring when you volounteer ones time to help people. I will never forget the look of happiness as I poured meat soup into the bowl of dirty tramp with a long gray beard. "God bless you guvnor," he said, and I felt a warmth that normally I only get with a good glass of 20 year old whiskey. (Now that I volunteer Germany will no longer need welfare and I will be able to buy plenty of good booze when my taxes are cut.)

After helping in a soup kitchen. I helped out cleaning the streets of the center of Wuppertal. yesterday. What if Kate Middleton visited Wuppertal and she saw rubbish on the ground, such as "burger wrappings." She will be not used to such corruption. I could never live with my self that a future queen of England would know that people throw rubbish on the ground, but not everyone has servants to pick it up again.

Of course some of you reading this post will think is this same Craig who bursts into tears, whenever British politics is discussed, and starts screaming "why didn't I vote in the last election?" and "How did these evil toff fuckers end up in charge", before jumping on a nearby table and ranting "that Etonians should be first horse whipped and the deported in poverty."

Well I worry that a future employer will look at my online presence and say what we want is a more true blue person. This is not just an issue for me, but other people who write intemperate remarks in facebook. What we really need is some kind of "App" that will write "worthy blog posts". In principle I could just write a bunch of fake blog posts, as the above. However, even writing a fake post on the "big society" takes time and effort. It would be much better to just let the computer do all the work.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Ideas for Dr Who scripts

Occasionally I day dream that my life is a success. For example I occasionally fantize that I am doing something worthwhile such as writing scripts for the new Dr. Who series. I have two ideas for plots.

  • 1) Possible title: "Dr. Who and the assassination of Margret Thatcher" The plot is where Dr. Who goes back in time to make sure Thatcher dies in a hotel attack. This saves England from losing all its libraries and forests because of the greed of the current crop of public school toffs. Of course I would be hated by the sun and daily mail newspapers, but that would drive the viewing figures up. It would be cool to mix real life footage with the fantasy.
  • 2) Dr. Who and AI. Dr. Who travels back in time and meets Alan Turing. There would be some plot about artificial intelligence thrown in as well. Turing got a bad deal from England, because he was given hormone therapy when he was found to be gay. He committed suicide. The very least we can do for him is to feature him in a Dr. Who episode. I would like to try and get Dirac in the show as well.
I would point out that if anyone steals these ideas, you should consider "getting sued" as the best possible outcome, because you will still have your knee caps.

What brought this rant on? There is a long piece in the Guardian newspaper about Michael Moorcock this weekend. When I was in my late teens and early 20s I did read a lot of Michael Moorcock novels. However at some stage, I stopped, partly because many of the books started to be the same, and partly so that I could explore other writers. Moorcock has recently written a Dr Who novel. I am so excited. I WANT IT NOW! Thanks to kindle I could actually buy it now, but I will wait for the second hand book to arrive.

Fads and Fallacies

On the recommendation of the bad science Blog, I got a copy of "Fads and Fallacies" by Martin Gardner. This is a great book that "debunks" a large number of pseudoscience fads. The book was first published in the early 50s, but many of the fads are still with us (mostly because people can still make money from them).

Some of the topics covered are: ESP, Dianetics, dowsing, Atlantis, and various food fads. Some things I have met, such as training the eyes so that you can see without glasses. Gardner is actualy fairly sympathetic to the attempts to test for ESP.

I really wish Prince Charles would read this book, but he is a lost cause to rationality. In the past I have taken a relaxed attitude to strange beliefs. People can believe what they want. However people are making a lot of money out of selling pills and potions.

I do "admire" some of the stranger beleifs, such as the Earth is flat or hollow.

Friday, February 04, 2011

59 seconds

A couple of years ago I was passing through an airport. There was a woman trying to get people to sign up for credit cards. She touched my arm -- I felt a shock of Electricity shoot through me. Now that I have read "59 seconds" by Richard Wiseman, I now know that she was just applying a trick to get me to fill in a form, and that she didn't really love me at all.

Wiseman's book is a self help book based on scientific studies. For example he reports on studies where they compare the number of telephone numbers of potential partners a person can get depending on whether there is a small amount of contact. The slight problem I have is that he reports a 10% increase in something, but then he doesn't give an error-bar -- but I suppose I should read the original papers.

Note that I don't want to give the impression that the book is just about getting laid, some of the chapter titles are: happiness, creativity, parenting.