Saturday, April 30, 2011

About the royal Wedding

I didn't read any newspaper articles about the ceremony. Hoverer, my yahoo email reader flashed up pictures from news sources of the wedding. I did see a picture of Kate and Will kissing. The kiss that Diana gave Charles on their wedding day is very iconic. However, with the knowledge of future events, it does look like Diana was kissing in a needy nymphomaniac way. Kate is kissing in a sensible manner -- so that is good.

More importantly I understood what Kate's role is in the Monarchy. England is in a mess at the moment. The public school boys are in control and they are driving everything too the ground, so that they can sell the UK off, and retire rich to the South of the France.

England ia a pagan nation. What do we need to get England back on its feet. We need a sacrifice! Haven't you seen the Wickerman film? Kate you are so sensible, therefor your downfall will help the flowers and animals prosper on England's fair shores. A few years of wealth and attention, so Kate will be ready for her end.

If someone had explained to me the Royal Weddding as the above metaphor, I would have been more interested.

Thanks Kate!

The wrong Richard Burton

Dear Lord Melvyn Bragg, You shit head! I enjoy listening to your radio show "In our time." I was looking for a book about the history of the English language and I saw that you had witten one, so i ordered it (second hand at 1p).

However, I see that you have written a book about "The Life of Richard Burton". Why? I would have thought that a person of your learning would have written a book about Sir Richard Burton: the explorer and translatoe. You would rather write a book about a film actor rather than the person who translated the Kama Sutra. Why write about popular culture when you could learn about exotic things

Pull yourself together man!

Regards, Craig

Classics: A Very Short Introduction

Last week I read the book: Classics: A Very Short Introduction by Mary Beard and John Henderson. This was a small book about the study of ancient Greek and Rome culture. It was very clevery written, being based around a small temple in the countryside of Greece.

If I was one those ex public school boys I would have known all about the classics, perhaps before I reached my teenage years. I now know a little bit more-- better late than never. I now want to go to the British Museum to look at all the looted statues from ancient Greece.

(Not) opening a wine bottle with a shoe.

Because I essentially do nothing, but sit on my balcony and watch he leaves on the forest in front of my building, i find it difficult sometimes to maintain conversation. After reading books on human communication I try to bring a few party tricks to a social occasions -- just to stop any awkward breaks in the conversation

Last weekend I was invited to a barbecue. I had seen on German TV, a trick where you could open a bottle of wine with a shoe. I thought this would be a good party trick, to show what a cool dude I am.

As I prepared to open the bottle, I could feel the excitement in the air. Pictures were taken. Unfortunately I couldn't get the trick to work. The cork stayed in the bottle!

I felt such a failure! Once a party trick has failed, on one takes any notice of the views of the person who tried the trick. I convinced no one that the earth is hollow, or that the pollen falling on use was spore from Mars. It can be good to be unable to open wine bottles. On one recent occasion, it was pointed out to me I had no idea how to use a waiters bottle opener, I was happy and put on my well-this-proves-I-am-not-a-raving-alcoholic face. I should take this as a learning experience. I should practice any new party tricks, before I try them out of an audience. Fuck it, perhaps I will just use hypnotism to make them to think I am a top fellow.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Last call

Last night I finished reading "Last Call" by Tim Powers. The novel was based on a game of cards that allowed the winner to take over the body of the losers. It was mostly set in Las Vegas and it also mixed in a small amount of Egyptian myths. There was a great deal of paranoia and occult ritual, so the ideal book for me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Balcony blues

Many people are envious of the German economy, The neocons and free-marketers hate the success of the German economy, because they prefer a highly unregulated finance based economy, of the kind that has just massively failed in the US and UK.

The main surprise I have about Germany is how anything gets done when most flats have nice balconies. I wanted to do a little work yesterday, but instead I spent most of the time reading on my balcony. It is pleasantly warm and it is relaxing to watch the leaves rustle in the light wind. It is a holiday I suppose.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Google Resume

I spent part of the week reading "The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or Any Top Tech Company" by Gayle McDowell. The book contains a lot of useful advice on how to get a job in one of the big tech companies. Rather depressingly, I would still need a lot of work to get my foot in the door, including writing some kind of open source program.

I will be a dark matter detective

I have been thinking about changing carers. However, some jobs are clearly not suitable for me. I was watching a DVD for the first series of Luther. This is a detective series. One of the criminals was a physicist who worked on dark matter detection. The idea was that she was super intelligent, so she could outwit the police.

I would make a really crap police interviewer. "Where is the dark matter bitch. I don't care that you murdered your parents, but what about finding wimps!", before burtsing into tears, and starting to rant "there has to be more than the Higgs -- there has to be."

Friday, April 22, 2011

On hot beverages

I drink a lot of tea, but when I go outside my flat or office, I usually drink coffee. This is partly because I like a change. One problem with drinking tea in Europe is that they very rarely sell any decent tea in a cafe. There is usually a vast choice of terrible fruit teas. And then, as after thought for the odd British person who might wander in, there is Earl Grey tea.

I will drink Earl Grey tea, but I don't really enjoy it. I would much prefer a nice cup of harsh black English tea. This is the real reason that the British don't feel like we are part of Europe. After all our work on providing a Universal language that glues together the continent, we can't get a decent cup of tea, but are insulted by a nasty cup of Earl Grey. This last week I found out, from the BBC, that Earl Grey was actually a prime minster. His tea is still shit though.

In my the UK I sometimes like to drink hot orange. I made this from concentrated orange juice. But I have been unable to buy any concentrated orange juice in Germany. There is no point in complaining, because the locals will just point that concentrated orange juice is just full of chemicals and probably no oranges. Then they will tell again, "that English is food is shit."

So you can imagine my happiness that I found some powdered orange juice, in my local supermarket, that I can use to make a hot orange drink. Yummy -- you don't know what you are missing Johnny foreigner.

I just need to find a way to get bacon butties for breakfast.

You Are Not A Gadget (but maybe I want to be)

Last week I finished reading "You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto" by Jaron Lanier.

Lanier is worried about the way the Internet is progressing. He has had an interesting career that includes music and virtual reality.

His main concern is that the new web technology is dehumanising people. He is very worried about robots taking over manufacturing. This sounded like AI hype to me, until in my German class on Friday, we discussed the creation of cars that was done mostly by robots.

He doesn't like Linux, partly because it is old fashioned technology, because it is based on UNIX. I felt sympathetic with his view, if the old UNIX heads had their way, there would be no windows/GUI based machines, that makes the use of computers possible for my mum. He is very anti-open source in general, and he makes the claim that no new computing paradigm has come from open source. Only business's have new things such as Iphones. No mention is made of Microsoft's monopoly on windows stopping innovation. Also the success of the Iphone is only partly due to technology, but mostly due to marketing (I don't mean this comment in a bad way).

At the end of the book he presented some ideas for radical new VR based technogy for computing. Call me a luddite, but these seemed a bit impracticable to me. Computers are a tool for me, so if they don't work that is bad.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles

Occasionally I would fine myself in the science fiction section of a bookshop. I would see "Dr Who" novels and I would wonder who actually buys them.

So imagine my surprise when I clicked on buy for Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles. In my defense, the book was written by the famous Science fiction author Michael Moorcock, whose books had shaped much of my adolescence. The book started out a bit rambly in the Moorcock Universe, but when Dr Who entered it calmed down settled into an entertaining story. Unfortunately, Moorcock likes the multiverse idea that as a physicist I really can't stand, as an idea, or even as a word.

Oh to be England next Saturday.

a nail angst morning

My body is falling apart!

A typical day you ask? As soon as I stop dreaming, I open my eyes. I look around in the bright spring sun filtered through a wild German forest. I am still alive I think. I next check that I can still get an erection. Then somehow my physical prowess goes downhill fairly rapidly.

Two days ago I thought I would cut my finger nails, before eating a frugal breakfast. I didn't have the strength to cut through my thick hermits finger nails. I new low point I thought. I did manage to cut through my nails, by leveraging a table. So this is what experience is, I thought, as I flicked dead nail from the table into the center of the room.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Parthenon marbles

I spent part of the weekend reading "The Parthenon marbles" by Christopher Hitchens. It would hav been better if I had read ths book in Athens -- but that required me to be more organized.

The Parthenon is an ancient building in Athens. It was decorated with many statures. However early in the seventeenth century Lord Elgin removed (ok looted) a number of the statues, that were eventually displayed in the British Museum. The book is a history of how the statues cam to be in London and the various attempts by people to send the statues back to Athens.

Hitchens is a great essayist when he has a cause to support. I say send the Elgin marbles back to Athens! (However, I will look at them in the British museum the next time I am in London.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A trip to Solingen

I once visited Edinburgh for work reasons. The person I was visiting said he would meet me for dinner near the Cathedral. I thought "there's a cathedral in Edinburgh?". I mean I only lived in Edinburgh for three years, when I was a student, so I could not be expected to know every place in that city.

The reason I mention this is that today, I took a day trip to Solingen. Solingen is a small city close to Wuppertal. It took 10 minutes to get there by an IC train. I walked in the pedestrian area, ate a kebab, and read my book. There were quite a few interesting bars in the main area. Then I had a quick look around for the bus station, failed to find it, and then got on a train to Wuppertal.

The train was mean to end in Wuppertal, but after two stops te driver annouced that it was stopping. This is a always a nightmare for those of us with weak German skills. I followed everyone off the train and got on a bus that took us to another station. The bus took a winding route through a forest.

There is castle close to Solingen that I think requires a trip in cable car to get too. But you first have to find the main bus station. I give up too easily these days.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I am in love, but with a dead poet.

I am in love (with a dead poet). After my android tablet was stolen, I needed something to read my ebooks from Amazon on. I ended up buying a Wifi kindle, because it was cheap and easy to read outside on a balcony for example.

The kindle is really light and cool. When you turn it off it shows a picture of a famous author. At the moment, it is showing the poet Emily Dickinson. I think I love her. However, in the past I have owned a tape of someone reading Dickinson's poetry. I wasn't too keen on it. I hope she wouldn't expect me to listen to her poetry. What if she asks me for my opinion about her verse? I will just pull out a tablet of Viagra and say "this is the only poetry I care about."

Saturday, April 09, 2011

On leaves and woods

I am a city dweller. I need to see concrete every day. I get a panic attack, if I am more than 500 yards from a coffee shop. However, now that I live om the edge of a wood, the power of mother nature is getting to me.

The first 15 minutes of my walk to work is through a wood. It is so peaceful, apart from the barking dogs. I hear the birds singing. I feel mellow and peaceful. I have started to think about hiking -- even though I can barely walk.

I was talking to someone at a dinner recently. I was complaining that thee were no leaves on the tress. I was starting to rant on that I thought that mother nature was dead, when it was pointed out to me that the leaves will come back. I sort of knew that, but it was getting to me -- every day I was walking through a forest with trees that had no leaves. I felt as though I was walking through hell

Anyway the leaves are just starting to grow again. Hopefully this will mean I will stop thinking about death so much.

Greek Political Oratory

One book I took with me to Athens that I ended up no reading was Greek Political Oratory. It would have been great to read there, but damm it, I was on holiday. No doubt I have ruined a great political career because I have not studied classical speeches.

The Shock Doctrine

Given the terrible state of the economy, I like many people are thinking more about the dismal science: economics. The challencor once said that every job lost from the public sector would immediatley be taken up by the private sector. This struck me as one of the stupidist things that |I had every heard.

However, after reading the "Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein, many things became clearer. Osborn stupid statements are actually based on classical economics. Milton Friedman was the originator of these ideas, and so he should be regraded as one of the most evil people in the twentieth century

The book shows that most people are opposed to Friedman's ideas. So the only way to implement them is after a disaster or a coup, when people are confused and unorganized. Classical economics doesn't actually work, but does allow the top 10% to get even richer.

Osborn is following the pattern outlined in the book, by using the excuse of the banking crisis.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Mythology

On holiday I read "Mythology" by Edith Hamilton. I have owned this book for a long time, but I thoght it would be good to read it in Athens.

When I was a child I was very interested in Greek mythology. There is a lot more shagging, killing and jealousy in tales of Ancient Greece, but those Gods are nuch nicer and more fun than the Christian God.

I didn't remeber that Hercules had killed his family. This is never mentioned in the TV shows with Hercules. I usually watch the Hercules cartoon on Sunday morning (to improve my German).

The book also briefly covered the Norse Gods, such as Odin, Loki and Thor. I wish that there has been more information about the Norse Gods. I liked that they felt doomed -- just like me. Oh well I can just wait for Branagh's film about Thor.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

4th day in Athens

On my fourth day I had to finish a talk I was writing for a meeting a couple of days after I got back. Given that it was only a 5 day holiday, I was depressed to have to spend one day working. This was what is known as a career low point (not that I have a career I might add).

It is taking me longer and longer to write talks. My attention span is completely destroyed. There is always a delay when I try and do anything with a computer. My concentration mean free path is about 20 seconds.

I was drinking a beer in my hotel room. I had got a little miniature bottle of hard liquor. When I looked at the label, I saw that it was called "Toxixic". After smelling I decided that I wouldn't want to try drinking something with a potentially dangerous name. It would have been embarrassing to explain that how i got sick.

So as a flew out of Athens I thought well that was a nice break. I was happy to visit Greece and get away without seeing any belly dancing.

An open letter to the Acropolis Museum

Dear director of the Acropolis Museum, I recently visited your fine museum in Athens. I wanted to buy a copy of The Parthenon Marbles: by Christopher Hitchens. But you don't sell it!

It is well known that in the past, when Englnd was ruled by Aristocrats and public school boys, there was a lot of stuff stolen from abroad to be stored in great country houses and then museums. I saw your video about how Lord Elgin stole the Marbles from The Parthenon. I know that you want the marbles to be displayed in your museuem. I think that Hitchens's books make the case that the stolen artifacts are returned.

Perhaps you don't want to stock the book so that you don't give offence to any visiting Lord or Lady doing the "grand tour". Bollocks man, show some gumtion. The current set of public school boys who are running England are the feeble offspring of several generations down the line after the slaughter in the trenches in the first world war. You need to be firm with them, either you bribe them (underneath their posh voices they are just crooks) or you horse whip them and set the dogs on them. Personally I would go for option 2. Then you would get your heritage back. Yours, Craig A lover of Gyros

day 3 in Athens

On my third day in Athens I went to the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Frankly this was more pillars, but they are so huge and old. If there wasn't a blasted attendant with a whistle, I would have sacrificed something to try and talk to the old Gods, before these nasty single sky Gods came along.

After that I went to the newish Acropolis Museum. This is a very modern museum that holds stuff from the Acropolis. I felt a bit dehydrated in the museum, so I didn't give it my full attention. It is very stylish museum.

2nd day in Athens

On my second full day in Athens I decided to visit the Acropolis of Athens. The Acropolis dominates the skyline of Athens. Getting to the Acropolis involves walking up a hill. However, after living in Wuppertal, I have plenty of experience of vertical motion.

What can I say the buildings were amazing. They are just so big, even though they are half broken. I was feeling awestruck by the huge mighty pillars of marble. Perhaps this is where Plato and Aristotle stood and thought deep thoughts. I started to think deep thoughts and then I looked out over the city of Athens. "What a shit hole", I thought. Athens is an incredibly ugly city. All the buildings are made out of ugly concrete. I doubt that there ws any central planning, and probably many bribes recieved to allow various buildings to be thrown up.

There are attendants who check that no one is doing anything inapropriate. They blow whistles, if they think you are doing anything wrong. There were two teenagers sitting on a wall looking out on the wonder that is Athens. One attendant kept whistling and the two kids kept chatting until the attendant came right up to them.

After doing the classical tour I was hungry and ready for lunch. I stopped at a restaurant and ordered an Ouzo platter. The waiter recommended a pitcher of Ouza to go with it. I couldn't remember how strong Ouza was, but a pitcher seemed like a lot. But as it was my birthday, I decided "well why not". (This shows I have learnt nothing in my 44 years of life). Actually, the pitcher of Ouza turned out to be a 12 Oz bottle with a bucket of ice. I also got a free Ouza "on the house" at the end of the meal.

After that I read for a while and had drinks in a few more bars, then back to the hotel.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A little bit on drinking

This year I have been trying to cut down on the late night drinking of beer, mostly because I was getting very fat. Unfortunately, no one has seemed to notice. I keep hoping that someone will say to me "it looks like you have lost weight," but no one does. Of course it could be that having a couple of beers in the evening wasn't affecting my weight, at all, so I will have to look at other possible causes (as well as drinking more again). I could try cutting down on the amount of fruit I am eating to see if that will do the trick.

As it happens I do mostly feel better for not drinking on workdays. I should be getting enough exercise because doing any walking, such as to and from to work, in Wuppertal mostly involves walking up some big hill. I still feel tired though a lot of the time Well, the previous two pargraphs were written at the begiining on March. There was a big slippage, because of my birthday and holidays. I was amused to hear the British comic Arthur Smith, say in a program about the day he had to give up drinking for medical reasons, that he never had a drink in the morning, so he never thought if himself as a problem drinker. He also mentioned that he never got up in the morning though.

I just wish I didn't feel so tired all the time.

Old post about Carnivals

Below is a fragement of posting that I started during the Carnival time in Germany. I actualy intended to work more, but I ended up going into the city center to buy a coffee maker (that I have yet to use). There were lots of people on the streets in custumes, but original people like me carried coffee makers

About the only good thing about getting old is that I am forgetting these Christain customs I was indoctrinated with when I was young. The equivalent thing in the UK, is pancake Tuesday

So it is Karnival time in this part of Germany. In principle, I should dress up in a costume and go to Cologne or Dusseldorf and watch the parade. Although I quite like the idea of dressing up in a large rabbit suit and then getting very drunk on the streets of Germany, I am not sure I can be bothered.

For posterity I did record a few scenes on TV with my flip recorder. video

a little rain during my holiday in Athens

I meant to say that as I stepped out of my hotel on my first day in Athens, I found that it was raining. Oh no, i thought, this is going to suck. After such a long hard winter, I wanted a bit of sun and warmth.

I should say that the rain in Athens was fairly pathetic. Water came from the sky, but it was very light. Everything would be dry after 1 hour or so. When I lived in Glasgow, it rained every day for a month. This got me very depressed. I am not sure that I could manage more than a straight month of rain.