Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Sun, 17 Feb 2008

Updates

I've finally written a few notes for my Green page. I hope to add to it in time. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Over on the booklist I have just added my review of a book on the mind and music.

Elsewhere I have posted my review of Sweeney Todd and notes about my audio collection. I could do those here, but they would not reach their intended audiences as well. Only a few of my contacts subscribe to the feed from this site. I need to educate others in the benefits of RSS.

[21:48] | [] | Comments | G

Fri, 04 May 2007

Green Shoots

It looks like the local elections yesterday have resulted in a depressing rise in the number of Tories sitting on and controlling councils. Living in a rural area as I do there is very little chance of anyone else gaining power. I was however cheered by the news that the Greens have made substantian gains. If any had stood here I would have voted for them. As it was I had to be satisfied with protest votes against the Tories.

Oh, and May the fourth be with you.

[22:04] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 18 Apr 2007

People with guns kill people

So there has been another major incident in the USA where someone has gone on the rampage and killed a lot of people. That's tragic, but it brings up the old issue of gun control. Rumble has had a few words on this and I agree with him. There is no need for the general public to have guns. The US gun lobby will keep up their mantra of the 'right to bear arms', but is it really worth it when you consider how many thousands die there every year by the gun. The gun lobby say people need guns for protection, but I wonder how many lives are saved that way? It seems nobody managed to stop the latest mass killer before he killed himself anyway.

Of course you can distort the statistics for humorous reasons.

[08:38] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 04 Apr 2007

Two Achievements by Others

Jono Bacon, of LugRadio fame, did his bit for Comic Relief by promising to record an album within a 24 hour timespan if at least £1000 was pledged. Well that amount was exceeded and he has done the deed. The results are available for free download from his music site. It's a mix of acoustic pop and some thrash metal with a little cello accompaniment. I think he's done a nice job and raised some money to boot. Download and donate.

A totally different achievement was a new rail speed record by our friends the French. Whilst we have been complaining about our trains they have gone and built something that can travel at nearly half the speed of sound. I know that real passenger trains will not be going that fast for a while, but their's still manage 300km/h. If they can get more people to travel around Europe by train rather than plane then it's a very good thing. I know which I'd prefer, as long as the price premium was not too excessive.

Another amazing bit of engineering that is still underway is the 57km rail tunnel under the Alps. That may also encourage people onto the rails for that route as it cuts the journey from Zurich to Milan by 90 minutes. The Swiss have been trying for years to cut the number of trucks travelling through the country.

[21:51] | [] | Comments | G

Fri, 30 Mar 2007

Mmm, Chocolate Jesus

American Catholics are up in arms about a NYC gallery proposing to display a chocolate model of Jesus on the cross over Easter. The Catholic League has a great rant about it. I wonder if they get as angry about all the tacky Jesus and Mary plastic sculptures and pictures you see so much of in Catholic countries.

We will be celebrating Easter with some tasty pagan rebirth symbols.

Comments seem to be working and some are getting blocked by the filter. With help from my friendly server admin I now have the ability to remove unwanted comments.

[09:12] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 21 Mar 2007

Evangelical MP

I'm not really into politics. When I get a vote I generally go for the 'greenest' party. In our area there is rarely a Green candidate and the Tories have a large majority, so it's only going to be a protest vote anyway.

Our MP is Tory Alistair Burt. I don't know much about him, but I suscribed to his feed on TheyWorkForYou to see what he speaks about in the Commons. His latest was to close for the opposition in a long debate on the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. I'm not going to read the whole thing, but he declares his status as a council member of the Evangelical Alliance. If there's something that scares me more than a Tory, it's a Tory who thinks God is on his side. Obviously I think it's great that the UK gave up slavery, but from what I read in the Radio Times about a programme I didn't watch, William Wilberforce pushed for it to save the souls of the British rather than to save the Africans. It also said that he considered it more important to convert India to Christianity. I'm sure he was a good person, as are most Christians, but I do wonder about their motives sometimes. I've not read up on the history of slavery, but I have the impression that lots of Christians managed to justify having their own slaves, but then the Bible does not condemn the practice.

What I have gained from this is a secondary, redundant, reason not to vote for Mr Burt.

[13:16] | [] | Comments | G

Tue, 20 Feb 2007

Two 10k in One Day

We all have our own little personal scoresheets to see how we are doing. Personally I'm a little too obsessed with statistics and numbers in general. Today I achieved similar numbers in two completely different categories.

The first was to pass 10000 tracks on Last.fm. All that means is that I have listened to that many audio tracks whilst using software that talks to this site over the last three years. I do this using Quintessential with a plug-in on Windows and the wonderful Amarok on Linux. Last.fm also provide a nice music streaming service that can match your tastes and bring you new music.

The second milestone was achieved on my new Powerball that just arrived from Amazon (ordered Saturday on free delivery). I hit 10353rpm after getting 9992 on Dad's a couple of days ago. That puts me top of the office league for now.

Just got the father-in-law a new TV so he can have Freeview. To keep things simple (single remote) I found one with it built in. It's a rare item as it's not a flat panel, but a good old 4:3 CRT. It's this Bush, but does not match the picture. It's old technology, but half the price of a similar size LCD and does what he needs. So far it seems good. It takes a few seconds to come on, but it found all the channels. I've set him up a restricted list to exclude all the shopping and pop stuff. EPG is okay, but he may not use that much. He was renting a TV and video from Box Clever that we asked them to take back, but they have told us to keep them. It's obviously not worth them picking them up as I doubt they would use them again. I hate to think how many old TVs are being dumped in the stampede to the latest fads. Mind you, I was awestruck by the sight of this 70" rear-projection in the Sony shop. It was just enormous. Their 52" LCD was a little more manageable, but still big and lovely.

[13:06] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 03 Jan 2007

Software Patents

The idea of patents, as I understand it, is that an inventor gets protection for his idea at the expense of revealing exactly how it works. He can then exploit it for a while and reap the benefits. This system is being abused by companies to stifle competition by patenting anything they can think of. It seems that a lot of software patents are totally insufficient for anyone to replicate the process, but can be used to milk licencing fees from others. In some cases companies buy a patent just so they can do that. without producing anything themselves.

I'm no great expert on the subject, but I am convinced that software patents are a bad idea. Lots more reading at Wikipedia (check other references if you need to). Those writing free software cannot afford to patent their ideas or fight legal battles over them. If an idea can be shown to have been in use by others before then it cannot be patented. If I have anything wrong here then I am prepared to be corrected.

This post was inspired by Jono Bacon reporting on a petition on the PM's site. When I signed this morning there were 200 signatories. Now it's nearly 500. That still pales next to the one saying that the PM should stand on his head and juggle ice cream with over 2000! Anyone who cares about the future of software, especially Free Software should sign this, provided they are a British citizen.

[20:30] | [] | Comments | G

Mon, 25 Dec 2006

Xmas Day Blues

"I woke up this morning, excited kiddies on my bed..."

Well, something like that. We've had a day of present opening and good dining. The kids have overdosed on new toys. Power Rangers and Doctor Who are the main themes, with a dose of Scalextric. Memories of my childhood there. Then it's settle down for the TV treats, except there's not much new there. There's a couple of kids' films that we've had on DVD for ages, so the others are watching Some Like it Hot.

My special treat was to buy a new guitar from a local shop I've been wanting an acoustic for a while. I feel the need to learn some new technique and songs. I shall be exploring the many on-line resources for hints and tutorials. I would like to find some local musicians to play with.

I have to work a couple of days this week due to using up my holiday allocation. At least the traffic will be light when I drive in. I'll just wish everyone a happy midwinter feast and an intruiging new year.

[17:59] | [] | Comments | G

Thu, 02 Nov 2006

Inventor of the Internet

Listening to Radio 3 this morning there was an item on the news about Tim Berners-Lee predicting bad things for the future of the net. What bugged me was that they described him as 'inventor of the Internet'. I guess that some people think the Web is the Internet. The same mistake may have been on the BBC News site, but seems to have gone now.

I've taken to listening to Radio 3 on my commute to avoid hearing the same old songs and innane chat every day. I'm also trying to get a better understanding of classical music. Had a nice blast of Mussorgsky's Night on Bear Mountain today.

Caught the second half of Mystery Men on ITV4 last night. When I read about it ages ago it seemed like a film a might like. It's very silly. Might have to see it all some time. ITV4 has some really low-rent advertising for things like telephone dating etc.

Finally, Last.fm have added various updates this week. The best one for me is a gig guide based on the artists I listen to. You can see the one gig I've tagged at my page.

[09:45] | [] | Comments | G

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