Saturday, January 27

If I don't make a post for a long while (as I have done now) then it's usually for one of two reasons. One, I'm working. Two, I'm reading a book. In this case, it's the latter as I'm reading Across Realtime by Vernor Vinge. So far, so good but it's noticeably not as finessed or gripping as his latest novel, A Deepness in the Sky.

Anyway, I'll post an extra-special update later today when I've finished the book about my Thinkquest site's slow but sure rise to world domination, why I think we should have more museums and youth activitism these days.

5:24 PM | permalink | discuss

Friday, January 26

Those who know me know of my pathological hatred of X-Files these days. Why is this? Instead of writing a long, rambling essay, I'll give you a snippet synopsis I picked up from Coming Attractions about the next episode:

"Mulder and Scully investigate an unearthly force in a small Southern town."
Says it all, doesn't it?

12:14 AM | permalink | discuss

Wednesday, January 24

I've taken to carrying my digital camera around Cambridge with me now so I can put together a photo gallery that will give people a good impression of what the town is like - the first photo is online.

Is it me, or has Cheap Trick's I Want You to Want Me been covered so many times people have forgotten about the original? I first heard this song on the soundtrack of Ten Things I Hate About You by Letters to Cleo, and then was promptly told of the (superior) Cheap Trick original. A few months later, one of my fanatic Hanson-loving friends pointed me to another cover which is absolutely indistinguishable from the original, even down to the madly screaming and undoubtedly pre-pubescent girls. The only thing it's missing is the bit at the end where the lead singer says (in a mildly camp voice indicative of the age of the original), 'This next one is the first song on our new album...'

So far, I've had two complaints lodged about the 'ATP' joke I posted yesterday asking for it to be removed. I'm frankly saddened and shocked, and saddened, at this shocking treachery.

Anyway, the comments system I use hear (Blogvoices) is shutting down so you won't be able to complain anymore.

10:38 PM | permalink | discuss

Tuesday, January 23

Yet another crazy wacko on the Internet spouting forth about gravity. There's one born every minute. I quote:

I am not a scientist. My work, is based on an intuitive understanding of my knowledge. Science is going through the forest and recording every detail. I have climbed to the summit and surveyed the entire forest.
Whenever I see the words 'intuitive understanding' coupled together with a denigration of 'orthodox' science and some silly aphorisms, I start reaching for my gun - then I realise that I'm a gun-control advocate and banish that thought from my mind.

An unfathomably bad joke that still managed to make me (and all the other scientists at dinner) collapse into hysterics:

A man walks into a bar and says, "I'd like a pint of adenosine triphosphate please."

The barman replies, "That'd be 80p then!"

80p is ATP - Adenosine TriPhosphate! Get it? Huh? Huh? (sigh) Never mind...

5:36 PM | permalink | discuss

Just put some photos of my room and building at Cambridge online. Expect more later when the weather picks up.

4:22 PM | permalink | discuss

Monday, January 22

The animals on the Chinese Shenzou II spacecraft have allegedly touched down perfectly safe. When I read the BBC News story on this, I was quite surprised to read about the orbital section of the spacecraft. It seems that it's made out of a rear propulsion section, a return capsule and an orbital section that can stay in space for at least six months. Definitely a nice idea (okay, okay, the Russians have been doing it with Soyuz decades ago, but I don't see them doing it now, eh?) and shows that the Chinese clearly know their stuff.

The Chinese are extremely interesting in the space industry - no-one seems to know what their budget is, what their technological capability is or even what their goals are. Yes, they want to eventually make a space station maintained by reusable launch vehicles, but so does everyone else. Do they want to go to the Moon, as some people say? Mars? God knows that they'll have the financial and industrial capacity to do any or both in the next ten years.

A fresh email that's been doing the rounds in South Africa, apparently. Great stuff, and I'm told by a resident that all of it is true (thanks to Paul Morrison).

How to tell you are in South Africa

The police advise you not to stop if they wave you down in the middle of the night, but rather speed past them and drive to your nearest police station.

The Student Union "dimands" that academic achievement shouldn't be a criterion for university acceptance, as it is discriminatory.

Landlords may not evict illegal squatters unless they offer them alternative accommodation.

Post Office workers are videotaped opening the mail and stealing the contents, but the film may not be used in evidence, because the workers were not informed that they were being filmed and the filming is an intrusion on their privacy.

A government Minister is caught driving her car with a forged license, but the case is dropped for "lack of evidence".

A minister of religion who stole millions from overseas-donated funds for the oppressed, returns to the country to a hero's welcome and is officially welcomed by the government, represented by the Minister of Justice.

Government ministers meet with masked gang leaders to ask their advice on how to reduce crime and violence.

Scholars protest at the lack of schooling facilities by destroying school buildings.

The entire country sees a thug admit on TV news to murdering several people, but the police say they have no case.

You consider it a good month if you only get mugged once. People start joking about the crime rate.

The police ask you if they must follow up on the burglary you've just reported.

You paint your cars registrations number on the roof in large letters.

A Minister is fired and returns the government cell phone, but keeps the government BMW

A 45-year-old engineer, gets replaced by a 25-year-old, who cannot write his own name.

The employees dance in front of the building to show how unhappy they are.

20% of the city's population pays for everyone else's electricity and water supply, and get prosecuted if they refuse to pay.

A murderer gets a 2-year sentence and a pirate TV viewer a 6-month sentence.

The Constitutional Court declares the death sentence unconstitutional, but rules that abortion is okay.

The prisoners strike!!!

Police stations now hire private security firms to protect them.

4:58 PM | permalink | discuss

Sunday, January 21

Recent discussion about Disney's newest film in development, The Superconducting Supercollider of Sparkle Creek, Wisconsin.

- I can just guess what's going to be in it. There'll be a bumbling scientist-

- With a bow tie, remember

- With a bow tie, who lost out on getting the funding for the SSC. But he has a wonderful new cheap method of building it, of course, he has to do it away from the prying eyes of the Government.

- Yeah. No doubt we'll see lots of green liquids that create smoke when they're poured from flask to flask.

- There's the love interest as well.

- True. Naturally, being a scientist, he has absolutely no social graces, no dress sense and he's never kissed a girl before. So he'll meet some down-to-earth girl who is unaware of his project.

- Yet who is also strangely enamoured of his bow tie.

- Sure. Ah, what the hell, they might as well get Robin Williams to play the scientist again.

- Minnie Driver'll do well as the love interest, I reckon.

- And the ending? The good guy will snatch victory-

- And the girl

- And the girl, away from the evil grasps of the Government and their slimy, arch-investigator bloke. The SSC will work perfectly and he'll save the world. All in a day's work.

The sad thing is, that's almost certainly how it'll work...

(Correction: Now that I've actually bothered reading the synopsis of the story, you can replace 'bumbling male scientist with no dress sense' with 'bumbling female scientist with no dress sense.' The Government will still be the enemy and the down-to-earth girl is now a down-to-earth Sheriff. Clearly Disney is leading the way in a renewed perception of scientist by casting a female lead.)

Sorry, again, for the lack of updates. But the Trinity College computer network collapsed over the weekend so I was unable to do much.

11:52 PM | permalink | discuss