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Monday, June 28, 2004

Great weekend in Limerick, if somewhat marred by a major transport outage. Lovely visit to the Glen of Aherlow - surely the most verdant mountain landscape in Ireland, and the well-farmed Palatine country of South Limerick. Good meal at the Dunraven Arms with old friend S. The next day was a scramble as we had to get a taxi to Shannon to pick up a hired car for our journey back to Limerick. We broke the journey with a pleasant drink and a bit of food at Matt the Threshers in Birdhill.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Humans as batteries. The Matrix comes to life courtesy of (you guessed it!) Microsoft. Well, at any rate, they have patented the idea.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The blogger, Download Aborted, discusses the relationship between genetic code and software code, and comparable issues - such as patents and ownership. He makes the point that you can't "own" an apple seed - once it's out there, anyone can grow apples from the tree they grow with your seed. Not quite true, in fact: the seed industry has put enormous effort into the production of F1 hybrids, which grow fine crop, but don't seed reliably (so you have to keep buying from them). However, much else of the points he makes about the ethics of copyrighting life are well made.

(The Economist recently had a comparable discussion of the open source model in relation to medical research.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Burt Rutan's private spacecraft made it up into black sky territory, but it seems he won't be going for the X-prize after all. The prize, awarded for the first private space flight, requires two flights within a fairly short interval, and Rutan's team want to investigate some pretty scary anomolies before they go up there again. Seems we have to wait a little longer before it's routine to fly into space. Anyways, what a great project: as Rutan put it, "SpaceShipOne, GovernmentZero".

Good to see that NASA are getting in on the game by planning further prizes for private space travel innovation.

There's some great piccies from Earth's first privately owned space port out in the Mojave Desert, from one of the SpaceShip One ground crew here.

Random image of the day. Waaaaay too many funny ciggies went into the design of this one.

The isms are thick on the ground in this Slate article filleting such terms as multi-culturalism and post-modernism.

We're heading to Limerick next weekend - visit Dad, hook up for a long chat with old friend S. - and we're avoiding the home town (it's infested with CIA guarding the visiting Bushman) - we'll stay in Adare south of the city, and we can cut across the lovely Golden Vale from Cashel, thus avoiding the unseemly fuss in its entirety. We're looking forward to our stay in the Dunraven Arms.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Just back from one of the most magical visits ever to West Cork - and from a stay in a most magical house. A hexagonal dwelling, perfect for two or four friends, with spreading views of the West Cork hills. Inside, the standard of fittings and fixtures is excellent, and the whole has the air of a home, which indeed it is (Gina is house-and-land minding for some neighbours, and letting her own house - you can email her, or phone +353 (86) 843 0075. More details about the house, and some piccies, presently).

Some good examples of malapropisms are to be found here. (Hat-tip to Mark in Malmo.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Hat-tip to NASA via pthbbbt: Mammatus clouds over Mexico.

ISM for the Day


The existence of something in an era to which it does not naturally belong.

ORIGIN: Greek, ana, backwards, khronos, time.

BACKGROUND: Real-world anachronisms are puzzles for historians and archaeologists. An example is the Baghdad battery, an artefact which seems to imply that electricity was known to the Mesopotamian people millennia before it was re-discovered in the West. Historical artefacts are either resolved by new discoveries, or remain as fertile material for the “They Came From Outer Space” school of ancient studies.

Social anachronisms are not literally anachronisms, since they exist in current time: for example, a person who insists in wearing the clothes of a former era, (perhaps as a result of anachronistic displacement, the psychological condition of someone who believes they actually “belong” in that era). Anachronistic societies like the Amish reject the use of modern inventions such as electricity.

Dramatic anachronisms occur when a playwright or film maker introduces something from another era into the action: for example, a clock bell rings in Ancient Rome, or jet con trails criss-cross the blue skies behind the gunfighters at the OK Corral. Shakespeare provides a healthy crop of these, and indeed didn’t seem to worry over-much about them.

Modern producers, for that matter, have embraced Shakespearean anachronism by staging his plays in modern dress and settings. The contrast between different world views can provide the basis for satire on both (for example, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court).

Even with the wizardry of modern film making, it is a challenging task to capture an era without a single unwitting anachronism. Font experts, for example, are especially prone to noting the use of a font that was not invented for a few years after the film’s setting. Modern CGI techniques, however, have made it easier to edit out unwanted modernisms such as telephone poles and jet trails.

A bit of reverb from LA: Mark passed on the cheesy Dancing with Cats link I posted last week and these rappers have taken the ball and ran with it. Check out the vid on this page: Lions,Tigers, and Bears: Gettin' Jiggy With The Animal Kingdom, a 15.7 mb .mov file.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Heading off for a few days from Wednesday to visit with one of my oldest pals down in West Cork - the excellent work of his operation, Coomhola Salmon Trust, is well worth a visit.

Gnome sweet gnome: if you recognise this gnome, phone WPC Lucy Smith at Salisbury Police Station on 01722 411444. The thief was unable to "help police with their inquiries", as he has completely forgotten where he stole it from.

More cutting edge research: apparently sheep prefer happy people.

Friday, June 11, 2004

ISM for the Day


TRAIT: A tendency to see threats where none exist, or to exaggerate those that do.

ORIGIN: Italian, allarme, to arms!
BACKGROUND: The alarming thing about alarmists is that they can sometimes be right: for example, the Trojan princess Cassandra made herself somewhat unpopular by constantly predicting the fall of Troy. Our rooted dislike of alarmists who needlessly ruffle our feathers is probably best represented in the fable of The Boy Who Shouted “Wolf!”.

Here's a detailed guide into transforming yr XP interface into a clone of the Mac OSX desktop. Sounds worth a try with the toy copy of XP on my home PC.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I've always been fascinated by the giant squid. Anyway, here's a groovy new term: squid squad.

The giant squid has consumed the imaginations of many oceanographers. How could something so big and powerful remain unseen for so long-or be less understood than dinosaurs, which died out millions of years ago? The search for a living specimen has inspired a fevered competition. For decades, teams of scientists have prowled the high seas in the hope of glimpsing one. These "squid squads" have in recent years invested millions of dollars and deployed scores of submarines and underwater cameras, in a struggle to be first.
—David Grann, "The Squid Hunter," The New Yorker, May 24, 2004

ISM of the Day.


The formation of words in imitation of sounds: onomatopoeia.

ORIGIN: Greek, ekhe, sound.
BACKGROUND: Some examples (try reading this list out loud):




The IT worker blues: move sixteen tons, and what do you get? Employee recognition programmes, that's what, you lucky people.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Heavy on the cheese! A collection of photos of people dancing with cats.

Looks like the world is safe from the grey goo after all. Guess we can all sleep easy now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

ISM for the day:

USAGE: Usually verbal, associated with the Cockney inhabitants of London. A typical cockneyism is rhyming slang, for example “trouble and strife” = wife.

ORIGIN: Middle English, a pampered child - and later, a pale-faced city dweller.
BACKGROUND: Originally a slang form designed to hide the meaning of street talk from outsiders, rhyming slang evolved into a form of word play, with sometime two or even three levels of remove in the relationship, for example: “Brahms” = Brahms, contemporary of Liszt = pissed = drunk.

Here are some more Cockneyisms:

Adam and Eve = believe ("would you Adam and Eve it?")
Artful Dodger = lodger
Bag of fruit = suit
Berk = Berkshire Hunt = cunt ("'Ee's a right berk, 'ee is.")
Britneys = Britney Spears = beers
Brown bread = dead
Bubble = Bubble & Squeak (a Cockney dish) = Greek
Butcher's = butcher's hook = look
Cain and Abel = table
Creamed = cream crackered (Cream Crackers are a popular British biscuit) = knackered

Currant bun = sun (The Sun is a London newspaper) = newspaper
Daisies = daisy roots = boots
Dog = dog and bone = phone
Ducks and Geese = police
Elephant's Trunk = Drunk
Farmers = Farmer Giles = piles
Frog = frog & toad = road
Ginger = ginger beer = queer
Gregory = Gregory Peck = cheque
Gypsy's = Gypsy's kiss = piss
Hampsteads = Hampstead Heath (a London park) = teeth
Half-inch = pinch = steal
Jack = Jack Jones = alone ("On me Jack" = "On my own")
Jam jar = car
Jam tart = heart
Jugs = jugs of beer = ears
Lady Godiva = fiver (five pound note)
Loaf = loaf of bread = head ("use your loaf")
Minces = mince pies = eyes
Mutton = Mutt and Jeff = deaf
North and South = mouth
Oily rag = fag = cigarette
Ones and twos = shoes
Orchestras = orchestra stalls = balls
Pen and Ink = stink
Plates = plates of meat = feet
Porky = pork pie = lie, ("You’re telling porkies!")
Rabbit = rabbit and pork = talk
Raspberry = raspberry tart = fart
Richard = Richard the Third = turd
Rosie = Rosie Lee = tea ("Let’s ‘ave a good cup of Rosie")
Round the houses = trousers
Rub-a-dub-dub = pub
Salmon and Trout = snout
Scarper = Scapa Flow (a harbour in Scotland) = go (as in "run for it!")
Septic = septic tank = Yank = American
Skin = skin and blister = sister
Sky = sky rocket = pocket
sweaty = sweaty sock = jock = Scottish person
Syrup = syrup of figs = wig(s)
Tea leaf = thief
Titfer = tit for tat = hat
Tom and Dick = sick
Tom = tomfoolery = jewellery ("Some tea leaf nicked all 'er tom")
Treacle = treacle tart = sweetheart
Trouble = trouble and strife = wife
Two-and-eight = state ("The trouble and strife was in a right old two-and-eight.")
Whistle = whistle and flute = suit =("That’s a nice whistle there, my son.")

The Reg commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Alan Turing, one of the founders of the computer revolution. There's a good site on Turing's immeasurable contribution here.

Friday, June 4, 2004

E-mail hits middle age, and a world of problems, notably the overwhelming spam issue. Also, is Gmail the future of e-mail: can we trust Google (or any other single company) with the electronic equivalent of The One Ring.

It's official, duck have regional accents. "According to the research team, Cornish ducks have a "chilled out" rural quack while wide-boy London ducks have an unpleasant shouting quack which they used to distract hapless foreigners before making off with their wallets and mobile phones."

Just another small story from the war.

The original "killer app" that changed the world is 25 years old - here's a chat with the makers.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Traces of Fire: Barium Meals for a City. This wonderful experiment is doubly fascinating because it's set in my native city, Limerick, and I know many of the venues that were "seeded" (an honour roll-call of the best of the city's many characterful pubs). The experimenters, Volkmar Klien and Ed Lear, "lost" specially adapted lighters in strategic spots. Each lighter was equipped with a hidden transmitter announcing its ID and location. The two then used radio tracking to document the passage of the lighters in the company of their new "hosts". Hat tip to Ideas Asylum for this one.

The Reg follows up on yesterday's Soden story with some quick-buck merchandise. Yes, porn surfing on the job is strictly for mugs.

Here's a good collection of books from the golden era of occultism. The Victorians were an easily scandalised lot: the likes of Aleister Crowley seem quite innocuous by today's standards.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Close to the Edge: magnificent spiral galaxy NGC 4565 is viewed edge-on from planet Earth. Thanks, NASA!

Osama Bin Laden's worst nightmare.

Hat tip to BoingBoing for this one:

This short-short story about a Quaker football game has the second-greatest religious football cheer in literature (the best is Philip Roth's "Ikey Mikey Shem and Ham, We're the boys who eat no ham, Go Yid!"):

Fight, fight, inner light, Kill, quakers, kill!
Knock 'em down, beat 'em senseless,
Do it till we reach consensus!

ISM for the day


DOCTRINE: All things tend towards ultimate good.

ORIGIN: Greek, agathos, good.
BACKGROUND: Agathism may be distinguished from optimism, which is the view that all things are now for the best. A good example is provided by the slogan of Irish Rail, which has the unenviable task of acknowledging that the current service is in a right old state, while pointing proudly to the massive investments being made in improving it. The resulting slogan, “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there”, is in the true spirit of agathism.

Outsource this, mate! The Reg has spotted a link - the porn on disgraced top banker Soden's machine was found and reported by IT staff who had their jobs outsourced to HP - Soden's second high profile decision (the first one was to ban porn surfing). The Reg is careful not to suggest that this was pure malice on the part of the sysadmins, "but it's clear that Soden's machine was thoroughly attended to."

posted by A Seeker after Knowledge 7:29 AM

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Living somewhere near here:

Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Click the piccie for a bigger version ...
Blogs we like
Blogcritics: news and reviews
William Gibson - he's back.
Dervala is a thought-provoking read.
William S. Lind military .... AND intelligent.
She's a Flight Risk ... and on the run.
North Atlantic Skyline: the West's awake
Informed Comment from an expert on Iraq
Karlin Lillington is on the move.
Quondam Confederate: Mark is in Malmo
Banana Republic Daze: is pithy and topical
Oblomovka in California
Textism: rarely updated, but succulent.
Melanie - this really is a blog.
Meanderthal Man - in search of the Missing Think.
Tom Chi making music in Seattle.
The Homeless Guy - out and about.
Babblogue is quirky.
The Agonist - somewhere in Texas (when he's not touring the Silk Road).
SlashDot - geek central.
BoingBoing - a directory of wonderful things.
Bernie Goldbach - is under way in Ireland.
Ideas Asylum - for insanely good ideas.
D2R - for tech talk.
Last Daze of Eamo - for an eye on the comics.
Tom Murphy - has a PR angle.
QuantumBlog - for scientific updates without all that Slashdot attitude shite.

Dept. of War-blogging Just to keep an eye on these guys and be reminded that the neo-cons aren't going away any time soon ...
Den Beste - good on engineering topics, rabid on everything else.
John Robb - war-blogging from the armchair (which is the closest to a war-zone most of these guys get).
Instapundit - for breaking news, and a right-wing take on same. "If you've got a modem, I've got a (bigoted) opinion".
Andrew Sullivan - a right-winger who writes well.
... and if you want to get the taste of these guys out of your mouth, visit: Press Action

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Just in case they ever come back to life, and to remind one of the perils of hiatus ....
Where is Raed? used to blog from Baghdad
Ilonina - was random.
Paulianne was diarying in Diois
Eric Raymond - an individual, but one who doesn't keep his site updated.

I live in Ireland, in a lovely part of the country called Aughrim in the county of Wicklow. I work in South Dublin - it's a long commute - but 2 days a week I work from home. Whenever possible, I walk with my dog Scooby (Scooby's a feisty Glen of Imaal terrier with loadsa character) under beautiful Croghane Mountain.
About the name Mulqueen Mulqueen is a Clare sept, first recorded as a bardic tribe in the annals of the Dal Cais in the 10th century. I'm from Limerick originally myself, and the name is mainly found in south Clare, North Tipperary, and Limerick East. The name is O'Maolchaoin in Gaelic - the "Maol" (as with all the many Irish surnames beginning in "Mul") means "bald". It doesn't mean there were a lot of hair-challenged gents back then! The tag refers to "tribes wearing horn-less helmets" - it wasn't just the Vikings who wore horns, many Irish tribes did too. The "chaoin" means "gentle" in the sense of well-bred (the sense that survives in "gentleman" or "gentility"). Presumably the bardic (poetic) activities are referred to here :-) Anyhow, some of us are still writing - there is a disproportionate number of Mulqueens working in Irish journalism. Heraldic elements in clan history generally tend to be much later additions, but for the record the Mulqueen coat of arms holds a lion and a heart, and the motto: "Fortiter et fideliter" - brave and true.
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