Monday, 31 May 2010
Its an old game, there was a Doctor Who version of it on the Amstrad CPC 464, from an Amstrad Action cover tape/disk. The basic premise of the Ubuntu version is you start at the centre of a 45 x 30 square playing field, upon which are a two types of killer robots, you take it in turns to move. You can move one square in any direction, the robots move either one or two square towards you. If they touch you you die, if they crash into each other they blow up and leave a pile of debris.
One each level there are 10 additional robots, so on level 16, that I arrived at last night, there are 160 robots, that is, one for every eight and a bit squares. It was pretty crowded.
I died after four moves.
There's not much of a strategy really, after a while it all comes down to chance, and to get to level 16 I was just very lucky.
Sadly, I missed the turn off to our hotel and a few moments later, in very slow moving traffic, the back windscreen of my Smart Car shattered. Apparently it happens quite often in older model Smarts where the demister heating element has such a shape that stresses build up and then cause a catastrophic failure.
As Monty Python taught us with Mrs. Niggerbater, well, things explode every day?
Although, for me, it kind of put a dampener on the whole weekend. The weather was pretty shite too.
The insurance mob were unable to do anything speedily, what with Smart car back windscreens not quite being an 'off the shelf' part, and it being a goddamn bank holiday weekend so no one really wanted to scour the nation's car parts depots looking for the blasted thing anyway. So, instead we soldiered on to Stonehenge and after discovering that the entrance fee was £6.90, we went and had a look at Woodhenge instead.
Torrential rain soon followed, I patched up my back windscreen hole with Lidl cardboard and we retired to the hotel for Eurovision.
The next morning, under beautiful sunshine, I drove back to London with my tail between my legs.
Sunday, 30 May 2010
Also on Andrew Marr was Iain Duncan Smith, I though he looked very much like a 1950's statesman, which was kind of a cool anachronism, although he's pinched his body language from Tony Blair.
Anyhoo, that Diane Abbott, whilst she was being interviewed I couldn't take my eyes off her hands, the way she was constantly picking at the nail on the third finger on her right hand, all through the interview, regardless of the words coming out of her mouth, just pick pick pick.
Whilst IDS was doing Tony Blair hand gestures, Diane was just pick pick pick.
IDS's body language tutor must have said in one lesson, emphasize points by using your hand, grasping motions, open gestures, rolling gestures, gestures, gestures, gestures. Drumming in the lesson. Diane must have missed that lesson. Probably busy with diversity training.
I've listened intently, dragging my eyes away from her nail-picking and it seems the over-riding message of her leadership bid, it isn't policies or dogma, its just that she's not white or male, so my narrative reason for supporting her is entirely reasonable.
Not that her reasoning is that reasonable. She may not be male or white, but she is an Oxbridge graduate, so she's just like all the other candidates and miles away from the vast majority of Labour supporters. Not to say that an Oxbridge candidate can't represent a non-Oxbridge constituency, just that it forever cancels out any argument about who can represent the views of who.
Back to her policies, I'm not sure what they are, although when on the Marr show she was discussing public sector cuts with Iain Duncan Smith, Iain Duncan had said something along the lines of how up north public sector wages had squeezed out the private sector so factory owners were finding it difficult to employ quality staff at a price they could afford, with the subtext of if there were public sector cuts up north, the folk could easily find new employment, albeit with lower wages.
Diane Abbott's response was that in her constituency the public sector was the biggest employer, the last factory in Hackney closed twenty five years ago, if people in the public sector were made redundant they wouldn't be able to find new jobs and hence increase the burden on welfare.
To my jaundiced ears it sounded like her constituents are unemployable wastes of space who only have their jobs so that they don't show up in job seekers allowance claimant figures. And they might as well just be paid to dig holes and fill them in again, anything to keep them off the dole.
All the more reason to sack the lot of them.
That said, if what Diane said was correct, then maybe their pay could be cut drastically, as there's little private sector employment to compete with, and so Hackey could provide better value for money for the taxpayer than Iain Duncan Smith's northern masses.
But no no, Diane's line was they Hackney's public sector workers shouldn't face cuts as they're unemployable, almost as if giving them jobs is charity.
That's just Diane Abbott's portrayal of her Hackney public sector constituents. Me, I think they're probably very employable but are currently trapped in a public sector wage trap. They'd be able to fulfill their creative potential and self-actualisation far better in the private sector, but taking a hit on their wages is just too much.
Her point about the last factory in Hackney closing twenty five years ago show a contemptibly poor understanding of manufacturing. it doesn't take a factory to make a factory, give me a dozen lads, a few soldering irons and an RS Components catalog and I'll give you a world-leading cutting-edge manufacturing company.
Saturday, 29 May 2010
For example if offered a cup of tea, where the alternative is no hot drink at all, then I'd choose tea. But if subsequently offered tea or coffee or nothing at all, I'd go for coffee. And then as a last minute change, offered tea, coffee or hot chocolate, I'd change my mind a third time and opt for hot chocolate. As everyone knows, hot chocolate is yummy.
Lets arrange these options in order of yumminess:-
1. Hot chocolate
4. Lying in bed scratching one's arse.
So, as these option became available be changed our mind several times so as to reach the ideal situation.
But then, imagine if you will, the "Well you can make it yourself" nuclear option. To process it, lets re-arrange the four options into how much faffing/washing up is involved:-
1. Lying in bed scratching one's arse - No faffing or washing up
2. Tea - one tea bag to dispose of, spoon and mug to wash up
3. Coffee - ground coffee to dispose of, spoon, mug and cafetiere to wash up
4. Hot chocolate - milk to source and dispose of empty, mug, spoon, and sauce pan with burnt on milk to wash up.
We can clearly see that yumminess and faff/washing up are inversely proportional, and given the initial satisfactory state of lying in bed scratching one's arse, as more and more options become available we change our mind each time, and eventually end up back at the initial state with no hot drink, but rising levels of frustration.
I'm sure this is how politics is, just look at the progress of ID cards in the UK over the last
It doesn't have to be like this though. If the initial proposition had the appropriate quality of information, all the options offered and the "Well you can make it yourself" subclause, then no changing of mind would have to happen at all, no rising levels of frustration, just a leisurely scratching of one's arse in bed on a Saturday morning.
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
I'm in an office, essentially pressing buttons until computer screens and printers go right, then putting bits of paper in order. I'm wearing a shirt and optionally a tie, and whilst this isn't quite the captain of industry role I thought I'd find in London, its all right.
The digital radio in the corner is telling me not to worry about a thing, cos every little thing is going to be all right.
The drive to work in the morning is averaging around 45 minutes, and to get home its around double that. To get trains and buses, it would be more expensive and an hour and a half either way.
The pay is a lot better than the sandwich factory, the hours are sociable and the work involves databases and makes London a better place.
Occasionally, I'm driven out to areas of wasteland to prod around with tape measures and count trees.
Its turned out nice again.
I'm wondering if I did something wrong eighteen months back and somehow I could have ended up in a nice job like this a lot sooner, did I just wander into the wrong agencies, fill in the forms wrong. Or was the credit crunch/recession as bad as I can blame it, things just turned out this way through no fault of my own.
Elsewhere on the internet Dirty Vicar uploaded some old photies of the last Bowie meetup from 2008, friends from a now closed down internet forum. There's still Facebook and Twitter, but the threads connecting us are frayed and stretched. Every so often I notice folk missing from my Facebook friendslist, acquaintances severed, no great loss, we were never that close, but still that old world becomes a little bit smaller.
Maybe its just me, getting further and further away from the man I used to be, Glasgow, Bowlie, popscene.
I went along to MJ Hibbett's Totally Acoustic thing at The Lamb on Conduit Street last night, I arrived in time to catch the last ten minutes of his latest Dinosaur Planet show. It was great, with rapid costume changes, new songs and jokes, it was like a Lew Stringer comic strip made flesh. Kind of sad that I missed most of it.
Then again, I've been to loads of the Totally Acoustic shows. Maybe that's not enough for gig-going and social, its a Red Queen kind of thing, you gotta run as fast as you can just to keep up. And I've been slacking.
Its been months, maybe years, since I went to HDIF, and I've never been to Crimes Against Pop, or dozens of the newer promotions that people I used to know have been putting on.
Must try harder.
Now the unemployment issue has been resolved, I can get out more.
Saturday, 22 May 2010
Sadly I didn't get the job I was learning it for, but instead refired my enthusiasm for learning programming languages. So, I've acquired Learning Perl and when that is done I'll be trying my hand at Ruby, just like the cool kids use.
I wrote me a wee program in Python that analyzes the text file of my 2001 novel Shag Times and comes up with various statistics for it.
I plan to re-write the same program in Perl as soon as I've finished reading Learning Perl, and then write the same program again in Ruby if that's even possible.
### Program to do the following ### * open shagtimes.txt ### * provide a word count ### * count unique words ### * provide top ten most popular words ### * provide all single occurance words ### * calculate average word length ### * find longest word import textwrap # Opening Shag Times and processing it a bit book = open('shagtimes.txt') book = book.read() book = book.lower() ### Code to remove punctuation stuff_to_replace_with_space = (".", ",", "?", "/", "=", "-", ";", ":") stuff_to_remove = ("\'", "(", ")", "\"") for item in stuff_to_replace_with_space: book = book.replace(item, " ") for item in stuff_to_remove: book = book.replace(item, "") print "=======================================" # Doing the word count book = book.split() wordcount = len(book) print "The document contains %i words in total" % wordcount print "=======================================" # Doing the unique count uniques =  for item in book: if item not in uniques: uniques.append(item) uniquecount = len(uniques) print "The document contains %i unique words" % uniquecount print "=======================================" uniques.sort() # Finding top ten popular words print "The top ten most used words:-" occurancelist =  for item in uniques: occurances = book.count(item) occurancelist.append((occurances, item)) occurancelist.sort() occurancelist.reverse() for item in occurancelist[:10]: print item print "=======================================" # Finding single use words print "Words that were used only once:-" singleuse =  singleusecount = 0 for item in occurancelist: c, w = item if c == 1: singleuse.append(w) singleusecount+=1 singles = "" while singleuse: for item in singleuse: singles = singles + (singleuse.pop()) + ", " singles = textwrap.wrap(singles, width=70) for i in singles: print i print "=======================================" print "A total of %i words were used only once" % singleusecount print "=======================================" # Finding average word length chartotal = 0.000 for item in book: chartotal = chartotal + len(item) avechar = chartotal/wordcount print "The average word length was %.3f letters long" % avechar print "=======================================" # Finding longest word longlength = 0 for item in uniques: if len(item) > longlength: longlength = len(item) print "The longest word was %i letters long" % longlength print "These words were that long:-" for item in uniques: if len(item) == longlength: print item print "======================================="
Can someone recommend me a good book for learning to program in Ruby?
Friday, 21 May 2010
Thursday, 20 May 2010
So similarly after Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, it just doesn't seem right that the UK Labour Party should have some kind of male leader next, especially not one from the Ed/Miliband Venn.
Initially my money was on Harriet Harman to be the female candidate for Labour Leader, but it makes more sense that Diane Abbott has stepped into the ring.
God knows where I saw it, but some Libertarian blogger mentioned that it only costs £1 to join the Labour Party, so it wouldn't be too difficult to round up the internet masses, join, vote for their favoured candidate then let their membership lapse.
Anyhoo, to this end, I've started a Facebook Group: Join the Labour party just to elect Diane Abbott as Labour Leader!!
You know it makes sense.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
I'm paraphrasing, but Kirstie's point was that being an MP is a male game, there are plenty of women in politics, but they're mostly behind the scenes as lobbyists and researchers and officers, rather than chasing the fame game as MPs. Some sectors are dominated by women, publishing and lobbying she said.
Her point reminded me of some article I read in the Daily Record in 2007 about how grave diggers (a male profession) were paid more than primary school teachers (a female profession). Its not quite as simple as women get paid less than men, rather, people are free to take whichever jobs they want, women don't chose grave digging and so don't earn the same pay.
The thing is, the barriers stopping women from becoming grave diggers and men becoming primary school teachers are different to the barriers stopping women from becoming MPs.
Charlotte Gore has a neat take on the subject of female cabinet ministers.
You know what I’d love? I’d love to be able to write something along the lines of “every single woman who’s a minister or cabinet minister is there out of merit and ability to do the job, rather than tokenism. That matters more than the numbers.”To become a cabinet minister, you've got to not just personally choose to pursue that career, even if there are all women shortlists and special arrangements for childcare and family friendly flexible working hours, you've still got to get elected, persuading your constituents to vote for you over voting for the other candidates, male or female. Your ability to be elected has to outstrip the electability of your competitors.
I’d love to be able to write that… but I’d have to be a fool to believe it. For it to be true, it’d have to be true of every single minister – not just the women. The exception that disproves it, quite obviously, is George Osborne, someone who’s as qualified to be Chancellor as I am.
Even then you've got to stick at it for more than one length of government.
And then to become a cabinet minister, as Charlotte points out, you've got to become part of the prime minister's trusted circle, you've got to be amongst his best mates. Its not enough to be great at your job, or to have carved out a specialist subject niche, like Housing or Defense. You've got to do that and be mates with the PM.
And clearly these things are difficult to do.
The one strategy that occurs to me, that might get more women into cabinet, rather than having diversity targets or all-women short lists, would be a girl-group, collaboration between the women PPCs or MPs, a gaggle if you will.
So, that in the same way that when Dave is PM you get George as Chancellor, or when Nick is PM you get Vince as Chancellor, you know that when you elect Diana, you get Mary and Florence too, or when you elect Geri, you get Victoria, Emma, Mel and Mel.
Its a brand thing. Some political brands ought to be WOMEN, not a pro-women party or policy, but something self-evidently dominated by women.
Hmm, maybe some folk already do this.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Anyhoo, over on the BBC website there's a story about how Charles Moore refused to pay his TV licence as a protest against Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's Sachsgate phonecall.
He went on: "The question was, how to protest. Normally if you don't like a service or a political party, you can at least withdraw your custom and choose another. With the BBC, there is no such option.Sadly this sort of thing is forbidden, c'est interdit, and Mr Moore was fined £262.
"So disobedience seemed the logical response... when my licence fee came up for renewal, I would pay the sum instead to Help the Aged, out of respect for Andrew Sachs. Until Ross was sacked, I would keep my television and go on watching it."
Its a similar thing with public spending and taxes. Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers Alliance made a similar point the other day in an article on ConservativeHome
Councils are at best semi-accountable at the moment. Every year, or three or even four years I get a vote on who my councillor is. Even then, many of their policies are not decided by elected councillors. In between elections, I am legally compelled at the threat of prosecution to hand over as much money as they demand.I prefer to decide how to spend my own money (or when to save it) myself.
Compare this to private business. Every time I go shopping, I take part in a referendum on which supplier I give my money too. Even better, it is a referendum of a population of one – me. At any time, if I get a dodgy product, poor customer service or an unreasonable price hike, I am free to withdraw my business from any one of the thousands of different companies I deal with in my day to day life. I don’t get outvoted by others, and if I choose to reject Heinz beans as far too expensive, they cannot serve me with court papers demanding I hand them money regardless.
Does Mr Myers still think that Kensington & Chelsea is more accountable than a private business?
This is the really good reason why councils should be more transparent than private companies: if voters are only given a choice about their council service once every year or more, then they deserve as much information as possible to inform that decision. If taxpayers are to be forced to hand over their money, then the very least councils can do in return is show us how it is spent.
Yon Facebook group 'Tories have no MANDATE to rule Scotland' and their hypothetical counterpart group, 'Labour have no MANDATE to rule England', it all comes down to the same thing, how aligned are you with the UK's political system.
do they have any right to spend your money?
Clearly under the current system, the answer is yes, they (the winners) have the right, can raise taxes (or lower them) as much as they decide, and them allocate resources in any way they see fit. Any protests against the current system comes down to this, you think your judgment of how to allocate resources is better than those who have been elected.
God knows what I'm trying to say here, probably something about how the government of the last 13 years has been trying to extract as much money as possible from our pockets, keeping them in power isn't going to change that policy.
If you think you could better allocate resources then electing a party that lets you keep more money in your pocket is the wisest course.
Monday, 10 May 2010
See, when you're talking on the telephone, booking tickets or hotel reservations or anything where you need to spell out letters, they use the ICAO spelling alphabet, alpha, bravo, charlie, and so on. May I suggest an alternative, just in case anyone is monitoring your communications:-
Some months ago, a chap called Paul J Chambers was feeling frustrated that Robin Hood Airport in Nottingham was closed so he posted on Twitter the following message:-
Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!Someone forwarded it to the authorities, who investigated and after some degree of wrangling in the British justice system he's been found guilty and fined £1,000.
Twitter is one of the greatest broadcasting media of the century, it's unwise to piss off the hive mind.
After Jack of Kent blogged, Twitter went crazy, with messages such as this one being retweeted all over the shop.
@caitlinmoran: Christ, if people are being fined £1k for making bad jokes on Twitter, I might as well start wanking tramps for change now #twitterjoketrialThere were rumblings about setting up a donation fund to pay the fine and any other costs incurred by Paul, Old Holborn, the rebellious blogosphere's failed PPC is on the case. But it may not be enough to satisfy the twitterers, they want blood, This message seems to be exploding a wee bit too.
RT @davelength: Retweet this is if you believe Keir Starmer should resign as Director of Public Prosecutions. #twitterjoketrial
Sunday, 9 May 2010
So I almost attended a protest at the weekend, a hastily organised affair, that later I read about on Twitter. It was odd though, the mob with placards aloft didn't march on Labour, they marched on the Lib Dem HQ and then the Conservative HQ.
Sure, they were protesting for electoral reform, but it didn't quite make sense in my head. The people they were shouting at had only been elected the day before, yet already the mob were protesting. Had the mob somehow elected the wrong people? Already?
Back to Copenhagen, when tens of thousands of protestors descended on the environmental talks, tens of thousands of activists from all over the world. Did it make any difference to the handful of world leaders who were inside discussing what measures they were to take to tackle climate change? I doubt it.
If climate change is anthropogenic, then there's only a couple of countries responsible, the top five polluters responsible for 90% of emissions, all the other countries are essentially the same as the mob outside, posturing to no end.
Back to the protest mobs, I marched against the war in Iraq back in the day, but I can't march for electoral reform. Iraq was a binary issue, against the war or not. But electoral reform is a rich tapestry.
Personally, I think equalising constituency sizes is far more important than PR, STV, AV or FPTP. Others feel that PR is the issue worth breaking the stability of a nation for, STV has its merits.
But it's all burocracy, admin, red tape and paperwork. There are more important and urgent issues to address in the UK today. Electoral reform is merely a 'would be nice to have' issue. Jesus, how long did Labour spend trying to ban fox hunting?
Stuart Sharpe stuck a wee line at the end of his last blogpost which I feel is very profound:-
I would be fascinated to hear evidence that proportional voting systems directly contribute to improved social or economic outcomes in other countries.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
Does the government rule? Or does the government just govern and its either the people or the queen who rules.
Does the statement "Labour has no mandate to rule England" stand up as much as the former?
Supposing that ruling and governing amount to the same thing, and that somehow the Conservative party form a minority government, would cutting off Scotland's funding satisfy those who joined the Facebook group? It would sure help with reducing the deficit. But I doesn't see an independent Scotland getting a bailout from the EU, there's a long queue.
Anyhoo, the Westminster parliament is an English and Welsh affair, which has temporarily allowed the Scots and the northern Irish to join, to the mutual prosperity of all the UK nations. Its only fair that in this period of economic decline those who wish to be cast adrift are.
How about "The Tories have no mandate to rule Brent North"? Would that work?
Friday, 7 May 2010
Old Holborn (Ind)
Cambridge - 7th - 145 votes (0.3%)
Mark Wadsworth (UKIP)
Uxbridge & Ruislip - 5th - 1,234 (2.7%)
Martin Cullip (Libertarian)
Sutton and Cheam - 9th - 41 votes (0.1%)
Nic Coome (Libertarian)
Devizes - 7th - 141 votes (0.3%)
Anna Arrowsmith (LibDem)
Gravesham - 3rd - 6,293 votes (13.3%)
Fair dos to Mark Wadsworth and Anna Arrowsmith, for getting four digits, but they did have their parties' brands to draw people to the cause, so its kind of like cheating.
Gotta say, its all a bit pathetic for the Libertarians. I can just imagine Devil's Kitchen doing his own Downfall rant, for fucks sake 41 votes and 141 votes, I got more than that when I stood for president at Strathclyde University, twice, naked, with adverts that read "Don't just vote for him, Worship him".
But Old Holborn's 145 votes, that's complete pish too, he's an internet celebrity and maverick of the political blogging scene and he's barely rounded up the guys from the pub.
Its just a bit disappointing. Like there are some who'll say well done for taking party, for trying to make a difference, but that's far too generous considering the result.
Back to Strathclyde University 2000 and 2001, when I stood in the student union elections, the first time round I campaigned hard for weeks and secured 172 votes, the winner got around 8,000, the next years I stood in the elections again, but this time didn't bother to campaign, I just stayed in bed, and got 255 votes. Doing nothing was more successful than doing something, but that's nothing to be proud of.
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Anyhoo, elsewhere in the European Union, on the sunny shores of Camden, Jim Wintour, the Housing Director chap, has resigned from his £158,000 a year job. Tracy suggests three reasons:-
Much speculation as to why he quit:I've heard differently, that he actually emailed out his reasons for leaving to all the council employees, that like in Greece, Jim Wintour heard that the powers that be were going to be tinkering with retirement packages, so he's jumped to maximise his pension.
A. He finally met and experienced first hand the gaggle of truly awful graspy, lying, devious so-called 'leading' tenant reps we have lurking about in Camden and thought 'what the fook get me out of here'.
B. He has taken the fall for a workforce that is a law unto itself.
C. He made the mistake of giving interviews to a local newspaper and admitted that the council was at fault over a matter to do with the housing of a local disabled woman who died in her council flat. This type of behaviour (displaying a degree of integrity) is wholly unacceptable when working for the 'firm' and will be punished accordingly.
However much is in his pension pot must dwarf the £158,000 he's currently on.
Hopefully I'll include more photies in the future, and make them all black and white halftone images, and it'll all look cool.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
As with last year, I haven't seen or heard many of the bands playing at this year's Indietracks music festival. So, to help me, and you to chose which bands to check out, I'm putting together a list of all the bands and their videos from YouTube, trying to find three videos for each band.
Its going to take me ages, but, well, this is what I do.
Bands with videos on YouTube
Betty and the Werewolves
The Just Joans
Mexican Kids at Home
MJ Hibbett and The Validators
Bands I haven't yet found videos for
Be Like Pablo
The Blanche Hudson Weekend
The Felt Tips
The Give It Ups
Jam on Bread
La La Love You
Love is All
The Middle Ones
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Paisley and Charlie
The Pooh Sticks
The Specific Heats
Stars of Aviation
Stars in Coma
The Sunny Street
This Many Boyfriends
Any better offers of videos cheerfully accepted, its going to take me ages to get all the bands.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
I don't mean uniform cuts across the board, 10% off every department budget, just a couple of well placed drastic cuts. Here, look at this graph.
Can you envisage cutting GPs pay by 50%, so it has parity with MP's pay again? Same comparitive remuneration as they had before 2002?
There's about 36,000 GPs in the UK, so currently they get paid a total of about £4,500,000,000. The total NHS budget is around £102,000,000,000. So aye, cutting GP's pay by 50% would cut the NHS total budget by about 2%.
Maybe, this is a little heartless and before 2002 GPs were woefully underpaid, and its only now that they're paid as much as they're due.
Up until very recently I was working in a sandwich factory making sandwiches for minimum wage, I feel I was woefully underpaid for the job I was doing. Without sandwich makers such as myself thousands of office workers would starve, should I have been paid more?