The Blog


21 Nov 2014


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13 Nov 2014

The lights are going out in Syria. Literally.
http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-olduvai-cliff-are-lights-going-out.html
 The Olduvai cliff: are the lights going out already? »
Image from Li and Li, "international journal of remote sensing." h/t Colonel Cassad". The image shows the nighttime light pattern in Syria three years ago (a) and today (b). Those among us who are diehard catastrophists surel...

[from: Google+ Posts]

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07 Nov 2014

Saccades and LED lights.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saccade

Saccades are the name for the way human eye movements work in jerks. The brain blanks the visual system while the eyes move and fills in the gaps with a remembered version of the scene. The quickest way to verify this is to look in a mirror and switch your gaze from eye to eye. Despite the lack of blinking, you can't see your eyes move. This has all kinds of side effects, not least the suggestion that it is responsible for at least some SMIDSY accidents. It's also an entry point into the discovery that a lot of what you think is objective reality out there is actually a constructed reality in here.

Here's the thing though. A lot of LED lights are driven from either mains frequency or a created alternating voltage in the bulb and go completely dark between cycles so they flash at about 50 or 100 Hz (UK. 60-120 in the US). Normally you never see the trails of flashes as your eyes move. But it is possible to deliberately slide your eyes across the scene slowly instead of using the Saccade mechanism and see the after images as the lights flash on and off. With the early evenings I'm finding this increasingly irritating on walks round the town as more and more lights are replaced by LEDs. There's these damn after images flickering in the corner of your vision.
 Saccade - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia »
A saccade (/sɨˈkɑːd/ sə-KAHD) is a fast movement of an eye, head or other part of the body or of a device. It can also be a fast shift in frequency of an emitted signal or other quick change. Saccades are quick, simultaneous movements of both eyes in the same direction.

[from: Google+ Posts]

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06 Nov 2014

If Harry Potter is so clever, why isn't he dealing with climate change, pollution and the energy crisis? And peace in the Middle East.

http://io9.com/seriously-why-isnt-hogwarts-using-all-that-magic-to-ex-1655211405 
 Seriously, Why Isn't Hogwarts Using All That Magic To Explore Space? »
We've all asked it at some point or another: if the wizards of the Harry Potter universe can conjure up such amazing miracles, why don't they use it to solve the energy crisis or explore the wonders of the universe? Boulet's latest webcomic dreams up all magical possibilities for the wizarding world.

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05 Nov 2014

On this day, it's especially important to follow the directions on boxes of matches. "Keep Dry and Away From Children". However if you are taking your little darlings to bonfire night, you should also heed the advice from Scarfolk Council. "Always Light Children At Arms Length"

http://scarfolk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/arms-length-safety-poster-bonfire-night.html
 "Arms Length" Safety Poster (Bonfire Night Part 1) »
When Scarfolk Council issued the poster below in 1972, it was met with complaints from parents, teachers and arsonists. While the poster does offer the safety guideline of an 'arms length', it does not specify how long that a...

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04 Nov 2014

Some fallout from the IPCC report on climate change

There's a bit of received wisdom I've been seeing stated as fact as people comment on the IPCC report. "You can have growth in global GDP without growth in the consumption of energy and resources". It's a nice fantasy and has an element of truthiness about it, because obviously increased efficiency and productivity means producing more for less. Except that rises in GDP have ALWAYS resulted in increasing consumption of energy and resources. So where's the counter example? And there's an underlying assumption that continued 3% compound growth is desirable and necessary. Is that true?

There's some interesting lines of macro-economic research here. In each case it needs to provide not just answers, ideas and proofs by example but routes to get there. And solutions need to be appropriate for global macro-economics, not just a tiny self sufficient community in the middle of Wales.

1) Can you have improving quality of life with zero or negative GDP growth?

2) Can you have increasing GDP without corresponding increases in energy and resource consumption?

3) Can we reduce our dependence on borrowing from the future via debt to fund growth in GDP?

4) Can we control the pollution side effects of growth in GDP?

It's not enough to do like Paul Krugman and just use homilies and parables about making shipping more efficient by sailing slower or such like. If it's even true, that's a local solution when answers need to be global models.

All the Limits to Growth models show hockey-stick style exponential growth leading to a brief peak followed by a catastrophic correction. More technical fixes and productivity improvements seem to lead to making the same graph more extreme; faster growth, a higher peak, a more dramatic correction. So I think this leads to the most important question.

What can we do now to create a soft landing as we transition from a growth state to a sustainable state? And that's both personally and as a global society.

If that's not hard enough. Then bear in mind what might be required to force global society to follow the optimum path when most of the actors are ill-informed and are treating the game as an iterated prisoner's dilemma where their own personal short-term gain is all that matters. And there's a lot of them spread all over the world.
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02 Nov 2014

The Copenhagen IPCC report is released today.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/02/rapid-carbon-emission-cuts-severe-impact-climate-change-ipcc-report

The article contains these two conflicting comments. 

"The lowest cost route to stopping dangerous warming would be for emissions to peak by 2020 – an extremely challenging goal – and then fall to zero later this century."

but

"The report also makes clear that carbon emissions, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, are currently rising to record levels, not falling." 

I'm afraid that looks to this bear of little brain like we're all doomed. Mankind will continue business as usual, with accelerating carbon emissions until either resource limits or pollution (in the form of global warming, smog or whatever) put a hard stop to it. The question is when, not if.

I've no doubt people will latch onto the uncertainties, or to phrases like this. "Tackling climate change need only trim economic growth rates by a tiny fraction, the IPCC states, and may actually improve growth by providing other benefits, such as cutting health-damaging air pollution. And they'll try to say that it's not that bad really and can be dealt with. I'm afraid though that I simply don't see how China, India, USA and others will ever want to slow down until nature forces them to. 
 IPCC: rapid carbon emission cuts vital to stop 'severe' impact of climate change »
Most important assessment of global warming yet warns carbon emissions must be cut sharply and soon, but UN’s IPCC says solutions are available and affordable

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22 Oct 2014

I want to buy a final edition 7th gen iPod Classic 160 with the v2.0.5 firmware in the UK. I don't mind a few scratches as long as the display is still ok. Anyone?

I need a 7th generation Classic 160 because this went back to a single platter drive and there's a 240Gb disk that fits and works. The previous 6th Gen 160 (which I have) used a dual platter drive with an unusual interface and can't be upgraded.

About 2 years ago, the final 7th Gen Classic iPod was upgraded with slightly different hardware that worked with the final v2.0.5 firmware. If it came with 2.0.4 then it probably can't be upgraded. 2.0.5 is desirable because there's a software setting to disable the EU volume limit. When Apple did all this, they didn't actually update the product codes or SKU# So People will claim they have a 7th Gen MC297QB/A or MC297LL/A and it might or might not be the right one. The only way to be sure is to try and update to 2.0.5

So at the moment I'm chasing several on eBay but having to wait for the sellers to confirm what they're actually selling before putting in bids and losing out. Apparently I'm not alone as prices are rising. The few remaining brand new ones are quoted on "Buy Now" prices at a premium, sometimes twice the final RRP. Gasp!

I f***ing hate Apple for playing all these games. I hate them for discontinuing the Classic 160. I hate that there's no real alternative.

1st world problems, eh? It seems like just recently I keep running up against this. I'm constantly off balance because things I thought were sorted and worked OK, are no longer available. Or the company's gone bust or been taken over. Or the product has been updated and what was good is now rubbish. Or the product is OK, but nobody actually stocks the whole range so you have to buy it on trust over the net.
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Aphex Twin leaking a fake version of Syro a few weeks before the official release was genius. It's spread all over the file sharing sites so it's hard to find the real release. The file names match[1]. The music is believeable but deliberately lacks lustre. It's really a brilliant pastiche of an Aphex Twin album as if some Russian producer has gone out of their way to make an homage example of what they thought Aphex Twin was doing.

http://www.electronicbeats.net/en/features/reviews/the-fake-aphex-twin-leak-is-a-hyperreal-conundrum/

[1] What's a bit weird though is that the MP3 files not only have the same filenames but seem to be the same size and have the same checksum.
 EB Reviews: Fake 'Syro' – Electronic Beats »
Am I one of those people who can't tell the difference between authentic Aphex tunes and sneering knockoffs?

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15 Oct 2014

Hilarious bit of spam email today.

illuminatiworld781
Are you a business man or business woman, politician, musical, student and you want to be very rich,powerful and be famous in life. You can achieve your dreams by been a member of the Illuminati. With this all your dreams and heart desire can be fully accomplish, Illuminati cult online today and get instant sum of $25,000monthly for becoming a member and $100,000 for doing what you like to do . so if you have the interest, you can call, +447064249899 or +447053824724 

But I'm having trouble finding any 5s in 781, fnord.
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14 Oct 2014

Here we are on the surface of this spaceship, travelling through time and space at 1 second per second (roughly) and about 360 km/sec towards Leo.

So what I want to know is, who's in charge? Because I have to say there are some aspects of the cruise that I'm not entirely happy with.
[from: Google+ Posts]

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One for the bucket list. Get yourself to a train station in Morocco in early June 2015. Get picked up and taken to a small village in the Rif mountains where you'll be looked after and fed by families in their homes for 3 days. The Master Musicians Of Joujouka then play their special blend of Sufi music each day and late into each night. Places limited to 50 and it's €360 all in.

http://thequietus.com/articles/16457-master-musicians-of-joujouka-festival-2015

There's a slightly cheaper one day version (€100) on 15-Nov-2014 tied in with the Beat Conference (17/19 Nov) in Tangier to celebrate the 100th anniversary of William Burrough's birth. The conference fee is basically B&B in the hotel plus food.
 The Quietus | News | Master Musicians Of Joujouka Festival 2015 »
Plus, one-off date in the village this November as part of William S. Burroughs centenary celebrations

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13 Oct 2014

China's per capita CO2 production (7.2 tonnes pa) is now higher than the EU's (6.8). It's still half the USA's (16.5) per capita figure but it's increased 4 fold since 2001.

The totals are more like China 29%, USA 15%, EU 10% of total pa CO2 production.

So now what happens?

http://rationthefuture.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/world-carbon-emissions-out-of-control.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29239194

Obviously, it's all OK, because Paul Krugman (Nobel prize winning economist and NYT columnist) says "Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free." with a bit of carbon tax, carbon credits and other strong measures to limit carbon emissions.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/opinion/paul-krugman-could-fighting-global-warming-be-cheap-and-free.html
And anyone who disagrees is just indulging in "climate despair".
 World carbon emissions out of control »
I am writing another post that has been triggered by a news article, only this time it is about climate change. The headline 'China's per capita carbon emissions overtake EU's' came as a bit of a shock. 'While the per capita ...

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09 Oct 2014

Assuming it's not actually raining, we're planning on going to the Cody Dock, Cody Wilds launch party on Sunday. https://www.facebook.com/events/805976122778470/
with a short detour to Trinity Buoy Wharf to see the Long Player http://longplayer.org/visit/.

For all the peeps in East London, if you've got nothing better to do this Sunday afternoon, you might like it. Especially if you bicycle, you need to get yourself to Twelvetrees Crescent and then walk/cycle down the East side of the Lea and Bow Creek. Bromley-By-Bow is close, or come at it from the other side via Star Lane DLR. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5237749,-0.0079912,18z/data=!5m1!1e3

Of course, if it's raining all day, then maybe not.

More detail here.
http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/cody-wilds.html
 CODY WILDS LAUNCH PARTY | Facebook »
CELEBRATING THE LAUNCH OF CODY WILDS CAMPAIGN! Help us win funding to build a wildflower haven on the River Lea! Come down to Cody Dock for an amazing day of workshops, music, food, drink, merriment, dancing and voting! Sip on mulled cider made with apples from Danny the Woodsman's orchard, ...

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30 Sep 2014

Reality needs less cowbell, say cows. And I for one, agree.

But it does need a saxophone on the bridge.

http://www.geek.com/geek-cetera/it-turns-out-that-cowbells-make-cows-miserable-1605552/
 It turns out that cowbells make cows miserable | Geek-Cetera | Geek.com »
A field of cowbell-equipped-cows may create a soothing soundscape of wind and chimes, but what’s soothing to us doesn’t translate to the cows. Though Christopher Walken and internet humor from over 14 years ago require [...]

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Some things to think about re Fermi's paradox. Life should be all over the galaxy, let alone the universe. So, where the heck is everybody?

Well, maybe, on any Earth type planet, If there is insufficient stored carbon available, the species will not be able to develop a technologically advanced society due to insufficient energy for the development of enough complexity. But if there is sufficient stored carbon available, the species will inevitably destroy itself.

It's just thermodynamics, innit. 

http://www.paulchefurka.ca/Fermi.html
 Solving Fermi's Paradox »
The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations. The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi and Michael H.

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21 Sep 2014

When we marched against the Iraq war, the demands were fairly simple even if they were ignored.

But when we march against "Climate Change" what are we asking for? What do we want to happen next?

http://peoplesclimate.org/global/#map

I suspect marching about climate change is like dancing about architecture. But if it makes us feel better, maybe it's still worth while.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2014/sep/21/peoples-climate-march-live

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20 Sep 2014

New Taboos

From an essay by John Shirley.
http://www.amazon.com/Taboos-Outspoken-Authors-John-Shirley/dp/1604867612

From http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/21/1225129/-Sci-Fi-Fantasy-Club-New-Taboos-by-John-Shirley
What if the phrase "Obscene Profits" were not just a figure of speech?  What if the practice of amassing huge profits while exploiting one's employees, or while contaminating the environment, or while lying to the public, was actually regarded as revolting, and the people who engaged in such practices were shunned as pariahs?

We need some new taboos that we reject utterly. That make us sick. That we will not allow under any circumstances. That are never acceptable. No end ever justifies these means. In the words of Rorschach from Watchmen, "Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon".

Here's a short and incomplete list of possible new taboos:-
1) Polluting or toxifying the environment. Particularly by corporate action for profit but also by individual action.
2) Lying or deceiving for profit. Especially to manipulate children for profit.
3) Using political influence for personal gain.
4) Hiding someone else's theft, fraud, dishonesty or pollution to protect one's own part in the system.
5) Discriminating on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation.
6) Making unreasonably large profits. eg. by taking advantage of a monopoly position to price gouge, or by avoiding tax, or paying absurd top salaries
7) Exploiting workers via uneconomic wages or contracts. eg zero hour contracts or paying minimum wage as opposed to living wage.
8) Exploiting workers via unsafe workplaces and practices for profit
9) Torture under any circumstances
10) Engaging in warfare except in the most dire necessity

These aren't hard. They're just the basic kindergarten rules of behaviour we teach kids.
- Don't poison other children
- Don't lie
- Don't steal
- Don't hurt other kids just to get what you want
- Don't take more than your share of the pudding

So now apply them to adults.
 New Taboos (Outspoken Authors): John Shirley: 9781604867619: Amazon.com: Books »
New Taboos (Outspoken Authors) [John Shirley] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

Mixing outlaw humor, sci-fi adventure, and cutting social criticism


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16 Sep 2014

PM Press (2013), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 128 pages
[from: Librarything]

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I'll just leave this here.

"If there is no centre, we're all on the edge."

From this review.
http://www.residentadvisor.net/review-view.aspx?id=15628
 Review: Various - Worth The Weight Vol. 2 »
Punch Drunk's second compilation reflects the dubstep diaspora a couple of generations deep.

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