Winter 2004-5

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Last Sunday, the first real day in the garden fairly knocked me for six - but got to a piece of work that has to be done early - removing couch grass from around the roses. Hands are now a matrix of thorn-cuts - but doing it any later in the year is a complete gore-fest. Yes, roses are a love-hate thing for those who tend and grow them ...

Some have it, some don't - "gaydar", the radar-like ability to detect gays. The Onion pipes up for the ebony equivalent: "blackdar".

Don't try this at home folks: an image from the future, courtesy Wired.

Wars are manned and fought by lots of ordinary folks on both sides: such as this guy birdwatching in Babylon, a GI Joe more interested in his barn swallows and shoveller ducks than in whacking the Ali Babas.

If it's for sale, they have it on eBay: including African slaves. Even more intriguingly, another eBayer has put "absolutely nothing" up for auction.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

"It's all about movies": Cringely's plausible take on the Mac Mini.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The idiots have spoken: check out this chart listing the American states by order of IQ (100 = normal) - an interesting list to begin with (Connecticut is the smartest and Mississippi the dumbest, in case you wondered). Then this is correlated with Kerry/Bush voting patterns. Surprise, surprise: the "smart" states voted for Kerry while the morons turned out in strength for Dubya.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Right-wing Britain comes "out of the closet" to hail a dashing new hero: Prince Harry.

First outing in the garden this year on Sunday: planted about 16 holly trees in the sceach (hedgerow) boundarying our property. And did some clear up work in the rose garden/boules court area. The early arrivals are off to an earlier than usual start: the Japanese quince is already in flower, and the first daffordils are bombing on up. Must check back to see if there is any reference in previous years' blogs, but mid-January definitely seems unusually early for daffodils.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Good spot by Mark: republished by Pixelmatic, a vision of the future - how the "imaginative young men" of the early 1960s (with their "crazy schemes" - but relax, they have "got the nod from scientists") figured the world might be like in the early 2000s.

If you're interested in the futuristic artwork of that halcyon era, check out the work of Radebaugh: the Future We were Promised.

Huygens is getting ready to go in on Titan. Watch this space. Meanwhile, the rover Opportunity finds an interesting object on Mars. And someone's spotted that Saturn moon Iapetus has an equator ridging that looks like the mould-flash on a cheap plastic toy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2005

A major gale is sweeping in from the Atlantic: banshee howls, the whole sky moving past at an impressive clip. Hang in there, slates ...

Rock on road: there's no question about it, they really do do things on a grander scale in the US.

Monday, January 9, 2005

This gadget sounds fun: a universal TV zapper. I want one!!!!

This Observer review of the wikipedia project is a lot more positive than many seen of late. I'll be spending more time there I think.

Sunday, January 8, 2005

Via Slashdot: CNN has published a list of their nominations for the top 25 innovations of the last 25 years - all except the number 1 slot, due in the next few days at What is your nomination for the top slot??

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Bloggies of the world (or at any rate, the motley crue who read these columns), it's time to start your browsers and VOTE: the 2005 Annual Bloggie Awards are under way!

This is rather a good essay on the factors that cause software development projects to succeed or fail.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Fortune gets the message: a surprisingly well written piece on the world of the blogosphere. (Unlike the rest of Fortune Online, you can have a free peek at this one).

This here's a good run-down on the more creative ideas to appear on the Web in 2004.

The little Rover that could ... one year on, Spirit is still truckin on Mars. (We covered Spirit - its initial difficulties, plucky persistence, and technological triumph - in these columns back in January 2004).

Well, another year in blogland, and back to work at le terminal. Christmas was a time of recovery rather than celebration, with much time spent between the sheets nursing a nasty chest cold. Got out on the icy moorlands and blasted heaths of South Wicklow a couple of times (for which my lungs did not thank me) but mostly camped out on the sofa with the extended edition of the Return of the King. The tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean was a leitmotif - many sad memories of visits to affected areas such as Thailand, Indonesia, and India.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Reg does a good roundup of developments in IP (Intellectual Property) in 2004.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Hammered by a seasonal bug this last couple days, but had a great weekend of walking, locally and on the Southern Wicklow Way. Amid a still green and autumnal landscape, Lugnaquilla and Croghan Moira rear solid snow-caps -a sign of chilly weather to come.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Was Gollum physically or mentally ill? The current issue of the British Medical Journal gets the physicians on his case.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

How hot can a car get (given money = no object)?
Try the Bugatti Veyron for size ...

Google have brought out an A-Z of most popular search words, quite revealing of popular culture. A summary, implemented as search links:

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Here's a good run down on the 5 ways to get to Mars that we currently could (potentially) put to use.

One of the longest and most bitterly disputed takeovers of recent years in the IT sector looks like finally going through: Oracle acquires PeopleSoft: The Reg has a timeline.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Continuing a wandering meme that includes making roads safer by making them look dangerous, and the concept of crossing the stupid line, we now offer the desire line: which WordSpy defines as "an informal path that pedestrians prefer to take to get from one location to another rather than using a sidewalk or other official route." But then, if you took the desire line too often, you might get run down by Mark when he gets his Porsche ....

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

It's my Dad's birthday today. He's 85. Happy Birthday, Dad!

The random playlist meme: works like this - you take your multi-gig digital music player of choice, select the entire collection, switch on Shuffle, and play the first ten items in the playlist. Should be a serendipitous (if potentially embarassing) cross section of yr musical tastebuds. Here's mine:

  1. Concerto in A minor (Vivaldi)
  2. Shady Grove (Trad: Jerry Garcia / Dave Grisman, The Pizza Tapes)
  3. Small Ax (Bob Marley, The Gold Collection)
  4. Aubade (Soft Machine, The Untouchable)
  5. Once You Hit the Road (Dionna Warwick, Heartbreaker)
  6. It Serves Me Right to Suffer (John Lee Hooker, Boogie Man)
  7. Llama (Phish, Picture of Nectar)
  8. Allegro (Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F)
  9. Concierto de Aranjuez (Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain)
  10. Nessun Dorma (Giacomo Puccini)

The monkey's wedding: around the world, people have a lot of names for what we call a sunshower - that magical combination of strong sunshine and drenching drizzle. Thanks to pthbbbt for this list.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Random good idea for the day: make roads safer by making them look more dangerous - i.e. take out all the road signs and safety devices. Elsewhere, I've read that if you erase the white lines down the middle of a road, everyone slows down because the road environment is no longer saying that one side of the road "belongs" to you.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

It's not just here in Ireland that it happens: here's sorry tale of telco's working to stymie local government initiatives to roll out Internet access: monopolists strike right in the American heartland and "home of the open market".

The good folks at Merriam-Webster keep an eye on what's hot in the verbal arena by tracking the most frequently looked up words on their online dictionary. Here's the list for 2004, and guess what, the number one slot goes to the word blog.

Microsoft plainly agrees with this assessment.

The Internet adoption curve rises relentlessly? Actually no: in the US, saturation point has been reached at around 50%, and adoption is currently flat-lining. After a certain point, all the middle class families who want one have one, and for others, the cost of combating the relentless flow of viruses and spam just doesn't match the benefits. Read more here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Via boing-boing, this gallery of the artwork of Boris Vallejo, the Botticelli of the trailer park. Fans of Heavy Metal, and its French parent, Metal Hurlant, and metalhedz comix in general, enjoy!

Well, *that* year just flew by.

Friday, November 26, 2004

They don't tell em like they used to. This is a graphic novel version of the Ramayana, the great Indian myth of creation and divinity.

Random word of the day: stupid line. It's the line between a quantified risk and an unquantified one. E.g. skiing on-piste vs off-piste. I guess you could draw a graph of times-stupid-line-was-crossed against years-of-age.

For most people it would peak in the mid-twenties before going into a steady and graceful decline. It would take a dip after a serious life event such as a mugging or an operation. It would show a spike if you developed a hard drink or cocaine habit. How's YOUR stupid line doing lately?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Reptile in the White House? Cheney speaks to your (three) brains.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Hundreds of previously unknown species have been discovered in a new census of the ocean depths. (Firefoxers take note: the site currently only loads with IE - doh!)
I liked this bit: a new species of Gobi fish was found off Guam in the Pacific Ocean. It has developed a partnership with a snapping shrimp, with the crustacean digging a hideout on the sea-bed for the two while the fish stands guard.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Random image of the day, courtesy of pthbbbt.

Friday, November 19, 2004

It was 35 years today: Apollo 12's lunar module Intrepid touched down, marking the start of one of the more spectacular lunar outings: Pete Conrad and Alan Bean kept busy on the surface for 31 hours. Dick Gordon kepts the Yankee Clipper in lunar orbit while the boys fossicked around.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

How to make Basque Cod Pil Pil
Get some floury spuds on the go while you do the cod.
Put some boutique olive oil (about half a cup) on the pan, and gently saute sliced onions and green peppers. Reserve the veggies when tender.
Let the pan cool to a very very low temperature.
In the coolish oil, place the fillets of cod, skin upmost.
Gently gently swish and sweat the cod, releasing its juices into the oil. From time to time, tilt the pan and whisk the oil and juices. DO NOT FRY THE COD.
When you have something like a fishy mayonaisse on the go with the whisk, drain it off into a warm bowl, flip the fish, and give the pan a quick burst of heat to finish the bit nearest the skin, and heat up the whole thing.
Place cod and spuds on plates, add the veggies, and spoon the mayonaisse-like sauce over everything.
If you can do this properly, you're able to cook Basque food.
PS. You need really fresh cod, great olive oil, and good spuds: otherwise don't even bother, just find a Basque restaurant.

It's official: Ireland is the best place in the world to live. Hmmmmmmm ... Don't quite know what to make of this. Anyway, what's happening at the Economist (who sponsored the survey of 111 countries)? I've read their mag for years, and rarely found a word about Ireland that wasn't mealy mouthed and disparaging. Then last month they do a big special edition on the ^&*( Celtic Tiger - and now this????

Mach 10 has been achieved by the NASA ramjet - a new record.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

From boing boing: Phone fetishism: watch top models trample hated technology, smashing it to bits.

The witch hunts have begun: after the election, the CIA is to be purged of dis-loyalists - "soft leakers and closet liberals".

The European Space Agency has put an ion-propulsion rocket into lunar orbit. While ion jets are pea-shooters in terms of horsepower, they hold great promise for long-distance travel in low-gravity space.

We had a birthday bash on Saturday with C. and S. visiting - Basque themed menu with fish chowder, mushrooms with walnut sauce, and basque potato, olives and pepper sauce, and steaks. A good knees up, and a nice walk with Scooby in the woods - old enough now to be off the leash a lot of the time - and a few curative scoobs at Macreddins

Friday, November 12, 2004

A nice change from socks and an M&S jumper for the man who has everything.

Happy birthday to me!

NASA are making a attempt to set a new speed record at Mach 10, using ramjet technology.
A ramjet operates by subsonic combustion of fuel in a stream of air compressed by the forward speed of the aircraft itself, as opposed to a normal jet engine, in which the compressor section (the fan blades) compresses the air. Ramjets operate from about Mach 3 to Mach 6.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Some cheap shots here on this Fallujah black humour page: still worth a giggle ...

No cheap shots, just some straight talkin, in this piece about the Mussolini kind of guy.

The upgrade itch: a discussion of that old nagging tootache - do I buy now when the technology is hot, flaky (and expensive) - or do I wait till it's stable, cheap (and yesterday's news).

Tuesday, November 10, 2004

When learning a new computer language, one of the first tasks I set myself is the writing of a prime number generation algorithmn. Here's an enjoyable discussion (well, if yr cut out that way) of these intruiging little beasties.

Monday, November 8, 2004

US troops enter Fallujah: Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent told a crowd of some 2,500 Marines. "You're all in the process of making history. This is another Hue city in the making. I have no doubt, if we do get the word, that each and every one of you is going to do what you have always done — kick some butt."

Reach out and sneer: an open letter from the Blue States to the Red States.

Wednesday, November 4, 2004

Bush won.

Here's from a mail I sent this morning:
Yeah, feeling pretty deflated this end too.

I guess, from the Marxist-Leninist perspective, when tyrants prevail this hastens the coming of the global revolution.

But I wasn't looking for global revolution - just nuance, better phrasing, grammar and vocabulary.

Oh well, I guess it's up to America to decide over the next four years if they want their leaders chosen by the children of the corn.


Tuesday, November 2, 2004

The great Linus Torvalds vs. Andrew Tanenbaum debate about the relative merits of monolithic vs. micro-kernel operating systems is an oldie but a goodie. Turned up by Slashdot as it transpires that the legendary Comp. Sc. prof Tanenbaum is maintaining watch as the Votemaster on a US election-monitoring site.

Pissed off with your chav neighbour revving his Rav4 in the drive? Try drowning him out with the might of four Rolls Royce Olympus 301s. On the auction block is an Avro Vulcan bomber, albeit in less than perfect nick. You have 3 days to pony up a couple of mil for the ultimate *that* will shut them up accessory.

I posted this comment on an excellent review of the US presidential election, which happens today, on d2r's website:

A very well written and thoughtful piece. The pity is that it is mainly going to be read by those who like myself are already firmly among the converted. The political end of the blogosphere now seems to consist of right-wing bloggers reading and cheering on the other right wing bloggers, and the sqme happening on the other side.
Well, we'll see which way the cookie crumbles today: I think William Gibson's recent post is apposite: this is an election about whether or not there will be elections in the future.

posted by A Seeker after Knowledge 8:12 AM

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Living somewhere near here:

Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Click the piccie for a bigger version ...
Previous blog: November 2004

Blogs we like
Blogcritics: news and reviews
Interesting thing of the day - is interesting.
William Gibson - he's back.
Dervala is a thought-provoking read.
Sonja and Eddy are housebuilding in Germany.
Caoimhe .... is way cool.
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
Slugger O'Toole: drunk as a rule, but well up on politics
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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