Monthly Archives: March 2007


If you were really keen to invade a country, say Iran, but were already in dire straights as a result of two bloody, on-going, conflicts, you’d probably have to abandon the idea; you’d never get any support from your electorate because the other conflicts had been such a massive balls-up.
But what would happen if the country you wanted to invade suddenly did something outrageous ? Not outrageous in the sense of killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, like in Iraq and Afghanistan, but outrageous in a way that would rally the public with a few carefully written newspaper headlines. I mean, what if they suddenly kidnapped a load of our poor brave soldiers, who were only doing their job, and made up some ridiculous claim about them trespassing ? Suddenly it becomes necessary to teach these foreign johnnies a lesson, whatever the cost…even if it means invading.

Personally I have no idea about how the current situation in Iran developed but I do not believe anything I’m hearing on the news. This is way too convenient to be an accident. Why the hell would Iran, fully aware that America and the UK are itching to “free” them with massive firepower, suddenly kidnap a load of British soldiers in international waters ?

So, were the soldiers in Iranian waters ? If so why ? If not, why would Iran capture them ? We know that the US can easily bugger about with GPS, especially during the recent wars, and so what if this “misunderstanding” was as a result of either the Brits or Iran believing dodgy GPS info ?

We’ll know whether the UK government were collusive in the plan if The Saan suddenly starts getting all jingoistic about it again. I never thought they would be able to pull this one off but it’s looking increasingly likely that Iran will get invaded.

P.S. Apparently I got a letter published in the latest Eye!

Magic Carpets

magic carpetAs you may know, I’m really into the idea of magic carpets. If you ever come across one then please get it for me – I’ll pay you back, honest. But I don’t mean any old rug that looks like a magic carpet, I mean a proper, flying, obedient magic carpet like in 1001 nights…anyway…
Thus far the closest I’ve ever got to one is watching things like The Thief of Baghdad (which is a really superb film by the way) and it’s not quite the same. But years ago Michele’s mum bought me a copy of Magic Carpet 2 which is a DOS game that was all about being a wizard and involved flying around on a magic carpet, casting spells and all sorts of good stuff like that. At the time I loved it but didn’t get to play it much because it needed DOS and usually involved shutting down windows to get it working. Over time I ditched Windows altogether of course and so it became a distant memory.
However, this weekend I found the CD and realised I could probably play it on my work XP laptop because, as everyone knows, Windows runs all of your favourite old apps with no problem!
So excitedly I installed it and then watched it crash the machine a few times and balls-up my (Microsoft certified) video driver…
But isn’t the reason people stick to Windows because they claim it’ll run all of their old software ? What a piece of shit…
The point: I found DOSbox, a free DOS emulator that runs on Linux, MacOS and Windows, and it runs Magic Carpet 2 perfectly on my MacBook!
So – that means that an open source project can produce a better DOS emulator than Microsoft, who apparently wrote DOS. Right, I see.

BTW – Parallels/FreeDOS on the Mac didn’t do a very good job either, but still better than Genuine(tm) Windows(tm) XP(tm).

I’m serious about the magic carpet. If you see one, please get it for me. Really. I really do want one.


Mugabe/HitlerIn case anyone was in any doubt about Bob Mugabe’s status in the Dictator stakes, he has thoughtfully adopted the standard upper-lip adornment made popular by Adolf Hitler to make his position absolutely clear. If only all rabid, power-mad, dictators would follow suit it would make identifying them so much easier. But generally they don’t. They grin, laugh, even play electric guitars, and look normal. In fact if it wasn’t for the maniacal glint in their cold, evil eyes it would be impossible to tell them from normal people.


More and more headlines refer to amounts of money in the billions these days and, sadly, this doesn’t actually mean a lot to people; mainly because it’s a big number, and humans don’t cope with them too well. In fairness, the UK used to have a much bigger billion (one with twelve zeros after it), but nowadays we use the puny American billion (one with nine zeros after it). Regardless it’s still a massive amount of money.

Here are some examples of interesting billions:

  • £1 billion

    …is how much you would make if you earned £30,000 a year and worked for the next 33,000 years or so.

  • £1 billion

    …the total cost of building over 20 brand new state-of-the-art hospitals.

  • £9.3 billion

    …conservative estimate of the cost of hosting the London Olympics as of March 2007. many people think that it will be a total disaster and a huge waste of money, but as Armando Ianucci observered “That’s what they said about the Millenium Dome.”
    In retrospect 800,000,000 quid seems like a bargain by comparison.

  • £ 12 billion

    …an amount of money sent by the US to Iraq that got “lost”.

  • £ 12.4 billion

    …how much money the UK government are pissing away already on the disgraceful NHS National Programme for IT.

  • £ 20 billion

    …the cost of updating Britain’s crap Trident nuclear system to ensure an adequate defence against…erm…well…you know…the enemy…and bad men.

Day off (Hogarth, Heron and Happiness)

Today was the first day for many weeks that I woke up knowing the day was my own and no work would be involved. I’d taken the day as annual leave with the intention of going up to the Hogarth exhibition at the Tate. And that’s what we did! Michele and I got the 436 bus up to Vauxhall and then walked across the bridge, being sure to take a couple of pics of the MI6 building. As we crossed the bridge a bunch of particularly graceful and skillful seagulls performed for us. Even a Heron joined in the fun and allowed us half an hour of ogling it through the little monocular I always carry (present from my mother-in-law). Such a beautiful bird.

The whole Tate experience was wonderful! We had lunch in their expensive but delicious cafe, and then spent two hours looking at the huge collection of Hogarth pictures.

Several hours, a pub visit and a nice pizza later, my brain is buzzing with images and ideas from the exhibition. Thankfully I spent 12 quid on a book that covers a lot of the material we observed and so I don’t have to let the memories fade.

If you can, go and see it! It’s only a tenner and it will keep your dendrites busy for long a while.

Also, have a look and then envy the skill involved in creating something wonderful like this: Nuff respec an ting to Dr Dave!

All of the things

Putting on some mellow bird-calming music, such as Zero-7, really does mellow little Humph’s head. She doesn’t care that Zero-7 are merely a cheap pastiche of Air..she likes Air! To her it’s all nice.
So as I type she’s drifting off to sleep on the arm of the sofa after successfully removing and playing with a particularly fluffy bit of feather. She takes such good care of her feathers.

Michele is away and we’re both sulking as a result. I think Humph blames me.

The amount of work I’ve been doing has started making me feel like I’m in prison recently. Apart from work all I’ve done is go to a pub within five minutes walk of the sofa and drink too much, which in the long run makes me feel worse.

I had loads of stuff I wanted to blog about, but of course I didn’t do it at the time so I’ve forgotten. Instead here are some things I knew already but have been forced to re-learn recently:

  • When doing anything in the kitchen or bathroom that is time consuming, don’t go and “check your email” while it’s going on. Email checking leads to web clicking, which leads to wikipedia/bloglines/boing-boing/space_ghetto, which leads to anything from no tea, to a house fire or flood. The flood one happened quite a few years ago and the house fire one has been only narrowly avoided 3 times in the last year.
  • Doing two part-time jobs actually means doing two full time jobs.
  • Working with Windows is an utterly miserable way to spend your life.
  • In the words of Sean Lock, “don’t give anybody your address ever, ever, ever”. The same goes for your phone number. Phones are so wrong – when you call someone it’s like shouting “Oi! It’s convenient for me to talk to you now, so pay attention, stop whatever your doing, no matter how engrossing or intellectually demanding it is, and talk to me for bloody ages whilst I talk at you.
  • Birds are amazing.
  • Oracle is a huge monster that is best avoided.
  • PostgreSQL should only be used by computer scientists who don’t have the need for something fast, reliable and that actually works in the field for massive amounts of real data. Use MySQL.
  • Margaret Thatcher really was as evil as you remember. Anyone who doesn’t agree should be entitled to the best psychiatric care available.
  • If you arrange to meet someone in the pub, on their birthday, at 8pm, don’t get there at mid-day. You won’t be much of a positive asset to the social function when the friend arrives.