Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thanksgiving III – Return of the Turkey

Today marks the third Thanksgiving we have attended in a row since we moved here, and it was probably the best so far. Our nieces and nephews have progressed from babies into the realm of children: Mikey walked in wearing a nice shirt, an Argyle tank-top and sensible shoes, all that was missing was a pipe; Siena is taking pleasure in just about everything around her; and Gianna wanted to play hide-and-seek an infinite number of times.
Also the food was first class and so plentiful that I was in a turkey coma for most of the evening. The turkey was grilled, which was a new concept for me, but it was spectacular! It was possibly the best turkey I’ve ever tasted. There was also a selection of hors d’oeuvres that would have sufficed as a full meal: deviled-eggs, yummy-sausagey-cheesey-bready-things, dips, wasabi-peas and allsorts were all available and plentiful.

And then home for parrots, wine, and Guest House Paradiso. And no work until next Tuesday!

Mad Mandy

What do Peter Mandelson and Herpes have in common ? They’re both a massive pain in the cock that you can’t ever get rid of. And they both manifest themselves as purulent scabs.

How did this happen? Twice now he has been forced to resign in disgrace (what normal people call “being sacked”) for being a big slimy crook, and yet again he’s back in power, without being elected. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s now trying to push a bill through Parliament that will make him all powerful and immortal and stuff.

He is currently attempting to pass the Digital Economy Bill which, despite its friendly and harmless-sounding title, is actually a terrifying piece of Orwell-inspired oppression. The most alarming component of the bill is where Peter Mandelson is trying to give himself so-called “Henry VIII powers” which would enable him to create and modify legislation without parliamentary interference. It’s worth repeating: Mandelson it attempting to pass a law that would let him make and modify laws, without parliamentary involvement. If you’re not shaking with fear and anger, please re-read that last sentence.

Meanwhile, it turns out he has also been secretly plotting to take control of Europe!

Somebody stop him! Gordon, can’t you have him killed? Please! Does anyone have a human-sized can of anti-fungal cream? Has anyone tried pouring a bucket of water over him? Garlic?

Failing that, can I urge every Brit to sign this petition to kill the bill, and call your MP.


In the past I have been accused of bullying. I’ve also felt like I’d been bullied, although at the time I really felt it was my fault for being weak. I was weak. Also, I was a coward.

Looking back at those times, I realise I was party to bullying, and I was personally bullied. But now I’m not weak. Well, physically I’m the biggest weakling you’ve ever met, but I’m not scared any more, and I’ll take on any fucker even if it results in being hospitalised.

At school there was a kid in my class, let’s call him “Dick”. He was a weird-looking moron who spent his entire life talking about all of the things he believed he got up to outside of school. All of them not only bullshit, but offensive: tales of killing cats, and setting fire to old ladies houses. Me and my geeky friends didn’t like him, and didn’t want him hanging around with us. But he was glued to one particular friend that I really liked. We used to regularly try to run away from him, mock him, and generally let him know we didn’t like him. That was bullying, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time.

Years later we discover that he was from a fucked-up family, and he had secretly been introduced to our friend as someone who needed support. We were kids, we didn’t know or understand what could turn a frightened kid into a nasty, bullshit-spouting git. Maybe that’s what happened to Nick Griffin.

Nowadays I’m only too acutely aware of bullying, and frequently see it in everyday life. None of the bullies would consider themselves so, and the victims likewise. Social pressure is a strong motivator, and it’s too easy to forget how strong the urge can be to pretend you’re ok, even to yourself.

Tonight we watched the next episode of “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here” which should now be more aptly titled as “the international bullying awards”.

Jordan/Katie-Price may be an odious, ego-driven, publicity-whore. But does that justify our entertainment of watching her genuinely suffer? We all wish we had her money and we all know she got it through being a publicity-whore; a job at which she is obviously skilled. But does that really justify watching her undergo treatment that is, clearly and genuinely, traumatic ?

Since Jordan entered the Jungle last time she has transformed from a genuinely beautiful woman (albeit with ridiculously over-sized, concrete-looking, fake, breasts) to being a freakish demonstration of the dangers of plastic surgery. She now looks beaten-up, especially her pathetically fucked lips. She’s also older, which is a curse that weakens people. Every day so far “the general public” have voted her into performing like a wounded sea-lion for everyone to laugh at. It feels like watching They shoot horses don’t they?


As I write this, I have a small green bird on my shoulder, a beautiful budgie (who looks like a little fluffy cloud) in a cage next to me, and a Meyers Parrot sitting on top of his cage grinding his beak. Our two “big guys” are in the kitchen, covered, and sleeping. That’s five birds. There are five birds in my house. How did this happen ? How did I end up with a house full of birds ? How did I end up with a house ? I’m only 15.

Earlier this evening I wish we could have taken a photo of us eating a curry, watching Harry Hill’s TV Burp, with five beautiful birds around; and then sent it back in time to myself at age 21. The first thing I would have noticed was the gorgeous blonde girl sitting next to me. Then I would have noticed the parrots, and spent the next few years trying to find girls that like birds. Asking M if she was into birds at the time would have resulted in “no, just bats” so the future probably wouldn’t be altered too much.

The reason for our increased flock size is that we are bird sitting The Grinch, and we’re looking after a beautiful little budgie until we can re-home him/her. If you live near NW Philly and believe you could give enough TLC to a beautiful little parrot, please let me know. He was terrified at first but now, despite being too scared to step-up, he’s far more confident. He also makes some of the most incredible noises we’ve ever heard.

Quote of the day

“Now I’m going now down to the showers, stretch me legs, and to wash em n’all. Then after that I shall come back and sit in the chapel, and contemplate the error of my ways and try, to make peace, with my bookmaker.”

Norman Stanley Fletcher – Slade Prison – in the 70s

Big numbers, v6, and baby squirrels

For a while now I’ve been convinced that one of the biggest hurdles to the human race is our inability to deal with large numbers. As soon as you get to around 10,000 it all seems a bit samey. Hence the inability of creationists to understand about geological time, the inability of most people to understand cryptography, people’s willingness to do the lottery, and the bizarre acceptance of the bank bailout by everyone outside the banking cult.
For example, the odds of winning the UK national lottery are around 14,000,000 (14 million) to 1. So, if you play twice a week, you’ll probably win once every 130,000 years which, providing you believe in reincarnation, is around 1800 lifetimes. The human race hasn’t existed that long yet. These are diabolical odds but people still indulge.

I’m far from immune to this cloudy judgment. When I first learned about how the Internet worked, I was shocked to discover that Internet Addresses were 4 bytes (thats 32 bits) long. “That’s tiny!” I thought, “that means there’s an absolute maximum of 4 billion.” Technically I was right, but the fact that 18 years later
the Internet is as ubiquitous as it is, whilst still remaining limited to those paltry 32-bits of address space, shows I didn’t really know what 4 billion meant.

In fairness, we would have run out by now if the wizards behind the scenes hadn’t cast a bunch of magic spells (called things like NAT, and CIDR) to wring every bit of space out of the addresses. But we are now at the very, very low watermark level and it’s only a matter of months before we run out of addresses completely.

The Wizards were on the case though and in 1998 they created an entirely new Internet Protocol called “IP Next Generation (IPng)”, or more formally “IP version 6 (IPv6)” to replace the existing Internet Protocol (known as version 4). I was really excited at the time! It was actually a cut down version of version 4, with much of the useless stodge removed and new cool stuff like auto-configuration and encryption built-in. It also allowed for many more addresses as it used 128 bits to represent each address. At the time I remember thinking that 128 bits sounded pretty meagre. Why not 1024 bits or 2048 if we really want to future proof ourselves, I thought ?

At the time I worked at an ISP and badgered them into allowing me to hook up our network to the experimental IPv6 Internet (known as the 6bone) so that we could lead the way into the brave new world. After the initial excitement of playing with the new addresses, protocols and tools, I got bored because there was nothing to see yet. There was only one website that I could find that was on the IPv6 Internet…and it consisted of a page of rants about the problems with the new protocol. It was slow too. Really slow.

11 years later, the Internet is still running on IPv4 and, despite most people’s computers being able to use the shiny new IPv6 network, very few ISPs support it. I still don’t really understand why.

A couple of weeks ago some fear-mongering articles in the press about the paucity of IPv4 addresses rekindled my interest and I decided to get hooked up to IPv6 at home. Surely, I thought, my ISP must have IPv6 support by now. They don’t. So I had to resort to a method called “tunneling” which is how I had to do it back in 1998. But this time, things were very, very different. The IPv6 Internet exists, and works as we were promised it would! Setting up a tunnel involved registering with a free tunnel service on-line and running a single command on my Linux box. Bang – the box was pingable on both IPv4 and IPv6. I ordered a block of addresses for the other machines in my house (we have about 5) and as if by magic, they all configured themselves with their new IPv6 addresses automatically. Networking has never been this simple!

But there was something that worried me, and this is where we get back to big numbers; the number of addresses I’d been allocated. It turns out that these days IPv6 subnets are all 64-bits – what that means in simple terms is that my tunnel, which needs precisely two addresses (one for me, one for my ISP) is using up 18446744073709551616 addresses. We are wasting a number of addresses which is equal to the size of the regular IPv4 Internet, squared.

The next thing that alarmed me was that the size of the block of addresses I was given for my other 4 home machines also seemed a little large. It was a 48 bit prefix which equates to a million, billion, billion addresses. I only needed 4!

At this rate, I thought to myself, we’ll exhaust the 128 bit address space in no time! Why would these ISP’s have such a disgracefully cavalier attitude to address allocation ? Had they learned nothing from the IPv4 experience. I mean 128 bits is a lot, but it’s not that much…

After doing some reading and some very basic maths, I found the reason for their “reckless” behaviour: 128 bit numbers are enormously, vastly, adjective-defyingly huge. I could write out how big it is, but like the expression “128 bit”, it doesn’t really give much insight. The fact is that we will not run out of addresses. Ever. NAT for IPv6 doesn’t exist, because it’s just not needed. Someday everyone will have as many fully routeable IP addresses as they can eat.

As I said, big numbers are difficult to comprehend…for me and many others if not for you.

So the next time you hear a journalist, politician or banker talk about billions of anything, don’t let it lie. They don’t really understand how vast those numbers are either.

Thanks for reading this far. I would have got bored about 3 lines in. Your reward is the baby-squirrel bit. Last night Michele took me along with her to the wildlife rehab and let me hold a couple of baby squirrels while she fed them. I got to stroke them and feel their little feet. They were even cuter and more beautiful than I imagined they could be! They were really playful and snuggly too. It’s bad form to try and relate to them I know, but not too long from now they’ll be released back into the wild.

Name That Scumbag

Good evening everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of “Name That Scumbag”! What a lovely audience you are. So much better than last week’s! But seriously, can you name this week’s scumbag ? Here are the clues:

  1. He got the bus with me this evening
  2. Half way home he said he was getting tired and needed a sleep
  3. He laid back and closed his eyes ready for slumber
  4. Then, whilst appearing to sleep, let out the most obnoxious, deathly, abomination of a fart that I have ever been unfortunate enough to smell

It made my eyes water! It was awful, awful, awful, and I knew that the crowd of people sitting around us were having problems with it too. There was coughing! I tried closing my eyes to stop the watering, but it started to sting and all I could do was wince. If this could have been bottled, Saddam would have won the second Gulf war. Everyone nearby was clearly having problems and understandably thought it must have been my fault, as I was apparently the epi-centre. Surely that soporific cherub next to me would never have been able to produce something so vile.

Obviously, I considered waking him up with a loud reprimand, but I knew he would be loudly, and devastatingly frank about it, and as an Englishman that would have been enough to force me to join the foreign legion.

So David, what sort of scumbag could let out a guff like this?