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People made of smoke, and cities made of song.

10th December, 2010. 1:01 am. For Fridge - "When Santa Got Done For Disorderly"

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Current mood: creative.

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11th November, 2010. 11:00 am. For the Fallen - Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Current mood: Reflective.

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5th November, 2010. 1:12 pm. Checkmate

Am I alone in thinking that the refrain from Florence Quits in the first act, reprised in The Deal [No Deal] in the second act, is actually the single best piece of music in Chess? I mean, don't misunderstand me, the entire musical is audio gold, but that particular refrain seems so powerful, yet so underused.

Who'd ever think it,
Such a squalid little ending?
Watching you descending,
Just as low as you can go!
I'm learning
Things I didn't want to know!

Who'd ever guess that
This would be the situation?
One more complication
Should be neither here nor there!
I wish I
Had it in me not to care~

Current mood: contemplative.

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5th November, 2010. 9:25 am. Traditional, circa 1606

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's mercy he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
A traitor to the Crown by his action,
No Parli'ment mercy from any faction,
His just end should'st be grim,
What should we do? Burn him!
Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring,
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the Queen!

Current mood: cheerful.

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3rd November, 2010. 11:59 am. This comment is awaiting moderation

My latest contribution to the BBC's Have Your Say 'blog'Collapse )

Current mood: contemplative.

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12th May, 2010. 9:19 am. The Great Repeal Bill: Campaign to include the Digital Economies Act

Um... Does such a thing exist? And if not, does anyone know of any organisations planning to found such a campaign?

I mean, the Liberal Tory coalition has announced their intention to clear up criminal justice by repealing a lot of unnecessary legislation on criminal law (with a so-called Great Repeal Bill), and the DEA is essentially unnecessary legislation on criminality and punishment. This seems like a golden opportunity to respond to the DEA from a civil liberties standpoint.


Current mood: thoughtful.

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15th December, 2009. 2:30 pm. Global Wangsting

Insert Geopolitical Rant hereCollapse )

Current mood: amused.

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12th December, 2009. 1:11 pm. Devil ∈ The Details


Now, this is all very interesting and I'm sure we're all happy that MPs, who get a vast salary for the job they do, will now be entitled to the same statutory aid in finding new work that the rest of us enjoy. But there is one line in the report which caught my attention:

"In a written ministerial statement, Commons leader Harriet Harman said MPs who break the rules could already have their pay docked but the government would now legislate to extend this to allowances."

Now, the reason this is interesting is that all MP sundry expenses except one or two are described as 'allowances' in the small print. Things like the communications allowance, brought in to make it easier for constituents to contact their MP, for example.

So, what Harman's statement says, quite literally, is that the government will punish you, the constituent, if your MP has been a naughty boy, by reducing the amount they are allowed to claim in order to do their job for you, the constituent, better. Now, granted many 'allowances' are a joke and shouldn't be in there in the first place - but some of them are given to MPs for the benefit of we proles and not for the benefit of the MPs' pockets.

Hopefully some Whitehall fellow will pick up on this and ensure that the government's draft resolution to the issue protects allowances which specifically benefit the constituent.

Hope everyone's keeping well,


Current mood: amused.

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9th December, 2009. 6:04 pm. Proposition: Bioware is to Gaming what JMS was to Sci-Fi

Discuss ^^

Current mood: contemplative.

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4th December, 2009. 12:57 pm. Climategate: The Scientist's Perspective

My, hasn't it been an interesting fortnight in the world of science. I missed out on much of it until li'l sis pointed me to an Economist article on the subject. I blame the fact I'm currently penning my own journal article for submission to IEEE SMC. And possibly the fact I recently got Dragon Age: Origins*.

For those who are unaware, emails were obtained from the CRU (Climate Research Unit) at UEA (University of East Anglia), illictly, and published on the web. Lots of emails, most of which were unimportant and bland.

A few, however, were highlighted as demonstrating bias on the part of some key proponents of the theory that climate change has a human component. Taken in the worst possible light, these emails suggest data might have been omitted from statistical analyses of keynote conference papers, and that intentional scientific inaccuracies might have been included to emphasise their case.

The right - the Torygraph, Times, Guido Fawkes, etc. - have seized upon these emails as proof of scientific misfeasance. The left - the Grauniad, Independent - have instead attacked the hackers for undermining and damaging the case the scientists were making. From the perspective of a published scientist, who has had to defend his work repeatedly at conferences and through lengthy email, letter and phone exchanges, both sides are talking bollocks.

First, the right. The emails do not constitute a refutation of the argument the named scientists presented. They indicate bias. All scientists, despite our innate objectivity, are biased. Einstein was biased against chaos theory - that's why he dedicated so much of his later life to scrapping with Heisenberg - and it didn't stop him being right. Von Braun was biased against the idea of single-stage lunar launch vehicles - didn't stop him being right.

I am biased towards cognitivism over behaviourism in the field of simulated human behaviour. I'm openly biased about it. I debate the merits of both schools of thought at length with my coworkers, some of whom are strongly biased against my view, some of whom are biased in favour of it. The important part is that I do not discount behaviourist ideas simply because I am a cognitivist. I simply seek to find out whether I'm right - not to convince the world that behaviourists are wrong.

If scientists weren't biased, we'd have no cause to investigate anything. If we didn't want to know if our idea worked better than previous ideas, we'd never experiment. The scientists in question believe that humanity has played a part in global climate change, and that global climate change is a fact rather than a hypothesis. They got into the field of research they work in to investigate it, and see if they're right. The fact that, between themselves, they openly admit to having a bias in no way discredits their hypothesis - only independent analysis of the raw data can do that, and even then only if the independent analysis disagrees with their conclusions.

Which brings me onto the other argument - that the hackers have killed the world by giving 'Climate Deniers' an out. First off, the idea endorsed by Toynbee and her fellow jet-setters that Climate Change is the new Holocaust, and those who don't think it is man-made are evil, is daft. Climate science, like most forms of meteorology, is not a simple yes-no field. We don't know everything there is to know. The evidence is in no way wholly conclusive. Scepticism is normal.

All these hackers have done is brought into the open what everybody already knew but didn't want to accept - scientists are human, and have personal biases. What seperates us from the rest of the world is we do not let these personal biases interfere with our work. It requires a strange, detached mindset. It's why, statistically, a greater percentage of research scientists (of both genders) die bachelors and spinsters than most other career paths. We're odd people - and we like it that way.

If anything, the email 'scandal' has helped the science. The CRU, previously not compelled to publish all of its raw data, will now have no option but to publish the complete, raw, unadulterated datasets it has gathered regarding global climate. Other universities who would never otherwise have given a toss about this area will grab that data, and begin their own statistical analyses. More research. More scientific debate. And, the more researchers who work on a project, the greater the odds of finding a consensus that truly represents the meaning of the data.

So the hack has not killed the world. It will not be a simple "Well, two scientists on this project were biased, so every idea they've ever supported is wrong". It will foster a greater, hollistic approach to the field. It will lead to better science.

In conclusion, good luck to the scientists the right-wing media seeks to discredit. I trust you will do the right thing, publish all your raw data, and invite universities across the globe to investigate your findings. And thankyou to the hacker, whether you're a whistleblower or a 4channer, who has succeeded in prompting a complete review of the subject and compelled the release of the raw, scientific data.

Hope everyone's keeping well,


*I hereby submit Dragon Age: Origins as proof that it is possible for a large, umbrella company such as EA to purchase a smaller games developer without intrinsically preventing it from publishing amazing stuff. DA:O is, to all intents and purposes, the successor to Baldur's Gate. Forget NWN, with it's weak plot and disinteresting henchmen characters. Give an honourable mention to NWN2, for trying to bring back some of the BG formula to Bioware's CFRPGs. But bow and scrape and kneel before DA:O. That is all.

Current mood: content.

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