2010-08-29

Banning of heading in football?

One of my bets is that the heading of the ball will be banned in football. I sent some new evidence to Toby:
Toby, remember our heading a football bet?

http://blog.tlocke.org.uk/2007/07/ill-wager.html

New evidence coming in (I know this is American football, but it applies to all head injuries)...

http://discovermagazine.com/2010/jul-aug/18-brain-what-happens-to-a-linebackers-neurons/
Toby replied:
A couple of points;

American Football is a lot more heavy hitting than football; http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4534-american-footballers-endure-car-crash-blows.html

Why isn’t boxing banned? Or contact in ice hockey, rugby, football, judo, karate, wrestling, etc. It isn’t to do with lack of education re head injuries.

Banning heading in football is the equivalent to banning football as we know it. It will become a different game. The sport is so popular and the head injuries so mild compared with many other sports that it will never be banned!

Forever Young

I'm forever listening to Alphaville's Forever Young. It's a moving song, with an elegaic quality. One thing jars though in the lyrics. Look at this:
Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young
It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth is like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever
So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams are swinging out of the blue
We let them come true
I think the line: 'I don't want to perish like a fading horse' can be improved. I've tried to think of a better line myself but can't come up with anything. Do you have any suggestions?

2010-08-17

I've Lost My Old Blog

Before I started using Blogger, I used to have a blog with Yahoo! at http://uk.blog.360.yahoo.com/t.locke.

I moved to Blogger so that I could have my own domain name. I liked the old blog though. It had a cool background image of the shell of my friend's iMac in his garden with plants growing out of it. I'm also nostalgic for my first ever posts. Some time ago Yahoo! deleted my blog, presumably because I'd stopped using Yahoo! email. I'm angry with Yahoo! for forsaking me and destroying my history.

This is a cautionary tale of our times. What happens when the cloud lets you down? I'd be devastated if Google did a similar thing.

Oxford Study Finds That Ivy Can Protect Walls

Thanks to Julia at work for telling me about a study that shows that there are some benefits of growing ivy on the walls of building.
They found that ivy acted as a thermal blanket, warming up walls by an average of 15 per cent in cold weather and cooling the surface temperature of the wall in hot weather by an average of 36 per cent.
Excellent! That's the reason I'm growing it on the walls of my house.
The ivy was also found to absorb some of the harmful pollutants in the atmosphere.
I'm not keen on that bit.
Walls where ivy was growing were less prone to the damaging effects of freezing temperatures, temperature fluctuations, pollution and salts than exposed walls without ivy.
Well that's just a bonus!

2010-08-16

Tragedies Of The Global Commons

Thank you to Glyn Moody for highlighting another example of the tragedy of the commons in his post: Greed vs. Survival: Which Prevails?. At national and EU level, we have a mechanism for avoiding tragedies of the commons. We can pass laws and regulate the commons. For example, in the UK one can't tip mercury into a river without being subject to severe penalties, so pollution of rivers isn't an intractable problem.

The problem comes with tragedies of the global commons (eg. climate change) where there is no democratic government. That's why I'm in favour of a world government. If a world government were to be established we could impose a global carbon tax and so reduce our carbon emissions to an acceptable level.

In Moody's 'Greed vs. Survival: Which Prevails?', the problem is that the benefits of selling the land are at national level, but the costs are at global level. Whenever that's the case, things should be decided at global level, but there's no mechanism for that. Bring on the world government!

2010-08-15

Twitter and Burglary

I tweeted about Foursquare, and @icklemichael wrote:
@t_locke Do you ever worry that advertising your location might encourage burglers?
and @rdzien wrote:
t_locke check out: http://pleaserobme.com/
People do ask me if I'm worried about telling everyone where I am, and I give a few responses:

1. There are two other people living in my house, which makes it harder to find a time when nobody's in.

2. I don't have anything worth stealing. Everything's worth a lot less these days due to cheap Chinese manufacturing.

3. The only time my house has been broken into, it was by the police.

2010-08-14

The Dark River

Bill warned me that The Dark River wasn't as good as The Traveller, but I was pleasantly surprised by this, the second book in the Fourth Realm Trilogy by J12H. It carries on the exciting adventures of Gabriel and the Harlequins and Travellers.

Like many others, J12H classes privacy as a freedom. I don't. Freedoms to me are freedom of speech and freedom of association. Also important to me is democracy. The Tabula of the book are undemocratic criminals. I also regard the Harlequins as criminals. If this were real-life I'd say, 'a plague on both your houses'.

But that would have made a boring book. Secret, mysterious things, and violence and guns are fun to read about. I'm looking forward to book three!

2010-08-12

Hand In Glove

Some time ago I stayed over at my dad's house for a few days while he convalesced from a minor operation. He's a great fan of Robert Goddard. Having said that he's recently mentioned that he needs to broaden his reading beyond Goddard. Dad's quite a slow reader, but my mum read quickly. Anyway, while I was at dad's house I picked up Hand In Glove. In the same way as a real paper copy of the Sunday Times, this book reminded me of my youth, the days before the internet came along. Goddard isn't into computers. Written in 1992, Hand In Glove has a totally pre-internet feel to it.

The book is well written, all the Goddards are. There are nice sub-plots and things move along in an exciting, page turning way. Maurice's character is revealed cleverly. Call me a social revolutionary, but I find Goddard's world slightly stereotyped. It reinforces a certain middle-class view of the world. I've read a few Goddards before, and because they're so enjoyable I hope to read more.

2010-08-11

Imprimatur 017

Someone requested that Imprimatur support HTTPS requests. It did seem an oversight, so I've remedied that with the newly released Imprimatur 017.

HTTPS requests are supported with the scheme attribute, which has a default of http, but can also be set to https. The scheme attribute can be used in the same elements as the port and hostname attributes can be used, eg. imprimatur, test, test-group, request. I've updated the documentation to give an example.

Let me know how you get on with it.

2010-08-10

Jane Eyre

I thought I'd read Jane Eyre because my friend has written a book on it. I'll own to not having read a single Bronte.


One observation; there are a lot of long silences. There's a Borat sketch where he says, 'there will now be a 10 minute silence'. Of course, this is a very long time to be silent. Normally it's a two minute silence. In Jane Eyre there are lots of really long silences. When another author would say there was moment's pause, Charlotte Bronte has a interval of several minutes! Check if you don't believe me. The most egregious instance is when there is the objection to the marriage, and Rochester pauses for 15 minutes while speaking :-0

I put this to my friend, and she said it's because when the Brontes were growing up, they weren't allowed to speak at mealtimes, so silences were ingrained in their lives. Interesting.

When Jane is trying to find Rochester, she avoids immediately asking the first person who could tell her, saying, 'To prolong doubt is to prolong hope'. So true.

I'm sure whole Phds have been devoted to Jane's relationship to nature. It's anthropomorphic and idealized. I burst out laughing when she said in all seriousness that, 'birds were faithful to their mates'. When I see wildlife, I see, in Hobbes' words, 'a war of all against all', a pitiless, endless battle.

I want to read Wuthering Heights now. But really I'd like to read Anne Bronte's story of life as a governess, being tormented by those she was employed to teach.

2010-08-09

Inception

Shantini suggested that we see Inception, and I agreed enthusiastically.



Early on in the film, a character asked, 'why do you need an architect?', I laughed when they replied, 'they're the closest thing to creators of worlds in people's minds'. So not computer game designers then? Of course, an architect works much better in a film than a computer geek. Put it this way, I'm sure they didn't employ a team of architects to do the film's special effects!

But I'm giving the impression that I didn't like the film. That's not true, I totally enjoyed it. I've recommended it to friends.

There was one thing that puzzled me, why didn't Cobb tell his wife that he'd implanted the idea in her mind? Then she might have been more questioning of her belief.

In fact, the idea that if you die in a dream then you 'wake up' back to 'reality' is nonsense. It's more like playing a computer game, where if your character dies you get another 'life' and the game can continue.

2010-08-08

Ivy Watch 2

As you know, I'm growing ivy on the walls of my house to keep it cool in summer and warm in winter. Last year I posted a series of photos of the ivy I'm growing. Here's how the ivy looks like now:

Pamela Flitton is doing the best. The only problem is that I have to keep cutting it back to prevent her from encroaching on my neighbour's part of the wall. The other only problem is that she's started to grow onto the patio door, so I've had to cut her back.


Lord Widmerpool is also doing really well. He's starting to grow on the door. Should I continue to allow that?


Ted Jeavons grows against the back of the garage wall. Getting along nicely, but won't really help in insulating the house.


I haven't shown you Jessica Biel before, but she's the most important ivy. Unfortunately she's not doing well. Why? What nutrients does ivy need to thrive? Btw, after months of sunshine my lawn is looking like it's in a very sorry state :-(

Jane Eyre is the second most important ivy plant, and so I'm pleased that she's steadily covering the wall.

2010-08-05

Python 'global' Keyword Considered Harmful

Looking at Python's global keyword led me to think how I'd like scoping to work. Some languages have lexical scoping, some dynamic scoping and some a mixture of two. I think scoping should be entirely lexical. My language (let's call it Klop) is dynamically typed, and variables are declared the first time they are assigned, so if you wrote:
x = 0

def f():
return x

def g():
x = 1
return f()
Calling g() would return 1. In most languages with lexical scoping you can declare a variable with the same name, at a more local scope. With Klop you can't, and I think that this would make programs more readable.

2010-08-04

Ubuntu 10.04

I finally upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 yesterday.


This was the first time I'd upgraded an existing installation, usually I wipe the disk and install afresh. The only problem I encountered after the upgrade was that the volume control was missing from the Gnome panel, but that was easily solved.

The new version appears to solve a bug I had whereby switching between applications that used sound didn't work. Eg. before I couldn't listen to Radio 4 and then Spotify without rebooting in between, but I can now.

In other Ubuntu news, I saw someone wearing an Ubuntu t-shirt on the train between Trowbridge and Bath the other day.

2010-08-03

I've Come To Do A Rate Check

The doorbell sounded yesterday. My housemate answered and shouted up that it was for me. At the door was a man who stated, 'I'm from the local electricity company SSE, and I've come to do a rate check' (or words to that effect).

In the UK the electricity industry is divided into companies which own the wires (the DNO), and the retailers of electricity (the supplier). DNOs are a regulated monopoly, but each customer can choose their supplier.

The objection I have is that my caller was being a bit misleading to imply that it was a technical, statutory check that needed to be done, when really he was trying to get me switch supplier to SSE.