2013-04-28

Film makers, could you use the Monopoly model of time travel in all future films please?

Watching Looper last night I became exasperated with film makers for not getting time travel right. The model of time travel that they use suffers from the grandfather paradox. After the film I tried to explain time (with diagrams!!) to my friends, but everyone left immediately. I'm going to try again via the medium of the internet.

In my childhood I spent lots of happy hours playing Monopoly with my brother. He usually won. Anyway, when you look at a game of Monopoly you can vaguely tell how far through the game you are. If there aren't any properties bought, and everyone's still in the game, you know you're at the beginning. If there are just two players left and there are hotels everywhere you know you're probably nearing the end.

Monopoly is like the multiverse. The state of the game is like a universe. In the real world if you take a sequence of photos, say of an ice cube melting, if the order of the photos get muddled up you can easily put them back in order.

Similarly, with Monopoly if you took a sequences of photos of the game and then muddled them up, someone could probably put them back in order.

The thing is that in Monopoly you can sometimes go back in time. A common example is getting the 'Go Back To The Old Kent Road!' card. In this case the person putting the muddled photos back in order might get it slightly wrong.

Or everyone could actually decide to go back in time by selling houses, hotels and properties. If they did that, they could make it really difficult for someone to reconstruct the order of the photos. This is time travel, and you can see that there it doesn't suffer from the grandfather paradox, or any other problems.

So film makers, could you use the Monopoly model of time travel in all future films please?

2013-04-26

New Model Army

Listening to the In Our Time programme on the Putney Debates brought home to me how much Adam Roberts had drawn on the historical New Model Army in his book of the same name.

On Monday last week I went camping in Cornwall:


taking the book with me. Not having read Adam Roberts before I had no idea what to expect. I started reading, and was very impressed with what I found. There's a mixture of excellent ideas mixed with erudition, and action scenes that I can only describe as punchy. Roberts is a real student of the craft of writing. I'm looking forward to reading more from him.

2013-04-19

Desktop sharing for Ubuntu 13.04

Here are some instructions for setting up your Ubuntu 13.04 machine so that you can share your desktop with someone else over the internet.

Right, first of all go to the Dash (the thing in the top left of the screen) and type desktop sharing. Click on the Desktop Sharing app to start it. In its preferences make the settings look like:


 Click Close, and your computer should now be ready for someone else to connect. The thing is that they need to know the address to connect to. To find this out, do a Google search for what is my ip address and it'll come up with your public IP address. Something like:


Tell the IP address to the person you want to share your desktop with. Ubuntu will prompt you to allow / refuse when someone tries to connect. Note that your IP address may change every now and then. You can use a host name that doesn't change using something like NoIP.

2013-04-18

Defamation Bill: A confusing vote from the Lib Dems

I've written previously about the Defamation Bill, and I've written again to my MP Don Foster:
Reading the Commons debate on 16th April on the Defamation Bill, I was disappointed to see that you voted for rejecting the Lords' second amendment which would have restricted companies from suing individuals.

Update: Don's office have replied with:

Lib Julian Huppert and Simon Hughes managed to get the Government to agree to a revised amendment. You can read about it here.

I am a bit confused as to why the Lib Dems voted in favour of rejecting the Lords' second amendment, but then seem to be including it again. I think I probably don't understand these things properly!