Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Elegant Universe

If, like me, you find space, time, the universe and “all that stuff” fascinating you'll probably enjoy The Elegant Universe, a video documentary about unification of the theories of physics.

It's three hours long and I've only watched one half of the first episode so far, but it's already clearly illustrated the key difference between Einstein's theory of General Relativity and Newton's law of gravity, using excellent 3D animations.

I quit doing maths after my electronics engineering degree in favour of making things that look nice instead, but it does still hold a deep fascination for me. I want to know how things work. So I'm glad there are still people out there keen to do all the sums. Worth a watch!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

who told them about the weather?

Originally uploaded by petrichor.

I've never been one to complain about the heat. I'm loving the ongoing UK heatwave with temperatures up in the 30s. It's great. But my room's at the top of the house, so it is far more pleasant to keep the roof windows open overnight, to let whatever breaze there is cool the room down.

Fine. Until last night, that is.

I almost leapt of bed when that familiar – yet usually associated with holidays abroad – high-pitched mosquito whine faded rapidly in and out of earshot by the side of my head. Gah!

Turning on the light revealed two of them sitting on one wall and I found another buzzing randomly around under my desk. And the worst thing is when you splat them and they're already full of blood. This happened. I hurriedly went to wash my hands.

Of course you can never get them all. I woke up with three or four mosquito bite lumps on my arm and one on my leg.

Since when did they invade this fine green land? I thought they languished further south in France, Spain and, you know, all those other countries. Who went and told them we got some sun? Damn them and their whiney biting little ways...

So now my windows are shut, it's too hot to sleep, and they'll probably find a way in anyway. And worst of all every slight itch now feels like a mosquito landing on my skin and preparing to tuck into a meal.

Photo, perhaps rather aptly, by David Midgley.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Minus 61 In Detroit...

...was a techno record released in 1995 by David Holmes.

I doubt it's been that cold in Detroit since the arrival of mankind, on either the Celcius or Farenheit scale. But it is currently +29ÂșC in London. Outside. And it's midnight.

For those of you who live in walmer climes, that's pretty rare. Possiby a record. No extra blanket required tonight...

Monday, July 17, 2006

India blocks blogs

According to Boing Boing, the Indian government has told ISPs in India to block a number of domains including * If this is true then it certainly represents a step in the wrong direction.

At the time of writing this, it's not clear why they have done it. Maybe they don't like people having access to independent news and opinions?

Read the article

Sunday, July 09, 2006


If – like me – you're supposed to be doing something constructive but would much rather waste time doing something unproductive (and if you're also a Mac user) then I recommend you download Quinn. It's an excellent and free Tetris clone with network gaming features.

Unfortunately, according to the website, its creator Simon Haertel has been forced to stop distributing the game due to a nasty letter from The Tetris Company. It's a shame really as judging from their website they don't seem to be too active, at least on the web front.

Anyway, a few seconds on Google turned up the goods and you can download it here from Softpedia. At least for the time being.

Rise Festival

Yesterday, The Eyechild and I went to the Rise Festival in Finsbury Park.

Well, we got there eventually anyway. I set off from home much too late and jumped on a bus to EyechildVille. Then we waited a while for someone else who was supposed to be coming along but had gone to Ikea instead. And doesn't own a mobile phone.

So we gave up waiting and set off. Then it took a painful amount of time to get there on buses and indirect tubes because the Victoria Line was offline.

Anyway – yawn – I'm as bored of this post already as you undoubtedly are. Suffice to say it wasn't that good which is a shame because its anit-racism cause is, as ever, a worthy one. Maybe if I'd got there earlier and found a stage with some good music it would have been more enjoyable. As it was the best thing about the day was this large bottle of Beck’s.

Friday, July 07, 2006


The policeman standing outside my local tube station this morning marked the first anniversary of the London transport bombings. No doubt at some point he’ll have the unenviable task of having to stop and search some ‘suspicious looking’ individual who happens to be carrying a Fitness First bag or something.

Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t expect the police to do anything other than put out an increased presence one year on from the event. Just imagine the situation if something did happen again and they’d not put extra eyes on the transport system. Then there’d be one hell of an uproar.

But the primary effect of this climate of paranoia is of course the loss of our liberties. Not to mention the life of Charles de Menezes last year (and correct me if I’m wrong but we’ve still not got to the bottom of that one have we?)

The bottom line is that there’s a huge cultural difference between western cultures and the middle eastern cultures. We have different values. And a small (yes, emphasis on small) number of misguided individuals take it all much too far. They’re deluded by the idea that they’re doing what their god wants (an idea with which – incidentally – I cannot begin to empathise with because I’m an atheist). Clearly: god or no god, there’s no excuse for their actions.

But the governments of the USA and the UK in particular are the ones largely responsible for this political and social mess. Their policies with respect to the middle east are terrible. And the right wing Neo-Christian US government (hey guess what - also deluded by the idea that they’re doing what their god wants) commits as many war crimes as any ‘rogue’ (oil harbouring) nation they care to pick on. Guantanamo bay anyone? Christ...

Oh sorry, I blasphemed there.

It’s the ideal breeding ground for more AK47-clutching madmen. The extremists hardly need any more fuel for their fantasies. Yet we’re still giving them countless ‘excuses’ to do what they want to do.

If only those with the intelligence to get together and sort out our differences were the same people with the drive and inclination to become leaders. It’s a rare combination.

This is hardly a new or rare viewpoint here in the UK. And a thousand bloggers have probably written much the same thing this morning. But the copper outside the tube this morning got me thinking about it so there you go. Rant over.