Monday, October 30, 2006

When the night has come ...

... and the land is dark

Plunged into darkness once more. (Nothing to do with replacing Justin Hawkins - fun though that may be.) This year - as far as I can tell - I have managed to set all the assorted clocks and other timepieces to GMT. It's true that I found some were already (still) in GMT .. but that's a different story.

This is a major victory. No, really. Every year around January I find some clock still in BST. Likewise in July or so there's inevitably a clock still in GMT. This time, however, I am sure - really sure - that I've got them all. Honest.

My children ask "why do the clocks have to change?" - and I find it difficult to answer. This is a problem as we home educate, so I feel I should have an answer. I could give them the official explanation, some history of the origins and even some insight into the political skulduggery that ensures the daylight savings nonsense persists. The real problem is that I really don't see that there is good reason for it. Come winter I start and end my working day in the dark; tweaking the clock an hour earlier doesn't make it light when I have to get up nor light when I travel home. In the summer it's not a problem: there's plenty of sunlight to go round. It gets light hours before I get up and stays light until bedtime - so why change the clocks then? Sure, most countries have this clock change twice a year but that doesn't justify it for me.

So now I wait for sundown and ride home in the dark. Could be worse - could be raining. That'll be tomorrow's excitement.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I love to laugh ...

... loud and long and clear

And ........ another week goes by. STOP! Too fast! (or else I'm getting too crumbly - make up your own mind).

I found this today. Made me laugh out loud 'til the tears rolled down. P'raps I'm getting a little hysterical, too. I particularly like:

chromatic abberation : wearing brown shoes with a blue suit

circlular reasoning : see reasoning, circular

.. and, of course

reasoning, circular : see circular reasoning

Must go lie down in a dark room ...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Where's you head at ..?

Ill, ill, ill. I hate being ill. "Just as you thought it was safe to feel human ..." Damn sinus infection. OK, OK .. too much information. Still, I'm feeling grumpy. Be warned!

The perfect antidote (courtesy of Making it up): South Park does World of Warcraft. Brilliant.

Off to find some serious painkillers ...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Woke up, got out of bed ...

... and dragged a comb across my head ...

Blog for Britain!

Today is your chance to crate a piece of history. The National Trust is encouraging people to record a diary of their day on a website, as part of what is being called "Britain's biggest blog".

The trust says the emphasis does not have to be on recording exciting events. Historian Dan Snow said they had wanted to choose a "run-of-the-mill day". Tuesday has been picked as an "ordinary day much like any other of no particular national significance".

So: log on and blog off!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Alif is for Allah ...

Right. I'll start with the conclusion - there is no simple answer.

There'll be no veiled threats - or indeed any more bad puns.

Britain has not been a monoculture since before Jesus - or Mohammed - walked the earth. The television and newpaper media, however, still insist on stirring up fear, uncertainty and doubt whenever our "culture" is under threat. So .. what culture is that, then? The idea of Britian devoid of influence from abroad conjours up images of red-haired faces painted blue and people asking "what have the Romans ever done for us?". Britian derives its strength and identity from being a cultural melting-pot. Get used to it and embrace it.

Now I would be the first to say that anyone choosing to live in our country should make some effort to fit in. I would personally feel somehow uncomfortable living in some other country and pretending I was living in England. I'm also not sure I see the point. There is also a need, however, for everyone to feel part of a community; to retain ther own identity. Look at the British abroad: we huddle together in ex-pat enclaves, drinking beer in Abu Dabi, eating chips in Spain and baring our flesh in Greece.

It is for this reason that there will always be - and have always been - subcultures within our society. This could be the difference between the gentry and the peasants; between the northerners and the southerners; British and Irish; and, in this case, Islamic followers and a mixture of Christians and Atheists.

On the specific topic du jour: veils, I admit that things get tricky. I can see how people may be threatened by a mode of dress they're not used to. Punks were chastised in the '70s for their torn jeans and piercings. Goths are victimised for their heavy eyeliner and oppressive garb. It is the unwillingness to accept this form of dress which is so destructive, however. Personally I find talking to someone in dark glasses very offputting (almost exactly the opposite of traditional Islamic women's dress) - but no-one is suggesting that that's culturally threatening.

I've worked alongside Iranians on a couple of occasions during my career. One particular individual gave me a couple of insights which openend my eyes. I always used to find it peculiar that the Catholic and Anglican churches are so divided when they share so much common ground. This pales into insignificance, however when you consider the divide between Christianity and Islam - though the Qur'an shares much of its text with the Old Testament of the Christian bible.

As with any conflict, the only way forward involves give and take on both sides. It is difficult to see, however, how the divide can be bridged quickly - and every day it is being widened.


P.S: Whilst writing this post, I did a little research .. to check a few facts on Islam, the Qur'an and Mohammed. What I found disturbed me greatly. The first entry from Google is a tirade against Islam in general, its believers and Mohammed himself in particular. Two of the top three hits - and three of the first page of ten hits on Google are anti-Islam to the point of hatred. Now, how is that helpful?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding through the ...

... city on my bike all day, 'cos the filth took away my licence ...

Sorry: it just struck me as funny.

I'll get my coat ...

new, improved and now with correct lyrics!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sometimes it's hard to be ...

I've got a sore-throat and a bit of a sniffle.

I hear a comment from over the partition from suited office-type female:
"Oh .. got 'man-flu', have you?"

Where did that bollocks come from? Man-flu. Pfff. I despair, I really do.

Now there was a time, granted, when the female of the species were not treated with respect in all situations. The "trot off the the kitchen, dear" brigade deserved their come-uppance. I do feel, however, that the pendulum has swung in the other direction - and it's time for it to swing back towards centre.

The media is, as usual, at the root of this evil. The hypocrytes who once - and in some cases still do - portray women as trophies or somehow second-class (though often great to look at) now go out of their way to poke fun at all that is male. It is now perfectly acceptable for television adverts to imply or even state categorically that to be male is to be unintelligent and crude. Granted, some men are - but if anyone suggests that a woman is somehow inferior to a man - though in specific cases she may well be - would cause outrage. In fact, even suggesting that women now have the upper hand would be greeted with derision. Women can now get away with all those things which men used to get away with. So ... how are they better? How is that an improvement on those ill-informed '70s?

But I'm straying from my point - which is how much I hate the phrase "man-flu". I hate it; I hate it; I hate it. It is so condescending, so disrespectful, so spiteful. And all this when the target is at a low ebb. Come, on women! Show you are better: instead sinking to the levels you decry, please come up with something better than "man-flu".

OK, it's a fair cop, this is arguably a derogatory description. The individual in question, however, deserves it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I still haven't found what I'm looking for ...

To save you the trouble, I've done the to-and-fro translation. Enjoy:

Taking the last paragraph of my previous post: into Spanish ...

Ahora sería el primer en la línea para la traducción automática del sitio. He pasado la codificación i18n * mecanismos de ManyAHappyHourTM. y recibiendo facturas de los traductores. PERO hasta que es una traducción apropiada, comprensible, gramatically-correcta. No los confíe en. Intente esto en el país: tome un paso del texto; traduzca a una cierta otra lengua (que usa, por ejemplo, Babelfish); ahora tome el texto traducido y póngalo detrás a través en la lengua original. ¿Feo, no es? ¡Pruébeme mal!

Looks Spanish .. but back into English:

Now he would be the first one in the line for the automatic translation of the site. I have passed the codification i18n * mechanisms of ManyAHappyHourTM. and receiving invoices of the translators. BUT until it is an appropriate translation, comprehensible, gramatically-correct. It does not trust them. This in the country tries: take a passage from the text; translate to certain a other language (that it uses, for example, Babelfish); now it takes the translated text and póngalo behind to traverse in the original language. Ugly, it is not? Bad Pruébeme!

I rest my case.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What's that coming over the hill ...

... is it a monster?

I'm properly freaked out. I'm a bona fide techie, but the web has actually spooked me today.

I've put together a website for NCT trained ante-natal teachers who are offering private classes. You'll see it's in English (damnit). I added a stats counter yesterday and have been pleased to see folk hitting the site and browsing its pages - presumably finding the information they need. (I've had reports from listed sites that they get traffic this way.)

This morning I checked the stats and found this monster. In Portugese! Brazilian Portugese! Badly translated Brazilian Portugese! Aaaarghhhh! Run for the hills ....

Now I'd be the first in line for automatic site translation. I've spent ManyAHappyHourTM coding i18n* mechanisms .. and receiving invoices from translators. BUT until it's a proper, understandable, gramatically-correct translation .. DON'T trust them. Try this at home: take a passage of text; translate into some other language (using, for example, Babelfish); now take the translated text and put it back through into the original language. Ugly, ain't it? Prove me wrong!

For now, I'll stick with English, thanks.

* Internationalization - though, for legacy reasons it was referred to in our code as l10n


Monday, October 02, 2006

Looking in a window on a rainy day ...*

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breat whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

-- John Keats

.. which pretty much sums it up, really

... Now I'm standing in a doorway with my overcoat on,
It really feels like Summer's gone ...

* or anything by the Fall. Arf, arf.