Not so bad after all

There’s less swelling now and a shocking lack of pretty colours. The steri-strips came off and the gunk underneath is the superglue holding it together.

And I urge you to watch Rob Newman’s “History of Oil“, coz he’s far funnier than I’ll ever be, and talks like a guttersnipe, which is far closer to how I speak when I’m in the UK than how I speak now.

As for his historical claims, he’s pretty clearly bang on. His story goes: Britain created Iraq and we’ve been pfaffing with it ever since. In the last ninety years, British troops have been in or over Iraq for fifty of them. We’ve done it to stop anyone else getting their oil. Now, we claim we’re there to bring democracy. Are we surprised when no-one believes us? And yes, we’re no better than anyone else.

A debatable thesis? Well, the facts run thus:

When you’ve 45 minutes free

Robert Newman’s “History of oil“. Its edumakashional.

“The US is prompting world unity. Its like we’re all become one nation, called The Rest of the World, united by hated for the US. The RotW has got its own flag. It looks just like the US flag, except it’s on fire.”

Annoying editing, mind.
And there really was someone called Kermit Roosevelt Jr. who was the first to overthrow a democratically-elected government for the CIA. It was to stop the Soviets, apparently. Which is rather like me saying, sorry, that shifty guy over there is going to steal your car, so I’ll nick it first. You’re not happy about that? How ungrateful.

Oh Puck!

You shoudl have been at the game. There was drama, blood, suspense, blood, more blood. No, not the ‘canes, me playing skate hockey this arvo.

Got a puck in the eye. Copious bleeding and five stitches. Its odd, lying on your back feeling your eye socket filling with blood.

Still, looked more dramatic than it was and I reckon its good for at least three weeks off work*, so time to catch up on movies, watched with an ice pack over one eye to keep the bruising down. I will let you know if this alters the emotional impact of the movies.

And yes, that’s the second game running where I’ve got it in the face. I think I might get one of these:

*Well, maybe a day, tops.

Total fluffage

Wikipedia knows everything:
Fictional Icelandic people

“The bicycle is a wonderful tool, but like any technological aid it can be used for… evil”

Oops, UK nuclear power costs more to get rid of than it did to build.
well maybe, no-one really knows how much it cost in the first place

Oil policy, 1950’s style:
Nuclear weapons were looked at as a possible tool to deny the Soviets access to the oil fields. The report found, “Denial of wells by radiological means can be accomplished to prevent an enemy from utilizing the oil, but it could not prevent him from forcing ‘expendable’ Arabs to enter the contaminated areas to open well heads and deplete the reservoirs. Therefore, aside from other ill effects on the Arab population, it is not considered that radiological means are practicable as a conservation measure.”

Dr Quotable:
“The hand is the cutting edge of the mind”

7 days of Me!

Yes, this is me updating for the seventh day in a row, so its somewhat pathetic that I don’t have anything interesting to say today, other than:

Did anyone else notice the huge invasion of birds this morn? Tui in Parliament, goldfinch horde at the War Memorial, even dodgy gang of wax eyes hanging around Mt Cook.

Its a good job we’ve got lots of cats, or we’d be overrun by the blighters.

Cats – they kill like cute fuzzy machine guns.

[EDIT – I am going straight to hell. This made me laugh out loud, although I know that bridge and its reputation.]

Horrible band wins Eurovision Song Contest

So what else is new? But this band is actually trying to be horrible.


They claim to have no occult connections, but if winning the Eurovision contest isn’t a mark of the Dark Lord’s favour, then what is?

Also, there wil be a sudden backlash against the new popularity of Scandanavian detal metal, with all the rebellious youth turning to Mozart and Elgar, just to annoy their parents.

Essays

Don’t we hate them all. Yet essays and the interweb go together like Weebl and Bob. So here’s some old, English ones that should be savoured. Cake for the brain:

“On Being the Right Size” by JBS Haldane, who was the first scientist to study the origins of life.

“A Nice Cup of Tea” by George Orwell.

“Viruses of the Mind”, by Richard Dawkins, being really grumpy.

“Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” by Theodosius Dobzhansky, who no-one’s ever heard of, which is a shame.

“A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick” by Jonathan Swift, darling of compassionate conservatives everywhere.

[EDIT – and while I’m at it, Half Man Half Biscuit’s lyrics. All of them, not the nine songs available on the web. You’re just going to have to listen to them. They’re not Sigur Ros.]

Nice view

In my job, like in most others, I spend most of my time pushing the proverbial up hill. But every so often, I get to the top. And there’s a very nice view.

So I am feeling most relieved. Now, its Budget analysis time, punctuated by Hell pizza.

Another editorial

Firstly, the Icelandic/Old English letter thorn makes for the best smilies:

Secondly, and mainly of interest to the scientists amongst us, here’s this week’s editorial. And next week, I’m writing about agricultural productivity. Well, I think its interesting and important, so there :þ

1. FONTERRA INVESTS IN RESEARCH… ELSEWHERE
Comment by Royal Society Policy Analyst, Dr Jez Weston jez.weston@rsnz.org
The main problem for science in New Zealand is the lack of private money. At 0.49% of our GDP, our spending falls far short of the OECD average of 1.53%. Obviously, it is the big companies that we can look towards to rectify this. So what are they choosing to do?

Well, last year, Fonterra announced a large new investment, $15 million, in diary innovation. Great news, except that the investment is going to Melbourne.

Whoops.

Fonterra aren’t foolish; they undoubtedly hope that they will get a better return on their investment overseas and that’s the basis that they should use to make this decision. But why is Australia more attractive to private research? Is this down to a lack of capacity in NZ? Certainly, Melbourne is a centre for food and nutrition R&D and Fonterra want to be part of that knowledge cluster. This reveals a problem for New Zealand – research benefits from centralisation, as researchers benefit from being around other researchers. Places like Melbourne are also able to offer strong government funding and tax advantages for research. If we want to attract researchers away from the pull of those centres, we will have to do better than those centres. Using that measure, are we doing enough to support science in New Zealand?

Two very cool things

George Orwell on how to write English rather than management drivel. Simply, try to sound like a Saxon.

Orwell’s example, from the King James Bible:
“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

The same, in inflated CEO-euphemism:
“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

(found by .)
(EDIT – I just turned a 150 word paragraph from someone else into 55 words of my own. Go me!)

And following on from ‘s aerials videos, here’s a Jordan Jovtchev, world champion on rings (2.5Mb wmv). No artistry, just laughing at gravity. Its okay, gravity will find him in a dark alley somewhere, and gravity will probably bring along Big Dave and Tony the Fish. And also the entire British Army, coz gravity didn’t get where it is today by being laughed at.

Professor Google says:

Sex wins over drugs AND rock and roll.

Further:
cake or death?
ninjas or pirates?
cars or women?
getting up or falling down?
Me or you?… damn you.

And now, Real Science, Part 2:

That’s my how well my kiloWatt laser could focus, 1 KW into a spot 0.3 mm across, which makes it ten million times brighter than the sun. Hence it would melt metal in a thousandth of a second. The beam distribution should be smooth and nicely round. The top right picture shows the cross-section of the beam and frankly, its crap. But hey, we were glad to get that particular laser to turn on, let alone a decent Gaussian beam.

How did I measure the beam, bearing in mind the melty? With a very small mirror on the end of a cantilevered needle, spinning around at ludicrous speed, so it flicks through the beam in a very short time, then spends the rest of each rotation cooling down. Like this. And all this high-tech rotating-needle measurement kit was run off an Atari ST, booting off floppies. Did the job nicely.