Archive for August, 2006

words of advice

August 31, 2006

words of advice

If you are, say, a local tree trust, dedicated to restoring the street trees in your town, and are doing quite well, and get some extra money, and decide to replant a whole street of hawthorn (incidentally removing a certain photographer’s favourite tree in the process) you may wish to consider (a) not planting standards in the middle of the summer but in the spring or autumn when the trees are dormant and more likely to go well (b) not pruning them ruthlessly the moment they appear to be establishing themselves thus destroying their ability to photosynthesise and (c) watering them occasionally when you get the hottest July on record. Just a thought.

Otherwise you might end up with a whole street of brand new, dead, trees. Like this one.


Daring Fireball: Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

August 31, 2006

Daring Fireball: Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Thoughtful and moving piece that isn’t about computers from Mr Gruber.

Schneier roundhouse-kicks some mendacious terrorism bullshit

August 27, 2006

Schneier on Security: What the Terrorists Want

I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorised because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And were doing exactly what the terrorists want.

This is a very good piece, go read it.

I’d just like to add that (by coincidence) today I was reading the British Foreign Office travel advice for Turkey (where I’m hopefully going soon), and made the following observations:–

  • The obsession with terrorism is getting out of hand. Well, we knew that, but this is silly. You see, for instance, the Bugarian page starts with the paragraph:–

    Bulgaria shares with the rest of Europe a threat from international terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets.

    Except, well, in real life it doesn’t, except in the most abstract, “it’s-not-impossible-that-terrorism-could-happen-here” sense. After all, during the whole Northern Irish troubles, there were never bombs in Scotland. The UK government’s obsession with international terrorism is distorting the advice given to it’s people travelling: advice that should be strictly impartial.

  • The other observation is that, on reading the Turkish travel advice, there’s a lot of terrorist activity in that country (compared to say, Norway), but most of it is probably domestic in nature, most likely the dreadful, continuing civil war with the Kurds. It doesn’t actually say who’s doing it.

    The notion of some kind of big, giant, co-ordinated, international, global terrorist conspiracy is a silly fantasy. And a dangerous one.

    But Schneier still implies that the terrorists, are somehow out to “get” America. What sort of culture is he living in? Does he feel pressure to couch his argument in these terms? What does that say about his culture? I don’t know, I’m just asking.

    I suspect they just want American troops out of the Saudi Peninsula. Or their own state, which everyone else seems to be allowed to have. Or for Allah to triumph. Or for Russia to leave. Or whatever. What they want doesn’t neccessarily make sense. And that applies to many single issue activists, even law-abiding ones.

    But there’s more to this than than the peace of mind of us, parochial western citizens. It’s a big world, and there’s plenty going on, right and wrong that we don’t pay attention to. But we should.

Return of Da MarsEdit

August 27, 2006

I’ve mostly been using the web interface for otan2 so far, but I’ve decided to revive MarsEdit. I’m hoping it’ll be a little faster than the web interface is, and I can get back to drafting things and never posting them…

…and so long as I avoid images we should be OK…

What’s the world coming to?

August 25, 2006

Walking the dog after work. It’s dark. A person on a bicycle weaves down the road towards me. He gets closer…

…losh. It’s a Boy Scout. Uniform, woggle and all. A bloody Boy Scout riding a bike after dark without lights. What’s the world coming to?


August 21, 2006

Osama “Obsessed with Whitney Houston”

Lifestyle: 21 August 2006, Monday.

Osama bin Laden is obsessed with pop diva Whitney Houston, and has even considered killing her husband Bobby Brown, Sudanese poet and novelist Kola Boof has claimed.

If only, if only it could be true… Osama would be revealed as the small-time crackpot he is, the neo-cons and new-laborites as the idiots they are, peace would reign on planet earth, and we could start doing something about (a) world poverty (b) the rapidly accelerating environmental crisis.

Or am I getting a little carried away?

Civil Group Makes “Beaach”

August 18, 2006

Civil Group Makes “Beach” around Bulgaria’s Parliament

Bulgarian civil group protested Friday in front of the Parliament in support of their request for the protection of several wild beaches at the Black Sea coast.

The group, called “Da spasim Irakli” (“Let’s Save Irakli”), opposes to the unrestricted construction works on the beaches.

I support that! The sheer awfulness of the coastline around Nesabur will stay with me for a long time. And alas, Bulgaria is still in it’s “lets build stuff at random and make a quick buck” stage of development, and risks losing much of genuine, rather than monetary, value. Just as we have in Britain.

BBC NEWS | UK | Ryanair issues luggage ultimatum

August 18, 2006

BBC NEWS | UK | Ryanair issues luggage ultimatum

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “The best way to defeat terrorists and extremists is for ordinary people to continue to live their lives as normal.

“Because of the additional security restrictions imposed by the government last Thursday, the shambles at the London airports has been anything but normal.”

Well, it’s not often I find myself agreeing with Michael O’Leary, but I must say it was refreshing to watch him having a good rant on News 24 this morning.

Down with those six year old terrorists, that what I say.

Met Office: July 2006

August 17, 2006

Met Office: July 2006

Scotland Mean Temperature Series (series began in 1914).
The provisional value for the month was 15.6 °C, which is 3.0 °C above the 1961-1990 average,
which is in the exceptionally above average category. Warmest month in series, previous warmest month was August 1947 with 15.4 °C.

Also the sunniest July since 1990.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Prescott denies calling Bush crap

August 17, 2006

BBC NEWS | Politics | Prescott denies calling Bush crap

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has denied saying the Bush administration had been “crap” on the Middle East road map – the plan for peace in the region.

Note how the BBC conflates calling the Washington administration’s attitude to the Middle East “crap” and Prescott calling Bush “crap”. There’s a wee thing called impartiality, guys, which you are meant to be the paragon of.

Prescott may be an utter fool, I don’t know, I’ve never met him. But I don’t see the need to deny this story: not only is the “road map” itself crap, but the name is crap. A “road map”? I have visions of diplomats and statesmen driving around in an old bus, lost in the back lanes of Aberdeenshire.

Maybe that’s just me.

My opinion is that any lasting settlement in the Middle East will have to actually deal with the longstanding and genuine grievances that all the sides have.

The settlement will also have to deal with the childish, petty conduct of all sides in the conflict. Clearly that will be very difficult, and of course I have no idea how to do it.