Down the Docks

February 26, 2008

Wrote To Them

Filed under: Current Affairs — ealing @ 7:55 am

After years of saying how great it and its predecessor are, I finally used WriteToThem yesterday for the first time. I wrote to my local MP, Simon Hughes, asking him to vote against the ridiculous Sound Recordings (Copyright Term Extension) Bill. Wish I’d done it ages ago. Now I might tackle him on his silly support for homeopathic hospitals.

Meme parent: BoingBoing, as usual.


February 24, 2008

Understanding Code

Filed under: Technology — ealing @ 6:27 pm

Every programmer should be able to understand and reason about a line of code in one of his* working languages. It’s far more useful, though, to be able to understand and reason about blocks of code. (more…)


Filed under: Current Affairs, Politics — ealing @ 2:34 am

In the BBC’s report on Serbian protests over Kosovan independence, a girl by the name of Bojana Vuckovic is quoted as saying, “We don’t want to let it go because it’s ours, even if the majority of people there aren’t Serbian.” The ‘we’ of her statement is presumably Serbians. The majority of the people on the march would presumably agree to that statment or something similar.

What’s interesting is what ‘ours’ means in that sentence. I am no expert, but I guess that large parts of Kosovo are privately owned, and that neither the old Serbian nor the new Kosovan government would claim ownership of them. However, those governments would claim that their laws extend over that land. The ownership that Bojana is talking about is being in charge of, rather than having exclusive rights to.

So what I’m left thinking is that Bojana believes that, no matter who buys the land of Kosovo, Serbia must remain in charge. Even when Kosovo is 90% or more ethnic Albanian, Serbia must be in charge. I doubt that it’s cost-effective for Serbia to rule a land that doesn’t want to be ruled. So in the absence of an economic motive, why do some Serbs want so badly to be in charge of Kosovo?

February 10, 2008

Better Booze

Filed under: Uncategorized — ealing @ 7:18 pm

Pretty much all of my male friends of my age like real ale and good wine. Pretty much all of them started out as indiscrimate pissheads. The switch from one to the other has two main steps in it, I think:

  1. Having responsibilities – chiefly, having to be awake, sober and somewhere other than bed at nine in the morning.
  2. Having more money – so beer with a premium of 30% or more (off the top of my head) doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

What I want to know is, in the absence of those two drivers, how many indiscriminate pissheads would become connoiseurs of wine and ale? Have we convinced ourselves that we like them because we know we can’t get slaughtered every night?

A counterexample would be a British male who had the opportunity to get plastered regularly on cheap booze, but who passed it up for restraint and more expensive drinks. I can think of no-one who falls into this category.

February 3, 2008

Wine Buffs Not Actually Very Discriminating

Filed under: Uncategorized — ealing @ 9:34 pm

Pope a Catholic. Bears defecate in woodlands. People think wine is higher quality when it is simply more expensive.

I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to wine, which is not to say I don’t enjoy it. I’ve known for a while that I’m not really capable of telling good wine from average, although I’d like to think I could spot the bad. I think that I prefer red to white, like Shiraz and dislike Chardonnay, but I also think I’m probably just trying to fool myself.

I’ve a good mind to buy half a dozen bottles and try a double-blind test. Anyone fancy some experimentation, strictly in the name of science?

February 2, 2008

Resolution Review – One Month

Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 10:14 pm

So far so good. The crush at the gym has lasted longer than I thought, so I guess I had underestimated the staying power of some of the new faces. Taken in the original order:

  • My weight is down again. The calorie counting, gym trips and swimming are gradually working. The only problems have been when eating out, or snacking after drinking.
  • The blogging is ongoing, as you can see here or at my Oracle blog. I’ve remembered now something I had previously forgotten: writing a well-researched, clear article is difficult and time-consuming.
  • Getting up early is now pretty much habit. I sometimes have to remind myself to do something other with the time than read Bloglines!
  • I’ve cut back on the booze. It’s particularly important when you’re also trying to count calories. Only two exceptions to the six-unit rule so far, despite being tempted a few times.
  • The Spanish is going fairly well, but would be going better if I actually made an effort outside of the class.
  • Budgeting needs more attention.

If it wasn’t for one epic fail of a weekend, I’d have done almost perfectly on the first four points. Good weekend though! So the only two that need serious work are the last two. Let’s see how I do in February.

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