October 29, 2004
New adventures in policing - the drunk tank
Would you believe that in Scotland, with its drink culture and culture of drink-related violence, there isn't a single drunk tank?? Not even in Glasgow???
If Eric Milligan ever went out on a weekend in Edinburgh he'd envisage several people being taken in every bloody hour...
October 28, 2004
Moving, part II
Well, not moved yet, but am about to change the DNS records so things should start to happen in the next couple of hours. Expect things to be rather wonky for the next day or two... not quite sure my new host has PHP configured properly. Ah well, we shall soon find out...!
Normalized data is for sissies
There are 10 [i.e. two] types of people in this world: those who work with large amounts of data, and those that don't. The real issue is data integrity, and how you manage it/create it. You'd be surprised how much data is rubbish - converting stuff into information is a damn sight easier said than done.
Managing data, particularly ensuring that it is captured appropriately and then KEPT consistent, is often ignored until things are horribly broken. Nothing causes confusion like someone using out-of date data/classifications/structures etc. because they weren't concerned with data integrity/use or just weren't paying attention.
Not that I'm dealing with that at the moment. Not at all.
Explaining the 'Anglosphere'
That seems about right to me. (There's even a new book, called Our Oldest Enemy, that takes a rather unflattering view of France's role.)
The great US/France schism is fascinating, particularly when subjected to some rather juvenile right-wing analysis. I love Glen Reynolds: he has lots to say, appears to be well read, yet still manages to produce the most amazing volume of incoherent pseudo-theory.
The US and France are very much alike, two peas in a pod almost - they are both the first-born progeny of the 18th century's most important social advances: the Scottish and French enlightenments. And like most siblings, they spend too much time squabbling over irrelevances.
The differing ways in which they've dealt with this birthright is, of course, the crux of their differences today. Both are liberal democracies - a fact celebrated in France, the source of much angst in the US, where the singular cultural divide is between those who believe in the [generally liberal] aims of the US Constitution [even if they'd rather die than call themselves 'liberal'], and those who want to make the US the type of [large C] conservative [large R] religious state that the Constitution was specifically designed against.
Even ignoring the myriad cultural differences between the two [and the fact that the French, like the Canadians, recognise that "culture" needs to be protected from the "market"] there is one principle fault line: religion. Or, more to the point, the lack of it in France. Now we all know about the cathedral of Notre Dame, Cardinal Richlieu and all that: it's not the existence of religion in France, and to a wider degree Europe that's the issue - it's the role of religion and how it shapes national identity.
France is, arguably, one of the most secular countries in Europe. Secular, and to a considerable degree, highly technocratic. Could there be a first-world country more unlike the US? And one that reflects wider European attitudes towards the US and its Empire in ways which are not recognised/associated with the rest of Europe. Americans expect France to be anti-US and the rest of Europe to be pro-US, and tend to ignore evidence to the contrary.
Few things in life are as entertaining as watching an American talk with almost total ignorance about Canada. Canada, like France, is a country that marches to the beat of its own drum, and that drives Americans absolutely spare. As a country Canada thinks wars aren't cool, realises that almost all of the military/economic/political/cultural threats it faces come from its neighbour to the south, and as a rule it cares passionately about peace-keeping and nation-building, both seemingly profoundly un- [or at best non-] American concepts.
What this is really about though, is criticism. Certain segments of the US seem to believe they have inherited/developed a divine right of sorts - they are the modern oracles, and god help those who criticise them.
October 26, 2004
MP attacks banks 'profiteering from poorest'
It is nice to know that a MP has recognised that things are cheaper for the [relatively] rich, a fact that has been true in the UK for a very, very long time. But then this MP has probably spent too long reading the BBC's online news, where the digital divide is only something that happens in the third world.
October 25, 2004
Just a quick heads up that I am about to move hosts, so things may be a bit disrupted over the next week. Apologies in advance.
All email is being redirected elsewhere, so I'm hoping that nothing will get lost in transition.
I will be running SpamAssassin on my new host, and some old email addresses will be dropped as they are now contaminated with computer-related spam which Eudora can't filter as junk.
The handy dandy contact form should, however, still work just fine. Hopefully. To those of you who have been caught in the spam trap because ghoulnet.com's servers are hopelessly misconfigured, my apologies.
October 23, 2004
Push to win over net 'refuseniks'
Speaking of BBC Online and its juvenile attitude to digital inclusion in the UK, this particular article must take the cake. Calling those who aren't online "refuseniks" is about as patronising as you can possibly be. Could it be that many of those who aren't online can't go online because they can't read...?
For more on the wonderfully backwards British attitude to learning and literacy, you need only go here.
October 14, 2004
Bizarre thought of the day
Even more strange when you remember that this is the country that feels there is a commercial need to breed a "mild" jalapeno...
October 13, 2004
Photographer of the year vote
I went for Euan Cartwright, though Phil Charnock's is also v. good.
October 08, 2004
Postgrads and the real world
And where exactly is the story here? Isn't this what you would intuitively expect? Does the Guardian really think that people who do PhD's love academia? Haven't they heard of bills, mortgages, children?
Perhaps more to the point, don't they recognise that the UK's funding councils are explicit in their desire for PhDs not to stay in academia but to venture out into the real world?
It's not a wonder that so many leave academia, it's a wonder that so many stay in the first place...
October 07, 2004
Speaking of recycling...
And how exactly are we supposed to be recycling these things...?
October 03, 2004
Recycling, or not.
There is no more typical British approach to a problem than this: thinking that we can be encouraged to recycle more by designing a new recycling logo.
The fact is that many of us, particularly in Scotland, have no home/kerb-side recycling facilities, which in the 21st century is quite the [under] achievement.
Overfishing and the North Sea
You know, I'd be amazed if there were even 10 million tonnes of fish left in the North Sea. Overfishing has denuded the North Atlantic, and sustainable fishing seems to be an oxymoron.
October 02, 2004
Agency predicts 20% drop in house prices
It's called a speculative bubble folks... and it's popped.
Dumbest thing of the week
When I was in in North Carolina a few years ago for an IEEE conference I discovered that if you ordered meat cooked rare or medium-rare you were warned (thanks to a state guideline) that this was not a recommended choice.
I'll admit this didn't exactly fill me with confidence in North Carolina's food chain.