Apr. 8th, 2012

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  • The other day, the usual four of us were at the Golden Hind pub quiz (rock and roll) when someone sat down at the adjacent table and started having a very loud Skype conversation in Russian amidst the question setting so that we had problems hearing some of the questions. He had earphones in, so it was an oddly stop-and-start conversation. Half way through asking the question-setter question, the doorak would suddenly pipe up at a volume which could probably be clearly heard in Irkutsk even without the aid of Skype. This kept on making me laugh because it reminded me of having a short-wave radio as a kid. You'd be trying to listen to some BBC panel quiz or other light-entertainment when half way through Radio Moscow would break in. It always seemed to be radio Moscow. They must have had some pretty massive transmitters but it's hard to believe that they deliberately jammed Willy Rushton singing I Vow To Thee My Country to the tune of Run Rabbit Run or Robert Robinson grilling Mr Brown -- a retired Accontancy Clerk from Epsom, Surrey -- on the medieval kings of Italy, as a threat to the Russian empire.
  • I'm still weirded out by people saying Happy Easter before Easter Sunday. I know I should be over it, particularly as I've long abandoned the church. I don't know why it bothers me, but as a kid we were definitely told that it's a terrible thing to wish people a happy Easter, particularly on Good Friday, first because it presumes salvation and second because Good Friday is a sombre day of humility where the faults of mankind are laid bare, not a happy one. I'm more than happy to wish people happy Ostara on any of these days and wish I could get away with doing so more often, but am still weirded out, even as an apostate spectator, by the weird newspeak that seems to have gone on in the mainstream over Easter. The secularisation of Easter seems to go without comment among Christians (as far as I can tell), when I was always taught as a kid that Easter was the pivotal festival of the year and Christmas mainly just a bit of fun. It's weird that it matters: I guess it's like going to meet someone you used to live with twenty years ago and finding that they've completely changed but have no explanation as to why. I used to like Good Friday as a kid: it was the one time the world shut up, :-). It was like that feeling you get in an office when there's a power cut and the aircon and computers go off so that all the white noise is gone and everyone sighs with relief not having known they were tensed up by it all day.
  • If you are interested in land reform, I recommend "Crofting People and Politics: Five Decades of the Crofters Commission". I got this last time I was north of the border and dug it out when I got back this time to find a picture of a highland cow's backside (long story) but forgot what an excellent book it is. It's modest, but describes the only place in the UK (for now) that there's a test of a large-scale, long-term alternative model to contrast with mainstream economic development.
  • I've become interested in the whole field of free energy and entropy, entropy budgets, etc, particularly with reference to permaculture: models of free energy balances, and so on, but am having trouble finding any starting points without going back to Schroedinger's negentropy book and working forwards, which will be tedious.
  • I've also got a passing interest in information-theoretic descriptions and quantitisations of the autonomic immune system: not enough to research it, but enough to read other people's reasearch. Anyone know of any work on the area of information entropy and immunoglobulin recombination?
  • Does anyone know of any work on genome compression using PAQ like techniques, -- ie multiple models followed by a forward-backward type weighting procedure? It seems that given the different contexts of the genome (ORF, ALU, microsattelites etc), PAQ seems to be a better model for compression even than the general case, and could have variation data easily built in to allow multi-genome or cross-species compression just by adding another model, which is much less clunky than anything I've seen. You could have n-mer models, codon models, GC%-biased models, HMMs for regulatory motifs, a BLAT-based back-reference model in the style of LZ77, etc.
  • I was in the embarassing situation the other day of wanting to use something I developed in my thesis, over ten years ago and not remembering how. I don't have a copy of my thesis and it's not online and no papers came from it, so I might have to order a copy. Which is kind of embarassing. I dread to reread it now.
  • If I ruled the world, I'd pay desktop UI programmers handsomely to step away from the keyboard and do nothing. It would be an improvement. The amount of my life that is wasted by bright sparks arguing over the best way to launch an application drives me mad. Window managers and launching GUI applications is a problem solved about twenty years ago: in the words of St Tarantio "are you such a loser, you can't tell when you've won".
  • I'm having a bit of a novel-reading crisis at the moment: I've read a lot of novels I didn't really like in a row, including books I'd read before and liked. Not sure what it is yet. Reading more poetry instead.
  • Still find the greeks hard going (even in translation, I don't speak the lingo) -- though I love the tragedies in production, -- but I've discovered that the "books of the play" are much more readable than the literal, scholarly translations. Thank goodness for the Greeks. I am so badly read, it's embarassing. I'm particularly bad at the C19th classics. I guess I've seen a lot of plays, but I'm still embarassed by my lack of reading. But I feel like I'm too old to battle through Jane Austen just to not be an embarassment at parties. I might try to see Antigone at the National in May but I'm usually too disorganised to book in time. I've not seen Antigone.
  • Usually stuff comes up on The Review Show and I think "Drat, that was months away last time I thought about booking" and then rush to the computer just as they say "the production is completely sold out". Who are these people? Where do they find out about these things? Do they hang around the south bank like rooks on lampposts waiting for the next rabbit to step into the road? I wish theatre was more flexible in terms of production length vs reception. I vaguely remember hearing that the War Horse puppet folk are doing something which (in my head) is to do with crows: I must dig that out, too.

Bedtime then chocolate! Mmm!


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