The Dark Wheel

Awesome. The Dark Wheel, the novella which came bundled with the best computer game I ever did play, the classic space-trader-battler Elite. The only thing I remember is a passage about a guy with some weird parasites lying dormant in his face, and his hopes as to when they would choose to emerge. Let’s see… Ah yes, here we go:

It was a human being, and not a humanoid alien that faced them. But what had happened to its face was beyond description. There were many ways to change ordinary human looks to nightmarish caricatures of the same: flying too close to certain stars, being exposed to the interstellar vacuum too often, working in certain ore and mineral mines . . . But Alex, as he stared at the lumpy, grey swellings that swathed this person’s flesh, could not imagine what grotesque disaster had befallen the caller.

‘These things. This . . .’ tapping his face. ‘Parasites. Spider worms. I did a stint in the pen on Dykstra’s world, and the little buggers took a liking to me. These are the larvae, about two million of them. They’ll hatch out in about ten years, and that’ll be the end of me. I sort of hope I’m at a dinner party with someone I don’t like, at the time, but you can’t plan for these things.’

Classic. Thanks, Dave! :-)

Back to the Taliban, then…

Is the US going to allow Afghanistan to return to Taliban/Pakistani rule [robot]?

Karzai shared with Ahmed Rashid his belief, like that of the average Afghan today, that the answer to that question lies in an understanding reached between the United States and Pakistan during Musharraf’s visit to Camp David, that Afghanistan could be, in effect, “sub- contracted” to Pakistan. Karzai also told Rashid that Musharraf’s critical remarks about the Karzai regime during his visit to the United States reminded him of the pre-September 11 days when Pakistan was fully backing the Taliban and exercising ever-more-strident control over Afghanistan.

Moby Dick Ahoy!

Superb Defective Yeti on Moby Dick. Given Matthew’s propensity for making up bullshit (good examples here and here) I assumed that the quote (spleens, hypos, knocking hats off) was made up too. But just to check, I mosied on over to Project Gutenberg and downloaded me a copy – and there it is, Chapter One, spleens, hypos, and hats. Superb. Now I simply must read this book, not withstanding Matthew’s comments about twentysomething Moby Dick liars.

A GNU/Linux Audio distribution

I’ve just heard about Agnula, a project which aims to support the production of two Linux distributions (one based on Debian, the other on RedHat) dedicated to audio and multimedia. Check out the project description page for a list of the software they’re aiming to include – pretty ambitious.

Onboard C for Palm development

Via ntk, and timely since I’m thinking about doing some Palm development soonish, maybe, if I get round to it and don’t get distracted by lots of other exciting things, which is also likely, we present, Onboard C:

A C language integrated development environment that runs right on your Palm PDA and compiles native Palm executables

I must also, of course, take a close look at pippy.

Pizza is good for you

This just in: pizza is good for you [chicken]. Well, the right kind, anyway.

Mobile phones really are evil

Here’s an interesting article about how the market for tantalum, which is an essential ingredient in all our lovely consumer devices like mobile phones, computers, palmtops, etc. is feeding war, corruption, destruction, and extinction in central Africa [null]. Argle.

Bullet time ping-pong

Bullet time ping-pong – superb [bash].

An Atlas of the Universe

You are here, ie nowhere [found]. Start here and zoom out – stunning and humbling.

Real Life: The Review

Courtesy of Simon (although I expect the meme’s getting top rotation right now), a review of Real Life. Ho1 ho1 ho1, etc.

Player death is a serious issue in real life, and cause for continued debate among players, who often direct unanswerable questions on the subject to the game’s developers, who are apparently (and understandably) so busy that they generally keep silent.

Linux goes Welsh

Welsh language Linux ahoy!

My dog is not a carrot. In fact, I don’t have a dog.

Photo in St. James Park by the marvellous John Hegley.


OK, OK, so I’m nearly fifteen years late, but hey, I just discovered The Pixies, maybe just in time for a reunion [gamma]. Caribooooooooouuuu!

Britain now a client state of the USA

Hey Brits! Doesn’t it give you a warm glow to know that you can be extradited to the USA without prima facie evidence? [null]

The CSS Zen Garden

Like, wow: the CSS Zen Garden [tiddly].

… a demonstration of what can be accomplished visually through CSS-based design.

Seriously impressive – I didn’t actually realise quite how much was possible, it seems. For instance, compare Gothica with, say, Calm & Smooth – they’re the same HTML file, just different CSS! Corking.

Desire to play with Gimboland design growing…

Websites that shorten long URLs

Websites that shorten long URLs [gamma]. Nice – I used to use makeashorterlink until I discovered tinyurl, but some of these other features look interesting. Perl API, huh? Where’s the Python one? ;-) (Yeah, I know, I know, write it yourself. I know.)

How To Be An Alpha Male

How To Be An Alpha Male in 18 easy lessons [weez [alas [yeti]]].

Monty even funnier than Marky

In the same vein as Marky, here’s a whole load of wise words from Monty the bot [ntk].

Yeti Time

It’s really time I listened to Simon and started reading Defective Yeti, so I have.

Unfortunately, that means I now have no choice but to present a long list of fantastic posts. It’s almost redundant, since most of the posts are, frankly, rather good, but anyway… kitten wrath, Dr Pepper, Logan’s Run (I actually quite like Logan’s Run, but knowing me that’s probably just because Jenny Agutter gets nekkid), toothpaste slapstick, go you chickenfat, What Venomous Egg-Laying Mammal Are You?, lego currency, etc., etc., etc. – wow.

It’s a while since I discovered a site that made me laugh out loud so consistently. I guess the last one was Simon, I repent!

Stalin vs Hitler

Stalin vs. Hitler – very strange [rich].

How to Rig an Election in the United States

As mentioned previously, electronic voting machines are making election fraud easier, not harder. Now here’s a detailed article on the subject: How to Rig an Election in the United States [null].

Hooray, babyink is a fake

Thank you, wotever, for doing the sensible thing and finding out that in fact, babyink is fake. That’s a relief.

Leon Wardrobe – groovy

Wardrobe with groovy Leon picture on it

Heavy weather on its way

Here comes the heavy weather, says the World Meteorological Organisation [rotten].

Food, glorious food

I went looking for a chicken/pesto/pasta recipe last night and stumbled upon, which I’ve got to say, is totally the business. A few particularly nifty aspects: for a given recipe, you can automatically scale the ingredients to however many servings you want, you can have the amounts in metric or “US standard” (ie everything in terms of “cups” – whatever they are ;-)), each recipe has reviews and ratings, and if you register you get a “recipe box” in which to keep your favourites and any notes you make on them. Very cool.

OK, so maybe none of this is news to anyone who’s used the web as a recipe resouce for some time – but to me it was all new and exciting.

Plus, the meal I selected, Chicken Pesto a la Lisa, was dead easy to cook and super-duper yummylicious.

Oooh, so that’s what blanching is – I always wondered.

Tattoos for babies???

How stupid is this? – tattoos for babies. [popbitch]. I’d like to be able to say it’s satirical, but alas, it looks genuine. Sigh…

Six and Venus

A couple of tasty bits from tiddly-pom over the last few days: Six plays Hex, telling us about a KDE app for playing Hex, the game John Nash invented because Go was too inscrutable for him; and Planet of the Zeppelins, on interesting plans to colonise Venus with Cloud Cities from The Empire Strikes Back. Well, not quite, but almost.

Text Processing In Python

Text Processing In Python, by David Mertz – available free online or in dead tree format. And here’s the Slashdot review [robot]. I think I’ll give Chapter 4 (Parsers and State Machines) a look…

Introduction to Reverse Engineering Software

Introduction to Reverse Engineering Software [null].

Gay wizardry, or just subversive?

Speculations on a gay subtext to Harry Potter. Rubbish when taken literally of course, but the last paragraph Andrew quotes has got it right, I reckon.

Peter Gabriel continues to be cool

Peter Gabriel is still as interesting as ever, it seems [robot]. The highlight of the article is definitely the account of improvising with a bonobo:

“Play a grooming song!” says Panbanisha through her human interpreter. “I want to hear a grooming song!”

Onscreen, Gabriel begins playing slow synth pads not unlike something that might appear in one of his soundtracks. Panbanisha listens and begins to pick out delicate single notes on the keyboard, like a beginning and extremely hairy Brian Eno or Erik Satie. It’s stunning footage, albeit not the sort of thing that would make the cut on When Animals Attack.

“She likes this note,” says Gabriel, as the ape begins repeating a note and its octave. “No one has ever told her about octaves. She finds out for herself. So she’s either recognizing the pattern, or it’s through what she’s hearing.”

It’s also nice to see the Blind Boys of Alabama mentioned, as I’ve coincidentally been enjoying their work lately.

He’s looking very Zen-master, isn’t he?

The Stable Marriage Problem

Something I hadn’t heard of when it came up in a meeting a few weeks ago, and which I’ve just got round to investigating: The Stable Marriable Problem. Kewl.

Miracles You’ll See In The Next 50 Years

Miracles You’ll See In The Next 50 Years (written in 1950) [dm]. Simply chock-full of fantastically whacky science-will-rule-all ideas. My personal favourite:

Because everything in her home is waterproof, the housewife of 2000 can do her daily cleaning with a hose.

Or how about this:

It is easy enough to spot a budding hurricane in the doldrums off the coast of Africa. Before it has a chance to gather much strength and speed as it travels westward toward Florida, oil is spread over the sea and ignited. There is an updraft. Air from the surrounding region, which includes the developing hurricane, rushes in to fill the void. The rising air condenses so that some of the water in the whirling mass falls as rain.

I’m sorry, I must be going mad. I thought you said “oil is spread over the sea and ignited”. Oh, wait.

Foucault Pendulums

Foucalt pendulums [gamma].

Why functional programming matters

Why Functional Programming Matters, a paper from 1984. Alas, in general, functional programming is still rare, so presumably this paper didn’t have quite the intended effect. Yet. :-)

Crazy horses

Crazy horses. You need flash and sound. Thanks Pete!

Logarithmic timeline of the Universe

Jorn is back after nearly a month, and the first thing I see is a pretty cool logarithmic timeline of the history of the Universe with (some) references.

Includes such nifty moments as “diamonds created in South Africa”, “fish with legs”, “giant cockroaches”, “cats and dogs diverge”, “giant birds eat tiny horses”, “whales diverge from hippos”, “Mediterranean sea evaporates”, “Sahara more arid than today”, “first Australians hunt giant marsupials to extinction”, “discovery of prime numbers”, and of course, “Riverdance”. :-)

Cool maps

Courtesy of Si, some cool maps at Le monde diplomatique, eg the marvellously titled “the dirty-money archipelago“.