Archive for August, 2005

The Great Firewall of China test results

Monday, August 29th, 2005

We put up the following links and tested them from a chinese connection. The surprising thing is that every single one came through and even some wikipaedia articles on Taiwan to boot. So it doesn’t seem it’s as bad as you might think – or do they perhaps disable the GFC for foreigners in hostels? Here’s the next one to try… Results soon. :

Vitamin C is a placebo at best

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

See here

The Edinburgh Festival

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Last week I was at the Edinburgh festival. So much artistic energy in one place – it’s amazing. Especially amazing was Ll?r Williams playing Chopin 24 preludes and Schubert B flat Major Sonata, Japanese Drumming (Tao), and the chance to see Jung Chang in the flesh – here’s my recording of her interview about her new book Mao, the unknown story. There didn’t seem to be any recording restrictions, but any complaints just let me know and I’ll take it down… I was very pleased because I only found out about it 1/2 an hour before and still managed to get a returned pair of tickets. Some pics in extended entry:


Some stuff about cars

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

First of all there’s an obvious discrepancy between government policy (in the UK and elsewhere) to reduce CO2 emissions, and the rampant propping up of the car industry. Why is the collapse of Rover such a bad thing if we’re trying to reduce the number of cars and they make some of the most environmentally unfriendly models around (Range Rover)? Also it’s small wonder people feel the need to buy new cars every 2 years and there are so many SUV’s around when every second advert on the TV (what I’ve seen of it) and billboards is for some 300g/km SUV. The huge TV screen at Edinburgh’s Wavereley station last week, right above the timetable where you can’t avoid looking was a continuously looping TV advert for a big fat Volkswagen 4WD. The mandatory inclusion of the CO2 emissions is a good thing but in my opinion, the ads should carry health warnings like cigarette packets. For an SUV to be the main thing advertised in a station seems somewhat ironic when the government is trying to encourage people to use trains instead of SUV’s.
The best way to do this BTW would be to make them arrive on time. On last week’s trip to the UK I unfortunately failed to break my 20 year run of intercity train trips with at least one hour’s delay on at least one leg. The last leg of the journey was supposed to end at Birminham International airport, but (we were not informed) that there were “Engineering Works” so it in fact bypassed that station and meant I arrived 1.5 hours later than I should have done, by using the bus service. So that means I can still claim that not a single train trip of over 1/2 an hour in the last 20 years has arrived without at least 1 hr delay on at least one leg of the journey. There is a feedback effect due to the fact that I don’t use it so often now but…
Finally on the policy of putting headlights on during the day (in Italy it’s mandatory to have your headlights on during the day). It does seem that it saves a lot of lives so it may well be justified – see. But nobody seems to think about what a waste of energy that is – millions of cars using 4X50Watt light bulbs all day is a huge waste of energy. I’m wondering if that law was the result of lobbying by the oil industry.

Creationism again

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

This is fantastic
A small quote from the above (also has some good stuff about global warming denial)
I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.
Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.
It is for this reason that I

The great firewall of China

Monday, August 8th, 2005

The great firewall of China is the popular term for China’s internet censorship system. It’s a nasty business. Most Chinese for example, are under the impression that Mao Tse Tung was a great leader (a chinese acquaintance actually said exactly this to me last month), when in fact he was responsible for more deaths than Hitler and Stalin put together and according to Jung Chang, if he’d had his way, he would have started a global nuclear war and explicitly stated that he would have thought nothing of killing 300 million chinese in order to acheive world domination.
My friend Antranig Basman, is going to China on the 19th and we’re going to try out some tests of how to get content through it. We’ve heard that they have recently implemented a blanket censorship of blogs so I’ll also be trying some pages outside of my publishing system.
I’ve just finished reading Mao, the unknown story by Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans, the best seller . Incidently it looks like the chinese censors have been writing some reviews on Amazon – check out the reviews on the link to the book (apparently they also pay people to write spurious blog comments).
“This (lady)liar fooled 10,000,000 readers, July 29, 2005
Reviewer: aChineseperson from China
anybody can come to China and visit any people to find out if there was 3,500,000 people died because of Mao.some book authors in order to make money and attrack more readers,and to make some shameful
new leader happy,or for the aim of anti Mao,who has founded new china,and liberated all the poor oppressed and exploied people,
try to make this shameful giant lie as truth ,though it has repeated countless times,but it is still a lie,and the liar is live on this.anybody ,welcome to china,ask people,in any city or village,to make the shameful lie go to hell.Don’t make your homeland be liar’s paradise. ”
Actually it wasn’t 3.5 million but more like 70 million… so you’re right on that score. But perhaps you could explain how we’d find that out by visiting China?
This book represents an unprecedented amount of information about Mao’s life which appears to have been meticulously researched although of course it could be spurious or exaggerated – but most of the sources are quoted so people are free to check.
It’s a strange book because on the surface it seems to be a history book, but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not written by a professional historian. It doesn’t have the steely objectivity that you see in Solgenytsin (who also wasn’t a professional historian either but…). The book is extremely negative about him and often uses quite subjective phrases to this end. I guess it’s aimed as a balance to the kind of hagiographical stuff that was churned out by his fans. It’s written with the specific aim of debunking the myth. Nevertheless, even though it’s probably all true, it would be nice to get some insight into how he managed to bamboozle so many people. He must have had a certain charm surely?

Here is another ranter -

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005

Here is another ranter – some great stuff in here…

Moore’s law is no longer valid

Monday, August 1st, 2005

Moore’s law says that the number of transistors we can cram onto a microchip will double every 18 months. This has been extrapolated to computing power, processor speed and various other things. I’d noticed a while ago that it certainly didn’t hold for computing power any more. 6 yrs ago, the top of the range clock speed for laptops was 600 MHz. It’s now about 2.2 MHz. According to Moore’s law extrapolated to clock speed, it should be 8.8MHz. I suppose maybe he never meant it to be extrapolated to clock speed but I did a bit of reading around and it seems it is no longer valid for transistor density either.