A Little Left of Centre

…Being a Collection of Musings on just about anything I feel like talking about.

Saturday 1 March 2008

I've moved.

I'm now here: http://alloc.wordpress.com/
Don't ask why, you already know.

Sunday 17 February 2008

I Love These Lazy Saturdays

sickening exploitation! watch as I sip beer unaware of the cnn snuff crew filming from a distance»

Thursday 15 November 2007

I didn't know about Threadless

Being an Admission of my Utter and Absolute Ignorance.

Thank you Captain Condescension.

Monday 15 October 2007

My bulletproof, patented Book System®.

…Being an exposition of an organisation.
I keep three books on the go at any one time. The partition of my reading into three reflects the organisation of my life: the first book is fiction: it is read as a leisure activity and enjoyed in such hours as are designated as such. The second is technical reading; recent books to have occupied this honourable chair are SICP, Feynman's Lectures on Computation, and Fowler's Refactoring. This element of the triumvirate is primarily a reflection of my occupation, being as I am a programmer things computational. The third, and final, trivium of the literary partitional trivia is toilet reading. As do so many others I enjoy a good trip'te'de'jacks, and waiting for me there is a book to occupy my mind during my stay. Typically this is non-fiction, but a prime requirement is that it be relaxed in subject concomittant with the relaxing nature of its commodal abode. An example to illuminate perhaps: at the moment my toilet reading is “The Making of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’”. Now I'll be the first to admit this whole partition is far from regimental, there's often a fourth book floating around which tends to alterate between fiction and non-fiction. At the moment the position is held by “The Trial” by Kafka. Following on from the past post I figured I'd close with a stacktrace of my current reading:

  • Started Sophie's Choice
    • Started Bonfire of the Vanities
    • Finished Bonfire of the Vanities
    • Started East of Eden
      • Started American Psycho
      • Finished American Psycho
      • Started Brave New World
        • Started Ham on Rye
  • Started SICP
    • Started Refactoring
    • Ended Refactoring
    • Started Feynman Lectures on Computation
    • Ended Feynman Lectures on Computation
  • Started The Making of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’
  • Started The Trial

Also a big thank you to my darling girlfriend who gave me the most amazing present of two books on Friday.

You're the Best :-)

Saturday 13 October 2007

Last Weekend, and the Events and Happenings Contained Therein

…being a short ode to books, couches, and trees.
To mark the occasion of my family purchasing its first ever reclining leather armchair I spent last weekend enjoying said chair along with some textual company. I've been somewhat between books the last while. I read Tom Wolfe's “Bonfire of the Vanities” a few weeks ago, and then started “East of Eden” immediately afterwards. But I had gotten into my head that it might be nice to write up a little of my impression of the books I've been reading and hopefully link these impressions together a bit. So I started to thinking through “Bonfire of the Vanities” and sorting it all out in my head when I realised it might be helpful to take on something similar with which to connect and contrast it. With this in mind I pushed “East of Eden” onto my ‘to read’ stack and started “American Psycho” by Brett Easton Ellis. Now I'd heard a lot about this book (but never seen the film), and had read “Lunar Park” by Ellis which namedrops “American Psycho” a bit (and its protagonist Messr. Bateman a lot). I have a terrible habit of taking a mad urge to read one book in the middle of another (to illustrate this “East of Eden” was in turn an interruption of “Sophie's Choice”!); for the most part I can context switch pretty well though so it's not normally a problem. So context switch I did and lashed into “American Psycho” which I finished pretty quickly, and I do think it helped in setting “Bonfire of the Vanities” in context (and I am working on a proper piece linking and looking at both). So having now finished “American Psycho” I had the chance to resume “East of Eden”. But instead I found myself in a charity shop waiting for the lads yesterday and ended up buying “Brave New World” (which I've managed to miss up to now) and have started that instead. But I will get back to “East of Eden”, and hopefully will post a piece on it and “The Grapes of Wrath” which I read and loved a few years back. Once “East of Eden” is done I'm planning to finish “Sophie's Choice” and move on to something different from there. It occurs to me that apart from a couch I haven't really mentioned anything about last weekend at all. To quickly sum up in index form:
Books — Holistic Experience of, Good.
Couch — Placement of Arse Within, Sensation of, Found to be, Great.
Trees — Horizontal, Due to, Interaction with, Saw, Wielded by, Me.
Evidence — Of the Preceding, Photographic, to be Found on Flickr.
Join me next time when I discuss my bulletproof, patented Book System®.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Monday 10 September 2007

Nw Flickr Phots

…or how I learned to stop worrying and embrace corporate linguistic corruptions.

Haha amn't I clever?
New photos on flickr for those of you who care, which is most likely none of you, so disregard this message.

Friday 31 August 2007

House M.D.

...Is a legend.

I didn't think I'd like it, I had no idea who Hugh Laurie is, but mother of jaysus the man is now my idol.

Tuesday 29 May 2007

IE7, Firefox, and State Space Search

Anyway he has put them down.
(glance at Lucky). So he has. And what of it?
Since he has put down his bags it is impossible we should have asked why he does not do so.
Stoutly reasoned!

Having discovered that Macbooks dislike hitting sharp corners from appreciable heights I have been thrust back into the world of Windows. This has been an interesting experience, and I do think a few months away have sharpened my perception of the platforms differences. Now the laptop (of which I have a loan from my most gracious Mater Familias) came equipped with Internet Explorer 7. I've been a Firefox man for quite a while now, but for the laugh I decided to give IE7 a lash. Now this isn't a review, instead it's a note on one aspect of the IE7 —vs— Firefox debate which (although seemingly trivial) has in fact overwhelmed all other differences: state space search. Being a master of productive laziness I enjoy what The Stuff aptly terms a "morning trawl of the internet" — this usually involves hitting reddit et al growing a giant list of links to visit. Now in this process, tabs are my friend: so typically I start somewhere, say reddit, and fly down along opening interesting links in new tabs in the background. When I finish the current page I move on to the next tab, lather - rinse - repeat (always repeat). Now there's the interesting part. In Firefox when one opens a link in a new tab that tab goes to the end of the list of open tabs. In IE7 it goes right next to the current tab. In other words the process is a breadth first search in Firefox, but a depth first search in IE7. At this point we should note this behaviour can be turned off in IE7, to make it behave like Firefox (and I have no doubt the reverse can be done with Firefox). What set me thinking is the sheer obscurity of this feature difference, in many respects it is a minor feature of IE7, and yet it massively changes the "browsing experience"(...for me anyway). This has begun to wreak havoc on my morning trawl, instead of a general survey it becomes a relentless plunge into a black hole solely determined by the first interesting link on reddit (or wheresoever I start by happenstance). So yes this "problem" is entirely specific to my habits and remedied by 6 clicks, but still makes you think what other subtle "givens" exist in the world of browsers which we take for granted.

Friday 20 April 2007

Toyama Koichi, I Salute Thee

Terror of the noonstruck by day, cryptogam of each nightly bridable. But, to speak broken heaventalk, is he? Who is he? Whose is he? Why is he? How much is he? Which is he? When is he? Where is he? How is he?

I have always considered myself to be a robust debater, and those who know me, know that I'm no stranger to controversial opinions; but there comes a time in everyone's life when they meet their better — and I recently experienced just this. I have encountered someone so resolutely more controversial than me that my own petty opinions pale in comparison to his. And so, Toyama Koichi, I salute you — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYgZYkTYUaQ

Friday 23 February 2007

Female Liberation, Argument Against, Counterpoint to.

“While satisfied that soft youthful bright matchless girls should bosom into fine silkclad joyous blooming young women is not so pleased that heavy swearsome strongsmelling irregularshaped men should blottout active handsome wellformed frankeyed boys”.

Before I start I want you to consider this:
“A father and his son were driving to a ball game when their car stalled on the railroad tracks. In the distance a train whistle blew a warning. Frantically, the father tried to start the engine, but in his panic, he couldn't turn the key, and the car was hit by the onrushing train. An ambulance sped to the scene and picked them up. On the way to the hospital, the father died. The son was still alive but his condition was very serious, and he needed immediate surgery. The moment they arrived at the hospital, he was wheeled into an emergency operating room, and the surgeon came in, expecting a routine case. However, on seeing the boy, the surgeon blanched and muttered, 'I can't operate on this boy — he's my son.'”

All Credit to the Magnificent Douglas Hofstadter for the story. I want you to think about this story as you read the following, please don't skip ahead for the answer — t h i n k.

Ok, I'll level with you, the day before yesterday I came across a link that really pissed me off, and I swore blind I'd write a rebuttal to it. Unfortunately I lost the link. So this is a reply to the forevergone original. I'll shy away from saying what exactly the site said, because I have no direct quotes — just a vague haze of idiocy — and secondly because the lack of a link to the original from here is reciprocated on the other end and thus the author has no right of reply, so it'd be a bit unfair to attack his article directly: instead he'll act as a catalytic kernel of argument. Basically the argument was attacking feminism. This isn't uncommon in the world, for some reason the restrictions of political thoughtcrime do not extend to women it would seem. But I'm not one to say things shouldn't be said, I have a faith in the ability of idiots to be trounced in reasoned debate, and so I positively laud their petty contributions. Yes, if this means you by all means contribute a comment or response, and proceed to make a fool of yourself.

There is something deeply wrong with the position and attitudes relating to women in western society (I won't even begin to discuss what transpires elsewhere). For the longest time women (and to be fair plenty of men) have argued that there is an imbalance between the position of the assorted sexes in society — politically, economically, culturally, artistically, socially, everythingally. And it's hard to deny this, it's a pretty self evident fact. Plenty of women gave their lives to secure the enfranchisement of all people regardless of sex, and when we look at today's world it certainly seems they were successful, that is until we look a little deeper. Now there is plenty of economic evidence that women are poorly treated, and in fact positively (negatively? to emphasise the negativity of the positivity) discriminated against. But I won't deal with the base economic facts, instead this piece will lie more in the psychological plane.

There is a terrible phrase in language, on which a great injustice is built: “It's just a bit of fun”, or the more insidious accusatory “Lighten Up”. These are the standard responses to any questioning of female empowerment. Because you see empowerment has come to mean servitude. It's a truly magnificent case of doublethink. Now — An empirical experiment. Seize a television and turn on a music channel, one of the pop channels. Now wait, stop for five minutes and watch…
Ok now you know what female empowerment is, but first a task:
(a) — Compile a list of the people in the video you saw.
(b) — Add a column to your list, in this record the percentage of the person's body which was covered by clothes.
(c) — Add another column to your list, in this record the percentage of the skin exposed (according to question (b)) which was covered with a paint like substance.
Now we'll do something with the list — sort it by the sex of the person denoted by each line. Has a curious pattern emerged? Astoundingly the high percentages have all gravitated to the female end of the list — how curious I hear you chirp shrilly! Curious indeed, queer even, queer enough to merit an investigation.

So what's going on? Why you ask are the women so scantily clad? Here it comes, echoing, bubbling over the horizon like Joyce's hundred letter word bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner
        “It's just a bit of fun”
                “Lighten Up”.
Lighten Up. Funny, because what that statement really means is: Darken Down. Quell any and all powers of insight and criticism in your body. Surrender to it, just go with it, don't be a bore. You see there is something very wrong with a world where liberation means the responsibility to self-inflict the very oppression you once railed against. And this stuff is the least dangerous manifestation of sexism present in society, at least this stuff is obvious, there's little hope in missing the impact overt sexualisation of women has, it's right there on your television and magazine. What's much more dangerous is thought, the subtle mental patterns created by language, and culture which create a thriving pool of sexism which affronts women every moment of every day, so much so that they give in to it's most bawdy characteresque stereotypes. I will return to this topic in my next post to discuss Hofstadter's ideas on sexism in language. Did you solve the riddle at the top of this post? What happened — the father rose from the dead? The child was adopted at birth but the surgeon recognised him? Transexual Melodrama? Or is it that you couldn't countenance the notion that the surgeon could be the boy's mother — a woman.

Sometimes words fail us all.

Sunday 21 January 2007

Differentiating Functions in C++

Myself and Das Obersturmfuhrer — henceforth known as J — were considering taking on an expression differentiator (in Lisp) recently, in his investigations J found some nice Python to do this and wondered how one might go about it in C[++]. The result of a few minutes experimentation was the following:

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

class d
double (*f)(double);
double h;
d(double (*function)(double)) : f(function), h(0.0001) {;}
double operator()(double arg)
return (((*f)(arg+h)-(*f)(arg))/h);

double square(double arg)
return arg*arg;

int main()
cout << "square(5) = " << square(5) << endl;
cout << "d(&square)(5) = " << d(&square)(5)<< endl;
return 0;

If some templates were added to the functor d this would allow an open ended solution for differentiating numerical functions (albeit in a pretty crude manner); all the same I was surprised at how elegant the end result looked!

– PostScript —
Jason expounds upon the Lisp implementation:

Thursday 18 January 2007

Split in Cabinet over Alliance with Radical Islam.

Dublin, Ireland — In a far-reaching coup for Radical Islam, the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has declared his support for Al-Qaeda — or as he termed them "de lads”. This unprecedented switch of allegiances, and seemingly unconstitutional breach of Irish Neutrality, has sent shock-waves right across the Irish political landscape. With news conferences being hastily convened only one dissident voice was heard from the cabinet — that of Minister for Defence, Willie"You Talking to Me?" O'Dea. Minister O'Dea appealed for calm, and in a uncharacteristically well thought through exchange affirmed his command of the armed forces, and called for an immediate vote of no-confidence in the Taoiseach.
For some time Ireland has been considered a low-risk target for Islamic terrorism, but of late more insidious signals have begun to indicate that the use of Shannon airport by U.S. Forces, as well as Irelands thriving economy and proximity to Britain may lead it to be viewed as a soft target. These worries have grown more concrete in recent times with the much publicised threat to Irish airports made by Islamic cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed in an internet chatroom. In recent years Ireland's economic boom has bought unprecedented immigration, and along with this tide have come many Muslims eager to avail of the ample employment opportunities available. This process has made many in Ireland wary of immigrant and where their allegiances may lie. Today's developments can only exacerbate these fears.

More Inside: p.3-p.17; comment: p. 22,23.

Monday 8 January 2007

Changing Times, Changing Perspectives

…Being a Reflection (on Opinions) That Went Awry
In a moment it is night.
I'll be the first to admit that I like a good argument. I'm interested in Politics, and I think it's important to hold Political opinions (and equally important to know when to shut up about them). It has always been clear to me, from the time I first started to accumulate Political opinions and sift through them to find my own that there is little point in holding an opinion you're not willing to change. There are a few reasons for this, probably the most important of which is the possibility that you're plain and simply wrong. It is a possible to hold an opinion which you're not sure of, or — by accident or circumstance — to become associated with an idea you don't truly believe in, and it's important to know when to abandon a sinking ship. We can often find ourselves debating some point with friends and suddenly realise that the argument is lost, and it's important to recognise at that point that our opinions might need reconsidering, that — shock, horror —we might be wrong. But there's another, more subtle process at work changing opinions – the passage of time.

We're not always aware of the passage of time, and often it seems a year has just slipped by us and out of the room, dripping away steadily until the bucket reaches it's brim (maybe that's a bit morbid, well that's just how it is). All the time our world is changing, our experiences change, and before you take the time to notice: you have changed. I know that in my younger and more vulnerable years (as Gatsby would have it) I held some pretty naive opinions, and time has tempered them into my current world-view. Sometimes it shocks us when we catch a gut reaction which runs against the current of our opinions, like the brief rumble of thunder which precedes a storm that will change our lives. Sometimes this change is a good thing, sometimes we find that within weeks we have retreated with our tail between our legs. The important thing is to remember that, deep as they may be, still waters can stagnate — we should embrace change just as we appreciate stability.

Looking back over this I realise I didn't end up saying what it started out to say. Maybe that's a good thing. I started with the idea that this would be a testament to what I think (prompted by a change recently witnessed in someone whose political ideas I have a world-of-time for), instead it's akin to a death-bed summary of pointless experience. So I apologise for wasting your time, this whole “conversational” blog idea will take a while to ferment.

Sunday 7 January 2007

A Highpoint of Clarity

…Being a notification of Contentual and Thematic Change.
They do not move.
Up until now I have refrained from writing about “reality” or “facts”; perhaps I have even been a little aloof. Well no more, inspired by Das Obersturmfuhrer's wistful reflection, and concomitant with the new year and the vague promises of change it heralds I'm going to start posting some reviews of books, music, films — essentially anything which crosses my path and offers itself for criticism/praise. I may also begin some political/social/moral commentary — only time will tell.

Saturday 9 December 2006

Monday 4 December 2006

Bad Dream

…Being as it is, A Curious Adventure.
He steps back, hesitates, turns and exit running.
The light suddenly fails.

That Denture-Hawk with the Bad Spelling. Tops in Pops. Adult Shop the Ultimate Logic. I bank hard left off Dorset St. and onto North Frederick St. The Memorial to the Martyrs of '16 and others to my right, not before Lovinspoon and the Fish Shop that no longer is. My finger tightens: quiver in the hands makes the wings wave Hello. I Scream Low over Parnell (“Ne Plus Ultra”), the Purr in everyones Bellies. Tracksuit Proletarians glance askance and Makeup-Suburbers ripple as I pass the Savoy; Fingers tight around the trigger. Where Once Stood Nelson now Stands Progress; the G.P.O. glows – Standard big as God's Bedsheet Proclaims a Glorious Victory. Big Jim Smiled at Me; I have arisen Jim. I Shake the Single-Panes and eye O'Connell. All Judged Now. I pass the Angel who Chokes the Serpent and contemplate the Filial Loyalty of The Dog. The Liffey; mainline to the mother – all blur now; wider than it is long did you know? Oh I'm close. Back-Quivers. The building above that night club where the Blood Transfusion Service live, the place I dreamed of living in; sniper so subtle. To bank left or right? –– D'Olier or Westmoreland? Straight ahead up Westmoreland. The University ahead; House of Lords to my right. So Close; I can smell Cordite and Perfume. As I scream over the Head of that Lady with the Harp, not to mention the Drunk with the bodhrán, a report sounds to test the guns. A puff of smoke next to Molly is all I needed to see.
Brown Thomas.
My Finger Tightens; Squeezes.
My Plane Overhead; Debasers Below.
In Balance with these Lives; These Deaths.

Friday 24 November 2006

Dublin Bus

…or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being Late.
Next day. Same time.
Same place.

Let me now officially state unequivocally that if, through some glorious quirk of electoral madness, I had one day in charge our glorious country my first act would be to have the entire management of Dublin Bus, The Department of Transport, and pretty much everyone else related in any way whatsoever to transport in Dublin summarily shot. No Wait maybe that's unfair… Ok I'll settle for Public Hangings. Dublin has the world's worst bus service (don't argue with me or you'll be against the wall too). It's hard to know what element of Dublin Bus is the most infuriating; it's Beckett-esque Timetables (Go on, read Waiting for Godot and substitute "Dublin Bus" for "Godot" – The resemblance is uncanny), it's Kafka-esque pricing structure (€0.37 to the KiloRod, unless the moon is full in Capricorn in which case a Petroleum surcharge of €0.963 applies per Hogshead of Fuel consumed), or its Asshole-esque management. You see Dublin Bus applies many modern principles to it's service including (among many innovations):
  • Buses Travel in Convoys to Avoid Insurgent Attacks: sure it means you wait longer than the heat-death of the universe for a Bus, but when it eventually arrives you can take your pick of the 78 identical buses that show up.
  • The "As Seirbhís" Decoy: In a cunning ploy reminiscent of Foreplay Dublin Bus goads its waiting passengers with shimmering Mirages on the horizon that hold the promise of Mechanised Travel, Wait, Wait, Wait no As Seirbhís.
  • Timetables that require an Advanced Knowledge of the Integral Calculus to determine the Estimated Time of Arrival of a Bus.
More Rants about Dublin Bus will follow, Conclusion of the Foregoing.

Tuesday 14 November 2006

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's.

...being an admission of uncertainty.
A country road. A tree.
So What is This? Why is it Here? Where is it Going? and How Long will it last? I have no idea. However I've been told several people that I have a skill for ranting about things, so this seemed a natural progression. I don't think there's any point in attempting to bring you up to speed about happenings heretofore. Looking back over this post my disappointment knows no bounds — but sure we'll chance on.