Oct. 23rd, 2006 02:29 pm
Over the weekend, [ profile] midnightmelody decided to teach me to sing. It was interesting - the first realisation was that I tend to drift sharp and start on a new key with each new phrase. The second was that I apparently have a very clear idea of where a third is (two white notes away in non-technical terms), although am not so good at seconds or fourths. The third and most interesting is that one of the major reasons I normally don't sound good when singing is that I've been trying to sing the wrong part - I've been singing in the tenor range, and I'm actually either a baritone or a bass (I don't have enough experience to tell). And now I've tried singing in my actual range, I can hear why my singing sounds bad to other people (although it still doesn't sound the same to me as it would to someone else). And can at last start to correct myself when I go off key.

Anyway, thank you [ profile] midnightmelody for the lesson and [ profile] arkady for being the only other person I can think of who has told me I can sing.
I've just moved house and my computer currently isn't working properly. The main drive and the OS work fine - but when I try plugging in the secondary drive, it just starts whirring and won't stop - neither Windows nor Linux pick up its presence and the drive itself just gets hot. Any suggestions as to how to get it to work again?

Edit: It now seems to be working. I have no idea what changed.
I should probably have posted about this before. But no time like the present...

I'm leaving London this weekend to start a new job just outside Reading. Working for TRL as a statistician. Normal Borders meeting is on tonight. (I'll post my new address in a friendslocked entry when I'm moved in).
A recent musing on sexism caused me to remember one part of my experience in South America I was ashamed of at the time. Whenever in Brazil or Argentina an indigenous American approached me and started a conversation, I knew he was going to ask me for money. If it was a Latin American who started the conversation, I knew he was going to ask for money if and only if he had started out by calling me "Amigo". Therefore I found myself hoping that the indigenous Americans would not speak to me because I knew he was going to ask me for money. This, in the time I was in those countries was 100% accurate. But it meant that I found myself hoping that I would not be talked to by people of a certain ethnic group.

Poll beneath )
Work disrupted on account of burst radiator.
This one started on Ship of Fools explaining my views on contraception and why I think those opposing it side with evil )
[ profile] ozarque has been doing a series on sense-dominant language which I've been thinking about for the last couple of weeks. She's also (rightly) been pointing out that there is a lot less touch-dominant language than there is other language.

Sense dominant language is language that uses one specific sense to the exclusion of others (e.g. "I hear what you say" is auditry language, while "I see what you mean" is visual language).

My problem with this approach is that I am not aware that I am particularly sense-dominant for any of the three listed senses*. Instead, each sense has a different meaning and set of associations for me.

Sight is the sense of the predator. It is long ranged, detailed, and often has a narrow focus, removing the wider surroundings from understanding. It is also limited to line of sight.

Hearing is the sense of the prey. It is long ranged, can hear round corners, and is overall a much broader sense but less precise (or possibly what you hear is less static) than vision. It applies in any direction, warns me when people are approaching, but I can get much less specific information out of it. It is also a much more passive sense than sight - you move your eyes, but not your ears. (And I've been told about active listening, but not active seeing).

Touch is the intimate sense. I only want people touching me if they are already relatively close to me. It is probably more precise than vision, and is the most intense of the senses, but has no range to speak of (yes, I can feel something hot if it's not touching me - but by the standards of sight this range is negligable). Note that just because it is the intimate sense doesn't mean that it is pleasant or nice - the scalding hot drink isn't pleasant, and the feel of my enemy's skull as I crush it beneath my feet is hardly nice. (Although just how unpleasant depends which side you are on).

The three senses are therefore different, and I consequently use them for different purposes. When I use visual metaphors, it is to indicate clarity (or occasionally complete lack of clarity where it should exist), understanding (for the same reasons as clarity), and activity. Where I use auditory metaphors, it is to indicate broad perspectives, lack of detail, passivity, waiting, and something I can't quite reach. When I use tactile metaphors they are usually to indicate intimacy, passion, understanding, and intensity. I also find an overuse of tactile metaphors sometimes to be uncomfortable because it indicates a greater level of intimacy than I find appropriate. I believe that this is the reason that formal language has fewer tactile metaphors than colloquial language - the distance is greater.

* This does not quite correlate with learning styles - I'm a kinasthetic learner.
Moved to my journal because this was getting far too far offtopic.

In response to someone on [ profile] abortiondebate claiming that socialism is discredited I demonstrated that it is necessary for capitalism )
I should have posted about this before - but three posts in a night is probably a personal record...

In mid 2004, [ profile] karen2205 started running meetups to have coffee in Borders Oxford Street on Tuesday evenings. After a month or so we started rounding off the evening with meals.

A few weeks ago, Karen left London for Bury St Edmunds and I took over running the meetings.

When? 6:30pm every Tuesday
Where? Starbucks, Borders, Oxford Street (near Oxford Circus tube station)
Why? Good conversation
How? Bus, Tube, or walk normally.
Who? Everyone welcome - although please comment or e-mail me in advance if you are thinking of coming.
I've just found out about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. A bill designed to allow ministers to short-circuit parliament and reform legislation or impliment the recommendations of the Law Commission arbitrarily.

(1) A Minister of the Crown may by order make provision for either or both of the following purposes—

(a) reforming legislation;

(b) implementing recommendations of any one or more of the United Kingdom Law Commissions, with or without changes.

As half a dozen Cambridge law professors point out, the bill can:
  • create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred, punishable with two years’ imprisonment;
  • curtail or abolish jury trial;
  • permit the Home Secretary to place citizens under house arrest;
  • allow the Prime Minister to sack judges;
  • rewrite the law on nationality and immigration;
  • “reform” Magna Carta (or what remains of it).

And they miss out the worst of it. Under the bill, a minister would have the power to reform legislation including the bill itself. And the safeguards in the bill are really pretty pathetic (the obligation to consult having been shown to be pointless by GMNation).

Even if you trust the current government (which I do not), the next one may be untrustworthy. I therefore do not want this thing on the statute books under any circumstances at all.
My Johari/Nohari results are in - and there was only one choice there I found anything resembling a surprise. I also think that everyone who commented would approximately agree on who I am. On the other hand, there was only one word (intelligent) that appeared in more than half the answers and three others (proud, energetic and calm) that appeared in more than one answer. Two of which (energetic, calm) are almost in contradiction (although [ profile] midnightmelody knows me well enough to have put "calmly energetic").

When I asked for Johari/Nohari responses, I was wondering whether they would be any more reliable than self-administered personality tests. My problem with them is that they almost always try to split people between dichotomies that aren't IMO dichotomies (and there's never an option for "Stop. Think. Calmly assess the situation. Decide what to do. Dive in both feet first (if choosing to act). Move rapidly and on instincts." or one for "Extremely cynical but think that the world's a good place despite it all.") The result of this is that under testing I've ended up with 9 of the 16 Meyers Briggs types (I'm a ?NT?) and 5 of the 9 enneagram types (I'm an 8w9*).

So, what am I trying to say? I think it's that I don't trust any personality testing further than I can throw it because it fails with me, and that I am relieved to have the comments of a few of my flist come out as inconclusive as personality tests I take personally seem to.

(And on the subject of Johari/Nohari, tense and nervous are not positives and dispassionate is not a negative, damnit!)

* One of the reasons I like the enneagram is that this is the one personality system type I've found that actually fits me.
(Courtesy of [ profile] shreena and others)

It's done the rounds a bit by now but was inspired by this article. Please pick five or six of the adjectives below to describe me and put them in a comment.

The adjectives are -

able, dependable, intelligent, patient, sensible, accepting, dignified, introverted, powerful, sentimental, adaptable, energetic, kind, proud, shy, bold, extroverted, knowledgable, quiet, silly, brave, friendly, logical, reflective, spontaneous, calm, giving, loving, relaxed, sympathetic, caring, happy, mature, religious, tense, cheerful, helpful, modest, responsive, trustworthy, clever, idealistic, nervous, searching, warm, complex, independent, observant, self-assertive, wise, confident, ingenious, organised, self-conscious, and witty.

Oh, and be honest rather than flattering. I won't be offended (especially as they are almost all phrased as compliments...)

Comments are screened by default to prevent cross-contamination. Please add a second comment if you would like them to remain screened indefinitely - otherwise I plan to unscreen the lot in a few days when I make a followup post.

ETA: As [ profile] arkady pointed out elsewhere, the grauniad missed out the negative list - so here it is to provide balance.

incompetent, intolerant, inflexible, timid, cowardly, violent, aloof, glum, stupid, simple, insecure, irresponsible, vulgar, lethargic, withdrawn, hostile, selfish, unhappy, unhelpful, cynical, needy, unimaginative, inane, brash, cruel, ignorant, irrational, distant, childish, boastful, blasé, imperceptive, chaotic, impatient, weak, embarrassed, loud, vacuous, panicky, unethical, insensitive, self-satisfied, passive, smug, rash, dispassionate, overdramatic, dull, predictable, callous, inattentive, unreliable, cold, foolish, humourless

Oh f**k

Jan. 2nd, 2006 08:55 pm
Some bastard's created a virus that works through windows metafiles being able to impliment arbitrary code. The problem with windows metafiles is in legacy code reaching back to Windows 3.0.

That means that just by visiting a malicious website (and running windows), and by loading a picture in any web browser, my computer could be infected. And the rendering engine for .wmf files kicks in in Firefox and Opera.

Then there's the MS worm. Click on a specific .jpg link and the parser will automatically see that it's a WMF file and open it with the metafile reader - which then sends it to your entire friends list.

Just to add insult to injury, SANS doesn't expect MS to release a patch before the 9th.

Advice from SANS (and other sources is to run the (third party) patch and to unlink the vulnerable dll: From the Start Menu, select Run then copy and execute the following line:regsvr32 -u %windir%\system32\shimgvw.dll

Unfortunately I'm running Win98 - meaning that the OS is too old for the patch (but not for the virus) and that it's rejecting my unlink command.


Update: It looks as if only WinXP and Windows Server 2003 are vulnerable (by default anyway...). I hope they are right - SANS doesn't think MS is going to release a patch for Win98.

Update 2: MS have released the patch early. If you run WinXP, go to to download the patch.
My basic principle is that this is an imperfect world or, to put it colloquially, shit happens. This has two corollaries:

1: Shit happens. You are responsible for taking precautions to avoid the shit and minimise the impact of it.

2: A lot of the shit that happens is the results of evil scumbags who deliberately produce and throw the stuff. People who deliberately generate shit are wholely and completely to blame for the shit they generate. There is no contradiction between this and point 1.

No exceptions even in the case of rape. Oh, and those well-meaning people who seek to deny the responsibility claim that they are seeking to reduce the damage done to individual rape victims. At the cost of increasing the actual number of victims if people don't take responsibility for some degree of protection. (And of increasing the number of victims in other fields).
To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.
Paul Ehrlich

So. I ordered broadband and bought an ADSL modem and tried to set it up. Shouldn't be too hard, so I thought. I read the manual while bringing the thing home - it looked small and simple. I should have realised that this was a bad sign.

Comedy of errors beneath )
At that point I decided that I was already going to be later than expected arriving at [ profile] midnightmelody's.

So now I have a router that appears not to find DNS servers and a computer with no operating system installed.

Um... Help?
... then something shows me I'm not nearly cynical enough.

The (former) head of FEMA's e-mails (or most of them) have been released. Also here's an analysis of them. Read it and weep. Or rage. (Bloomberg

Edit: Seemingly both PDF files have disappeared from the congressman's website. CNN has mirrors both of the e-mails and the analysis. I wonder if someone's trying to censor teh intarweb (and I've saved copies).

Edit 2: *Weird* things are happening with - first I got a 404 error message, then I got a message saying "No web site is configured at this address.". then I got into his personal website- I then refreshed it to get back to the "No web site is configured at this address." (The PDFs vary between 404 and "No website is configured at this address."). When I try using a wrong subdomain in * I just get an error message. Also, no longer shows up in a search of the house of representatives website, but is in the Google Cache.

Edit 3: Due to the popularity of the Email contents, our website is experiencing technical difficulties. Please be patient while we try to resolve these issues is the current error message. I hope I'm worrying about nothing.

Edit 4: The melancon website is down again but the search result is back. I think it's just computers doing daft computery things. Nothing to see in these edits...

particular gems from the e-mails )
I've at long last succeeded at interview (those of you trying, keep persevering - it took me a few months and this isn't my first job). I start on Wednesday.

Anyway, now to my first poll. Because the job is in Harrow, I am going to be moving -and I want a flat or studio flat of my own rather than to share with anyone.

[Poll #597302]
The long, low ridges of the Somme, in northern France are now synonymous with the senseless stalemate of the Western Front in 1916. But the exhausted, grimy English soldiers stumbling through this landscape, sinking up to their knees in mud, once wore kettle helmets and padded jerkins. Their weapons were not Tommy-guns but longbows, each six feet long and weighing 150 pounds, strung with gut and equipped with arrows so finely barbed that they could pierce armour-plate.
"Bowing to the longbow", The Economist 22/10/05 p98

There are times when I wish I was a good cartoonist.

ETA the mistake in question is that 150lbs is the draw weight of a longbow (i.e. the amount of weight that would be necessary to draw the bow), not the weight of the bow itself. Longbowmen did not carry weapons about as heavy as they are!
At the ongoing court trial, Michael Behe has recently made some damning admissions about Intelligent Design. The first and most obvious is that by Behe's definition of a scientific theory, Astrology is a scientific theory. This is because his definition of a scientific theory is almost exactly the same as the standard scientific definition of a hypothesis.

I am, quite prepared to agree with Behe that ID is a scientific theory in exactly the same way that astrology is a scientific theory. I am also prepared to agree that ID is a hypothesis. On the other hand, if anyone can define terms, under my terms, Behe is a load his mother should have spat (I feel sorry for anyone who swallows him).

Rothschild suggested that Behe’s definition was so loose that astrology would come under this definition as well. He also pointed out that Behe’s definition of theory was almost identical to the NAS’s definition of a hypothesis. Behe agreed with both assertions.

The exchange prompted laughter from the court, which was packed with local members of the public and the school board.

Behe maintains that ID is science: “Under my definition, scientific theory is a proposed explanation which points to physical data and logical inferences.”

He's also evading and distorting like mad )

Anyway, I have been converted - I thought I would never agree with Behe about anything to do with ID - but I am quite prepared to agree that ID is a scientific theory in exactly the same sense astrology is.
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