Monday, 20 December 2010

This is becoming a habit!

I missed another Sunday post. We were playing again but I had forgotten it was another early start. Sitting with a steaming mug of coffee just after lunch, and expecting to have ample time, I thought I would ring the guys to see what the plan of action was.

"We've just finished loading the van mate. Pick you up in about 10 minutes."

I really must get better organised. Failing that, here's a little tune to put us in the Christmas spirit:

slade - merry christmas everybody

All have to do now is learn it for Wednesday night. Have fun! Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 13 December 2010

Oops - missed Sunday

Well, not really. We were playing at a charity fundraiser in aid of motor neurone disease, the whole day rocked and I stayed much longer than I had planned to. Many thanks to the bands who gave their time, notably The Travelin' Band, Area 67, Mark James and everyone else who made it a day to remember. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Late night music - Bowie

Haven't done one of these for a while, but I still have dreams of playing bass on this track.

David Bowie - Let's Spend The Night Together
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and none."

Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm ... As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others".

Audrey Hepburn (1929 - 1993) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water".

John W. Gardner (1912 - 2002) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 14 November 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Forgiveness is the economy of the heart... forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits".

Hannah More (1745 – 1833) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me".

John Fowles (1926 – 2005) Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Just look at those jets

At about 2pm GMT today the NASA Deep Impact spacecraft (aka EPOXI) played a game of interplanetary 10-pin. Millions of kilometres from home the craft raced past comet Hartley 2, closing to about 700km (435 miles) away and gathering data and images as it went. The first images of the fly-past are intriguing, exciting and oh so pretty.

What is this strangely shaped object? How did it form? Why are some parts clearly outgassing when other areas do not?

The data gathered by this mission may help to explain, but for now I am content to marvel at the ingenuity of modern science and go wow!

These are just low resolution images. High-res will come in a day or two as the data is downloaded from the probe and processed.
Image credits: NASA / JPL / UMD Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 1 November 2010

Conjugating the verb to be

This is/be/am a WIN from FailBlog:

Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 31 October 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth".

Umberto Eco (b. 1932) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing".

Emo Philips (b. 1956) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"A man reserves his true and deepest love not for the species of woman in whose company he finds himself electrified and enkindled, but for that one in whose company he may feel tenderly drowsy".

George Jean Nathan (1882 – 1958) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing".

Thomas A. Edison (1847 – 1931) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Age of Discovery

Abstruse Goose hits the spot again. Click through for the dénouement.

Every educated grown-up should realise this. I would like every child in the world to understand it too. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Spooky UK - I think not

In an article last month that renowned tit mag national daily newspaper The Sun reported
A RECORD 227 paranormal events have shaken Britain in the past 12 months, a study reveals today.

The soaring number of unexplained activities is set out in police reports and other official sources.

Now The Fringe Weird Report has been compiled by the Rev Lionel Fanthorpe, a Cardiff-based Anglican priest and president of the Association For The Scientific Study Of Anomalous Phenomena.
Really? Methinks a reporter must have been on the mushrooms again. The Sun provides a map breaking down the number of sightings, 27 in Scotland, 23 in Yorkshire, 21 in Wales etc. Adding it all up comes to 202 (?) not 227. But wait it gets even spookier. Visiting the Rev Fanthorpe's web site reveals the actual numbers in the Weird Report to be 142 supernatural occurrences plus 109 UFO sightings over the last 25 years (read Fanthorpe's blurb then think 251 events over 25 years). These astonishingly low figures are because Fanthorpe aimed to
compile them from official reports, concentrating on those involving the police whenever these could be found.
Well at least that says something good about the constabulary, they don't open a case for every twit who sees a light in the sky, thank goodness. It's also positive about some of the people investigating these things, in that they are trying to uncover evidence. It says little for the standards of one newspaper's journalism.

Now, can it get even more spookier? The Sun tries by continuing with a list of "paranormal hotspots around the country".

Just for a laugh I thought I would give my own interpretation of some of them.
(Note: a shuck is the spectre of large black dog, apparently.)
PRESTWICK: The most recent event - a man on Saturday reported seeing a ball-shaped red object in the sky close to this Scottish town that changed colour, flew and was joined by other similar shapes. Man watching sunset sees Saturn, Venus and Mercury.
IPSWICH: A woman was seen in February looking from a window in the Crown Hotel when the room was thought to be unoccupied. Cleaner wonders why people are staring at her.
NORTHBOROUGH: A husband and wife reported earlier this month seeing two very bright orange alien craft flying in a Cambridgeshire area known for RAF activity. Aeroplane seen in sky.
DERBY: The ghost of a gardener was seen in the distance in June walking thoughtfully across the lawns of Pickford's House Museum. Man takes shortcut home.
BATH: A poltergeist at the Curfew Inn was said to have interfered with beer taps in February and to have tried to play a pool shot. Bar staff distract attention to allow cheating in pool match.
CHESTERFIELD: A yellow light was seen in the sky near this Derbyshire town early this month, travelling silently and with two other lights following. Saturn, Venus and Mercury prominent in early evening sky (see above).
YORK: A girl carrying a child is reported on misty evenings on the A64 Malton Road where she is said to have been murdered by a highwayman. She was spotted in April. Teenage mum runs away from home. Passing motorists give no assistance.
Also in April a shuck was said to doggy-paddle furiously along some of the city's narrow alleys that heavy rain can turn into streams. Dog seen in York.
A ghost cyclist was said to ride around York Minster in March and the same month a phantom was reported rowing a boat on the Ouse. Park and ride scheme attracts cyclists. Boat seen on river
MANCHESTER: A yellow shuck was reported bounding over Godley Green in May. Dog seen in Manchester.
AMLWCH: A shuck was seen running around a stone circle in March. Dog seen at stone circle.
DUNDEE: A woman appears to wave from a window of Claypotts Castle. She was last seen in February. Woman spots friend in crowd below.
CULCREACH CASTLE: A phantom harpist plays and in June was heard by boatmen on Loch Lomond. Holidaying musician opens chalet window.
KNOCKANDO: A boisterous shuck was reportedly seen and heard howling in February near Knockando distillery. Howling dog heard, might have been seen.
There's more and they are all WTF to me. It makes me wonder how a paper which reports on nothing has a circulation of 3 million copies a day, making it the tenth biggest newspaper in any language in the world (See Wikipedia).

Ah! But I forget the real attraction of the Sun, the sports pages of course. That's right isn't it guys? Please... Oh come on, they're not real either FFS!
Sun report found somewhere at Skepchick. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine".

Anthony J. D'Angelo (b. 1972?) Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Religious survey results not good for American Christians

Earlier this year the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life conducted a survey on religious knowledge among the American populace. The newly released results were not surprising, to me at least. In the 32 question survey atheists and agnostics scored the highest, closely followed by Jews and Mormons who were way ahead of the average Christian believer. There's a summary of the results here.

To test yourself, click on the image for a shorter sample of the questions asked. I scored 14 out of 15 and am kicking myself for dithering over the one I got wrong rather than going with my first thought.

The New York Times reports
On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.
What is it about religion that suppresses what should be no more than basic general knowledge? Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 26 September 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully".

Graham Greene (1904 – 1991) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Spot the goat

The work these guys must put into making their videos makes my jaw drop. OK Go do it again with their latest opus:

OK Go - White Knuckles - Official Video

Their previous video is here and is well worth seeing too.

And did you spot the goat? Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Dude, you have no Quran

I'm sure we all remember the Quran book burning threat from a couple of weekends ago. I wanted to comment at the time but other commitments got in the way. Now I have a quieter day so here we go:

Burning books is stupid and ignorant.

Note, I am not saying that all books are sacred, or that any are. Nor am I saying that an individual is forbidden to destroy a possession, so long as it is legally their own or they have suitable permission. But each book has a value greater than that printed on the cover and the combined writings of humanity have a value greater than the summed content of the individual books. That value is context.

Important texts from times past are often difficult to interpret without contemporary texts to set things in a social or linguistic structure. Structures which, 2000 years ago say, have no modern counterpart for comparison. We need the legacy of books from all ages to understand ourselves and how our societies have developed.

Burning any book has the potential to rob the future of a storehouse of historical knowledge. Just think of the attacks on the Library of Alexandria where humanity lost forever texts which, even then, were of great antiquity.

Of course the unadulterated word of Allah has been a previous victim of book burning, and surprisingly Moslems themselves were responsible, as this news report from 653AD informs us. An incalculable loss to religious scholars and historians of every generation since.

So I am glad that the September 11th Quran burning fizzled out into a non-event: except for one incident in Amarillo, Texas.

Some religious nutter was planning to burn a copy in an Amarillo park when Jacob Isom rescued the kerosene dowsed volume from a barbeque and ran off. In an interview for the local News Channel 10, Isom said he snuck up behind the organiser, David Grisham, liberated the book and said “Dude, you have no Quran”.

The book was delivered unsinged to a local Muslim leader and Jacob Isom is now an internet hero. Well done Sir!

Dude You Have No Quran AUTOTUNE REMIX

Via Unreasonable Faith Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Protesting against the Pope

Richard Dawkins does a remarkable shakedown. Brief, to the point and utterly true.

Richard Dawkins' Speech at Protest the Pope March

<rant> Perhaps this should have been today's Sunday thought... My use of the English language is far from perfect; but I protest against something, or I protest in favour of something. Or if someone makes a statement with which I disagree, I can say "I protest" in reply.

I do not protest something!

I do not protest the Pope. I protest against the Pope and will never protest in favour of him. </rant> Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure".

A. E. Housman (1859 – 1936) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 17 September 2010

This is made of awesome

Over the next weekend BlogTV is to present an interactive, 24 hour, non-stop fundraiser in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders - international links), a very worthy charity. Starting on Saturday 18th September at 4pm BST (click for your local time) the lineup is... Well, awesome. The live broadcast will be here:

Watch the promotional video!

Roll Call - who's on the show?

Sadly Michael Shermer only did the promo clip and won’t be involved, but those who will feature include a whole bunch of my favourite YouTubers such as:


Matt Dillahunty and the Amazing James Randi are involved and I also understand that PZ Myers will be sticking his oar in.

Donations to MSF can be made safe and secure using JustGiving (PayPal or cards) or FirstGiving (cards only).

That's my weekend sorted! Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pope? Pap!

So the Ratman arrives in Edinburgh and immediately contradicts himself. The BBC reports him saying he wants to "extend the hand of friendship" to the whole of the UK during his visit. Hmm, OK...

He continued:
"Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate".
Well fuck you Ratman, I do respect the traditional values and cultural expressions of others so long as they don't impose them on those who see the world otherwise. Sing to the clouds and eat magic crackers all you like but don't expect me to do the same and never, NEVER EVER, try to tell me how to behave. My morals are not dictated to me by invisible magical spirits but by a genuine care for all of humanity. In fact I care for all life on this beautiful planet which gave me birth. How about you respecting my values, my expression, and my right not to believe?

How anyone can think that this fallible, ignorant, old man is the spokesperson on Earth for an all-powerful, benign creator defies my understanding.

This comes after one of his 'advisors', Cardinal Walter Kasper, espoused that
"when you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country".
Walter is not accompanying the Ratman to the UK and the Vatican issues the ludicrous claim of 'ill-health'.

Ratman, don't lie. Your own book of lore says this (see Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20), how can anyone form any respect for an individual who says one thing and does the opposite?

Admit the truth Ratman, you are human, you were not appointed by a deity, you are not even a head of state but the elected leader of a vastly wealthy organisation dedicated to self-preservation at the expense of billions of ordinary people.

Until then I exercise my freedom to repeat...

Tim Minchin - Pope Song (Warning - Offense Possible)
Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 13 September 2010

Late night music

I think I've posted this before, but again tonight it is capturing the right mood for me...

Joni Mitchell - Coyote
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"I don't need you to remind me of my age. I have a bladder to do that for me".

Stephen Fry (b. 1957) Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 9 September 2010

What I did last summer

Hello everyone! I know I haven't been posting much recently but it's been an enjoyable summer and the band is starting to get back on track again so I hope I am excused my holiday.

Here are some video clips of us from last weekend at our own CleckFest bash when we opened the night for The Voos and The Syndicates. Hats off to Steve, our front man, for putting together yet another great weekend of local music. Without him these events would be hard to get off the ground. I'm sure that more video from the three nights will appear on YouTube etc, but I'm buggered if I'm editing it. It took me 2 days to pick these bits out of our set, anyone know how to adjust aspect ratios?

And for Jackie and Karen; I hope this gives you an idea what I am up to, you didn't miss too much :)

We are ABandinurHead, we just do covers right now, and we opened like this...

The Alex Harvey Band - Framed
(And if you are wondering, Steve came on with a stocking over his head)

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

George Thorogood - If You Don't Start Drinking

The Animals - House of the Rising Sun

Bad Company - Can't Get Enough Of Your Love

And we finished like this...
Rolling Stones - Jumpin' Jack Flash

:) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we'll need a new definition".

Alvin Toffler (b. 1928) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody".

Bill Cosby (b. 1937) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 27 August 2010

Late night music

I just came across this old cover version of an even older song. Well I quite like it...

Fairport Convention - Heard It Through The Grape Vine
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Support an impoverished sceptic!

Settling down to listen to something interesting this evening, I was delighted to find an interview with my old friend Andy Roberts on the Righteous Indignation podcast. Agg, as I will always call him, was interviewed following his talk at Weird Weekend 2010 discussing the Berwyn Mountains UFO case.

Synopsis: In the winter of 1974 residents close to the Berwyn Mountains area of Wales, UK, were shaken by a rumbling explosion and rushed outside to see lights in the sky and beams coming up from the ground. The event entered UFO folklore as a 'flying saucer' crash site with a subsequent 'alien recovery' and cover-up by the government/military.

Variously described as an 'arch-sceptic' and 'renowned Fortean', Agg disassembles the events which gave rise to the 'Welsh Roswell' with his usual depth of research and clear thinking.

So watch the presentation, listen to the RI interview and, most important, buy the book - UFO Down? The Berwyn Mountain UFO Crash. It's the dedicated research of people like my friend which helps stem the tide of bullshit we are already up to our necks in.

WEIRD WEEKEND 2010: Andy Roberts

And I must say he looks much better that he did for his talk at last year's meeting.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 22 August 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life".

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (121 – 180 CE) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace".

André Gide (1869 – 1951) Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Another reason to like Hitch

I was saddened to hear recently that Christopher Hitchens has been diagnosed with cancer. I wish him well.

Hitch is not a 'light in time of darkness' but a small glow of rationality which, I hope, may herald a sunrise. I like his wit, erudition, honesty and unshakable self confidence. Even in illness he is a wise sage:

Christopher Hitchens Interviewed by Anderson Cooper

But Hitch is just Hitch:

Christopher Hitchens - The State of Human Intelligence
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Why shouldn't we give our teachers a license to obtain software, all software, any software, for nothing? Does anyone demand a licensing fee, each time a child is taught the alphabet?"

William Gibson (b. 1948) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"The really good idea is always traceable back quite a long way, often to a not very good idea which sparked off another idea that was only slightly better, which somebody else misunderstood in such a way that they then said something which was really rather interesting".

John Cleese (b. 1939) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 30 July 2010

I'm just taking a break...

...from playing bass guitar. We've a series of gigs over the next couple of months, and more in the pipeline, so I've been practicing a lot over the last few days. Right now my fingers hurt so I'm typing gently.

Got to get my stamina (staying power?) up to scratch, the last thing I want is for my hands to cramp up on stage. I don't use a plectrum, just my digits, and some songs are a relentless top-speed thrash! I love it but the 6 fingers I use to play (4 left hand, 2 right) are growing thick calluses. Not like the old days when I had to trim my finger-ends with a razor blade, but enough so I notice a diminished sense of touch. It's strange what we do to ourselves for fun!

What am I learning? I'll post them here, mainly for myself so I can easily fire them up and play along. This is why my fingers hurt:

Joey Ramone - What A Wonderful World

Quiet Riot - Cum On Feel The Noize

Bad Company "Can't Get Enough" Live 1974
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 25 July 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely soley upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake."

Christopher Hitchens (b. 1949) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 23 July 2010

I can say no more... than this...

"Offensive Ideas" - Campaign for Free Expression PSA #1
Grow into these trousers... >>

When words are not as they seem

I had half forgotten the poignancy and comic genius of Ivor Cutler until I caught a repeat on the radio (thanks to the excellent BBC Radio 7).

I am at a loss as to which YouTube clips to post so search here and watch them all. You will be much enlightened!

Ivor Cutler [Shoplifters]
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Just for a chuckle

For the first time in weeks the weather total crap today. It's damp, cool and windy so I'm staying indoors.

Here's a cartoon that raised a smile - click through for the punchline.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Thinking of Debbie Harry

Here's a couple of old tunes.

This first one I would really like a shot at playing (band members? What you think?)

Blondie - Hanging On The Telephone (Orignal Video)

The second I know our lead singer has mentioned. I find it a bit creepy/spooky/stalkey but it is a good song. It's featured in a half decent movie (Coyote Ugly) and was the theme tune to Sugar Rush, a UK comedy about a young girl discovering her innate feelings for a same-sex relationship. That sounds serious but it was well written and quite funny, so if you ever get a chance to see 'Sugar Rush' do so! Anyway...

Blondie: One Way or Another w/ subtitles
Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"I don't mind if my skull ends up on a shelf as long as it's got my name on it".

Debbie Harry (b. 1945) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 16 July 2010

Another great animation

This is very clever. The artist, in time-lapse, captures the words from an inspiring (though I could/would call it obvious) lecture in economics and management. Exploring the fact that 'carrots and sticks' is not the way to productivity or a happy workforce.

I know nothing about the artist/animator, the lecturer or the parent organisation: the RSA or Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

But it's bluddy clever!

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Via Grrlscientist. Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Not much provokes me...

But this does.

I find all religion to be a trivial, disgusting or violent parody of reality; but too often these days those people who carry this cultural disease cause harm to the non-infected.

It seems that a young air traffic controller (a good profession which implies a certain level of intelligence), who came from a Moslem background in the Maldives, was driven to suicide after being rejected by his society, friends and family for coming out as an atheist.

His name was Ismail Mohamed Didi and he was just 25 years old. It is alleged that "Ismail had refused to follow religious sermons". In emails Ismail said “[I] foolishly admitted my stance on religion” to workmates, and then:

“A lot of my close friends and girlfriend have been prohibited from seeing me by their parents. I have even received a couple of anonymous phone calls threatening violence if I do not repent and start practising Islam”

But he was true to what he felt:

“I cannot bring myself to pretend to be I am something I am not, as I am a staunch believer in human rights. I am afraid for my life here and know no one inside the country who can help me.”

If there were a God and prayer worked, this young man would have mine tonight.

Sources: The Freethinker and Minivan News Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Summer is still winning

I'm still enjoying the long, lazy summer days… If anyone has emailed me and not had a reply, sorry; I will get round to it. 'Till then here are a few things I could have posted about but didn't.

For those with an interest in religion, Philip A. Harland (Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Ancient History at York University, Toronto) has a podcast giving a historical context to The New Testament based on his course lectures. His blog is Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean or you can start with Podcast series 1: Paul and his communities.

Uzza's Notes has a list of Rape Prevention Tips along with the current humorous deconstruction of the Gospel of Matthew.

The first images from yesterday's flyby of asteroid 21 Lutetia by the Rosetta probe are on The Planetary Society Blog. Can't wait to see the hi-res colour!

Finally there's a new piece of wall art with an evolutionary theme:

BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU [9:55]

OK, I’m off to band practice. Have fun! Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest".

Confucius (551 BCE – 479 BCE) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Postcard from the outside

Just a quick note to let everyone know why things have gone a bit quiet. It's the weather! The sunny days and long warm evenings make me want to be outside all the time.

The first tomatoes are ripe, peppers and beans are swelling and my onions are starting to look more like vegetables and less like long grass. Sadly the little wrens seem to have given up, don't know why but I doubt they could have raised a brood in less than a month and I haven't seen or heard them for about a week. The bumblebees however are thriving and we have found two more hives in the garden so I'm happy about that.

There's a blackbird's nest nearby, their song is wonderful to hear, and after sunset bats occasionally flit past. I'm not sure what species they are but I guess Pipistrelles as they are the most common. In the east Mars and Saturn dominate the night sky, the orange-redness of Mars is unmistakable and breathtaking.

A couple of nights ago I came home late from band practice and went to sit outside with a beer and unwind. All of a sudden a young hedgehog strolled past just a couple of feet away. It must have come from the front of the house and through the car port, heading straight for the compost heap where I lost it in the shadows. I only saw it briefly but I could hear it rummaging for ages afterwards. I'm hoping to see it again if this becomes part of its nightly foraging run.

It's a great summer so far, long may it continue. Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books".

John Lubbock (1834 – 1913) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 27 June 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block".

Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 26 June 2010

No I haven't disappeared to Glastonbury

The weather is just too nice to spend time at a keyboard. Wish I was at Glasto though, if only for Seasick Steve later today...

Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music".

Jimi Hendrix (1942 - 1970) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 18 June 2010

Poor, Poor, Poor

So will someone remind me just why these men are paid so much?

They have some of the best training facilities in existence and are called world class players but they can't pass a ball, the meaning of team play seems to elude them and they fall apart like schoolkids with their jackets piled up for goalposts. In the above photo they look more like a troupe of bongo drummers than sportsmen and tonight they would have been better accompanying the vuvuzelas than on the pitch. Given a good striker Algeria would have kicked England's arse, deservedly.

And can Fabio Capello speak sense? Any language will do...

Pathetic, clueless rubbish. "Votre équipe est putain terrible" Grow into these trousers... >>

Just for Jill

Go visit Jill at Elemental, my dear for great photos of what she found in her garden.
The image is a design from T-Shirt Hell if anyone wants to buy me one (size M). Grow into these trousers... >>

This is not a pretty picture

Orange Beach, Alabama.

Photo credit: Dave Martin/AP. Via The Guardian. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 14 June 2010

Ukraine's Got Talent

This young lady has incredible skill. Her pictures come to life as she draws, in real time, to a rich musical soundscape. I don't know what else to say, I'm in awe.

Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation (Ukraine's Got Talent, Final) PART1 [4:47]

Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation (Ukraine's Got Talent, Final) PART2 [6:07]
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A thought for a Sunday

ACADEME, n.   An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.

ACADEMY, n.   [from ACADEME]   A modern school where football is taught.

Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914?)

From The Devil's Dictionary (1911), full text at Project Gutenberg. Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Chimp twats owl

There seems to be a little rivalry in the studio :)

MONKEY ATTACKS OWL very funny [0:46]
Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 11 June 2010

Late night music - John Martyn

Another nice tune. From The Tumbler (1968)

John Martyn - Fly On Home
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Can't find the book you were looking for?

It's obvious. You're in the...

Cheers Mark. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 7 June 2010

The advancements of microbiology

Portrayed in Lego...

All hail Leeuwenhoek and Pasteur.

Great microbiologists [8:44]

Via Pharyngula. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone".

Jim Fiebig - writer. Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 4 June 2010

On wrens and bumblebees

I've been watching a wren in the garden for the last few weeks. The little fellow bobs in and out of a knothole in the eaves of my roof where he will have started to build a nest. The nest will only be finished if he can attract a female. Then they will line the nest and endeavour to raise youngsters

I've heard his rattling song regularly but I have never seen a partner. Until yesterday evening.

In the late afternoon I sat down to watch a bumble bee nest I'd noticed a few days ago. A gap between some paving stones in a path must lead to a safe and secure underground hive. I had seen them going in and out all day long but then I saw something different. One stared digging in and under a pile of dead leaves and weeds I had raked up just inches from the nest. Then there were two bees, scrimmaging about. After a few minutes they flew off. Then others came out and did the same, as the evening came on, one piece of a brown dead leaf was dragged to the nest hole. It was too big and too stiff to pull in, but much effort went into that failure. Sometimes the leaf covered the hive entrance and returning bees were disoriented and had to push a way past. It did go into the nest though, they chewed it up! As the Sun set, it was gone.

All this time my wren had been singing and flitting about. Then suddenly his song became broken up and staccato and then there were two wrens. He sang like crazy and there was no mistaking the prominent posturing and silent indifference the other wren took. He puffed out his chest and wagged his tail and bobbed and sang loud. She sat on a twig and disinterestedly picked a few aphids off a leaf. Then they zoomed off, both together, then he came back and began his rattling song. She reappeared and his song became broken up again. They dived and chased among the trees over and over.

Suddenly Then there was another rattle over the rooftop, another male wren... My guy went crazy! A bombardment of song began, and a chase for the most prominent perch. As I watched all three, the two males shouted at each other from as far apart as possible and she went off to the loo or something, like women do, but then I spotted her again; watching. The intruder relented and then there was just one song as two wrens cavorted around nearby trees and bushes. They even promenaded together along a fence, no more than a foot apart.

Today there are two wrens in my garden. He sings and she is taking bits of moss or fluffy stuff into the nest hole.

Everyone say Ahhh! Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 31 May 2010

Late night music - John Martyn

A brand new find, I don't even know this track! Wonderful new JM keeps surfacing on YouTube which I have never heard before. Duncan, do you know this?

John Martyn with Eddi Reader - He Got All The Whiskey
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Thoughts on gardening

After a not bothering much for a few years, my old love of gardening has surfaced again and, since retirement, I now have the time. I won’t be too ambitious this year though, I want to get things cleared out and tamed for next; that’s when the fun starts. Question is what to grow?

Years ago I used to like big garish ornamentals like dahlias and gladioli but they don’t excite me any more, and you can’t eat them. Gradually I began to grow more and more veg until one year I was so sick of courgettes and runner beans I never want to see either again!

It’s not a very big garden but it’s enough for a small greenhouse, five plots of about 1 by 6 or 7m, a couple of smaller 2m plots, a little pond (which needs dredging) and a patio to enjoy it from. There are a couple of trees against the back fence with a buddleia, a blackcurrant bush and a honeysuckle underplanted with cyclamen, grape hyacinth, crocus and suchlike (I will be careful here till I work out what’s what).

At the moment I’m still clearing out grass and nettles but I have one plot planted with onions (looking good) and I hope to have another ready this week for French beans (I have lots of seedlings in pots in the greenhouse alongside the tomatoes and peppers). After that, planting slows down a bit this year. I want some herbs: thyme, sage, basil, oregano etc, I’ve got some mint and will plant garlic later on, but I’m really planning for next year.

Potatoes, carrots and parsnips are on the menu, and some broccoli. Strawberries and raspberries sure, but what else? I don’t just want to grow vegetables but flowers have to earn their place. I’ll throw in some nasturtiums and pot marigolds, because the yellow petals stand out in a salad, and borage, because the little blue flowers look so cool frozen in ice cubes in a summer drink, but then I’m running out of ideas.

I’m in an adventurous mood, I’ve even thought about having an asparagus bed.

Has anyone got any ideas for unusual, unexpected, tasty and productive fruit, veg or flowers? I would love some suggestions. Grow into these trousers... >>