Sunday, 31 January 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time".

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888 – 1965)

From: Little Gidding, the fourth of Four Quartets (first published in 1943) Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 29 January 2010

Late night music - John Mayall

Many of the greats owe their careers to this man, not least Erc Claptop (see below), and blues was reformed and changed. John Mayall celebrated his 70th birthday by "playing the blues". How else?

John Mayall - Dirty Water. [8:02]

Earlier, when I was hastily typing, I misspelled Eric Clapton. Sorry Eric 'coz you were at the same party...

John mayall 70th birthday with eric clapton & The Bluesbreakers I'm Tore Down [5:23]

I love the simple bass line here and I can play it, it's easy. But after 5 mins every muscle in my arms would be aching from fingertip to shoulder. Bring it on! Grow into these trousers... >>

From the largest to the smallest

This seems to have been doing the rounds today but I will post it too. It's very clever.

Slide the slider to go from the largest things in the universe, or the 'estimated' universal scale itself, to the smallest. Atoms? Nah, keep going. Quarks? Nope, keep going down. And again. A bit more. Nearly. Nothing much here, down again. Ah, the Planck length, 1.616×10−35 meters, nothing any shorter than that makes sense. Head bump with reality.

Click the link below or the image, endure the advert, click 'play' and then slide.

The Scale of the Universe by Fotoshop

Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Thoughts on anonymity

Blogospheratician Delicate Flower has posted an interesting question. Go read Change is in the air.

I cannot answer this conundrum of privacy vs professional exposure. I can only tell my own story…

Coming out, so to speak, as your real self online must be your own decision. I know this and you all should know it too; it is potentially dangerous. Young people take note - what is online about you now will probably remain there, somewhere, for the rest of your life and beyond. In the olden days it may just have been a newspaper report in the local rag that no one but a historian in a library archive would ever see again. Now we have Google.

I debated with myself for a long time before I set up Trousers and the blog name itself I chose as an expression of my learning process. I have been around the internet since before there was one. When I first got an email address I only knew two other people online and we were all in the same Department. It was quicker to wait till coffee break and talk to them in person.

Times changed though; newsgroups and forums (fora?) became my home for many years under a range of pseudonyms. Though what I posted under an alias was always really as myself, my own thoughts and feelings and doings. Of course I got hammered and flamed but I never assumed different personalities with the different names; I doubt I am capable of such a thing, it's hard enough just being me.

So what changed? Strangely I think the main reason was Facebook. I'd been following various blogs for ages when a family member enticed me to start a Facebook account, which I did in my own name. Very soon I began posting 'notes' or whatever in a bloggy sort of way and quickly realised that Facebook is not a medium for that kind of expression (not to me anyway). I had to move on, Trousers was born and I wanted to continue being me. I was/am prepared (by experience, I hope) for any backlash, I am sometimes very outspoken about religion for example, but so far the worst I get is Japanese porn site spam. Trousers could have evolved very differently given a different response.

Interweaved with the above is another reason for my non-anonymity. I'm getting older and I'm happy being me. Oh I've just as many failings as anyone else, more perhaps or it often feels that way, but I have come this far and there are things I have learned which I would like to share with others. Where I have my name on a scientific publication I am proud of it, I was there, I helped do that work over months or years sometimes. That was me! Anonymity was unthinkable. Similarly, when I post video clips nowadays, that's what I have been watching. When I am outspoken, that's me, it's what I think. I hope I'm strong enough for my own honesty, if not I will learn. I don't deliberately aim to be provocative (er, well, maybe sometimes) but if someone disagrees that's fine, let's discuss the point and maybe we can both learn something new.

The final reason is that we should be able to be ourselves, in all circumstances, should we wish it. If ever a Big Brother scenario comes to be it will surely involve our own compliance at some level. It may loom over all our shoulders sometimes, so turn around and beat it over the head with your keyboard. You need not be anonymous...

Stand up, speak out, be yourself - when you want to or need to.
Be Excellent to each other! - all the time. Grow into these trousers... >>

Be excellent to each other

A short essay on morals from AtheistStuff.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Philosophy [8:18]

Party on, dudes!
Via Common Sense Atheism. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Sheep evolution - Monty Python style

Monty Python Flying Sheep Sketch [4:35]
Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 25 January 2010

Common people - Pulp

Just in case anyone didn't get my 'Caption This' comment at Madhatters today, here's the reference.

Pulp Common People Live Loreley 1998
Grow into these trousers... >>

Cock Up Your Beaver

Burns Night is here again so it must be time for some proper poetry. Duncanr at Madhatters has a brilliant version of A Man's A Man For A' That so go listen.

If you are celebrating tonight save me some tatties and neeps please, raise a glass for Auld Lang Syne and remember to cock up your beaver!

When first my brave Johnie lad came to this town,
He had a blue bonnet that wanted the crown;
But now he has gotten a hat and a feather,
Hey, brave Johnie lad, cock up your beaver!

Cock up your beaver, and cock it fu' sprush,
We'll over the border, and gie them a brush;
There's somebody there we'll teach better behaviour,
Hey, brave Johnie lad, cock up your beaver!

Robert Burns
Johnie Lad, Cock Up Your Beaver (1791) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"Well, I think religion asks all the right questions – it just gets all the wrong answers!"

Robert Stovold - Brighton and Hove Humanist Society

Quote from The Freethinker. Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 23 January 2010

What if...?

Todd Friel: American radio and television host, Christian speaker, evangelist, and former stand-up comedian described by PZ Myers as "one of those glassy-eyed glad-handing used-car-salesmen of the soul types"

plays a game of 'what if' with

Christopher Hitchens: English/American author, journalist and freethinker who is humorously known as one of The Four Horsemen (along with Dawkins, Harris and Dennett).

Fun and games ensue.

todd friel interviews christopher hitchens on "wretched radio" (full interview) - part 1

todd friel interviews christopher hitchens on "wretched radio" (full interview) - part 2

Yet another reason for why I like Hitch.

Hat tip to Common Sense Atheism for the memory jogger. Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 22 January 2010

Late night music - Hendrix

Turn up the volume...

Jimi Hendrix - Purple Haze at Woodstock 1969
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ethereal and haunting

Software engineer Jim Bumgardner, a visualization specialist, has created a piece which transforms the daily movement of the stars into restful, compelling music. Using satellite data the positions of stars in northern hemisphere sky is slowly rotated about Polaris (the north star). As each star crosses a line through the axis it emits a note dependant on the star's colour and brightness. The result is beautiful, wind-chime-like and quite absorbing.

Visit The Wheel of Stars.

Music of the Spheres? Maybe not.
The beginning of Star Trek? Definitely.

Universe Today has an interview with Jim Bumgardner. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Deep in the wilds of northern Minnesota, in the good ol' US of A, a black bear named Lily is about to do what momma bears have been doing for millions of years but which has never before been observed in the wild. In a snug den, safe from the cold and snow, Lily is about to give birth - on camera. Professor Lynn Rogers has been studying bears for decades, gradually earning their trust, till finally he was able to install a webcam in Lily's den.

The signs are good. Lily is the right age, well fed in preparation for winter and appears to be heavily pregnant. Visit her at:

Lily's den-cam

Who knows? You may be among the first to see one of Nature's little miracles.
Read more at the North American Bear Center and at the BBC. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Johnny and the Bomb

A bit more Terry Pratchett...

My post on Why I just love the Internet seems to have stirred a bit of interest so into the melting pot I throw this story, which everyone should be able to view.

Johnny and the Bomb (Part 1 of 12)

Johnny and the Bomb (Part 2 of 12)

Johnny and the Bomb (Part 3 of 12)

I am sure we are all able to track down the other episodes.
Happy viewing to all! Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

Via Failblog. Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 15 January 2010

Late night music - String Band

A little foot-tapper.

Incredible String Band - Black Jack David

I was there that night and they were amazing. No Robin Williamson, but you hardly notice.

Get the DVD is here: The Incredible String Band - Live at the Lowry Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Why I just love the Internet

It's because I keep finding something new, and today it was a stunner. Now, some of you may know of this already, but it's new to me OK and I'm all excited. Today's discovery is:

The MSN video player.

They have lots of streaming videos of TV programs, many look to be from the BBC, in different categories including Sci Fi. And here's the bit that has me all worked up:

Dum Dum Dum"

there's a whole boatload of classic Dr Who adventures. That's my evening sorted out, a few bottles of beer and an overdose of Who. Classic!
I also notice they have 'Ripping Yarns' and 'The Young Ones'. It gets better. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Have I been missing something all these years?

Via Grow into these trousers... >>

Wish Buzz Aldrin a happy 80th birthday

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, will be 80 years young on the 20th January and the Planetary Society is to present him with a giant birthday card carrying the best wishes of people from around the world.

Follow this link to send your name and a greeting to someone who who inspired a generation (or more) and helped shape the 20th century. Let's all just say thanks to a true hero. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Ah, the lunch menu

Hamen eggen chz plz!

Via Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 11 January 2010

Late night music - Wishbone Ash

Just for NobblySan here's a grainy, scratchy video from the old days.

Wishbone Ash- Warrior (live at Rockpalast)
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A bit of boogie

Oops, I missed Elvis Presley's birthday last week. But, as the late-great Kirsty MacColl tells us, seen one seen them all.

There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis
Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but licence".

John Milton (1608 – 1674)

From: The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649) Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Late night music

Fleetwood Mac, from the old times when Peter Green was a driving force.

fleetwood mac / the green manalishi
Grow into these trousers... >>

E = mc2(1-v2/c2)

I've been following a vast series of maths lectures over the last 6 months or so from the physicist Leonard Susskind. This is a guy who can argue the toss with Stephen Hawking and then go teach a class of continuing education students. It's the recordings of his CE classes that I'm watching.

Susskind has a such a likable personality and easy style he can often lull you into a false sense of security, and then he'll snap you out of it with a jerk. I wish I'd had a teacher like him 25 years ago when I still could do maths properly (practice, Holroyd, practice - yes I know).

Fast forward this lecture to about 1h 15min and watch him derive Einstein's famous E=mc2 with such consummate skill it's like he's stating the bleedin' obvious. His play with 'c' the speed of light, is almost comedy and his correction by (1-v2/c2) is the bit non-physicists always forget (but that's the most important bit 'coz it tells you it's impossible to accelerate a mass to the speed of light*).

Lecture 6 | Modern Physics: Special Relativity (Stanford)

If you are daft like me and want to follow the whole thing, start with his course on classical mechanics:
Lecture 1 | Modern Physics: Classical Mechanics (Stanford)
* I can't think how to html 'one divided by square root' except to raise it to minus the half power Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 8 January 2010

Dun't Put Thi Muck In Aah Dustbin

I realised today that I'm getting a backlog. Because of the bad weather and the holidays my bins haven't been emptied for ages. No complaint, but a warning to others!

The Barnsley Anthem

The lyrics and a translation key are on the YouTube link.

Just one thing. I live a bit further North, only ~30 miles or so, but my pronunciation and use of words is slightly different. "Dun't" (="do not" in the song) I use to mean "does not" as in "it dun't work" or "it dun't make any difference". To say "do not" I would stress the first "o", drop the second and put a stressed "a" in the middle. It makes something more like "do-ant" as an example "dooan't do that" = "do not do that" or more simply "stoppit". Or, given the right situation, "Dooan't stop now!"

That's only part of it. For the song I would drop the "n" in "in" and truncate the words, so I would sing:

"Dooan't put thi mucky'ar dustbin"

Isn't dialect wonderful especially when "weirall dahn i't'coiloil"? Grow into these trousers... >>

'Twas in the bleak midwinter

I'm sure anyone in the UK won't need reminding that it's bleedin' cold! On the plus side, it has given us this remarkable image of a snow-bound Britain.

Hi-res versions: 1km/px, 500m/px, 250m/px

I love the way that urban areas show up as a different shade of grey. You can easily pick out Glasgow and Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, London and lots more in hi-res.

Ok, I'm going to have another mug of hot coffee. This time with a splash of Jim Beam if the Gypsy didn't drink it all last night. Stay warm folks. Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Caption this

I chuckled as soon as I saw this photo.

Via a simple prop. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A quick cat video for a laugh

Is this a happy cat, or what?

Via Bad Astronomy. Grow into these trousers... >>

Music for a cold afternoon

I heard a snippet of this on the radio a couple of days ago and it has been buzzing round my head ever since.

When The Boat Comes In - Alex Glasgow
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Beware the overseers

Right now, go to Google and type "Christianity is" (without the ""s) and don't cut'n'paste, type it. There is a selection of queries including:

"Christianity is"
a lie
a cult

Now type "Hinduism is". you get

Try “Buddhism is” or “Judaism is” or "Atheism is" and get similar suggestions.

Now type “Islam is” and what do you get? Nothing. No suggestions at all.

Dear Google,
I await your explanation.
Via Pharyngula. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 4 January 2010

So this is why we don't see miracles any more

Click to read on... Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 3 January 2010

A thought for a Sunday

"They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night".

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)

From the short story, "Eleonora" Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Late night music - John Martyn

Duncan asked for a bit of something like this, happy to oblige...

John Martyn - Small Hours (1978)

John Martyn - Head and Heart
Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 1 January 2010

OK frost and snow, I've had enough now

A white Christmas is lovely for tradition and a winter festival, but now the longest night is behind us we can look forward to increasing day-length and the coming spring.

I do not like the cold and I'm sure anyone who is back to work on Monday will agree with this...

epic fail pictures Grow into these trousers... >>