Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas To All

Have a great weekend!

Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 17 December 2011

This is how I want to remember Hitch

Christopher Hitchens has died and the world has lost one of the greatesat speakers in the debates for rationality and human rights. May the spirit of his words endure...

This, I think, is Hitch at his best Debating free speech laws at the University of Toronto in 2006. The motion is: 'Be It Resolved: Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to Hate.'

"Stay cool" Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A thought for a Sunday

Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 4 November 2011

A bit of music

Sometimes it just hits the right spot!

Steeleye Span - Drink Down The Moon (1974)
Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Oh! So this is why we have 'small clothes'

Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads Underwear

Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A thought for a Sunday

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."

Alice Walker (b. 1944)

(Found at the start of this film trailer) Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A thought for a Sunday

"People get the wrong idea. If you're a scientist the two most exciting things you can be are wrong or confused, because that means there's a lot left to learn, and we are living in very exciting times. We're just like the early map makers in a sense. Just a lifetime ago we knew of one galaxy in the entire universe, now we know there are 400 billion galaxies. In a single human lifetime our picture of the universe has changed so much it's not surprising that we are continually surprised".

Lawrence M. Krauss (b. 1954)
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 - Material World - 13/10/2011 Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 14 October 2011

Bad Astronomy at TED

The highly entertaining Phil Plait gives a talk to TEDx about asteroid impacts on the Earth, and how we may be able to avoid them.

From the 6 mile wide rock which may have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago to the smaller, more recent, Meteor Crater and Tunguska impacts the Earth has been under continuous bombardment from space.

How can we escape the next big one? Phil Plait explains...

TEDxBOULDER - Phil Plait - An Asteroid Impact Can Ruin Your Whole Day. And Your Species

Visit Phil's award winning blog at Bad Astronomy. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Brian Cox take a new view of the universe

I have no comment ;)

Wonders of the Stoner System
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Need something interesting to pass an hour ot two, or more?

Go visit

The site is a vast repository of links to free audio and video in lots of categories.

So far I've watched a video about black holes, downloaded two audio books (Isaac Asimov's Nightfall and Rudyard Kipling's Rikki-Tikki-Tavi - there are many, many more I will get) and lined up a series of lectures called 'Science, Magic, and Religion' from UCLA. I'm off to dig through the philosophy section next. Then there's the movie list which is described as '420 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.'

Great stuff! Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 4 September 2011

John Martyn, One World.

The remarkable song writing of the late John Martyn joins with a very subdued Dave Gilmour.


John Martyn.and David Gilmour- - "One World"
Grow into these trousers... >>

A thought for a Sunday

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

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

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The 1st BBC Comedy Prom

For those in the UK only (sorry) the full concert is on the BBC iPlayer for a few more days, though clips are sprouting on YouTube. It is a magical divergence for the often dry and dusty annual Promenade Concerts from the Royal Albert Hall in London. Tim Minchin hosts a gala of music and fun which is a must see. Yes, this Tim Minchin!

I can't yet find the clip I want to play so bugger the Proms, this will have to do.
From earlier in the year, Tim's Lullaby:

Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Glastonbury 2011

I wasn't there but thanks to the wonderful BBC iPlayer I've probably seen more than if I had been. What I did miss was the micro-atmosphere though: the sights, sounds and smells as you walk around, the endless stalls where you can spend an afternoon just shopping, and an entire world of food.

The Beeb recorded many hours of video and it's all on their website, from short clips to full performances. It's well worth a dig round.

The highlight for me was the remarkable Bellowhead. Watch the clip then go here for more of their set. Much foot-tapping is guaranteed.

Note: I've never embedded BBC stuff before so I don't know if this will work outside the UK. Hope it does, if not I'm sure YouTube will provide. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Caption this...

It's not often I do a 'caption this' but I saw this on the news today and it was too much to resist.

I'll try:
"now wash your hands"

"Spain introduces new EU standards in condom testing"

The guy at the left says "so that's what they are for!"

Give me your worst. Grow into these trousers... >>

Warning - Do NOT listen to this song

The Badger Song

I told you not to listen! Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 19 May 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it!

Judgement Day is a' comin', Saturday 21st May. Wow that's like... this weekend!

I thought it was going to be just before Christmas 2012, according to the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, but Christian preacher and radio broadcaster Harold Camping thinks otherwise. The long-awaited Rapture, when all good Christian souls will drift off up to Heaven, will be on Saturday and conveniently arranged for 6pm in all time zones around the world (not sure about Samoa). The rest of us folks will be 'left behind', milling about incoherently or something. But not me, I have a plan: if you think you will be Raptured simply post your address in the comments below and leave your front door open. I promise someone will visit your ex-home as soon as they can to feed the dog, cat, budgie, goldfish etc, water any plants and generally take care of things. Car keys, bank account details and passwords left in obvious places will all help provide this service.

On the night itself I have a gig at a local pub where, the last time we played there, the entire valley had a power cut plunging all into darkness. The band has always joked that it was all our fault for ramping up the volume but it could be an omen. If we have time to play 'knocking on heaven's door' I'll be happy. In fact, I feel fine...

It's the end of the world as we know it
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

RIP Polly

You kept me entertained in the late 70s, and you were a formative punk rocker. I doff my cap to:

Marianne Joan Elliott-Said aka Poly Styrene (3 July 1957 – 25 April 2011)

A legend with a quieter side...

Poly Styrene - Shades
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Just for Duncan @ MadHatters

Slurping my morning coffee and blearily reading The Mad Hatters my day perked up wonderfully when I found Duncan had posted "The Mad Hatter's Song" by The Incredible String Band.

It got me thinking, are there any other songs with 'Mad Hatter' in the title? I could only come up with this.

Edgar Broughton Band Mad Hatter

There must be more, any other suggestions? Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Crack, crunch!

The Gypsy has just told me that, during heavy winds yesterday, a tree has fallen onto the pub where our band is based. See here.

PCSO Orham Yigit outside the George Pub, Cleckheaton after a tree fell into it
Photo credit: The Spenborough Guardian.

Looking at the photo that window is in the main concert room, next to the stage and on my side too! Thank goodness it was in the morning and not when there was a 'do' going on. No one was hurt but it makes you think. We used to rehearse in that room and leave the gear set up unless there was another function coming up. Recently the owners have let use use a back room, which is much more cozy for practice than an empty hall, and all our gear was in there. I guess I'll see the damage when I go down tomorrow afternoon.

Note: The band's website is taking shape (thanks 'Techno'), just waiting for a bunch of new photos (thanks Neil) and hopefully a couple of tracks for download. Soon... Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Late Night Music

I just tripped across this tune by the late great Jerry Garcia. We are just learning this in the band. Thin Lizzy made it famous, but we do a punked up full on rock version (Metallica, poop).

But here is a proper version :

Jerry Garcia-Whiskey in the Jar
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Sorry if this spoils your day

But it needs to be widely understood that slaughtering animals for human consumption is a nasty business. However it need not be a prolonged, inhumane, barbaric ritual.

The video description begins:
"This video starts by showing the Western humane "Bolt Gun" method of instant slaughter. The remainder of the video then shows the Islamic Halal method of slaughter. Halal is the Sharia Law prescribed method of ritual killing involving the cutting of animals throats and letting them bleed to death".
Meet your Meat, the Barbarity of Halal Slaughter

In my time at work I visited many abattoirs to collect things like spleens, brains, adrenal glands and blood for research and teaching. I have watched as cows, sheep and pigs were killed by bolt gun in front of me. Never did I witness scenes like these.

If your religious conviction demands that animals for food have to die slowly in great pain while obviously concious then

Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Stardust/NExT re-images comet Tempel 1

A couple of days ago the space probe Stardust/NExT zoomed past comet Tempel 1 and the images are being made available at

5 years or so ago the probe Deep Impact smashed a massive (370 kg) chunk of copper into the comet to try to stir up sub surface material. Stardust/NExT has re-imaged that impact site, though it's difficult to see in the above image. Tempel 1 is 7.6 x 4.9 kilometres across so it's a pinprick somewhere between the two craters at the centre of this image.

Hopefully, as the images are processed and enhanced, it will become more visible.

UPDATE: Phil Plait has identified the site, see here. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Early evening music - John Martyn

I just tripped across this track by the late, great master. The oil rigs are a puzzle to me, the music is class...

Grace & Danger - John Martyn
Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 4 February 2011

Sometimes I despair at religious 'logic'

BBC news reports on the troubles in Egypt quoting Issam al-Aryan, spokesperson and reputedly "A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood":
"We want a civil state, based on Islamic principles. A democratic state, with a parliamentary system, with freedom to form parties, press freedom, and an independent and fair judiciary,"
Which sounds fine except for the 'Islamic principles' bit which which denies such rights if you happen to be female, or gay, or follow another religion, or you are an apostate, or a non-believer, or an alcohol imbiber, or a cartoonist, or a pork eater, or a dog owner or...

BANG! <head explodes>

Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A bit of nice music

And an unusual find...

I was picking up a takeaway pizza the other night and got talking to the good people behind the counter. As is often with me the topic turned to music when this this poor guy was pulled out of the back room and, to his embarrassment I'm sure, encouraged to sing.

I thought immediately that he had a good voice. So here is a plug for Payam Edraki, long may his songs be played.

Folk Music "Setareh" پیام ادراکی
Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Richard Dawkins on faith schools

I post this without comment as most people will know my views anyway.

A Channel 4 documentary I haven't seen before. Note: Vimeo's embed code seems a bit wonkey so follow the link instead.
Faith School Menace?

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

Monday, 17 January 2011

It gets better

Many young people go through their education as victims of bullying and hate campaigns because of their sexual orientation, which is seen as abnormal by their peers (who are probably just as confused by their own developing sexuality) and by narrow minded adults who are over-righteously heterosexual.

Many other young people keep their mouths shut but still carry the fear of 'being found out'.

This is wrong

But hang on in there guys and gals:

it gets better-----a music video by rebecca drysdale

Visit the It Gets Better Project. Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 14 January 2011

Busy doing nothing...

Not true...

I've actually written some code over the past couple of days. The band now has a domain and we'll be launching a website real soon now. I am no graphic artist, I'm much more happy to work on back end stuff with server scripts and databases, and I got a PHP/MySQL database running online today. I am over the moon!

Stay tuned for more. Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Here's to a great 2011

I'm still here folks. This winter has been a bad one for me health wise, and for most of my close friends. The flu has been knocking us out one by one. The unexplained thing is that it seems to make no difference if you had the seasonal vaccine or not; you still get it. Some rogue strain that the vaccine manufacturers didn't anticipate? Perhaps but whatever, for the first time in about three weeks I feel almost back to normal; well enough to make one in for a bit of a jam session tomorrow afternoon in a local pub. I'll see if I can take the pace. Next up for the band is The Fleece Inn at Elland (28th Jan) which I remember from years ago as a top real-ale pub, though I haven't visited for a long time. I hope it has kept it's traditions.

Playing bass is one thing I want to keep involved with this year, it's such good fun and the band is really starting to gel. Live gigs are the best rehearsal of all so I hope we'll be playing every fortnight at least, by Springtime. But my other big fascination, as many people will know, is with space exploration and 2011 looks set to be a good year.

It all starts tomorrow with the Mars Express spacecraft's close (111 km) flyby of the Martian moon Phobos. This is one of a series of encounters to study and map this small moon and will provide invaluable data for the upcoming Russian Phobos Grunt mission which intends to land on Phobos and return samples to Earth. Phobos Grunt is currently set to launch this November and reach Phobos in 2013.

February sees the Stardust/NExT flyby of comet Tempel 1. This should be interesting as the comet was visited in 2005 by Deep Impact which, as the name suggests, launched an impactor to stir up the comet's surface. NExT will re-examine the crater to look for any changes over the last few years.

Next up is the MESSENGER spacecraft (The Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging mission) which will enter orbit around Mercury on 18 March with a (Earth) year-long primary mission of mapping the surface (in 3-D) and studying the planet's magnetic and gravity fields. Expect some great images, though I am amazed they can can keep the craft cool enough so close to the Sun.

In August the Dawn spacecraft arrives at asteroid Vesta, the second largest object in the asteroid belt after Ceres which Dawn will move on to study in 2015. Dawn will spend 7 months orbiting Vesta recording images and spectrographic data.

Not last, and far from least, sometime in autumn may see the launch of the most ambitious project ever sent to Mars. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is a rover the size of a small car (2.8 meters long) and packed with scientific instruments. Follow the link to see the 8-point mission objectives which include everything from looking for signs of life to determining the processes of water and carbon dioxide cycling (in other words, Martian weather).

OK, the MSL was the last for now, I'm running out of steam and a bottle of Black Sheep Ale keeps singing to me from the fridge. 2011 looks good so far, later in the year I want to be back out in my vegetable plot and greenhouse growing tasty things to eat and I also plan to make some homebrew beer, an old hobby which I have neglected in recent years.

So cheers all! May the coming year be at least as fun for you as I hope it will be for me. Grow into these trousers... >>