Saturday, March 07, 2009

Robot teacher that can take the register and get angry - Telegraph

Robot teacher that can take the register and get angry - Telegraph

"The device, created by scientists after 15 years of research, is being trialled at a primary school in Tokyo.

Named Saya, she can speak different languages, carry out roll calls, set tasks and make facial expressions – including anger – thanks to 18 motors hidden behind her latex face.

The humanoid was originally developed to replace a variety of workers, including secretaries, in a bid to allow firms to cut costs while still retaining some kind of human interaction.

Her creator, science professor Hiroshi Kobayashi at the University of Tokyo, had been working on a robot for 15 years. She is the latest example of robots spreading to every aspect of life in Japan. They already guide traffic, attempt to lure university graduates to sign up to courses and one is even being developed to provide company to Alzheimer's sufferers."

Star Trek 11

It looks like a good one.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Database State

Revealed: police databank on thousands of protesters | UK news |

"Police are targeting thousands of political campaigners in surveillance operations and storing their details on a database for at least seven years, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.

Photographs, names and video �footage of people attending protests are �routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an 'intelligence system'. The �Metropolitan police, which has �pioneered surveillance at demonstrations and advises other forces on the tactic, stores details of protesters on Crimint, the general database used daily by all police staff to catalogue criminal intelligence. It lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended."

My Best Article

A Companion to Gender History

Early Western History under the Sign of Gender

£ 885

This is one of those Facebook meme thingies

This is fun to do. Just read the 'offence' and if you've done it, you owe that fine.

You don't have to confess your answers, just the amount of your fine.

NOTE fines to be added once, not for how ever many times you have done it.

Smoked weed -- £10

Did acid or pills -- £5

Ever had sex at church -- £25

Woke up in the morning and did not know the person who was next to you -- £40

Had sex with someone on MySpace/Facebook/Bebo etc -- £25

Had sex for money -- £100

Ever had sex with a Puerto Rican -- £20

Vandalized something -- £20

Had sex on your parents' bed -- £10

Beat up someone -- £20

Been jumped -- £10

Cross dressed -- £10

Given money to stripper -- £25

Been in love with a stripper -- £20

Kissed someone who's name you didn't know -- £0.10

Hit on some one of the same sex while at work -- £15

Ever drive and drank -- £20

Ever got drunk at work, or went to work while still drunk -- £50

Used toys while having sex -- £30

Got drunk, passed out and don't remember the night before -- £20

Went skinny dipping -- £5

Had sex in a pool -- £20

Kissed someone of the same sex -- £10

Had sex with someone of the same sex -- £20

Cheated on your significant other -- £10

Masturbated -- £10

Cheated on your significant other with their relative or close friend -- £20

Done oral -- £5

Got oral -- £5

Done / got oral in a vehicle while it was moving -- £25

Stole something -- £10

Had sex with someone in jail -- £25

Made a nasty home video or took pictures -- £15

Had a threesome -- £50

Had sex in public -- £20

Been in the same room while someone was having sex --£25

Stole something worth over more than a hundred quid-- £20

Had sex with someone 10 years older -- £20

Had sex with someone under the age accepted by rule of thumb (half your age plus 7) -- £25

Been in love with two people or more at the same time-- £50

Said you love someone but didn't mean it -- £25

Went streaking -- £5

Went streaking in broad daylight -- £15

Been arrested -- £5

Spent time in jail -- £15

Pissed in the pool -- £0.50

Played spin the bottle -- £5

Done something you regret -- £20

Had sex with your best friend -- £20

Had sex with someone you work with at work/college -- £25

Had anal sex -- £80

Lied to your mate -- £5

Lied to your mate about the sex being good -- £25

Middle age 'key for exercising'

BBC NEWS | Health | Middle age 'key for exercising'

They found those who increased activity levels from 50 to 60 ended up living as long as those who were already exercising regularly by middle age.

Hmm - two years to go before I have to begin exercise.

Is a rational al-Qaida merely biding its time?

Is a rational al-Qaida merely biding its time? - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine

I hope US intelligence has, perhaps, employed all those gay Arabic speakers it fired.

Scumbag Millionaires

Compass � News � March competition: no oscars for scumbag millionaires

Surprisingly Liberal Opinions in Jacksonville Fl

Orange Park couple charged with pot grow |

Coming soon. My thoughts on how I miss Jacksonville.

How to stop the drug wars | The Economist

How to stop the drug wars | The Economist

Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.


Meds and Depression

I thought some people might find interest in these paragraph's from Will Self's novel, The Book of Dave. (pp 263-264)

Mornings now he pulled whatever soiled rag came to hand from the tangled ball in the corner of the bedroom. He drank thick sweet dietary supplements while doing water shits. He couldn't tell any more what was making him feel this dread foreboding, see jagged neon at the periphery of his vision, experience the hand-tremor and knock-knee, feel the locked jaw and sore throat, suffer the swollen face and wiener fingers. Was it the Seroxat, the Carbamazepine or the Zopiclone.

Before the final bludgeon of the day hammered Dave into teary unconsciousness, he would uncrumple the patient information leaflets that lay balled on the carpet and read them over. As his tired eyes limped along the parlous print Dave found it impossible to divine whether his *dry mouth, upset stomach, diarrheoa, constipation, vomiting, sweating, drowsiness, weakness, insomnia, loss of appetite, rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, faintness, muscle spasms and sudden mood changes* were the symptoms of his depression, the effects of the medication or its side-effects. The drugs had become collaborators with the disease, and together they had carved up [his] mind into zones of delusory influence.

CIA Awkwardly Debriefs Obama On Creation Of Crack Cocaine | The Onion

CIA Awkwardly Debriefs Obama On Creation Of Crack Cocaine | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

WASHINGTON—In his first meeting with President Barack Obama, CIA crime and counternarcotics analyst Timothy R. McIntire haltingly explained to the nation's first African-American commander in chief the highly classified origin of crack cocaine and the resultant epidemic that swept across U.S. inner cities. 'Well, you see, sir...thing is, we needed money to help those Contras back in '85, and we never really we distributed it, and...shortsighted...and, ha, well, Christ—is it hot in here?' McIntire said between exaggerated coughs. 'Yikes, okay. See, it was a very tense time—not that that makes it right—and, uh, bottom line is, we're a different agency now.'

McIntire went on to disclose several other secret CIA operations, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the recruitment, four years earlier, of a Kenyan grad student for a clandestine program at the University of Hawaii.

Boldly Going

A mix of Star Trek: TNG and a film called Jeffery.

Pictured: Harry Potter star stripped to the waist and covered in blood

Pictured: Harry Potter star stripped to the waist and covered in blood | Mail Online

I thought Harry Potter was meant to be for children.

Another Round on Assisted Suicide

There is now yet another round in Britain of the perennial debate on physician assisted suicide. The Times covers the issue today.

The country's top judge indicated yesterday that the courts would throw out prosecutions of people who assisted in the suicide of terminally ill patients.

Ruth Gledhill discusses the issues here

As a person with AIDS, I intend to live as long as possible. The meds now are good. But I don't want that last few weeks of pain, incontinence, and suppuration to the point of death. I lost at least 60 acquaintances and one really good friend.

I want, simply, and hopefully in many years time, to be able to have whatever number remains of my friends (AIDS deaths tend to clarify things) to be around as I take liquid Nembutal (or 36 Seconal with Youghurt). I do not want to be reduced to having to find street heroin, insulin, or (lots of Valium with scotch).

But I don't want to die right now, and nobody will stop me when I need to.

BTW, I remain a Catholic, but just as Jesus "gave up the ghost", I will do so also when the time is right.

Medical science has no right to put me though torture.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Gay Marriage : Proposition 8 Argued Before California Supreme Court

Proposition 8 Argued Before California Supreme Court

It seems unlikely that the California Supreme Court will overturn the amendment to the state constitution established by the 52% approval given to Proposition 8 in the November 2008 election.

On the whole, even though I will not be unhappy if the court rejects the amendment, this is probably the right approach. The people should be allowed to modify a constitution.

With any luck before the end of the Obama era, the people in the US will approve a new Equal Rights Amendment, suspend the 2nd Amendment, and restore the 4th Amendment.

"menacing pink peonies"

First Lady Michelle Obama shows even she has a gift for the gaffe - Times Online

The White House released one picture of the two women and it does not appear to have been selected with any kind of special relationship in mind. There is a menacing bunch of pink peonies in the foreground and the angle is most unflattering to Mrs Brown, who has the air of a woman very much in need of a stiff drink.

Beads, Breasts, Business // Current

Beads, Breasts, Business // Current

Made In China follows the "bead trail" from the factory in China to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, poignantly exposing the inequities of globalization. The clash of cultures is illuminated by juxtaposing American excess and consumer ignorance against the harsh life of the Chinese factory worker.

Capitalism consists entirely in expropriating from the workers.

YouTube - One Out of Ten Men Is Gay / funny commercial English subbed

YouTube - One Out of Ten Men Is Gay / funny commercial English subbed

I don't get the sucking ice thing. Any ideas?

These Mormon Pickup Lines Would Make The Pickup Artist Cry

These Mormon Pickup Lines Would Make The Pickup Artist Cry - Viral Video - Videogum

Via Andrew Sullivan.

It's a real shame gay men don't use lines like this, on me at any rate.

Billy Bragg: Thatcher's victory over the miners led directly to this economic crisis

Billy Bragg: Thatcher's victory over the miners led directly to this economic crisis | Comment is free |

Great article.

The city without a memory: treasures lost under collapsed Cologne archives - Times Online

The city without a memory: treasures lost under collapsed Cologne archives - Times Online:

"Some of Germany's most valuable documentary treasures may have been destroyed, wiped out in the three minutes it took for a six-storey building to become a pile of smouldering brickwork on Wednesday afternoon.

The private papers of the Nobel prize-winning novelist Heinrich B�ll, one of Germany's most powerful postwar writers, have been lost under the rubble. They include the drafts of books, corrected manuscripts, letters and radio plays. The writer was born in Cologne and insisted before his death in 1985 that the papers be moved from Boston to his home town.

Lost, too, were manuscripts of essays and articles written by Karl Marx when he was editor of the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne in the 19th century.

This is a real disaster. With any luck it will be last as we rush to digitise everything.

Ten Best Drag Videos on YouTube

1. Maise Trollette and Phil. You don't have to say you love me"\
Great old fashioned drag

2. Dave Dale. I am What I am
Sheer brilliance

3. Peter Mac. Judy Garland Tribute

4. Craig Russell. does Judy Garland and her "son" Liza

5. Jim Bailey. Judy Garland "I could go on singing"

6. Adrella. Liza Minnelli at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Compare here

7. Lily Savage. Final Performance Part 1 and cf here

8. Regina Fong Typewriter Song Black Cap Dec 1992

9. Mimosa - Comme ils disent [What makes a man a man]
Cf Aznavour in French
and Liza in English

10 Regina Fong. Hollywood, Danny LaRue - Blackcap
Regina used both wit and tapes. She did not just mime.

Shockingly there is no live drag in Manchester today.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Funniest Thing about Gordon Brown in America

The British Prime Minister spoke today to a joint session of the US Congress.

The BBC Newsnight programme began with a British reporter stalking senators for comments. Guess who gave a super-enthusiastic welcome for Brown?

One Sen. Roland Burris.

I suppose you need to have your mind in two cultures, as I do, to see the absurdity.

Political Questions

Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issues on which you've ever changed your mind? >
I used to support Toryism. Being a Catholic moved me to the left, so that I am now a Democratic socialist. I used to be opposed to Nuclear power , but now think it's a good thing. I used to support the criminalization of abortion, but now, while I oppose abortion just as strongly, I think high quality sex education and supportive state welfare for mothers is a better way to reduce abortions (Compare the Netherlands with Brazil)

What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? >
Popperism - that we cannot be beholden to closed ideological systems.

What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? >
Scientific reductionism.

Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? >

Who are your political heroes? >
Harvey Milk, Clement Attlee, Barack Obama

If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? >
To stop the encroaching reach of the "database state"

What would you do with the UN? >
Develop it as a future basis for a kind of World Wide European Union.

What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? >
Global warming.

What personal fault do you most dislike? >

In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? >
The question is too hard. I would lie to save a life, but for other reasons as well. I think there are evil lies, minor lies, and white lies.

What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? >
Computer games

What, if anything, do you worry about? >
Umm. My health. My Dad's Health. My friends. My country. My world. Finding a husband. Whether we are alone in the universe. Whether people really go to hell. The usual things.

Who would play you in the movie about your life? >
Philip Seymour Hoffman

What are you reading at the moment? >
Stephen Oppenheimer: the Origins of the British. Brian Greene: The Fabric of the Cosmos; and Jean Genet: Our Lady of the Flowers

Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? >
Central Park South in New York

If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? >
Aidan Nichols OP (received me into the Catholic Church); Jane Cromar (I sponsored her as she entered the Church); Jesus (I have a lot of questions he would be in just the right position to answer.

What animal would you most like to be? >
A Panda

New Types of Scholarship

Thanks to a posting from BSANA for the reference to this

DHQ: Changing the Center of Gravity: Transforming Classical Studies Through Cyberinfrastructure
Winter 2009: v3 n1

Of particular interest, I think, for how transformational the mass digitisation of text will be is

Classics in the Million Book Library By Gregory Crane and others.

Some excerpts [and look at the reference system!]

2. On October 27, 2008, the number of books available from the
Internet Archive exceeded 1,000,000. While the million books is only a
fraction of the size of the seven million that Google boast, the
million books available from the Internet Archive are freely
downloadable – anyone can analyze them and publish the results. The
collection available from the Internet Archive provides the foundation
for transparent services and, even more important, transparent

7. This paper begins by stressing that we have moved beyond islands of
digital content in a vast sea of print. Where our first generation
collections were autonomous, carefully curated, discipline-specific
islands, we now see emerging a world where we dynamically generate
collections of heterogeneous materials from vast and constantly
expanding digital libraries over which no individual discipline or
project exercises control.

8. Our discussion then moves to the services that humanists need to
exploit very large collections. These include not only advanced
services for information extraction, multilingual technologies, and
visualization but simple access to the scanned page images with which
to support domain-optimized document analysis. These services require
the rise of a new, fourth generation of digital corpora. Our first
digital corpora included accurate transcriptions with markup of
surface features (e.g., we simply indicate that a word is in italics).
A second generation began to add semantic markup (e.g., a phrase is in
italics because it is the title of a work or a Latin quotation). The
third generation created much larger collections by shifting the focus
of manual labor from carefully edited typing to industrial scanning of
page images. We need fourth-generation collections that can seamlessly
integrate image-books, accurate transcriptions, and machine actionable
knowledge in various formats.

9 These fourth generation collections are a qualitatively new
phenomenon. They allow us to design collections that are not only more
comprehensive but more diverse than we could ever produce in print
culture. These collections are unbounded and can include not only
texts but every category of data about their subjects – high
resolution images, three-dimensional models, geographic data sets, and
anything that we can represent in digital form. Even if we restrict
ourselves to linguistic data, fourth generation collections are a
qualitative advance over print: we can include not only images of
neatly printed modern books but non-print representations of language
such as three dimensional models of words engraved on stone and
digital sound recordings.

13. We might summarize the current situation as follows: Google has begun
creating on-line a digital collection that would be more comprehensive
than the greatest university libraries ever produced – and the
university libraries themselves control the resources needed to do the
job were Google to falter: our retrospective collections are being
digitized. The OCA has created a public, scalable infrastructure
whereby we can, in fact, build high quality collections within the
existing library infrastructure: if massive projects miss anything,
smaller efforts can fill in the gaps and create curated collections.
The US government, under a conservative, pro-business administration,
has made the most profitable monopolies on which publishers had
depended illegal and declared open access a condition of its most
generous funding agency: the richest publishers must learn to make
money under open access.

It's all very interesting. It means any new Ph.Ds will easily be able
to come up with entirely new approaches.

The Worst Article in the History of the Guardian

About ass-wiping.

The New Me

Newer Picture.

Flip Book Access

I have only just become aware of the huge number of books very easily
accessible in PDF, Text, and "flipbook" at Web Archive

Just look what turns up on these searches:



Amazing, eh?

And even if the texts are old, many of them contain really nifty out
of copyright images and photographs just calling out to be used in

Plus, since the texts are searchable, it's a useful place to track
down plagiarism.

Blogging Again

I have been quiet for a year now, but I find I am posting a lot of Facebook, etc, and have stuff to say again. So I will try to blog for at least Lent and see how it goes.