Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

Linkblogging For 13/03/10

Posted in books, comics, computing, Doctor Who, linkblogging, politics, science by Andrew Hickey on March 13, 2010

Apologies for the radio silence for the last few days (Tilt, I’ll try to get that track to you at some point…) but I’ve been suffering from exhaustion – not just tiredness, but proper unable-to-function-in-any-coherent-way, barely-able-to-stand,unable-to-focus-the-eyes exhaustion – for the last week. For that reason today’s post will just be linkblogging. I hope I’m coherent enough to think tomorrow… I really want to do some comics posts soon…

Via Laurie Penny, whose article on it you should read, The Give Your Vote campaign exists for people who don’t want to vote, because they don’t think it changes anything or whatever. If you don’t want to use your vote, and you sign up, they’ll let you know how one person in a country affected by Britain’s foreign policy would vote had they the option. As someone married to an immigrant who can’t vote, and also as someone who’s often wished he could vote in the USian elections (because their foreign policy dictates ours to such a large extent) I think this is a fantastic idea (assuming the people are picked more-or-less randomly).

Lesswrong have a post on Goodhart’s Law, which states that “once a social or economic measure is turned into a target for policy, it will lose any information content that had qualified it to play such a role in the first place.” Quite fascinating stuff.

Someone – Wesley, I think – posted a link to this in the comments ages ago, but I’ve only just got round to reading it – a free online version of Newtons Sleep, the most recent Faction Paradox novel. I haven’t finished this yet, and won’t be doing an ABC post on it as that’s only for books I read in paper form, but it seems pretty good and I’m about 2/3 of the way through.

The Mindless Ones have another post on the identity of Doctor Hurt, given the extra information in the new issue of Batman & Robin.

A great post on Science News that talks about how “in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims”, due to unscientific nonsense like meta-analyses. (The basis of much of the talk about ‘evidence based medicine’ by people like Ben Goldacre, who refer to Cochrane reviews as ‘gold standard’, meta-analyses as currently practiced are the least scientific things I’ve ever come across. If anyone’s interested in why, I could forward them a copy of the paper ”Implications and insights for human adaptive mechatronics from developments in algebraic probability theory” (S. Hickey, A. Hickey, L. Noriega 2009), or they could take my word for it, but this article covers *some* of it…)

A judge has ruled that Echostar, a manufacturer of Digital Video Recorders, must send all its customers an ‘update’ that breaks their machines, after it was found to infringe on a patent. Not only does this show the stupidity of software patents, but it also shows why DRM’d, non-free-software devices like the iPad or the Kindle are such bad ideas. If I buy a computer, then I don’t want the manufacturers to have the power to break it any time they feel like it, or any time they’re given the order by a court. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, the people who bought that device did so in good faith, and don’t deserve to have it broken .

And finally, Holly has pointed me to this masterpiece – someone’s Amazon reviews of the Mister Men books. “If ‘1984’ or ‘The Trial’ had been a children’s book, Mr Messy would be it. No literary character has ever been so fully and categorically obliterated by the forces of social control. Hargreaves may well pay homage to Kafka and Orwell in this work, but he also goes beyond them. ” Genius.

Linkblogging For 30/01/10

Posted in linkblogging by Andrew Hickey on January 30, 2010

Well, that was unexpected… I never realised Norfolk Blogger was such a popular blog, but thanks almost exclusively to his link to my iPad post I got a thousand more visitors than usual on Thursday…

I’ll be doing one of the book club posts later tonight, and another tomorrow, (and replacing the comics post I *was* going to do with a Superman Pop-Drama on Monday) but I thought that if any of that gargantuan number are still sticking around, I should probably point them to other things they may like.

Alex Wilcock is posting (and revising) the text of his Love & Liberty as part of a ‘What the Lib Dems Stand For’ series. He’s also rightly angry about Blair and the Iraq inquiry. (Comments to the latter have unfortunately become Neil Craig’d)

Will Howells pointed me to this interesting-looking blog looking at each Beatles album one at a time.

Jazz Hands Serious Business is as unimpressed by the iPad as I am.

The Mindless Ones have a competition to see who can come up with the best British-stereotype supervillain.

Debi, rather bravely, writes about an earlier post she’d made which some perceived as racist, and accepts some of their criticisms.

And Andrew Rilstone has released a second book. Very different from his earlier Watchmen book, called ‘Where Dawkins Went Wrong’ this is a collection of his writings on religion, and especially his utter and absolute demolishing of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. It’s literally impossible to have any intellectual respect left for Dawkins after reading Rilstone’s analysis of his work. The majority of my readers would consider themselves at least mildly anti-religion – if you want proof that it is possible to be a liberal, decent, intelligent, articulate writer while still being a believing Christian, then you should read this.

(NB, this is not to be taken as me stating anything about my own religious beliefs or lack of same – I have very deliberately and consciously refused *any* discussion of what or whether I believe when it comes to religion on this blog, because it’s a subject on which I think it’s literally impossible to talk sensibly. Anyone who really wants to know can always ask off-blog).

Linkblogging for 10/08/09

Posted in comics, computing, linkblogging, politics by Andrew Hickey on August 10, 2009

I’m going to link to a few things here, but the only one I really care about is this – Andrew Rilstone’s new pdf ‘zine, with which he’s broken his five-month blog silence. I’ve only read the first quarter, but I can already say it’s one of the best things (if not *the* best) I’ve read on comics this year – a series of discursive essays on Watchmen – film and book, childhood, Stan Lee , silver age Supergirl comics and 1940s Superman radio shows sponsored by Kellog’s Pep (but mostly Watchmen). I think Pillock will especially like this, but everyone should have a look.
ETA After reading the whole thing, I can safely say it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever read about Watchmen, and one of the best things Rilstone’s ever done.

In other news – Charlotte Gore isn’t a witch, she’s a nutter.

A good post on women in free software, asking among other things what can be learned from the experiences of Dreamwidth.

I don’t know why I haven’t linked it before, but I hope you’ve all been reading RIck Veitch’s Subtleman strip…

And Bruce Schneier has a good post on risk intuition.

Some actual content tomorrow – probably comics-based – as well as my return to Twitter (I hope). Been a very busy week at work…

Angry Linkblogging for 08/06/09

Posted in books, comics, computing, linkblogging, politics by Andrew Hickey on June 8, 2009

Because I’m still too furious about the Bastard Nazi Party and racist UKIP getting seats, I can’t possibly write about something as pure and good as Seaguy. Not while the acid indigestion is so bad that I can’t even think. I’ll do a Seaguy review tomorrow if I have the stomach for it, and some time later this week I’ll write about the real causes of this whole sorry mess we find ourselves in. But for now, some links.

(Oh, and to everyone who’s commenting on my earlier posts, saying “It’s not racist to want to kill niggers want to kick out all the immigrants”, I have let one post through to represent you all. Anyone else commenting in that vein (including the original poster when he posted again) is getting marked as spam. Either you mean well but have no understanding of the issues, in which case you should shut up until you actually have the beginnings of a clue, or you’re deliberately trying to rationalise hatred. As I’m married to a disabled immigrant, I’m not going to use my website to host the views of those who would see my wife at best kicked out of the country and at worst murdered.)

In the meantime, here are some links:

Slashdot have a link to a story about bugs in voting machines adding thousands of extra votes for one candidate. This is why firstly voting should always be done with a paper trail, and secondly why if you are going to use a voting machine, the software should be free, inspectable by everyone.

Justin reminds us that the Bastard Nazis aren’t the only evil anti-immigrant scum around – New Labour are pretty awful themselves.

Mark points out, rightly, that proportional representation is not to blame for the BNP gains, despite what various smug Labourites are saying to try to deflect as much blame as possible from their government’s utter failure.

A blog that started a month ago, but is still only just beginning, Dracula Feed is posting Dracula in real-time (for those who haven’t read it, it’s an epistolary novel made up of diary entries and letters – the blog is posting them on the days on which they’re dated).

Charlie Brooker has discovered Spotify.

Anton Vowl’s analysis of the cause for the catastrophe is pretty much the same as mine.

Botswana Beast has a look at Batman & Robin 1, as the first of the Mindless Ones’ series on this comic.

And just in case you thought Britain was the only country that seems to be descending into barbarism, Obama wants people in Guantanamo to be given the ‘choice’ to be executed without trial.

Linkblogging for 02/09/08

Posted in comics, computing, Doctor Who, films, linkblogging, politics by Andrew Hickey on September 2, 2008

I was hoping to write a review of That Lucky Old Sun today, but my pre-ordered CD/DVD hasn’t arrived yet (other internet orders made in the last two weeks that haven’t arrived – Leonard Cohen tickets, a Doctor Who box set, and a bottle of melatonin tablets, all from different online shops. I’m beginning to think the people in one of the upstairs flats may have something to do with this…)

Bots’wana Beast over at the Mindless Ones has reviewed Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D, in a review he was nice enough to compare with mine, but his is better. I’m hoping to touch more on the themes from that comic later this week, as there’s a lot to say there…

A very different comic link – yesterday Dial B For Blog held a day of celebration for Gaspar Saladino, a legendary comic letterer. That link takes you to a list of participating sites (especially check out Todd Klein’s always insightful posts) while this is the start of Dial B’s own 24-hour, one-post-every-two-hours, celebration of Saladino’s work.

Stephen Fry has (oddly, for a Mac person) done a video wishing happy birthday to GNU. While I’m not an absolutist in my support of free software (I do, after all, work for a proprietary software company, and I also use a very small number of non-free apps at home – Gnome Inform7 because it’s a wonderful piece of free-as-in-beer software and maybe the nicest programming language (albeit specialised) I’ve ever come across , Scilab because it’s a standard program I need for my research, and unrar for opening cbr files (all of those are ‘open source’ and freely available, but not free software by the FSF’s definition) ) I do think the GNU project and Richard Stallman aren’t given nearly enough credit for their achievements.
In particular, I’ve made certain to always refer to GNU/Linux in writing, since I discovered that several computing students I work with, all of whom run ‘Linux’ , had no idea who’d written the compilers and other software they used every day.
(I’d disagree with the video in its recommendation of gNewSense as a distro to use if you’re interested in Free Software though. It won’t work on many new systems because some video card makers and similar keep their designs secret, making it nearly impossible to write a totally free OS for new hardware. If you’re new to Free Software, I’d go for Debian GNU/Linux, which has the tiny minimal programs you’ll need to run your hardware but is otherwise totally free, or Ubuntu, which is easier to install but in my limited experience slightly less stable.)

Andrew Rilstone reviews the last two episodes of the most recent series of nuWho. I’m very glad he did so, because Grant Morrison’s comments on how the story with Davros has parallels with his own Final Crisis even though they were conceived independently almost persuaded me to watch it.

Brad Hicks has two fascinating posts about McCain picking Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nomination.

And RIP Don LaFontaine (for those of you who don’t know the name, you do know his voice. He’s the man who did the voiceover for pretty much every film trailer of the last 30 years).

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