Friday, 24 March 2017

Five go mad in Romania

After reading this account of a ramble in the Romanian hills by a self-described spiritual adventurer, author, channel (?) and founder of something called "Soul Body Fusion®", I 'm torn between a resolution never, ever to go on a New Age hiking trip and the urge to sign up immediately, just for the lolz:
I slept poorly, experiencing a dream vision that lasers from a massive American military vehicle were pointed at my head, causing pain and strange sensations that seemed to be scrambling my brain. In the dream I tried to hide behind boulders to stay away from the destructive laser beams. The feeling that I had been ‘messed with’ was with me for weeks. It seems that my concentration and memory were affected.

It was clear to me that the dream vision was about frequencies being beamed from a huge, rather sinister looking, red and white antennae [sic] that was positioned on a peak not far from our hut and the Romanian Sphinx. (This photo doesn’t indicate how massive the antennae is.)

Others in the group felt negative energies, that they also assumed was from the tower. A small group of us did what energy work we could to try to mute the harmful frequencies.

We meditated in the bunk room of the hut, high atop one of Romania’s sacred mountains, asking White Eagle what our spiritual tasks were for that day. Following his channeled guidance, we began with a meditation to bring the 12 Solar Discs of Illumination into this reality.
On a slightly more worrying note, this excursion is probably no madder than an average day of politics as usual in the Age of Trump (compare that sinister, mind-warping "antennae" with the magic microwave that's been spying on The Donald, according to Kellyanne Conway).

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

"I have a cunning plan..."

"Er, Baldrick, I think they've guessed what our cunning plan is..."
Not only have we Brits proved ourselves less pragmatic than the wily continentals, but now we're also losing our much-vaunted sense of humour, angrily ranting on about "enemies of the people", while they still seem able to see the funny side of things.

Mind you, it must be a lot easier to see the funny side if you're not actually in that boat...

Monday, 20 March 2017

The inscrutable eyeball machine

This piece contains an interesting insight into the business of advertising on Facebook. Here are the startling bits:
Facebook faces a business problem; it’s [sic] unaudited “internal company data” has been, at times, grossly inaccurate; that is, it may be selling eyeballs, but in 2016 buyers don’t really know which eyeballs, how many, and where...

...Facebook has formed alliances with other third-party verification firms, including the Media Rating Council...
Which sounds fair enough, except, being the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Facebook gets to choose what those pesky auditors are allowed to see:
...Facebook chooses what data to submit. I’ll note that if we were back in the print world, this would like locking the auditor into a room, and handing him a report of how many papers were delivered, instead of letting him look at the trucks or the loading dock. In other words, it’s the metric that’s certified, but not the data driving the metric, or the algorithm creating that data.
To most people, this wouldn't seem like the right way to do auditing, but I guess that when you're the 800-pound gorilla in a relationship "right" = whatever suits you:
Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
Interesting stuff, although I don't think this power relationship shows that Facebook faces a business problem.

It looks to me as though business faces a Facebook problem, at least until it finds a way to look inside the black box of Facebook's eyeball machine.

 Image credit Wellcome Library, London

Thursday, 16 March 2017


"This is London. We interrupt this broadcast..."

Taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union looks complex, difficult and very risky to most people who actually seem to know about these things.  So it's a bit odd that the people responsible for overseeing the whole multi-billion pound process haven't even bothered with the sort of token risk assessment which you'd routinely apply to a supply teacher tasked with taking a moderately heavy box of exercise books down from the stationery cupboard shelf.

With only days to go before the UK government takes this (probably irrevocable) step, there's not really enough time to rectify the alarming lack of anything that looks remotely like a plan.

Now might at least be a good time, though, to alert the public to the seriousness of what's about to happen when Article 50 is finally triggered. Fortunately, a ready-made template for such an eventuality already exists:
...a highly detailed plan of how the nation will be told and what happens in the next days and hours will swing into action...

...From the Foreign Office’s Global Response Centre in London the news will go out to the 15 governments outside the UK where the Queen is also the head of state, and the 36 other nations of the Commonwealth for whom she has served as a symbolic figurehead.

The public will find out in a newsflash after newspapers and television and radio stations have been told.

At Buckingham Palace a footman will pin a black-edged notice to the gates and the palace website will be transformed into a sombre, single page, showing the same text.

At commercial radio stations a blue "Obit Brexit light" will glow to tell DJs to play appropriate music and go to news at the next available moment.

BBC One, Two and Four will be interrupted and revert to their respective idents – an exercise class in a village hall, a swan waiting on a pond- and then the news will come on.

Listeners to Radio 4 and Radio 5 live will hear the specific formulation of words, “This is the BBC from London."

Both houses of parliament will be recalled, people will go home from work early, and aircraft pilots will announce the news to their passengers.
That might just alert the UK citizenry to the seriousness of what's going on. It's a pity that it will probably already be too late to do anything about the serious thing that just happened. But at least the script will come in handy again one day when the Queen finally pops her clogs (assuming that there's still a UK for her to be ex-queen of by then).

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Laundry tip of the day

In a moment of clumsiness, I recently managed to spill several blobs of Evo Stik contact adhesive onto a sweatshirt. It's fairly heavy-duty glue, and I didn't notice the spillage until it had completely hardened, so I pretty much assumed that was the end of that particular garment. As it happened, some of the glue hadn't soaked in and I was able to pick those bits off with a fingernail, but there was still a fair amount of soaked-in dried glue left.

A not-very hopeful interrogation of Mr Internet mainly returned suggestions involving the use of toluene-based substances, like paint thinners, which sounded a bit messy and smelly. I figured that dampening the affected areas with water, then freezing the sweatshirt might conceivably shift the worst of it, with the water in the damp fibres turning to ice, expanding under the glue and so loosening it (I also hoped that freezing might weaken the glue itself and make it easier to flake off).

In fact, wetting and freezing was more powerful than I could possibly imagine. Never mind getting rid of the worst of it; once frozen and thawed, all the remaining glue blobs were easily flaked off and, one cool wash later, not a trace remains. As good as new.

There's not much I've ever done about the general state of the world, except whinge about it occasionally, but when it comes to the specific domain of adhesive-damaged clothing, I have truly become the change I wish to see in the world.

Well, it's a start.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Crash course

If you've got ten minutes to spare, watching the vid below would be a fun and informative way to use it. If this guy had been around when I was studying history at school, I'd know a lot more about the subject - and, more importantly, I'd want to know more: