Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Internet, you have pleased me

I don't know if this is real, but apparently rumblr is like grindr but for fights. You can taunt each other online first to get into the mood.

These people will put a tweet into cuneiform (Persian from circa 500 BC), bake it onto clay, and post it to you. This is some consolation for the fact that it looks like you can no longer get one of Kanye's tweets hand embroidered to order.

I tried singing this song to my cat. She immediately left the room. I respect her for that.

Asian Mike Lavin And His Cat from Andy C on Vimeo.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Things I have considered calling my cat

So I have a cat now. She came from a rescue shelter, where she had been for four of the six years of her life. We had a difficult start, but we seem to be getting on better. It's not her fault that really I wanted a dog, but couldn't afford the daycare. But it is her fault that I have big red scars on my legs. So, swings and roundabouts. I have no idea what's going on in her head, not even a smidgeon of a jot of an idea. It might be nothing, or it might be something really really complex.

This is actually her name, and I'm sticking with it. It's a fine name. If she'd been called Snookums I might have had to change it but Minxie captures her pretty well. She's quite nice but not reliable. She went to the shelter because she took against her owner's new husband and baby. I totally would not trust her with a baby.

I once decided that if I got a dog I would call her Bella, so I could shout 'Chow Bella' at dinner time. Minxie is not a dog though. If she were a dog I think I'd know how to communicate with her. Also Bella just isn't a very good name.

Victoria Regina
She's really not amused. She is not prepared to play. I've mostly given up trying to get her to. Also even if she does make a leap for a toy, if I twitch it out of the way at the last minute in a playful manner she gets embarrassed and has to pretend she was actually leaping at something else -- or if she puts her paw up to pat it but isn't quick enough she has to pretend she was stretching her foreleg out to lick it instead. I don't understand this. There's only me and her here, and she's missed the boat on dignity where I'm concerned, I clean up her poo.
Apparently Queen Victoria was often amused, but I still bet she wouldn't leap after a mouse on a piece of elastic.

I was reading some seventeenth-century will inventories with notes and came across the word 'snarlygoggs', which apparently is a Devon dialect word for the rough stuff left in the dregs when cider is made, which was often in turn used to make illegal cider brandy. Minxie does snarl at me -- not so much now as before. I came up with a policy which was that if she snarled and hissed I would hiss back and not look away, though I was actually a bit scared of her for a while. I think that at first she was hoping that she could be boss. She's welcome to manipulate me, but I won't be bullied. I don't think I could live with a pet that frightened me.

She's a lazy cat, which is great, but unfortunately she turns out to be quite intelligent, which is not so good. She gets bored. I've got her some cat puzzles, most successfully this treat maze. She has to push the treats down the holes to make them fall out at the bottom. Since I got it our interactions have improved, and she asks for treats to be put in it -- she seems to prefer them like that rather than just given to her. Once I have put the treats in she sits and studies it intently like a chess player planning her first move. She also has a ball which intermittently dispenses treats as it's rolled around. Once it's empty she likes to dribble it to me like a footballer and repeatedly roll it against my feet. I like it when I know what she wants. (Obviously in this case her name would have to be Kaspurrov.)

Not that she's merry, but I read Shirley Jackson's American Gothic classic 'We have always lived in the castle', and this is the name for her if what's going on in her head is lots and lots of things. (Also although I've never read any of her books, Edwidge Danticat is a brilliant name.)

Emma Bovary
I think this fits her character quite well. She really really wants, but I don't know what she wants, and I'm not sure she does. She wants to be inside and outside at the same time. She wants me to do something but whatever I try is not that thing. She wants me to open the door so she can go outside, but not that outside, an outside where it's not raining. But I've gone off giving tragic names to pets since when I was fourteen I called our new puppy Tess after Tess of the D'Urbervilles and she died young and horribly. We then got another puppy from Tess's mother's next litter and I called her Eliza-Louisa after 'Liza-Lou, Tess's younger sister whom Angel marries in the book. My family humoured me about all these names, though we actually called her Elly day-to-day, and she lived to a very good dog age. (And anyway the cat's name would clearly have to be something like Emmew Bovary or Emma Bofurry.)

Mini me
She's grumpy, overweight and lazy, doesn't like men or children, gets bored easily and makes herself miserable by over-thinking things. If she could type she'd probably be blogging about me right now. Alternatively, she's a space so blank I can see anything reflected in it...

I have occasionally called her Snookums when she curls up on my lap and purrs loudly. I think we'll get on ok in the long term. She keeps making my kitchen smell awful, but if I learnt one thing from the sitcom Friends it's that that's not her fault.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Ow my mind

Our new super computer will have a quarter of a million cores.

A quarter of a million cores!

This just blew my mind so much that I had to post it, even though I'm at work and shouldn't really be writing a blog post. EDIT: turns out that's just the next phase. When it's finished it will have 480 000 cores!!! !1!!!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Videos on the internet

1. How creepy is this? Know your place, women!

2. On the other hand, this evasive dog is very excellent.

3. Hurray for John Oliver! Unfortunately his thing about online harassment is not available in the UK, but this one is quite good:

Thursday, 7 May 2015


My local polling station is at the church up the road. I went on my way home from work. There was a long line of people outside, but it turned out they weren't waiting to vote, but queueing for the Thursday evening soup kitchen. That's politics for you.

Monday, 4 May 2015


1. Soon after writing my blog entry on Exclusion and 'In the Light of What We Know' I read Joyce Carol Oates' 'The Accursed'. Stephen King said of it that it "may be the world's first postmodern Gothic novel", overlooking that Oates herself has already written several postmodern Gothic novels, but you can't really blame him for not being familiar with her oeuvre because she is scarily prolific, and produces a new book about twice a year. Anyway I enjoyed 'The Accursed' hugely, but I did wonder how African American readers would find it. The narrator, unreliable to the extent that he even appears in his own narrative as a baby possibly sired by the devil, tells of terrible hauntings and supernatural crimes in early twentieth-century Princeton, starting when no one will speak out against the lynching of a young black man and his sister. The book concerns itself entirely with the white and variously privileged members of the Princeton community, and I wondered whether it might be offensive to a black reader that the black people in this book are there only to be transgressed against. On the other hand Oates does make it clear that the refusal of the WASPs to engage with the African Americans as human beings is the terrible flaw that destroys their ordered society, and there didn't seem to be any such awareness in 'In the Light of What We Know'. Heigh ho. I expect everyone has different reactions.

2. I'm rereading Neal Stephenson's 'Baroque Trilogy', a series which comes to the conclusion that the continued existence of slavery will undermine even something as fine as Hanoverian England. It's hard from this perspective of now to see Hanoverian England as such a great thing, but I suppose it was better than having the Jameses back. I love these books but have not so far managed to persuade anyone else how great they are.

3. It turns out that K.J. Parker is a man. I feel a bit disappointed by this, though I know that's sexist of me. On the plus side he chose 'Parker' because it's a pen name... The books are great, especially the Engineer Trilogy, which starts with 'Devices and Desires'. Not many people convey the amazingness of precision engineering -- I suppose he has a lot in common with Neal Stephenson in that regard.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Deja vuuu-uuu

Who can sing like Sia? Very few people. Is there a 74-year-old more groovy than Giorgio Moroder? I sincerely doubt it! (Though my mum has 11 years to catch up.)

This is available on YouTube but in a slightly less 'up' version, so I'm going to have a go at embedding a gadget I stole off of popjustice:

I heart pop, I really do. This on repeat is going to be the soundtrack to a long weekend trying to make Nasa's WorldWind work on a borrowed MacBook.