Archive for November, 2006

The War of 1812

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

So I’m moving on to a War of 1812 documentary (man, I love these History Channel documentaries) as part of my daily exercise regimen (mental exercise, physical exersion) since I want to learn more about James Madison and his wife Dolley (she’s one of my favorite American patriots in history and has been for a long time), who single handedly preserved numerous artefacts of the American Revolution and prevented them from being burned by the British onslaught of Washington. Really. Dig. This. History. Thing.

I also just started reading a recent (September 2006) Biography of Thomas Paine (Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations) by Craig Nelson. Fantastic stuff, Nelson really helps me to understand the man more and the really unfortunate treatment he got – Roosevelt would later call him a “dirty little atheist” despite the fact that he was actually a Freemason (and therefore believed in the Supreme Being) and a deist. People really misunderstood this man and continue to do so, despite the great things he did for the United States. It makes my blood boil, for some reason, at the injustice of it all. I’ve spent a few hours over the last few evenings sitting in Boston, drinking various herbal teas and reading this book – it’s better than watching TV.

Paine’s writings were a battle cry against the British Government, his work directly lead to American Independence, helped the French Revolution against their Monarchy and first coined the term “The United States of America”. But because he also happened to criticise the established Church of the day, he was alienated by those who knew him – a man before his time in many ways. For all his good deads, he died a lonely, hated man whose remains would later be dug up in a stuff-of-fiction late night grave digging and lost to history. He’s the only Founding Father who has no giant statue celebrating his life (excepting the one in Thetford, UK) and I think that’s a truly sad state of affairs. Maybe, once we as a nation finally learn to accept that not everyone has to be overtly supportive of established religion (and that it’s ok to reason about it) then he’ll get his statue.

Part of me wishes they’d taught us American history in school, it’s far more interesting than British Monarchs I could never get excited about (because they’re unelected and I detest that). The history in this part of the United States is just mindblowingly interesting – it’s not all great (and there are many historical compromises that we have come to denounce), but it’s very very interesting stuff.


P.S. I enjoyed reading about The News Of The World Getting Fucked Over. They deserve it – a truly horrible “newspaper” from Murdoch’s empire and I hope they get everything that’s coming to them for tapping phonecalls of the rich and famous (I may not like the Monarchy, but this is unacceptable).

On Linode, UML, Xen…

Monday, November 27th, 2006

I’ve been experiencing performance issues on, due to the combination of low memory, UML and poor IO throughput under swap. For these and other reasons, I’ve decided that my linode account is going away shortly – I’m just completing the tranistion over to Turns out that Xen may not be the way of the future, but it’s damned better than shared UML.


Revolutionary War

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

“The House of Peers made no pretence To intellectual eminence, Or scholarship sublime”

– When Britain Really Ruled The Waves

Continuing in my quest for self reform, and my penchant for reading about the brave people behind the American Revolutionary War, I’ve been watching a History Channel series (13 parts – ever wondered why the networks really like those multiples? :P ) while working out. I’ve got a stationary bike hooked up and I’m trying to cycle around 10-15 miles a day in addition to my new diet (healthy, with a mix of vitamins – wikipedia has great articles on things you should and should not take) and walking regimin that I’ve imposed upon myself recently. Earlier, I walked from my apartment into Boston again – I just love a stroll across the Charles down to Park Street and around the Common.

I might need to ban myself from Amazon or Ebay at some point. I’ve been looking at more revolutionary writings (just bought a copy of Thomas Paine’s American Crisis this evening) – especially the rare antique variety. That could get expensive, if I let it.

I’ve been listening to a lot of G&S lately, and in a similar cultural vain am sorely tempted to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker this season.


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2006

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Photo: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2006

So I went to New York for the 80th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was interesting (and very very cold and wet) and an overall fun experience from the “had to be done at least once” viewpoint. “Unfortunately”, with it being Thanksgiving, I didn’t actually get to do any shopping as even Macy’s itself was closed :-)

The flightcrew on the flight back had to dispense sick bags to some kids due to the turbulance, which was understandable given that we were stuck at 17,000ft on the way back (it was worse still at 16,000ft on the way down). Maybe I’ll take the train next time.


UK to fingerprint everyone

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Earlier, the UK announced plans to flush itself down the toilet. Thanks to new government hysteria, you now won’t be able to walk down the street without police stopping and fingerprinting you. It’s already impossible to have a quiet drink in a pub without giving away your identity at the door but now they need to update the HM Wankerbase 9000(TM) with more life history.

And they don’t even see the police state coming.


More apartment photos

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Photo: My Living Room

I had a housewarming last night. I’d gotten my work done preparing this place just in time – worked through the night on Friday and all day Saturday unpacking boxes. But it was good to hang out in my own place – and kudos to cjb, mad, andyo, Konrad, pjones, and everyone else who came along to drink beer and hang out for a while. Afterward, I took the T to Park Street with some of the guys, with a view to seeing the Bond movie but that was sold (yes, even at midnight) so I wound up seeing Fast Food Nation. And that was a great movie – totally convinced me I could never eat mass produced meat even if I did eat meat (which I don’t) just because of how they treat the cattle and the workers who process it. It’s just a movie, but it’s got a basis in fact.

Anyway. I’m playing with AirTunes, listening to random 80s pop and slacking off for a while writing blog entries. My espresso machine is working again (on a very large transformer) so I expect I’ll be drinking a lot of coffee tonight.


Queen’s Speech

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

I was just catching up with the BBC News website, when I noticed that the Queen’s speech was today. This is an antiquated and pointless “speech” by the unelected Queen in which she reads from a script given to her by the (outgoing) Prime Minister of the day. She is obligated to read it from a first person perspective and make whatever outrageous statements that the government feel are justified for the next year.

I’ll go through the specifics of the speech when I have time, but I did notice that, yes, they have decided 2007 will be another year in which the British government won’t be bothering about basic human rights in favor of introducing yet more damaging and controlling legislation to keep tabs on the little people who elected them. Specifically, they’re going to push ahead with the following sheer folly:

  • Identity Cards. Yes, they really do want to force you to carry a plasticated card with a unique serial number, your inside leg measurements, sexual preference, side of the bed you get up on and whether you’ve recently criticized the UK government. It’ll be stored in the “UK Wankerbase 9000″, a giant government information system.
  • They can now forcefully evict you from your own home if you are anti-social. Anti-social behavior will now include speaking out against the folly of the British government and the fundamental failings of their entire system of governance.

There was various other horse shit in there, including yet more HM Department of Vague Paranoia (The Home Office) propaganda about the need to assume everyone is a criminal, outsource more of the HO to private enterprise and the need to write into a law a provision that Reid is not responsible for anything that goes wrong – that was all Mousey’s fault, and if that doesn’t work they can blame Blunkett and Straw.

Message to Blair: Orwell called, he wants your input on a new book.