Let It Go

Ruby is utterly obsessed with ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen. To be honest, so am I (just a little bit). I think it’s one of the finest, catchiest songs to come out in many a year.

This amazing video has been doing the rounds for a while, but it’s worth a watch. Brian Hull does an fantastic job using the various Disney/Pixar voices throughout.

Dave is turning

Dave is turning, originally uploaded by rutty.

59/365

This is my rehearsal copy of our Area piece: Berlioz’s La Carnaval Romain. I’ve been moved onto second cornet for this and rather enjoying the experience, although I have to sometimes think what the heck those notes under the stave are. Can you spot the bottom G#?

The instruction “Dave is turning” is there to remind me to turn the page so that my second cornet compatriot Bren can play a pianissimo bottom D in the next bar.

It’s a great, if rather ancient, piece of music, with some big tunes and lots of places for musical accidents. A good choice for the area I think

Music was my first love

Music was my first love, originally uploaded by rutty.

3/365

…and it will be my last.

One of those difficult-to-answer philosophical questions is something along the lines of “would you prefer to go blind or deaf?”

If I just had to choose (neither option sounds great fun to me) I would much prefer to go blind. I can cope without the internet (no, really) and you can get a lot of supporting technology to help with reading etc, but I could not cope without being able to listen to music.

A life without Mahler, Iron Maiden and the Black Dyke Mills Band? No thanks

Links for May 19th

Unpleasant Medicine

I think it’s significant that there’s no consensus on the larger-scale significance of environmental threats; indeed, our responses are severely polarized, as if these are debatable matters of opinion rather than ones with quantifiable facts attached.

Eyjafjallajoekull can potentially continue to erupt for years, massively disrupting long haul travel across the North Atlantic (especially if Katla follows its historic behaviour pattern and blows up after the smaller Eyjafjallajoekull eruption).

But there’s a tension between the two available responses — look for alternatives to lots of people and cargo flying through the affected air corridors, or change the tolerated level of atmospheric particles through which flight is permitted — and partisans of one approach or the other seem loath to discuss compromise.

Ronnie James Dio: An Appreciation | EW.com

As a teenage metal head I may have spent more time listening to Ronnie James Dio, who died today from cancer, than any other singer. This is partly because he was in so many darn bands—including Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Dio—but mostly due to the fact that he was just a terrific frontman with an operatic control of his vocal instrument that few have ever matched. There are many people who only know the man from his fondness for flashing “the Devil’s horns” or his cameo in the 2006 Tenacious D movie The Pick of Destiny. However, to a certain section of the metal-loving fraternity, Ronnie James Dio really is a legend.

How Britannia came to rule the waves – Science, News – The Independent

Hero worship at the expense of historical accuracy? Surely not. It has been portrayed as the story of the lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his day despite the hindering efforts of those ranged against him, saving thousands of lives.

On the one side was John Harrison, the self-taught clockmaker from a humble Yorkshire background. On the other, the 18th Century’s wealthy elite charged with the task of presiding over the problem of longitude – the knotty task of working out how far west or east a ship has sailed.

Harrison’s story has been the subject of a best-selling book and an award-winning film but science historians believe that the true account of how the problem of longitude was solved has yet to be told.

Roger Scruton – Gloom merchant

The belief that humanity makes moral progress depends upon a wilful ignorance of history. It also depends upon a wilful ignorance of oneself – a refusal to recognise the extent to which selfishness and calculation reside in the heart even of our most generous emotions, awaiting their chance. Those who invest their hopes in the moral improvement of humankind are therefore in a precarious position: at any moment the veil of illusion might be swept away, revealing the bare truth of the human condition. Either they defend themselves against this possibility with artful intellectual ploys, or they give way, in the moment of truth, to a paroxysm of disappointment and misanthropy. Both of these do violence to our nature. The first condemns us to the life of unreason; the second to the life of contempt. Human beings may not be as good as the shallow optimists pretend; but nor are they as bad as the prophets and curmudgeons have painted them.

Johann Hari: Welcome to Cameron land – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent

David Cameron cites Hammersmith and Fulham council as a ‘model’ of compassionate conservatism. So what can the actions of Tory councillors here tell us about how the party would behave in government?

The real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash

I’ve got a theory, and it’s this: Steve Jobs believes he’s gambling Apple’s future — the future of a corporation with a market cap well over US $200Bn — on an all-or-nothing push into a new market. HP have woken up and smelled the forest fire, two or three years late; Microsoft are mired in a tar pit, unable to grasp that the inferno heading towards them is going to burn down the entire ecosystem in which they exist. There is the smell of panic in the air, and here’s why …

Why Cory Doctorow is wrong about the iPad

BLOGGING IN RESPONSE to somebody else’s blog is not usually my style, but Cory Doctorow’s anti-iPad rant on BoingBoing is so well written that it demands active disagreement.

Essentially, Cory doesn’t like the iPad because it’s a closed platform. He takes several different common objections and twists them (in an intelligent way, not a stupid Peter Mandelson way) to support this view. But it is, ultimately, just a view, not an argument.

Sunday Sacrilege: The silliest story ever told

It’s Easter. Once again, the masses will gawp in awe at a bizarre and unbelievable story…because it is such a good example of how religion will piggy-back on our cognitive biases.

You all know the Easter story: a god turns into a man, gets tortured and killed, rises from the dead, and somehow this act makes us all better. It’s a tale best left unexamined, because it makes no sense. We are supposed to wallow in an emotional thrill that taps deep into our social consciousness, not think about what the story actually says.

Apple’s iPad is a touch of genius

It strikes you when you first touch an iPad. The form just feels good, not too lightweight or heavy, nor too thin or thick. It’s sensual. It’s tactile. And that moment is a good way to spot a first-timer, too, as I observed with a few test subjects. The dead giveaway for an iPad n00b is a pause, a few breaths before hitting the “on” switch, just letting it rest against the skin.

Flick the switch and the novelty hits. Just as the iPhone, Palm Pré and Android phones scratched an itch we didn’t know we had—somewhere between cellphone and notebook—the iPad hits a completely new pleasure spot. The display is large enough to make the experience of apps and games on smaller screens stale. Typography is crisp, images gem-like, and the speed brisk thanks to Apple’s A4 chip and solid state storage. [...]this is a greater leap into a new user experience than the sum of its parts suggests.

Lifesaving, safe vaccines

WHILE THERE are many debatable issues in the autism world, vaccines are no longer among them. This is a blessing for parents, children, and pediatricians. The real tragedy of the suggestion that vaccines cause autism is that millions of research dollars have been diverted to disprove a relationship that never existed to begin with

A number of large studies, in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Scandinavia, have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism. But this is an issue that doesn’t want to die, so pediatricians like me end up spending time reassuring parents that we truly have their children’s best interests at heart when we immunize them, that we are not in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry, and we read the literature with a healthy dose of skepticism.

I’m not the messiah, says food activist – but his many worshippers do not believe him

The trouble started when Raj Patel appeared on American TV to plug his latest book, an analysis of the financial crisis called The Value of Nothing.

The London-born author, 37, thought his slot on comedy talkshow The Colbert Report went well enough: the host made a few jokes, Patel talked a little about his work and then, job done, he went back to his home in San Francisco.

Shortly afterwards, however, things took a strange turn. Over the course of a couple of days, cryptic messages started filling his inbox.

Links for January 13th

France’s anti-piracy goon squad pirates the font in its logo Boing Boing

Hapodi, the French agency that’s in charge of the country’s new anti-piracy scheme (if someone you live with is accused of three acts of infringement, your whole household is taken offline and added to a list of address to which it is illegal to provide Internet access) has been accused of pirating the font used it its logo. The font designer is talking lawsuit. Hadopi says it wasn’t infringement, just an “error of manipulation.”

Armando Iannucci: Why I love Mahler

Throughout 2010 we’ll be celebrating the music of Gustav Mahler as never before. Mahler was born 150 years ago, on July 7, 1860. Poignantly, he died only 51 years later, bringing to a sudden end a startling cycle of great symphonic works that journeyed from brilliant, ostentatious orchestral impressions of nature and folksong, through lengthy studies of emotional turmoil and finally, under the strain of the heart condition he knew was going to end his life still in middle age, in extraordinary last symphonies exploring the darker and more extreme reaches of what orchestral music can achieve.

Britain’s Digital Economy Bill will cost ISPs £500M, knock 40K poor households offline Boing Boing

In the UK, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has tabled his “Digital Economy Bill,” a terrible piece of legislation that requires ISPs to police their customers on behalf of the music industry when the latter claims that its copyrights have been violated (no evidence necessary). The UK music industry blames piracy for £200 million in annual losses, and this is Mandelson’s excuse for abridging human rights and fundamental justice in his witch-hunt for pirates.

But the government’s own research shows that Mandelson’s plans will cost the UK ISP industry £500 million to implement, and when these costs are added to each customer’s bill (as they surely will be), the rise will be enough to knock an estimated 40,000 British families off the Internet.

The Galilean Revolution, 400 years later | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

Four hundred years ago tonight, a man from Pisa, Italy took a newly-made telescope with a magnifying power of 33X, pointed it at one of the brighter lights in the sky, and changed mankind forever.

The man, of course, was Galileo, and the light he observed on January 7, 1610 was Jupiter. He spotted “three fixed stars” that were invisible to the eye near the planet, and a fourth a few days later.

Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, and Conde Nast being sued by anti-vaccinationist : Terra Sigillata

Thanks to the always vigilant eyes of Liz Ditz, Ratbags.com is reporting that pediatric immunologist and vaccine developer Dr. Paul Offit, writer Amy Wallace, and Condé Nast (publisher of Wired magazine) are being sued for libel in US District Court by Barbara Loe Fisher, founder and acting president of the so-called National Vaccine Information Center.

Readers will recall that Wallace’s article on Dr. Offit and the fear and misinformation propagated by anti-vaccinationists was the centerpiece of a feature in Wired magazine aptly titled, “Epidemic of Fear.”

My short take: The lawsuit is an attempt to silence or intimidate those who speak out against individuals and organizations that threaten public health. When scientific facts accumulate that refute their views, the response is to file frivolous legal action.

’tis a bit nippy, guvnah! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

As I write this, it’s about -15 C outside where I live in Boulder, and even the snow looks like it’s shivering. So I’m not sure if I’m happy to share the grief or feel badly about the weather for folks in the UK, who generally don’t get (metric, I suppose) tons of snow. But then I saw this image from NASA’s Earth observing Terra satellite:

Bono’s “One” Ignorant Idea

U2 frontman and humanitarian Bono had a page-long op-ed in this past Sunday’s New York Times, where he describes what he calls “10 ideas that might make the next 10 years more interesting, healthy or civil. Some are trivial, some fundamental. They have little in common with one another except that I am seized by each, and moved by its potential to change our world.” So let’s look at some issues that made the list…. a twist on cap and trade, fighting the rotavirus, new cancer research, the rise of Africa and… limiting the scourge of file sharing.

Yes, that’s right, file sharing, clearly one from the “trivial” category. Bono blames Internet Service Providers for “this reverse Robin Hooding” which he says hurts “the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales….” His “big” idea for stopping the scourge? Enforcement of copyright through deep packet inspection and filtering

Vaccines work

I just wanted to post this graph, which I found while researching vaccinations.

Bono net policing idea draws fire

Bono, frontman of rock band U2, has warned the film industry not to make the same mistakes with file-sharing that have dogged the music industry.

Writing for the New York Times, Bono claimed internet service providers were “reverse Robin Hoods” benefiting from the music industry’s lost profits.

He hinted that China’s efforts prove that tracking net content is possible.

The editorial drew sharp criticism, both on its economic merits and for the suggestion of net content policing.

Bono: reinforcing the fact that so many people think he’s a DICK

I’m a little horny

So, Christmas is nearly here. The goose is getting fat, or at least it’s getting ready for pickup from the local farm shop.

There’s no escaping it: I get to play a lot of Christmas Carols.

It’s not that I dislike Christmas or anything but after 30-odd years of playing the same tunes out in the wet and cold English winter it starts to get on your tits a bit.

Happily, I’ve quite enjoyed it this year. We’ve played some Carols while a local man opened his yearly display on his own house and generally played Carols in the warm insides of places.

I even got to play at work this week, hence the attached photo. It turns out that there are a few brass banders working here and so we got together as “Ansty Brass” to play morale-raising Christmas tunes to our fellow workers.

We’ve had some nice comments about our playing too, which was really nice. Plus I got to wear my 97p reindeer horns.

I’ll be playing more Carols in the Market Square in Nottingham tomorrow if anyone’s around. It’ll be cold so don’t forget to wear a vest.

Links for December 14th

Cleaners ‘worth more to society’ than bankers – study

Hospital cleaners are worth more to society than bankers, a study suggests.

The research, carried out by think tank the New Economics Foundation, says hospital cleaners create £10 of value for every £1 they are paid.

It claims bankers are a drain on the country because of the damage they caused to the global economy.

They reportedly destroy £7 of value for every £1 they earn.

Why AOL Time Warner failed to change the world

Was there ever a deal like the one which saw AOL merge with Time Warner in January 2000?

It took place during the biggest bubble the stock market had ever experienced, and it marked the final triumph of the internet over the old media.

Or so it seemed at the time.

Libel Reform

Our libel laws are a menace, but not to journalists, or even to doctors: they are a menace to you. Put very simply, when you restrict the free criticism of medical ideas and practices, you harm patients and the public.

Major Labels Accused Of $6 Billion Worth Of Copyright Infringement In Canada

The major labels and their friends like to throw around huge numbers of “damages” when it comes to copyright infringement. But how about when they’re on the receiving end of a copyright infringement lawsuit. Up in Canada, there’s a class action lawsuit against the Canadian divisions of all of the major record labels, suggesting that the labels have infringed on the copyrights of artists to the tune of $6 billion

The arguments made by climate change sceptics

At the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, 192 governments are aiming for a new global agreement to constrain greenhouse gas emissions and curb human-induced climate change.

But some commentators are unconvinced that rising greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of modern-day warming. Or they say the world is not actually getting warmer – or that a new treaty would hurt economic growth and well-being.

So what are their arguments, and how are they countered by scientists who assert that greenhouse gases, produced by human activity, are the cause of modern-day climate change?