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Monday, May 31, 2004

Ever wonder how the mullet ("Hairstyle of the Gods") got its name? Well, the short version is, we don't really know. The longer and more entertaining version is here. And Absolut Vodka have just shot a Bollywood-style history of the "do" in question: you need patience to get past the Flash-heavy intro, just click on Absolut Mullit when you do.

Some things just plain refuse to die.

San Francisco quails as African Clawed Toads run amok. Rob Floerke, Regional Manager of the California Department of Fish and Game says that, "You can't poison these frogs. You can't blow them up. There's no way to get rid of them."

Welcome (well, by a gardener anyway) change in the weather as large dollops of badly needed rain descend on the land. The sun is good for growth, but without a helping of H2O, the plants don't really get legs under them.

Visit from former Hunter's Brook neighbours, T&L, on Saturday. Sunday, we went over to Wicklow town and had a Thai Sunday dinner with C.

Not only did the letter get published, but it made "What It Said In the Papers" on RTE1 Saturday morning.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Banged off a letter to the IT as follows:


With regard to the emerging tax scandal at AIB (Irish Times, 28 May):

If you have a few tools in the back of a van, and you neglect to pay a couple of thousand euro in tax, you are a "tax dodger".

If you are a publican, farmer or developer with some hundreds of thousands parked offshore, you are a "tax evader".

If you are a senior banking official stinging the public purse for eye-watering sums of money, you have "tax issues".

Yours sincerely, etc.

Went down to Leighlinbridge yesterday on an afternoon off. Carlow was looking its finest with the hedges all white with blossoms. West of Leighlin is Old Leighlin with its ecclesiastical village and cathedral, and over the Kilkenny border in the hill country is Coon, for all the world like a little piece of Somerset. Bucolic is the word that springs to mind - sturdy kine grazing in the water meadows, sturdy farmers wobbling home after a feed of ale, etc.

We took Scubs for a walk along the towpath, and visited the Arboretum Garden Centre.
Had a look at the location of Dinn Rigg, old seat of the High Kings of Leinster, and I'm impressed by the determination of my friend S. who actually tackled the Fort-Knox-like defense system of the massive stud farm it's located on. I didn't think Aisling and Scooby would be much up to scaling those walls, so I yielded the field to S.

The Lord Henry Bagenal was unfortunately mobbed with a coach tour, so we hied our way home via Harrow Cross and the Fighting Cocks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The starlings who nested in our eaves have hatched their brood, and now the offspring are mobbing the garden, hanging out in the sceach (whitethorn bush) that bounds the property, and in general acking like extras from Hitchcock's "The Birds". They really are the shiny-track-suit end of the bird social spectrum. The swifts we had in the same location last year were much classier. Now I'll have to go up, clean out all the starling mess, and hang a pendant in the flight-path to the eave, so they don't come back next year.

Leibowitz's Rule: When hammering a nail, you will never hit your finger if you hold the hammer with both hands.

ISM for the day


English usage that is peculiar to Britain.

ORIGIN: Britain
BACKGROUND: Here are some sample Briticisms:

all up in the gaff: disorganised
ballistic: intensely irritated
bloke: a male
cakehole: mouth
cheeky: a wiseguy or smart arse
copper: policeman
to cop it: to get in trouble
damage: cost
dodgy: shady
done over: beaten up (He was done over by the coppers.)
For crying out loud!: For God's sake!
full monty: the entire take, all that is desired
funny farm: a mental institution
gab: to talk a lot
gaff: place of residence
gander: to look at
geezer: an old man
git: a dislikeable person
grub: food
hacked off: annoyed (He was really hacked off at that copper.)
having it off: sex
ickle: tiny
iffy: doubtful
inside: in gaol
jammy: lucky
kick the bucket: to die
kip: sleep
knackered: tired
larging it: to live on a heroic scale (especially with regard to drink and drugs)
lip: smart talk
lost the plot: gone crazy
mental: crazy
minger: an unattractive girl
mitts: hands
munchies: food
naff: in poor taste
nutter: a crazy person
out of your tree: crazy
pop your clogs: to die
rug: wig
scrounge: to beg
shag: to have sex with
snog: a prolonged exploratory kiss
tanked: intoxicated
toerag: a hobo
trots: diarrheoa
up for it: to be available, especially for sex
wanker: An insult, implying a person is "full of it"

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

ISM of the Day

Big Brotherism

APPROACH: “Big Brother is watching you.”

A synonym for totalitarianism, with an emphasis on the surveillance aspects of the totalitarian state.

ORIGIN: Named after the head of state in George Orwell’s novel, “Nineteen Eighty-four” (1949).
BACKGROUND: In addition to the famous tag-line, Orwell provided a terminology for the description of totalitarianism, with words such as thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and doublethink. The book is also a seminal example of dystopianism, which informed many works in the popular culture of the 1990s: “Blade Runner”, “The Matrix”, and “Neuromancer” are examples.
The reality of Big Brotherism has been compounded by reaction to 9/11: the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. At time of writing, there is 1 surveillance camera for every 14 UK citizens, and anyone who spends the day in central London will be recorded on video tape between 200 and 300 times.

Pink dinosaur spotted on a New Zealand web-cam monitoring volcanic activity on an uninhabited island. Very droll!

Monday, May 24, 2004

The Reg breaks out of its normal "biting the hand that feeds IT" mode to launch a stinging attack on the war in Iraq: more specifically, a badly cocked-up take on how (not) to obtain good intel.

Here's a good resource: the author, Jakob Nielsen, has plenty to say on many important usability and communications issues affecting web pages - this one discusses micro-content (or in plain English, the art of writing good titles and subject headings).

The ISM dictionary is coming on quite well: there's over 900 entries and I hope to break the thousand at some point - new entries are getting scarcer and more obscure or questionable. Herewith a new tonym feature: ISM of the day. I won't guarantee this as a daily service, just on some of the days I get around to blogging.


The skill of making good conversation at the dinner table.

ORIGIN: Greek, deipno-, meal + sophos, wise man.
BACKGROUND: The Deipnosophists was a work in fifteen books (ten survive in full) by Athanaeus, a 3rd century Greek grammarian. A number of sophists (wise men) dine and discourse learnedly on everything under the sun. Given that good chat over good viands is one of life’s great pleasures, the word seems undeservedly obscure.
(See: The Word Maven. The Deipnosophists is still in print, courtesy of Loeb Classics)

Another Monday of feeling poached after a weekend in the sun, putting the garden to rights. Got the upper pond finally sorted out, and built a nice "beach" in the lower one - water-rolled granite pebbles from a local stream.

This piece in the Australian press details the burnout of the Baghdad blogger, Salman Pax. Closer to home, our own KL seems to have fallen to the same fate. Marginal Revolution makes some points on the phenomenon.

Friday, May 21, 2004

A response to the essay on blogs I posted recently: it makes some good points.

Here's an entertaining rant by Andrew Tannenbaum (=major founding father of computing) about attempts to discredit Linus Torvalds as inventor of Linux.

Monday, May 16, 2004

Brilliant weather over the weekend, had some quality time at home and garden. Lots planted, including lettuce, radishes, shallots, and loads of bulbs to gladden our eyes later in the year. Feeling slightly poached and shy of the sunlight today as a result.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Here's one you can try at home: for a few quid, you can investigate the existence of parallel universes (result = yes, they do exist). Fascinating experiment ...

Let's hear it for poo! This Marin County farmer is using cow dung to keep the farm powered. Better than stinking up the country and poisoning the rivers by sloshing it around the fields like we do here.

Why you should never put your picture on the Internet. Those ponytailed Photoshop jockeys will have a chuckle or three at your expense ...

Burt Rutan's private spaceship is grazing the edge of outer space and looks like taking the prize for the first non-gov space shot.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

This one brings me back with a chuckle to two (enjoyable) years spent in Canada. From a Slashdot discussion: A Canadian radio station once ran a contest to pick a saying analogous to "As American as apple pie." The winner was "As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances."
From the same thread: "Canadians are polite, unarmed Americans, with healthcare." Go, Canada.

And further down, this hilarious pisstake of America's "Blame Canada" meme:
In Canada, they don't really use computers. They only have one industry, well two if you want to seperate them, but those are creating snow and creating cold. You see, they just sit up there in their cold factories creating snow all day and then they turn on their giant fans and blow it into places like Wisconsin, etc. They take great pride in this however, because without them people like me might actually be able to walk around more than 4 months out of the year without being wrapped in 5 shirts, a coat, an under-coat, 3 hats, gloves with mittins over them, 5 pairs of socks, furry boots and 15 scarfs wrapped around my entire body. Hey Canada, thanks a lot!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Here's a good essay about blogging: the overall thrust is that while blogs are pervasive - and addictive - they don't make much difference in the end. Like the eighteenth century pamphleteers, they create a background noise of self-referential static.
Some good points here. I get the feeling that anyone who visits, say, Instapundit, is either totally behind his pro-war point of view or (like me) opposed. Similarly, visitors to the Agonist are likely to be equally (and oppositely) divided on the Iraq war/peace issue. The audience that matters, the one in the middle, never goes anywhere near the self-styled pundits.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The day finished well with a BBQ enjoyed on the deck with visiting C & S.

Teatro dei Bugiardi: Theatre of the liars - thanks, Boing Boing.

Fine weekend - big progress after a hard days work on Saturday: laid down a new lawn at the front of the house, and put some finishing touches on the rockery. On Sunday we took it more easy, and had a nice local walk with Scooby, and a picnic by the river.

In the evening, we went over to Rathdrum and met C. and S. in the Cartoon Inn: an interesting gaff which is literally wallpapered with cartoons (Rathdrum has an annual cartooning festival). Paolo Tullio mentions the Cartoon Inn in this piece on the environs of Rathdrum.

Friday, May 7, 2004

I like this list of all-too-familiar science fiction themes.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Batted off a letter to the IT today, as follows:

Madam, - Beverley Flynn trumpets long and hard the defence that she was "only following orders" - a mitigation with a less than illustrious pedigree.

Surely the proposed expulsion from Fianna Fáil is about more than hawking tax evasion "products" in a previous career. The real scandal is in the use of deep pockets to steamroller attempts to get at the truth.

If those who patently lose little sleep over the risk of massive legal costs can set the agenda for what appears in our papers and on the airwaves, democracy and free speech are fatally wounded. - Yours, etc.,

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

This site chronicles the links between US murders and McDonalds - all US murders occur within one mile of the Golden Arches. The McLawyers don't see the joke, and have issued a cease and desist. Interesting to see if the site is still there in a month ...

Some creative uses of Photoshop rendering here: common objects given a new lease of life.

Back from Doolin. We dropped in on Dad on the way down, and made Doolin in good time on a calm and limpid evening. We drove round Black Head the next day, sea like a mill pond so no chance of surfing. Chowder and oysters at Monks in Ballyvaughan: Scooby made some new friends.

The next day we made it over to the East Burren, a magical and secretive landscape. A. found a green road we were able to trek right into hardcore Burren landscape over just 45 minutes or so. Wind picking up, but the surf at Fanore was the choppy chaotic kind that heralds a coming storm.

The storm broke the next day: was nearly blown away by it when we visited the cliffs of Moher on the way home. Massive seas off the Clare coast ...

Our route took us past Freshford so we dropped in on Lucy en route.

As always when you go away this time of year, the garden had done plenty sprouting in our absence.

posted by A Seeker after Knowledge 7:24 AM

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Living somewhere near here:

Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Click the piccie for a bigger version ...
Blogs we like
Blogcritics: news and reviews
William Gibson - he's back.
Dervala is a thought-provoking read.
William S. Lind military .... AND intelligent.
She's a Flight Risk ... and on the run.
North Atlantic Skyline: the West's awake
Informed Comment from an expert on Iraq
Karlin Lillington is on the move.
Quondam Confederate: Mark is in Malmo
Banana Republic Daze: is pithy and topical
Oblomovka in California
Textism: rarely updated, but succulent.
Melanie - this really is a blog.
Meanderthal Man - in search of the Missing Think.
Tom Chi making music in Seattle.
The Homeless Guy - out and about.
Babblogue is quirky.
The Agonist - somewhere in Texas (when he's not touring the Silk Road).
SlashDot - geek central.
BoingBoing - a directory of wonderful things.
Bernie Goldbach - is under way in Ireland.
Ideas Asylum - for insanely good ideas.
D2R - for tech talk.
Last Daze of Eamo - for an eye on the comics.
Tom Murphy - has a PR angle.
QuantumBlog - for scientific updates without all that Slashdot attitude shite.

Dept. of War-blogging Just to keep an eye on these guys and be reminded that the neo-cons aren't going away any time soon ...
Den Beste - good on engineering topics, rabid on everything else.
John Robb - war-blogging from the armchair (which is the closest to a war-zone most of these guys get).
Instapundit - for breaking news, and a right-wing take on same. "If you've got a modem, I've got a (bigoted) opinion".
Andrew Sullivan - a right-winger who writes well.
... and if you want to get the taste of these guys out of your mouth, visit: Press Action

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Just in case they ever come back to life, and to remind one of the perils of hiatus ....
Where is Raed? used to blog from Baghdad
Ilonina - was random.
Paulianne was diarying in Diois
Eric Raymond - an individual, but one who doesn't keep his site updated.

I live in Ireland, in a lovely part of the country called Aughrim in the county of Wicklow. I work in South Dublin - it's a long commute - but 2 days a week I work from home. Whenever possible, I walk with my dog Scooby (Scooby's a feisty Glen of Imaal terrier with loadsa character) under beautiful Croghane Mountain.
About the name Mulqueen Mulqueen is a Clare sept, first recorded as a bardic tribe in the annals of the Dal Cais in the 10th century. I'm from Limerick originally myself, and the name is mainly found in south Clare, North Tipperary, and Limerick East. The name is O'Maolchaoin in Gaelic - the "Maol" (as with all the many Irish surnames beginning in "Mul") means "bald". It doesn't mean there were a lot of hair-challenged gents back then! The tag refers to "tribes wearing horn-less helmets" - it wasn't just the Vikings who wore horns, many Irish tribes did too. The "chaoin" means "gentle" in the sense of well-bred (the sense that survives in "gentleman" or "gentility"). Presumably the bardic (poetic) activities are referred to here :-) Anyhow, some of us are still writing - there is a disproportionate number of Mulqueens working in Irish journalism. Heraldic elements in clan history generally tend to be much later additions, but for the record the Mulqueen coat of arms holds a lion and a heart, and the motto: "Fortiter et fideliter" - brave and true.
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