Podcast recommendations

by David on April 30, 2007

Two podcasts from Berkeley.

Firstly, Prof Margaret (Peggy) Anderson presents History 5 European Civilization from the Renaissance to the Present – very fluidly delivered, well-structured, witty and interesting series of lectures on bit of history you might need to have filled in a little.

Secondly, Prof Hubert Dreyfus conducts Philosophy 6 Man, God, and Society in Western Literature. An odd one this, from the World’s leading Heidegger scholar, a romp through great literature starting with The Odyssey and The Oresteia through to Moby Dick. From the course description:

the goal of the course is both to illustrate how to read difficult texts and to provide an understanding of the cultural paradigms that have formed and focused our shared beliefs and practices

Dreyfus’s delvery is meandering and fascinated – he frequently wanders off-piste to debate points with himself. A very engaging speaker dealing with a huge theme.

Plasticbag World of Scientific Nonsense Part 273

by David on April 28, 2007

A planet has been found that’s only 1.5 times the size of earth and appears to have liquid water running on its surface… Wow. That’s pretty amazing. What interests me is twofold. Firstly, obviously, is there life. Secondly, if there isn’t, how easy would it be to introduce some?

Tom Coates, Plasticbag.org, Links for 2007-04-26

St George’s Day

by David on April 24, 2007

Google marked St David’s Day (St David – patron saint of Wales) with a few daffodils, which was pleasant. It put me in mind of the school Eisteddfodau I attended, with all the girls wearing daffodils and the boys sporting real leeks which were munched over the course of the morning.

Accenture and postmodernism: business bollocks at a high price

by David on April 15, 2007

On The Economist’s website is a sponsor’s puff from Accenture.

Let’s put aside the problem that the article about business excellence is a single, degraded image of text, with an unreadable embedded graphic, immediately making it clear that Accenture doesn’t care enough about website accessibility.

Instead read, if you can without falling unconscious, the content. Does it remind you of anything? It sounds to me very much like the deliberately obscure and often meaningless pretentious twaddle of postmodernist ‘texts’.

Here’s an example:

Accenture’s global services lines took up the challenge of understanding the contribution that capability mastery in key functional areas makes to achieving high performance (Our services lines consist of professionals organized internally along functional lines including Strategy, Supply Chain Management, Human Performance, Customer Relationship Management, as well as cross-functional groups such as Information Technology) . The central insight from these studies is that each high performer masters a highly select set of business processes and resources that we define as a “distinctive capability”. Unparalleled excellence in this set of functions constitutes a unique business formula for achieving competitive advantage. Lower performers, on the other hand, fail to achieve this mastery across a range of functions
that is the price of admission to even above-average performance.

Straight out of dack’s Web Economy Bullshit Generator, don’t you think? As far as I can tell, it is claiming that to do well you need to know what you’re doing. and people pay lots and lots of money for Accenture’s advice. Apparently.

If you want more in the same vein, try The Postmodern Essay Generator

Subsidised state-sponsored sycophants suck

by David on April 14, 2007

The lead story on BBC Radio 4 news this morning was the split between the inbred halfwit heir to the throne and his posh bird girlfriend. The same story is lead on the BBC UK website.

Could I stop paying for it please?

update: it’s been the lead story for the entire day on the BBC

Tim O’Reilly, pompous and rude

by David on April 11, 2007

Tim O’Reilly has generated code of conduct for bloggers.

A short while ago, O’Reilly wrote the following in an email to me:

some people think that calling people names (your most recent being, “a big douchebag”) is a substitute for discussion.

And when I pointed out to O’Reilly that he was mistaken, that I’d never called him, or indeed anyone, a douchebag, he wrote:

Robin scratching

by David on April 9, 2007

Robin scratching

Robin in the garden, from Helen’s Flickr stream

Eternal Sunshine

by David on April 9, 2007

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is on the TV here tonight. I’ve seen it just the once and I’ve been meaning to see it again. The proper temporal order is maddeningly difficult to work out in retrospect and I suppose there is no great benefit in trying, as if some revelation came with the completion of a crossword puzzle – but the film was impressive and Kaufman’s a fine artist (and, I’d say, the obvious auteur here).

I read the Pope poem, Eloisa to Abelard after I’d seen the film. The first stanza fits nicely with the theme:

In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-pensive contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing melancholy reigns;
What means this tumult in a vestal's veins?
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?
Yet, yet I love!--From Abelard it came,
And Eloisa yet must kiss the name

and later,

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

Dovedale walk

by David on April 8, 2007

From Dovedale car park

We took a very brief break and went walking in Derbyshire.

Anil Dash – pass the sick bucket

by David on April 1, 2007

One of the reasons I admire my friend Mena is that she is remarkably prescient

Anil Dash, a Vice President at Six Apart, co-founded by … Mena