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Monthly Archives: May 2005

Quote #103

“I’ve got a few men I respect very much and one would be Frank Gehry. He said to me, ‘If you know where it’s going, it’s not worth doing.’ That’s become like a mantra for me. That’s the life of the artist.”

– Brad Pitt

support the right to protest in sheffield

G8 summit: Sheffield people denounce suppression of the right to protest.

On June 15-17 the ?Justice and Home affairs? ministers of the G8, the world?s seven richest nations and Russia, will gather in Sheffield to discuss the home front of the ?war against terrorism?.

The police have invoked special measures to prevent protests, informing organisers that no marches of any size will be allowed in the city centre during the summit. Any such protests will be met with force and arrests. Under the pretext of ?security? the police are attempting to marginalize protests by confining protestors to a pen on Devonshire Green. Sheffield Against G8 proposed a march on the afternoon of 15th June. Sheffield Stop the War Coalition proposed static pickets on the evenings of 15th and 16th June. Both these protests have been flatly prohibited.

Whatever one?s view of the G8, we urge Sheffield people to oppose restrictions on the right to protest and to the imposition of what amounts to martial law over the centre of our city.

We, the undersigned, believe that the blanket ban on peaceful protests in our city centre is an outrageous and unacceptable infringement of our democratic right to protest. We call on all citizens, organisations and elected representatives in Sheffield to press for these repressive decisions to be reversed.

SIGNED [your name here?!]

What you can do:

  • 1. Send a message by email to Jillian.Creasy@Sheffield.gov.uk confirming that you support the statement (or print off and send a hard copy to Cllr Jillian Creasy, Town Hall, Pinstone St, Sheffield, S1 2HH). I will send the statement as a letter and press release to The Star and the Sheffield Telegraph on the evening of Tuesday 31st May.
  • 2. Forward/print and pass on this message to friends and colleagues ? we need to collect as many signatures as possible within a few days.
  • 3. Join the march for Peace and Justice organised by Sheffield Stop the War Coalition on Saturday 11th June ? assemble 10.30am, Devonshire Green, march to Peace in the Park Festival, Cemetery Road.
  • Links for 31st of May 05

    Latex and Bibtex: (or “How i’m solving the filing problem”)

    This is related to previous posts (one, two, three) if you are not interested in managing academic references or document preparation: turn back now

    I’ve started using Latex, and although it hurt to get started, i think i’m now converted. The logic, and power, of it makes it infinitely preferable to Word if you’re doing things more complicated than a one page letter. It’s a mark-up language, so not What You See Is What You Get (like MS Word), but more What You See Is What You Want. I swore after the last paper I submitted that i would never use Word for longer documents again, and I think it’s a promise i’ll be able to keep.

    One nice thing with Latex is that if there’s anything you can think of doing with a document then someone else has already thought of it and written an add-in to let you do just like that. Like psfrag which lets you modify the labels (content and font etc) of figures from within latex, so your figures always look compatible with the rest of your document.

    Although one idiosyncrasy of the programme, which i wish I’d been told earlier, was that you need to compile your document a couple of times before you get a good output. This is to do with Latex needing a couple of passes through to pick up all the cross-references, page boundaries etc (or something). In practice it means that you have a look at the end result and it doesn’t seem to take account of your changes, but if you just had another look (ie ran latex on your document for a second time) it would work. I learnt this here

    Latex does automatic inclusion of citations (ie in line mentions) and references (ie the compiled list at the end) with bibtex. Although bibtex is powerful and comes with lots of tools (one, two) available, I can’t find a nice front end with which to manage my references. So although i’m going to use it (have to use it) to put references in Latex documents, I’m going to keep using endnote to manage my references. I was using biblioscape which is nicer in lots of ways, but a bit flaky when talking to MS Word (and that’s something i’m going to keep having to do, if only because not all the people i work with are going to start using Latex).

    So, problem: using Endnote with Latex (one, two). All I need to do is when I start on a document, is to move the references I want from Endnote to Bibtex. How hard can it be to get Endnote to export properly? Answer: harder than you think. Currently the easiest way I can see to do it is to export references from Endnote to Biblioscape (Biblioscape 6 and Endnote 8 talk to each other fine, I couldn’t get earlier version to be compatible) and then export from biblioscape to bibtex format. Not very elegant. Can anyone suggest a better way? (and yes, i have tried the Endnote bibtex export style. It’s broken).

    Links for 23rd of May 2005

    3 questions

    Three rather parochial notes:

    First: Can anyone point out an amazon book page where the author’s
    own review appears? I know amazon offer you the chance to write a
    review of your own book, but where/how does this appear on the
    page?

    Second: Somebody has given me a book called The
    Science of Middle Earth
    along with a note saying ‘Probably not the
    sort of book you’d buy for yourself! Remember to take a
    brown paper bag if you intend to read it in public’
    . But no
    name was signed. Thanks for the present- does anyone want to admit
    to their generosity?

    Third: I’m in london next weekend (the back holiday weekend). Does
    anybody have any recommendations/offers?

    Links for 19th of May 2005

    From the Ritz to the Rubble

    All right-thinking people will download the Arctic Monkeys’ From The Ritz To The Rubble from the War Child website. Not only does the money go to a good charity, but you get a great track from Sheffield’s finest (and the b-side from their first single).

    Quote #102

    To study history one must know in advance that one is attempting something fundamentally impossible, yet necessary and highly important. To study history means submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning. It is a very serious task, young man, and possibly a tragic one

    Hermann Hesse, ‘The Glass Bead Game’ (1943)

    Check your method

    Perhaps this defines science in psychology: does your investigation (be it questionnaire, cell recording, computational modelling work, whatever) have the capacity to provide you with a surprise?

    Quote #101

    Introspective psychology and analytical philosophy of the self, of perception and of will, do not seem to take into account that in any well-made machine one is ignorant of the working of most of the parts – the better they work, the less are we conscious of them. Thus it is very unlikely that introspection will reveal those intermediate processes which are most important

    Kenneth Craik, ‘The Nature Of Explanation’ (1943)

    Quote #100

    You insist that there is something a machine cannot do. If you tell me precisely what it is a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that

    – John von Neumann

    truth vs happiness

    “You know,” said Arthur thoughtfully, “all this explains a lot of things. All through my life I’ve had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was.”

    “No,” said the old man, “that’s just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.”

    “Everyone?” said Arthur. “Well, if everyone has that perhaps it means something! Perhaps somewhere outside the Universe we know …”

    “Maybe. Who cares?” said Slartibartfast before Arthur got too excited. “Perhaps I’m old and tired,” he continued, “but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied. Look at me: I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway….Science has achieved some wonderful things of course, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”

    “And are you?”

    “No. That’s where it all falls down of course.”

    – Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 30 (there’s something similar in the film)

    Links for 11th of May 2005

    brandalism

    People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inedequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

    You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

    Fuck that. Any advert in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

    You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtsey. They owe you. They have rearranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.

    Banksy in ‘Cut It Out’

    Banksy photo gallery here. Offical Banksy site here. Another cool way to do graffiti here. And, of course subvertise.org (down at time of posting).

    In hell the punishment is just the sin without the illusion

    Dorothy Sayers provides an awesome introduction to Dante’s Divine Comedy (in the Penguin Classics edition). Talking about the Black Wind of Canto 5, Lust (‘The infernal whirlwind, which never rests, drives the spirits before its violence; turning and striking, it tortures them….And as their winds carry off the starlings in the cold season, in large full flocks, so does that breath carry the evil spirits here, there, down, up; no hope ever comforts them, not of lessened suffering, much less of rest.‘) she says:

    As the lovers drifted into self-indulgence and were carried away by their passions, so now they drift forever. The bright, voluptuous sin is now seen as it is – a howling darkness of helpless discomfort. (The ‘punishment’ for sin is simply the sin itself, experienced without the illusion…)

    Links for 5th of May 2005

    So there’s this thread right…

    So there’s this thread, right, which I got to via CT, where people are photoshoping cartoons from the New Yorker to make them funnier. Or wierder at least. And there was this one, below. Who knows what it was about, but i thought it was funny as hell with the new caption:

    And i thought to myself. “That’s hilarious. I know just the person whose sense of humour that fits exactly”. And I was about to email that person, when i realised I didn’t know the name of that person. In my head i have the template of my impression of their sense of humour. I know exactly that this would make them laugh out loud, but i can’t remember which of my friends it is. Dammit

    spoil your ballot?

    I’d dearly like them to have a “None of the above” option on the ballot. Until they do the option of spoiling your ballot isn’t quite attractive enough to go for. Sure, it distinguishes you from people who just can’t be bothered to turn up, I’m just worried that it doesn’t distinguish you from people who are unable to vote correctly.

    But something our prospective member of parliament for Sheffield Hallam told me this weekend puts a little more weight on the option: if you spoil your ballot then all the candidates get shown it, and have to agree on who, if anyone, it is a vote for. So if it is spoilt by an inaccurately placed cross then they can reach a consensus on who the vote is really for. And if you put a cross next to the lib-dem candidate and scrawl “Would Have Voted Labour But For The War” next to it then presumably they have to be shown it and agree that it is – or isn’t – a valid vote for the lib dem.

    So although there isn’t any way for people hearing the results to distinguish your spoilt vote from someone who just can’t cross a box, there is a chance that the politicians can – and arguably they are the people who it is most important to communicate with.

    I’d love to know if this is true, although even if it is i’m not going to take the chance and risk my vote not being counted. But at least, if you are going to spoil your vote anyway you can consider what to write, knowing who might get to see it.

    (ps suggestions on the best three words with which to spoil your ballot also welcome)