Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Quantum Suicide

Quantum Suicide is a scientific thought experiment. The scientist sits in front of a gun that is set up to either trigger or misfire, depending on the decay of a radioactive atom. With each run of the experiment, there is a 50% chance the gun will trigger. Under the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, the gun will eventually kill the scientist. But if the 'many-worlds' interpretation is correct, then at each run of the experiment there will be a universe in which the scientist lives, and another in which he dies. The scientist can only ever be conscious of the world in which he LIVES, and so never seems to die. This leads to the fanciful speculation that the many-worlds interpretation implies all conscious beings are immortal.
(Imagine the scientist, realizing he cannot die, stepping outside the lab and seeing for the first time what is worthwhile about existence)
[via Blather]

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Rugby League Super League XV

Last week, I received two complimentary tickets for the Super League XV match between Harlequins and Warrington Wolves. They were a consolation price in a free prize draw thingy - I had been hoping to win a Mini Cooper, but there you go.
I am not remotely interested in Rugby League, Super or not, so I offered the tickets to various people of my acquaintance who I know are interested in rugby, sport in general, or who have some geographical connection with either team. There were no takers for the tickets and only three people even bothered to reply.
Eventually, only 3,842 punters attended the match at the 'Twickenham Stoop', where the ground capacity is 14,816, and it rained heavily all afternoon. It must have been a bit glum in the stadium - the match itself was apparently a one-sided affair with Warrington Wolves the easy winners at 54 points to 24. It would seem that the general apathy towards this fixture was not misplaced!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Hiromi at Ronnie Scott's

It was my pleasure last week to be the guest, along with Our Phil, of Chamberlain Enterprises at Ronnie Scott's 'Jazz' Club for a performance by the exceedingly talented pianist Hiromi with her trio, comprising Anthony Jackson on bass and Steve Smith on drums.
Hiromi is classically trained but plays jazz, so what you get is a kind of jazz/prog rock fusion with a few funky bits thrown in. Her technique is immaculate, and statistical density presents no problems for her. However, she does know when to hold back and be cool and, importantly, she certainly gets the best out of her supporting musicians (both of whom are at least twice her age and very seasoned). She's quite a performer and leaps about, jumps up and down and smiles and laughs a lot, which is unusual for jazzers who are usually too focussed on being cool. A fantastic, dynamic set with loads of contrasts and occasional humour too. You can download her latest album Voice from Amazon for £6.49. Recommended.
I will spare you the usual moans about Ronnie's rubbish toilet facilities, ridiculous drinks and food prices, and cramped seating.

Well Done, Sherlock!

It's never happened before, folks! The Well Done, Sherlock! award for spotting the bleeding obvious, and something the rest of us have known about for ages, goes to a collective rather than to an individual. Yes. The Well Done, Sherlock(s)! award goes on this occasion to the collected politicians of the UK Parliament who have at last acknowledged that Ruper Murdoch is a slimeball and not  the kind of guy who should be running a vast media organisation with the power to make or break a politician's career (or anyone else's career or life, for that matter). I find it highly ironic that although nothing substantial about Murdoch or his corporation has changed since last month, last year, or the last General Election, all of a sudden these Guardians of The Nation's Well-Being want nothing to do with Murdoch and All His Works whereas they were hitherto queueing up to lick his boots. I'm particularly impressed with Cameron who can't distance himself fast enough from his erstwhile chums. Unfortunately, I doubt if he's in the clear just yet - Andy Coulson and Rebekkah Woods may yet return to haunt him. This one will run and run (Ed). Meanwhile, Well Done, Sherlocks!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


An interesting week for anniversaries this week. On Monday it was the anniversary of the 1921 truce between the IRA and the British Government in the Irish War of Independence. Of course, that was not quite the end of the trouble and on Tuesday, the (Northern) Irish celebrated Orangemen's Day when they annually try to re-start the war, in commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne, although it's not quite so clear these days what they hope to gain from it. We have Bastille Day tomorrow, which triggered the French revolution in 1789 - and the French remain bloody awkward. Friday brings the anniversary of the Greek Junta/CIA sponsored coup d'etat against Makarios in Cyprus in 1974, which led to the Turkish invasion and so forth.
But more significantly, in cosmological terms, we have the first Neptunian anniversary of the discovery by Earthmen of the planet Neptune. That is, although Earthmen discovered Neptune in 1846, it is only one year, or orbit of the sun, so far as Neptune is concerned. (Apparently, Galileo had seen Neptune some years before but thought it was a star rather than a planet.) Since the recategorisation of Pluto as a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt, Neptune is the outermost planet in Earth's solar system.
More info at the redoubtable BBC.

Chickenshed: Slender Threads

A works outing to the Chickenshed Theatre the other day for a preview performance of their Edinburgh Festival Fringe show 'Slender Threads'.
It's a multimedia show involving dance, theatre, pre-recorded audio and visual projection. The production centres on how a family deals with cancer, and the tensions it creates. Not what you might call cheerful. But it is a subject that most of us will have to face up to either directly or indirectly at some time.
As a 'fringe' show, the production necessarily has a small cast and minimal props/scenery and so forth. But a massive production would be inappropriate for the subject matter. Imaginitive use of audiovisual techniques, and convincing performances by the actors maintain the focus and the aim is to get you to think about it. A quite considerable technical achievement. So if you're in Edinburgh between 5 and 28 August, check it out at Zoo Roxy (The Loft), Venue 115, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU.
Meanwhile, you could also sponsor or take part in the  Cancer Research 'Race for Life'.


In today's Guardian; "Mosquitoes lured to their death by synthetic odour of smelly feet."
An enterprising scientist, Fredros Okumu, is developing a mosquito trap that emits human odours to entice unsuspecting mozzies towards enzappification and an early death. He's getting some of his funding from Bill Gates so it's good to know all that money Microsoft have had from me over the years is doing something worthwhile.
The news that the exquisite little inconvenience known to us regular folks as stinkfoot has been responsible for one's mozzie bites will no doubt be welcomed by the manufacturers of 'Odour Eaters' sprays and insoles. However, there might be some fun to be gained in our house by leaving El Prez's feet exposed to the atmosphere and lying in wait with one's swatter to zap the buggers as they approach. Provision of the necessary olfactory defence systems notwithstanding.
See also Le Post for a French perspective on FZ's analysis of this phenomenon.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Todd Rundgren

Another in our series of reminders of the existence of Mr Todd Rundgren.
He'll be playing four gigs in England in October. Representatives of the Xorg Collective will be attending the show at the Jazz Cafe on 3 October. Our esteemed chums Lord Pantaloon and Co will be at The Ritz in Manchester on the 1st.
Just one small complaint. The tickets are sold via HMV and there is, as usual, a booking fee and so forth. But a new dodge is that if you get the tickets via e-mail, they charge another pound. A rip off, methinks, as it costs HMV nothing to send an e-mail.
Meanwhile, Todd has an 'official bootleg' album out 'For Lack of Honest Work', a 3-disc set featuring live versions of his 'hits' played by various line-ups over the years.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Hendrix on the Radio

BBC Radio 6 broadcast a one hour documentary on Jimi Hendrix at 3.00 a.m. this morning : Hendrix on the Radio, available for a week on BBC iPlayer. Worth a listen, although there's no new information or insights for the cognoscenti; the focus is on Jimi's sessions for the BBC in 1967, and there's the soundtrack for the famous appearance on the Lulu TV show. The album of Jimi's BBC sessions has been deleted but can still be obtained via Amazon Market Place for about £7.
Hendrix sounds just as good now as he did at the time. Innovative, electrifying, and generally rather groovy.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Another outing for members of the collective, to Wimbledon for the day.
Not being members of the rich and famous or even the cognoscenti, this involved queueing for tickets so we had a very early start. Up at 4.30 am to drive to the Underground, then take the tube to Southfields, walk to Wimbledon and begin queueing. We arrived at 7.09 am and by 11.11 am were seated in Court No.12. Fortunately it was a nice day, I had an interesting book to read, and so the waiting went by fairly easily.
We watched a complete Ladies Singles match between Wickmayer and Kusnetsova, which was quite a good match and entertaining because Ms Wickmayer, a Belgian of Austrian descent, got very passionate and excitable. She made a most ridiculous noise every time she hit the ball: it sounded like she was saying a secret word, like 'omni'. See video below. The other noise you can hear is Kusnetsova who made this pathetic little 'euuurrr' sound in response to Wickmayer's 'omni'. Wickmayer emerged the victor.
Next up were Melzer and Tursanov, two Gentlemen who had to finish off their match from the previous day. Again, a good match although Melzer was clearly the better player, and won in the end. Tursanov was reliant solely on power rather than craft. By then we had been sitting down for four hours so decided to wander about a bit. The catch with that is by doing so, you lose your seat and will have to queue up all over again either there or elsewhere.
So we saw bits of other matches on the other courts here and there, got bumped into a lot by the general throng milling about, and discovered the extortionate prices in the Wimbledon shop and throughout the concession stands. Seven quid for a glass of Pimms, which was two-thirds ice, and £870 for an 'official' blazer. Caramba. Eventually, the rain came about 7 pm so we left and ended up at 'Ed's Diner' where some high-cholesterol grub was consumed with relish, coffee and a milk shake. Spiffing.
The Wimbledon chaps have got the whole thing well organised, and the stewards are awfully nice. Football clubs could learn a thing or two.