Belated Weasel Trip Notes

1. Aylesbury Vale Parkway - Harrow-on-the-Hill
2. Harrow-on-the-Hill - Moor Park
3. Moor Park - Watford (Met.)
4. Bus from in the vicinty of Watford (Met.) to Watford Junction
5. Watford Junction - Willsden Junction (post apocalyptic waste land)
6. Willesden Junction - West Hampstead
7 West Hampstead - Blackfriars
8 Blackfriars pier - Putney
9 Walked from Putney to Imperial Wharf
10 Imperial Wharf - Willesden Junction
11 Willesden Junction - Marylebone
12 Marylebone - Aylesbury Vale Parkway

Trip notes:
I had a number of ideas that I failed to work up enthusiasm for, not least because any wacky point-to-point-to-point-to-point things outside the TfL area would require buying multiple single tickets which I wasn't in the mood for. The centre piece of the trip was intended to be the Southern train from Watford Junction to Croydon - jewels of the London exurbs. However...
The first thing that went wrong was that on the way to Aylesbury Vale Parkway I stopped for diesel at a garage with an adjacent Burger King and thought 'I should have time for a mediocre coffee and a beanburger'. Unfortunately I got lost on the way on the cunning back route and missed the train, so to fill up the hour I went to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre and zipped round it in half an hour.
The reasoning behind getting off at Moor Park was to check in with my Oyster card having used my return ticket to get to Harrow-on-the-Hill. This possibly could be avoided but I'm not sure how. This meant sitting on Moor Park station for a bit under 20 minutes. The station is an island station on a fairly straight line, it reminded me somehow of bits of the S-Bahns of various German cities.
A part of the line to Watford Met is, of course, going to be shut when the major infrastructure problem to link bits of Watford with other bits of Watford not very far away in only 40 or so years https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/metropolitan-line-extension (now due to open in 2020 apparently - sure it was about 2017 last time I looked). Because this is outside the TfL area the bus details are non-existent. I started to walk to Watford Junction then found another bus stop and waited to get a bus in order to get the hourly Southern train to Croydon. Irksomely having got to Watford Junction and bought a ticket to take me back into TfL land, a notice came up saying the hourly train was cancelled due to a defect.
Therefore I had a replan and decided I would take advantage of the relative lateness of the hour to go on the riverboat RB6 which runs peak hour only.

Other notes:
1. The new Blackfriars station, where the platform bridges the Thames is very impressive.
2. The riverboat was full of mothers taking fractious children back to the East having had summer holiday days out. Not that I mind this, but it might have been a bit more relaxing otherwise.
3. Blimey, what a lot of new flats there are at the side of the Thames - I had no idea of the sheer scale of the building.
4. Irksomely there are two lots of signs for the path along the Thames - 'Riverside walk' and 'Thames path'. They are rendered somewhat out of date by the new building. How hard would it be to get someone to cycle the length every month, find discrepancies and do something. Actually quite hard, I imagine.

Back!

We are back.
I hope nothing bizarre has happened whilst we were away e.g.
a) Jeremy Corbyn being elected leader of the Labour Party
b) a book being published suggesting that the PM stuck his dick in the head of a dead pig in public and that someone may have a photo of this

Me old China

The BBC, which is quite capable of doing bad versions of easy to film SF / Fantasy, is going to attempt a difficult to film one
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/the-city-and-the-city

What could possibly go wrong?

When I partially saw the headline I assumed they were going to do Un Lun Dun or Kraken. I can believe they could do Un Lun Dun - surprised no-one has done it really. I can't imagine they would do Kraken well - though I suppose it has the chaotic everything but the kitchen sink mess aspect to it that the BBC has made its own with Dr. Who.

Take the utraviolet pill

The question that springs to my mind is is there a decent contemporary book about cybersecurity?. What are the real threat models these days that one might plausibly defend against? Clearly we have to distinguish between state and non-state actors - with state actors one is probably pretty screwed - and the question arises of what can they really do? Not that I believe they have quantum computers hidden away somewhere - not that you can necessarily do with them what wilder hype / folk-wisdom suggests.

What I was musing about was whether one make a reasonably secure, whatever that may mean these days, 'PC' - for some value of 'PC'?
I say 'PC' in quotes obviously.
Things like http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/11/memory_hole_roots_intel_processors/ (fun with Ring -2)
and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/12/lenovo_firmware_nasty/ (weird PC boot up tricks, in conjunction with Windows)
makes me think one would rule out Intel processors and the 'PC' architecture.
What about ARM and, say, the Raspberry Pi? Are we put off by the binary GPU blob in the processor?
Which is the most transparent processor? Is there anything one can 'program' oneself into an FPGA? Can one trust the tool chain?
I was struck how few processors there are left - are there any used in any mainstream computers apart from Intel / AMD x86/x64, the dying Itanium, ARM and SPARC?

Obviously, one has to consider the O.S. Somehow I knew long ago that GNU TLS was written by people who didn't really know what they were doing due to Stallmanite butthurt http://www.zdnet.com/article/another-serious-gnutls-bug-exposes-linux-clients-to-server-attacks/ (never have done stuff with that level of code, but it was something I had come across - someone working on one of the BSDs saying it presumably). So, on the whole I think I would prefer a BSD variant. Not that I am an open source bigot / fan, but clearly one would trust Microsoft / Apple / Google as far as one could spit them.

Suppose one wanted to observe the constraint that 'only the CPU is a CPU - no sneaky CPUs in the keyboard / mouse / disk / graphics card (monitor allowed providing it is 'properly isolated' (whatever that means)(probably)(or maybe a CRT), is this feasible these days?
Remember, your SD card may have a CPU http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=3554

Remember weasel's 3 laws of computing:
1. You can't trust computers
2. Everything is a computer
3. Run!!!!!

A bit terse and stream of consciousness but I can see this turning into a 200 page rant (197 of them footnotes) otherwise.

The Sontaran Experiment

An exchange of email between me and pmcray (whom God preserve, of Utrecht) also trading as atomicrazorfeed.

The subject of 'The Splorch' had already come up via JWZ's blog http://www.jwz.org/blog/2015/08/ovipositive-2/ (not so much NSFW as the kind of thing that might be considered 'deeply disturbing'')

PMCray:
I should have said I discovered today that the person who plays Strax (and other Sontarans) in DW did Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge, which is the coolest degree there is, an undergraduate degree in Tolkien studies! I must try and persuade my one of brother's children do that (they speak Swedish, possibly some Hungarian).

Of course, playing Sontarans might be considered a somewhat niche metier.

Weasel: (quoting from Wikipedia and the play's website)
He played the enraged loner Simon in Muswell Hill by Torben Betts at Richmond's Orange Tree Theatre (Feb/March 2012) and was nominated as Best Male Performance at the 2012 Off West End Theatre Awards (Offies).

"Enranged loner"

Muswell Hill
January 2010 - an earthquake in Haiti leaves a hundred thousand people dead and almost two million homeless. Meanwhile in a leafy north London suburb, six individuals sit down to avocado and prawns - "so reassuringly 1970s" - followed by a monkfish stew. They admire their host's beautifully appointed kitchen, fret about their "ambitious" mortgages, make holiday plans, compare mobile phone tariffs, connect with Facebook friends, and worry that they might after all just be ordinary - will history remember any of them, and if so, what for? A social event in which much is said but little communicated rapidly disintegrates as the wine flows and some hard truths are told.

PMCray:
I imagine a person who has made a career playing Sontarans is likely to have much to bring to that kind of role.

Weasel:
He should play it in Sontaran costume, but he and the rest of the cast should make absolutely no reference to it

PMCray:
I think they should also find a way of introducing the use of the splorch.

But, yes, monkfish is absolutely perfect as the kind of thing that wouuld be served at a dinner party of that type.

Weasel:
Clearly we need to write a play. Working title 'pardon my splorch'

PMCray:
Well, it's something else for Mary, Tyler and Mooroe, the PVCs, to engage in. But, yes, I think we can see now how this would writre itself. MTM host a dinner party. No monkfish, natch, but perhaps Soylent 2.0. Their friend turns up as a Sontaran (but no-one comments on this so we never know whether he is a Sontaran or someone who is Otherkin or is cosplaying either as a hobby or lifestyle) and then decides to splorch himself in the middle of the meal leading to comic complications.

I think there needs to be a fifth character that contrasts with MTM and the Sontaran. Suggestions open, but it would be a woman to balance things up in a gender-binary way.

Weasel:
The simulated splorching will be a cause celebre, it will be The Romans In Britain for the 2010s

PMCray:
Simulated?

Think of live splorching on the stage of the Dorfman. Radical, transgressive theatre that would shake the foundations of bourgeois Britain.

The Sontaran Experiment

An exchange of email between me and pmcray (whom God preserve, of Utrecht) also trading as atomicrazorfeed.

The subject of 'The Splorch' had already come up via JWZ's blog http://www.jwz.org/blog/2015/08/ovipositive-2/ (not so much NSFW as the kind of thing that might be considered 'deeply disturbing'')

PMCray:
I should have said I discovered today that the person who plays Strax (and other Sontarans) in DW did Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge, which is the coolest degree there is, an undergraduate degree in Tolkien studies! I must try and persuade my one of brother's children do that (they speak Swedish, possibly some Hungarian).

Of course, playing Sontarans might be considered a somewhat niche metier.

Weasel: (quoting from Wikipedia and the play's website)
He played the enraged loner Simon in Muswell Hill by Torben Betts at Richmond's Orange Tree Theatre (Feb/March 2012) and was nominated as Best Male Performance at the 2012 Off West End Theatre Awards (Offies).

"Enranged loner"

Muswell Hill
January 2010 - an earthquake in Haiti leaves a hundred thousand people dead and almost two million homeless. Meanwhile in a leafy north London suburb, six individuals sit down to avocado and prawns - "so reassuringly 1970s" - followed by a monkfish stew. They admire their host's beautifully appointed kitchen, fret about their "ambitious" mortgages, make holiday plans, compare mobile phone tariffs, connect with Facebook friends, and worry that they might after all just be ordinary - will history remember any of them, and if so, what for? A social event in which much is said but little communicated rapidly disintegrates as the wine flows and some hard truths are told.

PMCray:
I imagine a person who has made a career playing Sontarans is likely to have much to bring to that kind of role.

Weasel:
He should play it in Sontaran costume, but he and the rest of the cast should make absolutely no reference to it

PMCray:
I think they should also find a way of introducing the use of the splorch.

But, yes, monkfish is absolutely perfect as the kind of thing that wouuld be served at a dinner party of that type.

Weasel:
Clearly we need to write a play. Working title 'pardon my splorch'

PMCray:
Well, it's something else for Mary, Tyler and Mooroe, the PVCs, to engage in. But, yes, I think we can see now how this would writre itself. MTM host a dinner party. No monkfish, natch, but perhaps Soylent 2.0. Their friend turns up as a Sontaran (but no-one comments on this so we never know whether he is a Sontaran or someone who is Otherkin or is cosplaying either as a hobby or lifestyle) and then decides to splorch himself in the middle of the meal leading to comic complications.

I think there needs to be a fifth character that contrasts with MTM and the Sontaran. Suggestions open, but it would be a woman to balance things up in a gender-binary way.

Weasel:
The simulated splorching will be a cause celebre, it will be The Romans In Britain for the 2010s

PMCray:
Simulated?

Think of live splorching on the stage of the Dorfman. Radical, transgressive theatre that would shake the foundations of bourgeois Britain.

The people of Abingdon didn't vote for fear

Or more accurately, Fear, who came 5th in his ward and so wasn't elected. The town council is now 10 Tory, 8 Lib-Dems, 1 Independent (left Lib-Dems over behaviour in government).
So the red dog-poo bins will be conntracted out by Tories, like the green dog-poo bins.

In other news
a) Some of you may not be aware of 'comment is weird' http://commentisweird.tumblr.com/
b) At long last, Ronnie Hazlehurst's requiem has surfaced on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13c4eJZtWiY
c) Too soon? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVwdKfLOa5o

Did you have pants on for Balls?

So, things are getting, er, tetchy on Facebook amongst my friends there from the running club (the main factions are 'The NHS will fall to bits' vs 'The NHS would have fallen to bits anyway', I simplify slightly). Meanwhile here I am on the only true social network. I have other things to do but I have a habit of thinking 'I have thing x to do so I won't do y' and then not doing x, so here I am, anyway.
8 LibDem MPs. Well, between 1951 and 1970 there were 6 Liberal MPs apart from a couple of blips with slightly more -for example in 1970 there were two in Devon and Cornwall and 4 in Scotland. Someone claims that now is the first time since 1679 with no Liberal / Lib-Dem / Whig MP in the West country. Will people have the appetite for going back to that size of party, back to the old days of the 'they can meet in a taxi', albeit one of those large minibus taxis? Will people think there is any point? Now of course we test the 'the Lib-Dems were ameliorating the Tories' hypothesis to destruction.
Obviously there are local councillors, we have 1 Tory, 1 Lib-Dem district councillor here - essentially I assume people vote for 1 Lib-Dem and then 1 Labour or 1 Green for the 2 seats (the Lib-Dem was 13 votes ahead of the 2nd Tory) - with the town council counted tomorrow. Before the last election before this one the town council was all Lib-Dem, then last time it was 10 Tory, 9 Lib-Dem and 1 Labour, but it ended up back under Lib-Dem control after by-elections, defections etc. The district council is now 29 Tory, 9 Lib-Dem.. It was Tory anyway, though.
Have I mentioned before that the town council and district council both run dog poo bins, red for the town council, green for the district.
Anyway, yesterday I did two hours of telling for the Lib-Dems, obviously in OW&A there are only Tory and Lib-Dem tellers. Previously I have typed the numbers in, but maybe they don't need that any more. A young man with stretched ear lobes (gauged? what's the term?) and young person style low slung jeans cycled up, took photos of the sheet of numbers then cycled off. Maybe they are OCRd, maybe the are outsourced to India. Probably not. I was surprised, but probably shouldn't have been, how many people I knew I saw - 2 voting, one for the pre-school group displaced from the hall by the election onto the nearby grass as a 'teddy-bears' picnic', one voting and for the pre-school group, and one for Slimming World in the other hall. Apart from this there were also 2 trips to Oxford to take Benny to the vet to have an op to deal with the hole he had managed to get in his foot by standing on something and to get him back and a meeting at work.

Meanwhile, the Green Party. The only party, I suspect, to have policy on Sussex Stoolball (CMS880 http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/culture,-media-and-sports.html ). I was amused by the butthurt at peopl e pointing out the policy on their website about copyright (14 years), but I kind of know how it got there - there is a long document called 'Manifesto for a Sustainable Society' which gets gradually revised over the years by working parties i.e. obsessives and cranks (*). I think it was originally based on something in The Ecologist years ago. The Ecologist famously being the magazine that had the lead article on 'why vibrators are teh evil' for approximately the reasons you would guess, fast food sex, consumer society, petrochemicals, better to use artisinal glass dildos blah blah http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/268921/love_batteries_not_included.html
The problem is of course that if you are The Green Party you have to have policies which simultaneously reflect what you could do with a few local councillors, what you could do as part of a ruling coalition on a local council, what you might do with one or two MPs in a hung parliament, what you would do if Britain had gone for green-ness in a single country and what you could do in the glorious day of a transformed world. Inevitable therfore, the policies are bound to look a bit odd. This does not mean I wasn't amused, particularly at the irony of  people taking the sort of views of policies 'if you don't like it fix it' that they would decry when people say it of open source software.

(*) As I'm sure I have said before, I went to the party conference once many decades ago, for want of a better break-out group to go to I went to the one on newspapers. The bloke charing it began with 'first of all - should there be newspapers?'. That one may have solved itself of course.

Albatross of leaden metaphor news

I am surprised more has not been made of this
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2015/newsspec_7937/content/english/index.html?v=0.2.27

The most microchipped dog by council area (county / unitary authority?). Obviously this is
a) someone's press release to get publicity
b) subject to the number of dogs microchipped
c) first dog past the post
d) subject to anomalies i.e. it is believed that greyhounds being number 1 in Halifax is due to there being a large greyhound and lurcher rescue place there.

But as a metaphor 'Labrador Britain' vs 'Staffie Britain' takes some beating (plus greyhounds as above, Border Collies in, er, the border and Jack Russells in the Celtic fringe)

Misc

Funnily enough I had mentioned Terry Pratchett yesterday before the news of his death - I quoted Ansible on the subject of the BBC to Dr Cray (whom God preserve) and someone else  http://news.ansible.uk/a264.html

'Something for the Very Strange department; the BBC contacted us about doing a prime time series based on the Guards books. Things seemed to go well, although it appeared to me that up to that point only one person involved had read a Discworld book. Then we gradually moved into Fairy Land.... What caused me to crack was the question of the Bible. I am not going to let something like this happen without some input, if only to stop Nobby Nobbs becoming female. Much discussion ensued, and my movie agent suggested that the BBC and us create the Guards Bible – these style guides are quite common in the business. / It looked, therefore, like it would be all systems go until the BBC came back and said that while they would be happy to collaborate on the Bible, they would because of their charter have to have the final say, which means in effect: "everything will be set in stone, but we are allowed to have a sledgehammer." So the BBC is not getting Guards! Guards!. As my movie agent (who has dealt with some of the most voracious companies in the States) said to me, "How does anyone ever deal with the BBC?"'

This was in the context of the BBC's new 'Not a Rasberry Pi, not an Arduino' project the Micro Bits
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31834927
I am amused that the BBC story describes this as giving children 'mini-computers'. PDP-11's all round, hic. Or maybe the plan IS to give every year 7 child a PDP-11/70.
Clearly this is very much an 'announcement' in the sense that nothing firm has been announced, ARM has more detail about it here
http://community.arm.com/groups/internet-of-things/blog/2015/03/12/arm-and-the-bbc-collaborate-on-a-new-initiative
I have to say that I cannot really see either that the ability to make 25 LEDs flash on and off from a Python / C++ program will excite / inspire children. But then I am not a parent, a child or an educator.

I picked up the 2 early Pratchett SF novels before her was famous, they are amongst his best stuff. I have to say I sort of got bored with Discworld at about Pyramids though I think I have read Small Gods and one other maybe. Good Omens was certainly better than anything else by Pratchett or Gaiman, a true classic.

Meanwhile, did you know you can play Snake on the Kings Cross fountains? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hZgaV35D3M