Saturday, October 31, 2009

Manchester goes Karmic

Watch the netbook!
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
I was at the Manchester Ubuntu Karmic release party last night at the Pitcher and piano. Not as focussed as the Jaunty do earlier in the year. A good get together though! I'd upgraded my work laptop earlier in the day - just so it was ready for the evening, went slowly but smoothly - the only issues I have is I seem to be constrained to use kdm as a login manager - before the upgrade I was using gdm
sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm
doesn't seem to do it. I shall have to try fiddling around in /etc/X11. (Later - ah this is gdm,it just looks rather different and at the monent has no, well not many, options on configuration).
Before the upgrade I was using firefox 3.5 which wasn't the 'official' version, post upgrade, 3.5 is official but the browser has my bookmarks/saved tabs and passwords from 3.0 and the ones from before are nowhere to be seen! A colleague has expereinced issues with an identical ASUS laptop and the nividia driver for the G9650M GT graphics card. It seemed to be ok for me but once I started something kde related, I too, got graphical artifacts (junk!) all over the screen. Known bug with the latest nvidia driver and that card (happens on both Linux and Windows) and they don't appear to be in a hurry to fix it. I shall try keeping away from kde and see what happens! My other photo from the evening is here.

Something seasonal

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
or is that seasoned?

The Return

At the Silk Screen on Wednesday we saw Zvyagintsev's 'The Return' a tale of the arrival, out of the blue, of a husband and father after 12 years absence. You never find out why he was away and the story follows a trip as he takes his sons to the sea in Northern Siberia. Lots of things are unexplained and the viewer ends up almost as puzzled as the teenage children. The Observer review is here, one review commented on the resemblance to Alfonso Cuarón's Y tu mamá también - a long secretive road trip to a beach -I picked up on that but, for me, the larger similarity was to Io non ho paura (and here's that film's wikipedia page), its fascination with nature, great skyscapes especially clouds and the wind in the trees, not to mention children on an edge of adult events they just didn't understand. I was put off by one of the committee's quick summary, a week before the showing, the reality was very worth while! Here's the trailer:

The delights of place holders

For Ala. man, XXXXXXX marks spot for ticket-magnet
Scottie Roberson bought a vanity plate with seven X's to pay homage to his racer nickname. But that causes a bit of a snafu when parking patrols put the plate into the system. Officials usually put seven X's in place of the number for cars without license plates.

Roberson said the mix-up has led him to get as many as 10 tickets in a day.

Never put valid id's as temporary markers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 27 Oct

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
My mother's words hang like too-ripe fruit, and when they fall on the floor and burst, she shudders into motion. 'Kate,' she says, hurrying towards my sister, her arms already outstretched.
from our current book group book Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, I'm afraid I'm getting to the stage of being annoyed by, what seems to me as, relentless emotional manipulation and some pretty cliched stock phrases. We'll see whether I (or she) work our way out of it! There are though interesting questions posed about designer babies, organ donation and the American health care system.
To start with, I thought I wouldn't enjoy it as it was described to me as a 'chick-lit' book, I don't have any problem with that here the questions are elsewhere!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Navarra Quartet concert in Bollington

We went to the Bollington Arts Centre last night for a concert by the Navarra Quartet. Unfortunately, due to illness, they were unable to programme the Beethoven Op 18 No 6 and instead played the Haydn Op 33 No 6. Following that there was the challenge of the Thomas Ades Arcadiana, a work I'd not heard before, a piece in seven movements with lots of echoes of other composers. Hard listening for a first time, parts which were of rapt beauty and others which came over as somewhat weird! I'm going to try it via the Calder Quartet recording (that's an EMusic link) before I come to a conclusion. This site - Third Angle - has music from some of the movements. The second part consisted of another work with seven interconnected movements (the Ades has seven - not the 6 claimed in the Third Angle link) the Beethoven Op 131 C# minor late quartet. I think I heard this live back in the 1980's when a quartet whose name I've forgotten(!) did a complete Beethoven quartet cycle in Leeds. After the Ades what came over for me was the sheer weirdness of this work too, the scherzo with its disconnected phrases - on cd you don't realise how split up between the instruments are the phrases. Music hanging over the abyss . They (the Navarra) are performing early next year at the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society

Coward on Cowards

Colin Coward's reaction to the Forward in Faith hypocricy of yesterday
I want to be a member of a church that is honest and truthful, open and loving, and properly faithful to Jesus Christ and all of God’s children, and I will now work and campaign with even greater resolve for a church in which women’s ministry is valued at all levels and LGBT who live with the highest commitment to love and fidelity can also live openly and truthfully. To hell with the Forward in Faith closet!
But go and read the original!

Mutterings - 25 October

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Redskins :: Potatoes
  2. Show :: Reveal
  3. Smoker :: Eugh
  4. Bad movie :: time wasted
  5. Play :: curtain
  6. Jaguar :: car
  7. Click :: mouse
  8. Production :: environment
  9. Sand :: -y Shaw
  10. Foreign :: lands

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The last movement of the Prokofiev 7th piano sonata in a rather different arrangement

if it's as difficult on marimbas as it is on the piano...
Thanks to 'Rugby' on for finding this!
The performing group is funcussion

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meanwhile in St Peter's Square

Maybe the next dual press conference will have the translation?

Much too funny - and do keep watching for the last 30 seconds!
(via the MadPriest - surely you don't need a link?)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Unfortunately, our trip to Luzern in the Summer didn't give us time to see the Kunstmuseum's exhibition on the theme of Silence - there's just about a month left if you find yourself in the area! The exhibition closes on 22nd November.

That Roman Offer

Nick Baines blogs powerfully on the subject:
The church exists for the sake of the world – not for the sake of the purity of the church.
I write as someone who, at times, has seriously considered the Roman option - though not for the reasons which many are now considering! (there, I bet that shocked some readers!)

Christian Values

Hat tip to Richard Smedley

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 20 Oct

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
'Sanders! Come back, Doctor!' The brittle echoes of Radek's voice, like a faint cry in an underground grotto, reached Sanders, but he stumbled on along the road, following the intricate patterns that revolved and expanded over his head like jewelled mandalas.
J G Ballard The Crystal World - a re-read for me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three tabbies on a trellis

3 cats on a trellis
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
With the middle one trying to escape. Our two are the bookends - but that isn't our garden - nor that of the middle one!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Walking up Shutlingsloe

And here's a picture of part of yesterday's reunion walking up Shutlingsloe - I've put an album of the pictures I took on flickr and here's a link!

Limits to growth

This talk from Rowan Williams this week
We have slowly begun to suspect that we have allowed ourselves to become addicted to fantasies about prosperity and growth, dreams of wealth without risk and profit without cost. A good deal of the talk and activity around the financial collapse has the marks of what Alastair McIntosh calls "displacement activity" – it fails to see where the roots of the problem lie; in our amnesia about the human calling.
And a morning service on actions we take to respond to climate change have let to much musing today. Elizaphanian however, thinks that this is all a bit late, we're facing a situation of damage limitation rather than solution.
Meanwhile the American Family Association is trying to persuade its followers not to bother their pretty little heads about it - streaming a film on the issue tonight, no doubt climate change is all a liberal conspiracy - their attitude borders on the criminal.

Mutterings - 18 October

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Werewolf :: Owwwwwwwwww!
  2. Jim :: but not as we know it?
  3. 2x4 :: 8
  4. Unruly :: mob
  5. Component :: class
  6. Prolific :: writer
  7. Wrestler :: Jacob
  8. Huh? :: Ummmm
  9. Dolls :: house
  10. Super! :: Wonderful!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The reunion

The reunion
Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
The reunion has happened and we're back from the evening meal! Here we are in front of St Michael's - more photos to follow!
(Do I need to identify these people? though the flickr picture has the names as annotations). Maybe we should have repeated the photo once Pete Hobson arrived - or should I paste him in from another of the pictures?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Allocation failure!

Sometime ago, I blogged that I was going to attempt the True Harbour Take a Chance reading challenge (I see the challenge is actually based at Find Your Next Book Here). Well, the challenge expires at the end of November and so far it is still only the one part of challenge completed. This week I returned to the items and looked at number 2:
Random Word. Go to this random word generator and generate a random word. Find a book with this word in the title. Read the book and write about it.

My word is 'allocation' and I think it will be a challenge(!), I've drawn a blank on anything readable at the library. If anyone can think of a book with the word 'allocation' in the title which isn't on some abstruse area of economics I'd be very grateful. I suppose there might be some - not too mind-numbing books on computing (IP address allocation?) - wake up at the back! - or mathematics? All suggestions very gratefully received (email or by commenting)!!
Otherwise I shall hastily move on to challenge three.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Back from a trip to see Caramel at the Silk Screen in Macc:

A wonderfully observed film, nothing much happens but wonderful images, the play of characters and some pretty raw emotion make this a film to be seen! It portrays the lives of five women working in a beauty salon in Beirut being asked some thought provoking questions.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


According to the BBC
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has described himself as the most persecuted person "in the entire history of the world".
I think that's probably beyond parody, maybe he should compare notes with those Italians which he appears to regard as untermensch and who he as been persecuting - and who can't afford expensive lawyers. He should proably have a word with Miriana then this pampered buffoon might understand the meaning of the word persecution.
Nice to see his legal immunity being removed though.

Teaser Tuesday - 13 Oct

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
But Lufkin? Safari suit? The old man was definitely up to something fishy, the first lady had thought, checking his beige-coloured, polyester safari suit for any missing buttons.
Mohammed Hanif's 'A case of Exploding Mangoes' the tale of the last days of General Zia.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Trip down memory lane

This blog post was recovered from an blog entry I made around 5 years ago and as it is no longer accessible (the blog resided on my home machine) , let me give this boasting a little fresh life by putting it here. I had been looking for my earliest presence on usenet using googlegroups to search google's archive(which then had a far better search facility than now!) I wrote that:

That I can find is this from 1990, but I'm sure I was posting earlier. Complete with double .signature - sigh!

OK, here's a slightly earlier one - again asking about usenet software!

Ah, I needed to search for rather than the other way around and pushes it back to May 89 though I'm sure I posted to uk.* before that but google groups seems light on those - no posts from uk.followup at all!

I doubt if I would be able to find them starting from scratch now, note in the earliest posting the reversed email addresses as well as the uucp delivery! Over 20 years ago now.
On searching around for my postings I did find this message of a very convoluted approach to system recovery . I still remember that afternoon though as someone affected by the events rather than directly involved. I thought the
rm -rf *
was part of a script which was run from the wrong place but maybe the script was set to echo the commands it ran?

Mutterings - 11 October

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. My treat :: chocolate (dark)
  2. Bell ::tower (also Iris Murdoch's book..)
  3. Five :: Famous
  4. You’re crazy :: mad
  5. Disgust :: eugh
  6. Tempest :: Caliban
  7. Bummer :: whoops (I was also looking at a copy of Jerome's 3 men on a Bummel in the local Oxfam yesterday)
  8. Brim :: full
  9. Hose :: pipe
  10. Lollipop :: lady

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Somone is Bach'ing up the wrong tree

The following image is from the wikipedia panel of amarok when I've just been listening to some Hans Werner Henze - for whom there is a perfectly good wikipedia page (follow that link!)

I'm not sure whose fault this is, whether wikipedia is seeing a request from amarok and trying to find a band and failing or if the responsibility is at amarok's end. It illustrates the sort of hole you get in when you assume that everyone fits a particular template - listening to bands who play songs. We are all individuals(!) who may think differently to the writer of a particular piece of software - and when the assumptions of the writers of two pieces of software don't mesh then you get screen shots like this.

A week to go!

A week to go to the St Michael's/ St Andrew's/All Saints' reunion next Saturday and here's a picture with those who I think are coming highlighted.

(click on the picture for a larger version) My list currently looks like - I'm not putting full names just for a bit of security!
  • Mary H (W)
  • Robert Marshall (that's me)
  • Ann D (S)
  • Andrew R
  • Paul and Lynne S (not pictured)
  • Peter H (not pictured)
  • Paul C-K (not pictured)
  • Richard M (not pictured)
  • David A
  • Helen and Roger G
  • Graham F (not pictured)
  • Frank and Helen H? (not pictured)
  • Janet W (D)
  • Gordon H
  • Karen G(?) (not pictured)
  • Dave H?
  • Brian and Chris G (not pictured)
  • Mike, Ann and Jeremy S(?)(just J pictured)
  • Jonathan and Sylvia W
  • Mark S
  • Richard Lomas? (on picture but a late addition to the list)
  • Heather A?

If you think you're coming and want to be added to this list, please let me know (or if you've been recognized in error in the picture!), but if you just want to appear and surprise us, then between 12 and 3pm at St Michael's would be a good time to appear before we head off on a walk (tailorable for those of different fitnesses!) and then a meal.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 6 Oct

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
I lie listening to the rain needling the windows, or soft shuffling on the rooftops and flat-roofed extensions that deform the rear of these houses, until I can't put it off any longer. Turning slightly to look over my shoulder, I find the wrong hair on the wrong-shaped head lying behind me; one gold-stud earring, a gold chain around the neck, a signet ring on the hand hanging over the quilt. I slide out of bed and wish I could die.
Christine Dwyer Hickey's `Last Train from Liguria' a book about connections between modern Ireland and 1930/40's Italy. A book I've been wanting to read and spotted it in the local library at the weekend, so far it's definitely been worth lugging the heavy volume on the train each day. From the above linked review:
In 1933, Bella Stuart, the introspective daughter of a London surgeon, sets out for the country where Mr Mussolini is busy making the trains run on time. The plan is for her to be tutor to the son of the aristocratic Lami family - "there's a villa in Sicily and a summer house on the Italian riviera", and there is "some German connection, so you'll probably be popping off to Berlin". Fateful words for the whole of Europe, perhaps.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A working weekend

It seems a bit back now but last weekend we had a trip to North Wales with work colleagues to look at various work related sites. We initially had a trip to Llandudno pier to examine Rhyl Flats wind farm
Rhyl flats and North Hoole wind farms
.. with a little imagination you can see the wind farm out there.
We then headed off to Llanberis for a tour of Electric mountain - we had been there around 8 years ago but it was an impressive tour of the huge pumped storage power station - some of the turbines were running and I don't think they were last time. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed inside but here we are afterwards:Charlotte fails to interest the party in some engineering
A walk up on the hills above the entrance to the power station gave wonderful views of Snowdon on what turned into a lovely autumn dayCrib Goch off to spend the night in Caernarfon where, impressively, the Ouzo and Olive managed to feed the 14 of us pretty well when we just turned up (they did have an interesting interpretation of Vegan cookery though).
The next morning after a breakfast at the Holiday Inn I'd rather forget we went back to Llanberis and walked a bit (couldn't do Snowdon we were late and the car park was full) lunch at the Caban Cyf very good locally sourced wholefood cafe.
Consulting the map
The complete photo album is here on flickr.

How then should we live?

For those who are close to Macclesfield the following talks may be of interest (copied off the St Michael's notice sheet):
Global poverty, climate change and environmental destruction feature constantly in the news, and are high up on the list of priorities for many key decision-makers. But what do they mean to us as individuals, within our own communities? How do we make sense of them, how do we respond - what can we do? This stimulating series of early evening talks brings together three very different perspectives and aims to explain some of the fundamental issues facing us today. A professor of social science, a lawyer from the Co-operative movement and an ecologist working for an environmental charity will each explain a subject they are passionate about, in an interesting an accessible way. This will provide the basis for discussion and further conversation as we all seek to find our own way of living amidst the confusion and challenges of the twenty-first century. All are at 6:30 in St Michael's Church Macclesfield.
  • Professor Mike Woolcock - `Responding to Global Poverty' - expanding `what works' as problem and solution: Tuesday 20th October
  • Cliff Mills - `Consumers or Citizens' how we shape the world we live in: Tuesday 3rd November
  • Simon Wightman - `A Space for Nature' - it's not just for the birds: Tuesday 10th November
All welcome!

Wait for it!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
I see that is 2 years old, doesn't time fly!

Mutterings - 4 Oct

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Yacht :: Marine Lake (Southport) - is'nt there a Monty Python name involving yachts - ah yes 'Raymond Luxury Yacht' pronounced 'Throatwobbler Mangrove'
  2. Paula :: Bean (a frequently repeated story on the Daily WTF
  3. Delete :: rm *
  4. Auto :: dictate (didact)
  5. Obsolete :: function
  6. Dedicated :: committed
  7. Old :: hat
  8. Convince :: persuade
  9. Poster :: paint (boy)
  10. Erase :: disk

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Another(!) Simon's cat

It's a short though:

.. a book is also appearing...

David Isitt

I blogged a bit back, when his death was announced, about my memories of David Isitt, an obituary has now appeared in the Church Times (a week ago), and is now available on the web, by John Nurser:
The Revd David Isitt died at home in Cambridge on 8 August, aged 81. It has been much said that “He was a good priest.” In many ways, indeed, he was an exemplar of the radical and yet traditionally grounded vision of Christian living which gained a hold in Cambridge in the late 1950s. He was reticent, open, gifted, and of fierce integrity.
go and read it! I hope obituaries remain available on that website, otherwise I shall be forced to republish it!

DJs, Christians and gays

Hat tipping to the Church Times weblog comes this tale of Fat Roland's trials with Refresh FM in Manchester (website looks as out of touch as their phone lines). An item covering this story from Pink News is here
From the Fat Roland blog:
You may feel the need to protest or campaign after reading this piece. You can talk with me further at dj (at) Whatever you do and to whomever you speak, please show the same grace that I have tried my hardest to show throughout all of this (often through gritted teeth or teared eyes!). You will not change minds by shouting at people: start from their point of view and work from there.

Energy photos

Some sensational (IMHO) photos in todays Guardian of various power plants by Mitch Epstein.
In Britain, this might be regarded as somewhat cranky though pretty harmless, but in the mass paranoia of the post-9/11 Bush era, Epstein's journey became the act of an enemy of the state.
He was regularly stopped, searched, followed, run out of town, shouted at and interrogated by state police and the FBI. Simple pictures of electrical power production in the everyday landscape of middle America became an exploration of political and corporate power, a portrait of the American landscape and people defined by an energy-dependent consumer lifestyle.
We were lucky last week in our tour of Welsh power plants! His book is available here with some more photos.

Small attack dogs

From the Guardian today:
Jacques Chirac's miniature white maltese, Sumo, has been banished by the former president after becoming so depressed about leaving the presidential palace that he began routinely savaging his master.
It's not nice losing one's presidential palace - you don't suppose it is Sarkozy in a reincarnation?
Meanwhile another small [minded] premier if having a few home truths presented courtesy of an Italian TV station prepared to report news rather than toady:
Patrizia D'Addario, 42, said: "Certainly he knew that I was an escort."She added she was not the only escort present at two parties she attended at Berlusconi's Rome residence. "When I arrived it seemed like a harem," she told the current affairs programme Annozero last night.
Today is a national day of protest in Italy about the lack of press freedom.