lundi 15 août 2011

dangerous bed rest

Bed rest is more dangerous that you might think, so while John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Bed-ins" of 1969 may have been derided at the time, indeed still are today by some, I consider their action to have been courageous.
I was four years old then, and black and white images and grainy colour film footage of the event have been a small part of the media firmament I have gazed on ever since. So it was nice to find that Yoko Ono (now 78!) has decided to make the film they made about the happening available on YouTube for a little while (until 21 August apparently), and I watched the whole 80 minutes with interest.
There is much to appreciate: the obvious charisma and intelligence of John Lennon; seeing Instant Karma and Give Peace A Chance in their original contexts (and imagining their gestation); the bespectacled fashions; the frank hostility of some of the media representatives. It's interesting that I've never really had the chance to hear John Lennon speaking at length before, and I guess that's because he was sincere in his revolutionary beliefs, and never failed to promote them when interviewed.
Reportedly only otherwise available on VHS, it's perhaps a bit too much to expect an elderly person to "get it," and "turn on" to the internet by releasing the work less restrictively, so the gaping blank that will appear in the embed hole below after the 21 August can stand as a testament to the shortsightedness of the bourgeois(e) artist who does not realise that the point is to communicate...
Oh, and it's a bit dark, so turn up your screen contrast. And very tediously, this embed seems to have been automagically made too narrow, and I really can't be bothered sorting it out. If this troubles you, click through to youtube. Still, camerapointyman guy who shot the thing in the first place seems to have done a pretty good job at keeping the important stuff in the middle of the picture, so I'm not going to worry about it too much.

samedi 9 juillet 2011

On the strange disappearance of Barry's Universal Gronkulator

I've physically hosted my own website in the past, so I know how much of the heavy lifting Google and other similar services are doing. It is also a regrettable consequence of this that smaller websites hosted by independent technically minded people have a tendency to disappear, just when you want to go back and cite them.

One such concept which comes to mind every so often is that of Barry's Universal Gronkulator, not to be confused with the Gonkulator that Google's search now offers as the default result when you enter the word into the search engine. There are still traces of the concept hanging around in the indexes, but not at, which in any case does not tend to preserve images very well.

Well, as far as I can recall, the Universal Gronkulator was based on a Sharp Zaurus, which ran Linux, and therefore potentially at least, could be kept free from proprietary malady, and users fully in control of their data. But this was not the most important thing. The most important aspect of the Universal Gronkulator was the case, which converted it from a geeky desk toy to a real world field tool for the aspiring truthteller. The case was important because it kept spare power, spare memory chips, and spare connectors stored conveniently alongside the device.

Now, you may contest that the average smartphone exceeds the functionality of the original gronkulator, but in fact it fails for several reasons. Firstly, it is proprietary, so if a central authority insists that it phones home somewhere other than the user intends, there's not a lot the user can do about it. And even if the smartphone is free software based and jail-breakable, this functionality is notional rather than actual for the vast majority of users.

Also, you need to keep the thing charged up, an important limitation for field use compared with just carrying some spare batteries.

The importance of generic connection, the ability to pass recorded material off on discrete (and discreet) memory chips, and to connect in manifold ways to the network was equally crucial to its potential. And if you don't have a nice case, you'll lose all those important bits and pieces.

So here's to the memory of Barry's Universal Gronkulator. I guess I should devise its successor and post a picture here to help keep the concept alive, but I really should be getting on with the day job, so this note will have to do for the time being. If anyone out there can help in the restoration of the original, feel free to post appropriate links in the comments.

dimanche 5 juin 2011

A star is dead

He was a bit of a star was Barry Mason. A delightfully enthusiastic presence. A tireless activist for the cause of cycling. And a very nice man. So it's sad news that he's dead, aged only 60. Still, what a great way to go: swimming off a beach on a cycling trip to northern Spain—in June. Somewhat reminiscent of the death of the great Roy Porter, who died, at a similar age, cycling home from his allotment with a bunch of fresh daffodils in the basket.
Bazza (as I once rather disrespectfully called him, to his obvious horror) will be fondly remembered by a great many people as one of the good guys. There is no higher accolade in the Beezer thesaurus.

mardi 3 mai 2011

The call of the Mac: proprietary freedom postponed

It seemed only fair to replace the old Mac after I finished it off with a full cup of coffee versed amidships into its already battered and grubby keyboard. Within a few seconds it was dead. I let it dry out for a few days and then tried booting it off the mains power supply, but it wouldn't boot--and still smells very strongly of coffee. It was a nice tool for curating CD/DVD/internet playback reclined in bed of an evening, so we missed it when it was gone. Hopefully the data will be retrievable onto another machine. I'm just waiting for the USB 2.5in SATA hard drive enclosure to arrive, and we'll see.

Anyway, I decided to introduce Mme Beezer to the delights of the comedy roast, and found this rather fine example of the genre: a general mocking of Pamela Anderson surrounded by her comedy entourage, posted in eight parts to YouTube.

It's almost 90 minutes of viewing, and eventually rather exhausting, but there were some very good bits indeed, amongst a considerable amount of what I think my late grandmother might have called "blue banter." Still, it was quite charming, and M. Lee-Jones's musical intervention was competent, thanks to his super backing musicians, and we watched it to the end quite content, having had to brush tears from our eyes on occasion. There is anthropological interest in its representation of American taboo in the early twenty-first century, and a lot of quite immaculate American English spoken word stuff, which is of considerable interest for the linguist.

dimanche 13 février 2011

a very nice haggis recipe

It's now the middle of February, so enough time had elapsed to contemplate getting the leftover uncooked haggis ingredients out of the freezer, and enjoying another winter dose of protein, fat, and vitamins.

The formal farce de panse de brébis that I prepared on the 25th with the French palate very much at the foremost of my mind was proclaimed "très bon" on the night, but to my mind was a trifle bland.

We began by thawing the 250g or so of chopped pluck, already mixed with some salt, very little pepper, whizzed onions, and the st. doux first thing this morning. It was completely thawed with just a little blood at the base of the container by 1800h.

Still using the original container used for freezing, I added: parsley rescued from the dumpster at the MIN, finely chopped, a very expensive hand-picked Cevennes oignon doux, also finely chopped, 1 clove of garlic (chopped); an eighth of a nutmeg, finely grated; and finely ground turmeric, black pepper, cayenne. Then 5 drops of Worcester Sauce which is just a splash, but does add a dash of umami

I added a bit more oatmeal and rolled oats to the mix to try to encourage it to firm up a bit, but it was slightly too liquid all along, giving a final consistency similar to the Dutch kroket. This is fine as long as it remains in your hand cooked but unbitten, but can explode in nasty gobbets of hot grease down a party shirt at the end of a long evening on the beer. The latter outcome is naturally best avoided if possible.

Still, it smelled very nice and fresh, and the 50g spoonfuls were just manageable making the burgers à l'ancienne, using, again oatmeal and rolled oats as the dry outer layer, bound with a couple of eggs to which a bit of salt, black pepper, and moutarde à l'ancienne had also been added.

Then it remained only to fry them in a shallow pan with a close fitting lid for about 10 minutes each side (which crisped them up nicely) and pop them into a 150°C oven to cook a little more while preparing the mash and the covers.

The final blow for kitchen experimentation was the pancake/omelette/fritter/rissole concoction that I made with the last of all the ingredients, thoroughly mixed.

The recipe does generate a fair amount of washing up, but I kept the kitchen tidy as I went along (starting with an empty dishwasher is a great luxury).

There were more pancakes/omelettes/fritters/rissoles than we could possibly eat in one sitting, and my lovelies each exclaimed their satisfaction with the results aloud. But the greatest pleasure was mine: they were well-cooked (not at all bloody, and not over either), and seasoned to perfection.

If I were doing it again I would stick with the proportions outlined above, but leave the oatmeal in the mixture longer to let it soak up the fluid for longer (and consider pearl barley as a possible substitute), or maybe experiment with upping the lard content.

lundi 24 janvier 2011

Burns night Hackney style: images

Nice to get off the phone from the HoxtonHopper to roll up to this very fine display of pictures taken at the Hackney LCC's annual Burns bash. Looks like a fun time was had by all, with John Campbell very ably MCing the night. Notable turns this year included the Muckers unplugged along with the other traditional after-dinner recitations, including of course, an Immortal Memory speech which traces for the assembled company Burns' development as a cyclist.

The Muckers plugged in for a couple of sets of dancing, and despite a few intial difficulties with the lighting, a fine time was had by all. The 25 dance-only tickets had happily been appropriated by some hipster youth, who apparently much appreciated their initiation into the finer points of Scottish culture.

lundi 10 janvier 2011

Not too late for a new year's resolution

I very much prefer not to hit the ground running, so I've been tapering in my activities since the festive break. But here we are on the second Monday of the month, and as yet no new paying clients have been found for the cabinet.

This is not too serious in the short term, but it would be nice to hit five figures of gross income well within the first year of operation, so I've been strolling around the internet "networking". I also started my studies in German, and thought about brushing up my Russian and Spanish. Proper translators it seems, have at least four languages in their quiver.

My German blog is a joke. For the time being the unfortunate Herr Julius Beezer operates a wordpress blog in that language, which consists of machine translated paragraphs from the original English. Well, it's one way to learn. Fortunately I have no other immediate choice as I ditched all the kilos of dull grammars and dictionaries in Switzerland a while back, and it's a long ride down there to pick them up (though they also have my tent, and some low-rider front pannier racks that I miss from time to time).

Herr Beezer is certainly not best pleased with his service provider: wordpress seems to barf on straighforward textual postings with alarming regularity, though they send cheerful notices confirming the receipt of an automated bug report, so he hasn't quite abandoned them in disgust for the timebeing.

Anyway, those are my new year resolutions: to brush up my languages, and find clients who need the fr>en professional service.