rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

25-11-2002 (archived)

A man has been found not guilty of removing 18 of his girlfriend's teeth while they were both high on the hallucinatory drug GHB.

She was found in April at their home in Horwich, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, with her body covered in blood and 18 of her teeth either in a bowl or on the bed.

But she told Bolton Crown Court she had removed her own teeth in an attempt to stop a "luminous green and pink fly" from choking her.

This one's been all over the net, and there are two particularly scary things about it. One is that, when he talked about his girlfriend being dressed in a clown's costume he was probably referring to her being covered in blood, an image that will stay with me.

The other is that, according to every discussion I've seen on the net, GHB just does not cause hallucinations. As jwz said, ‘my experience with GHB has been pretty much exclusively, "every now and then some fucko tries to drop dead in my club." We have not had any teeth/pliers incidents.’

This is scary because GHB is a very, very bad thing, and we all know (from experience) what happens when you're lied to about what drugs do. We all got the “marijuana'll make your brains fall out and you'll get hooked and die!” line at school, and when we found out that just wasn't true we were, well, less inclined to take drugs propaganda seriously ever again. Don't ever make the mistake of thinking kids are stupid. Lie to them and they'll catch you. The truth about GHB is enough to put people off.

I had a very relaxing weekend; I played my guitar, slept a lot, and read novels by Poppy Z. Brite (beautiful, emotionally rich splatter-punk horror with insanely great prose), J. K. Rowling (getting ready to see the new Harry Potter film), and Dorothy L. Sayers (the best detective stories ever written). I'm not sure what these authors have in common except that they're all female, all extraordinarily good, and all use their middle initial. I should probably have read some C. J. Cherryh to complete the set (or, at least, its intersection with my favourite writers). I also redesigned the way the “permablog” link box works; it was listing every page in the archive, and now I'm getting into this blogging thing it was getting pretty crowded.

What, you were waiting for a point? Move along, nothing of that description here.

27-11-2002 (archived)

Can the independent content provider make money on the web, or at least offset some costs? Without being tacky? Adam Greenfield speculates. (Via Zeldman.)

Make sure you think of the children!

28-11-2002 (archived)

This week's movie review is “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. It's OK.

What, you want details? Well, it's fairly loyal to the source text, but even in the two and a half hours or so you spend surrounded by children hyped up on sugary drinks (kids size! two pints!) they've had to cut out a lot. This was particularly noticeable for me at what should have been the emotional climax of the movie, a five-minute scene of fear and eventual relief, which comes out as a 20-second “oh, well that's alright then”.

Part of the problem is that it's not really a properly finished film; it relies heavily on the book to make the characters sympathetic and believable. The films have had to cut that out in order to get a cohesive plot together. This installment is also badly handicapped by the fact that this is easily the weakest of the four books to date. It will be interesting to see how well the adaption of the next, tour-de-force installment goes.

This review got it about right; if the books weren't a hit, these films would have tanked. But, as a corollary to the books, they work pretty well. See it if you're a fan; but if not, I wouldn't bother.

Tomorrow we're playing at the Nag's Head, in Macclesfield. We've not been there before, so why not come out and cheer us on?

29-11-2002 (archived)

Random Friday linkage:

Brian Thair of the College of New Caledonia in Prince George said he saw a silky, white web stretching 60 acres across a field.

The thin, elastic coasting was not soft and fluffy like webs built by individual spiders. There were about two spiders per square centimetre laying the silk, which first appeared in early October.

There were "in the order of tens of millions of spiders running frantically back and forth," but they weren't interacting with each other.

"Some people have said, 'oh yes, well it's a trampoline for aliens,'" Thair joked. "Or maybe it was an effort collectively by these spiders to try and catch a sheep."

From CBC news, now with photographs. Spiders! They'll side with the insects! (Via jwz.)

It would be a bad thing to have an animatronic dog bite an actor while a technician logs in and restarts applications.

Animatronics being controlled by Linux variants. Cool, no? (Via Scribot.)

Read the Cutie Bunch Friendly Pal Pack. No, really. When I'm president, all children's books will be like this.

30-11-2002 (archived)

I have occasionally been known to post snippets from IRC, and even put them in my quotes file. But this is utterly utterly brilliant. (Via Neil McD. Thanks Neil!.)

2-12-2002 (archived)

Text-align: justify. New and improved shinyness. Why did I not know about this? (Idea via Zeldman.)

Giant jellyfish with bodies the size of washing machines? That's one big scary mushroom-looking bastard. This, on the other hand, is evolution in action. (Both via jwz.)

This week's NTK summarised the ESR issue very nicely:

Oh, we'd like to think that it's just one big troll, but there's a real tone of desperate decline to it all. It's like watching Larry Ellison channel Charlton Heston; it's like Cliff from "Cheers" truly going postal; but most of all, it's like finally realising you no longer have to defend Eric S Raymond to anyone any longer. And for that, thanks for a true gift from God. http://armedndangerous.blogspot.com/

Now, I have nothing against libertarianism. I tend that way myself, socially, though I can't see fiscal libertarianism having any results I could live with (either morally or economically, in the long term). It's interesting, though, how the “war against terror”, and now against Iraq, have brought out the ultra-violent not-at-all-libertarian in many who claim that name.

And now, something else: kitten pr0n!

4-12-2002 (archived)

Today's link is “Notes on The Culture”, by Iain M. Banks himself. Long, worth it (if you're a fan).

I screwed up in my review of Bowling for Columbine, using the wrong number for Canada in my back-of-envelope calculation of gun murders per person - they're still worse off than the other non-North-Americans, but not by anything like as much as I'd thought. Thanks to Darren Wilson on the Jemsite Forum for the correction and the numbers, and apologies to all Canadians.

5-12-2002 (archived)

When your older sister and her husband moved to America with their young family, you stayed here; and when your nephew moved back, you were here for him. He started his own family, and we visited you often. Early memories: wrestling on the sheepskin rug with my brother; the joy of being allowed to have just sausages for tea; the wonder of the microscope you used to study caddis fly larvae.

These last few years I have been able to visit you more often, and your intelligence, your honesty, your constant interest in everything around you were a delight. You were the kind of person they call “a marvel for her age”, independent and strong. I never knew you to say a word or take an action that seemed out of character; you were yourself, always and completely. I never had a conversation with you without learning something new, about you, about the world, about myself. You said you wanted to last until I graduated, and then until my brother did, and the targets kept moving; and we were glad of it. You always said that your sister had started first, and you wouldn't worry until she was gone. Then, this summer, she went.

These last months, as I crossed the Pennines to sit with the tiny, sleeping shell of a woman I loved as cancer ripped through her, I mourned you. I barely knew my grandmother, but I never felt the lack, because you were that and more for me. Rest well.

Marjorie Andrews, 1914-2002.

6-12-2002 (archived)

In the course of today's lunch conversation, all three of these pieces were mentioned. We don't believe in talking shop...

"In which the hacker tourist ventures forth across the wide and wondrous meatspace of three continents, acquainting himself with the customs and dialects of the exotic Manhole Villagers of Thailand, the U-Turn Tunnelers of the Nile Delta, the Cable Nomads of Lan tao Island, the Slack Control Wizards of Chelmsford, the Subterranean Ex-Telegraphers of Cornwall, and other previously unknown and unchronicled folk; also, biographical sketches of the two long-dead Supreme Ninja Hacker Mage Lords of global telecommunications, and other material pertaining to the business and technology of Undersea Fiber-Optic Cables, as well as an account of the laying of the longest wire on Earth, which should not be without interest to the readers of Wired."

Neal Stephenson's Mother Earth Mother Board.

"If you don't care about megawatts, bus bars bigger than your wrist, things that cause ground loops out to Hawaii, or big hairy construction projects hit D now."

Engineering pr0n!

In principle, ecologists might employ two basic strategies to get at a problem like this. The empiricists would go out and find a field site where they could actually observe predators and their prey, and just tally the results over time. The theoreticians would chuckle at the empiricists, and construct mathematical models that probably approximate the behavior of populations in the field, keeping their hands more or less clean in the process.

In real life, most ecologists use both strategies off and on. Unfortunately, I don't know of any real life vampire populations in the field, so we're going to have to pretend that we are strict theoreticians. That means that we'll be using math: some algebra, some calculus, and some matrix theory. This is O.K.! It hurts a lot less than, say, getting bitten by a vampire as you're trying to fit the bugger with a radio collar.

The population dynamics of vampires in Sunnydale. (Via Oblomovka.)

7-12-2002 (archived)

Today I have been doing my celebrated impersonation of a cretin, mostly at the supermarket. Why isn't the car wash working right? Because you're too far forward, idiot. Then I get to the checkout without something I need, and send a helpful, fundraising, cub scout for it. He brings me the (slightly) wrong thing, and I haven't the heart to say.

Then I get home and realise I have forgotten two other things, and have to go back for them. What's dumber than a man who doesn't use a shopping list? Why, that would be a man who has a list and doesn't write everything down on it. <sigh />.

This week's movie review is “Die Another Day”, the latest in the James Bond series. It was better than I'd expected. Halle Berry was as good as the role let her be, and looked as delectable as the film's 12A certificate permitted; the principal villain is played with enormous enjoyment and enjoyability by Toby Stephens, caricaturing Bond's arrogant womanising Englishman to perfection; and John Cleese is a national treasure. Brosnan is adequate as ever in the title role, and the fourteen-month inprisonment, torture, and subsequent distrust makes a good opening motif.

On the downside, the effects and stunts are not great. Unlike, say, xXx, many of the stunts are more in the “do they expect me to believe that?” category, rather than the “how the hell?” that they should evoke. The film seems to be desperately striving to be of the moment, from Madonna's oh-so-two-months-ago vocoded/AutoTuned title track to the Matrix-like camera effects at the beginning of many shots, and sadly much of the digital trickery looks like nothing so much as cut-scenes from PlayStation games. Admittedly I didn't see it for a week or two after it opened, but it shouldn't have looked and felt this dated.

Worth a couple of hours and a bucket of popcorn, though.