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Showing posts from January, 2010

Science & Libel

There's been quite a lot of talk in the media recently about the relationship between Science, Libel Law, Alternative Medicine and Evidence.  It's mostly in relation to the experiences of Simon Singh and others who have been sued in the UK for saying things like:
The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence.The Chiropractic Association in the UK took great offence at this for reasons I can't comprehend and decided to sue Dr Singh for rather a large sum of money.

Now, here's what I think about this. First there really is little or no evidence that chiropractic is any better than physiotherapy for treating back pain.  In fact, there appears to be real evidence that it's less effective (and in some rare cases, dangerous).  Further, many unscrupulous chiropractors claim that their treatments…


I've not used this space to talk about what I do for a living before, so I think today is a good day to tell you a bit about that.

I'm a Software Engineer, working mainly as a Java/J2EE programmer/analyst.  I'm also a contractor, which means I get to switch jobs every 3-6 months.  There are many good and bad things about this arrangement.

First the good:

The pay is certainly better.  I earn more in a week, than I would earn as a permanent in 3.  Maybe even more, depending on the rate.  I get to work on something different every few months.  No endless maintenance!Less office politics.  I don't have to care if Eric's not talking to Lucy because she said he was incompetent. Or smells bad (this happens in every office).But there are downsides If I don't work, I don't get paid.  So : holidays, sick leave, bereavement, paternity and anything else - no pay.Interviews every few months.  Jeese, I'm sick of interviews.  I get hired one in every three interviews (a…

El Estudiante

We saw our final film at the Mexican Film Festival in Wellington on Tuesday.  It was El Estudiante (The Student) and was the story of a retired man who decides to go to university in the beautiful city of Guanajuato, which was one of the real stars of the film.

Really, it was about his effect on the young people there, and their effect on him.  Although the values of the young were different than the old man and his wife, there was more that they had in common, than separated them.

It's a very pleasant, uplifting film, and I think it'll be something I'll look out for on DVD.

Sin Nombre

On Saturday, we had a very busy day. We saw a grand total of 3 Mexican films.

The first one (Otra Pelicula de Huevos y un pollo) was an animated comedy featuring talking eggs & a chicken, and to be honest, I think you have to be Mexican to get most of the jokes.  I was in a row with several Mexican people who where practically doubled over laughing when one of the eggs said something which I though was about 15% funny. Oh well, I guess it was entertaining enough.  I liked the animation & appreciated the very high production quality.

The second (Los Herederos) was a documentary about kids living in rural Mexico.  I found this to be a very powerful film.  It contained very little actual dialog - it mostly showed this kids working hard.  Damn hard -  expected to work as hard as the adults from a very early age.  I'll not go into much detail - I reckon anyone who has an interest in Mexico should see it for themselves.

The last one (Sin Nombre) was by far the best of the 3, and…

Arráncame la vida

Last night we attended the first night of the Hola Mexico Film Festival in Wellington.  The first movie of the season was Arráncame la vida (Tear This Heart Out), the story of a woman who marries a Mexican General in the years following the Mexican Revolution of 1910.  

I found it to be a real genre breaker as far as Mexican cinema goes.  Over the years, we've seen several Mexican movies, and the general theme seems to be heart breaking tragedy, and rarely a happy ending.  This one was different however.  Although tragedy played a huge part in the story (I don't want to give anything away, but don't get too attached to the Carlos character.  He doesn't last long..), the ending seems quite uplifting.  Well, comparatively at least.

The story starts when the protagonist is 15 years old, and being whirlwinded into a marriage with a famous (or infamous) general, twice her age.  It tracks her sexual awakening as a teenager, through to her intellectual awakening in the followin…

Guitar Completed... more or less...

I finally got the guitar finished.  I'm sure you'll remember that one I bought in a local auction shortly before Christmas?

I finally got it wired up, screw together and stringed.  I plugged it in and was more than a little amazed to find that it actually worked!  It's actually feels nice to play, and looks pretty too.

It also has buckets of tone and I would imagine would make a nice blues guitar.

However, it's not perfect as yet. There appears to be something of an annoying hum,  but I think with some additional shielding and grounding, it'll be fine.  And it's a fairly well known issue with strats anyway.

Also, the neck pickup appears not to work.  Not sure why - it appears to be correctly wired.  No problems though.  I very rarely use that pickup anyway.

And lastly, the scratch plate doesn't really fit.  The body isn't exactly a strat shape, just very similar.  I think it looks quirky, so I don't mind :)

Check it out:

Looks quite nice eh?

Here's …

Christopher Hitchens

There's a fantastic interview with Christopher Hitchens here which seems to mainly be about the recent axe attack in Denmark.  The victim was the chap who drew the cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb for a turban.  Mildly funny, but apparently incredibly offensive to some very touchy Muslims.  The man in his 70's was enjoying New Year's Eve with his young grand daughter when an axe-wielding-maniac stormed into his house, injuring the man, and probably frightening the little girl for the rest of her years.  I don't have the words to describe how horrified I am to hear about this.  So, I'll let Christopher fill in the gaps:
These are some of the same people who say that if I don't believe in God I can't know what morality is. They've just dissolved morality completely into relativism by saying actually, occasionally, carving up grandfathers and granddaughters with an axe on New Year's Eve can be okay if it's done to protect the reputation of a s…

Rosca De Reyes

Yesterday was a fairly special day in the Mexican calendar.  Means fek all on the irish calendar, but who cares about that?

It was 3 Kings day.  I'm sure you remember the story.  We had posada a few days before christmas ("no room at the inn") and we had christmas day ("baby jesus day") and now we have the day when three wise men ("Well, what are you doing creeping around a cow shed at two o'clock in the morning? That doesn't sound very wise to me.") come to visit to give gifts of gold, frenenstien and murr, which is a type of balm ("A balm, what are you giving him a balm for? It might bite him. It's a dangerous animal. Quick, throw it in the trough.")

Anyway.  Tradionally kids gets toys, and a big bread called a Rosca De Reyes (Kings Bread) is made.

We tried to make one last year but it didn't come out too well.  It was hard, and fairly flavourless.  Being tech savy, we decided to consult The Google.

There must be a hundred…

Freshly Picked Strawberries

It's a beautiful summer's day in Wellington, and we thought : well - let's go see what's fresh at Penreys PYO fruit and veggie place in Otaki.

It's an hour or so's drive, but it's a pleasant trip up along the coast through Paraparamu.

We arrived in the middle of the afternoon heat, and discovered that unfortunately It's a bit early in the season, so we had to make-do with just fresh strawberries.  However, when fresh hand picked Strawberries are the consolation prize, there really isn't much to complain about.  The girl explained that there will be chillies, apples, tomatoes and other stuff towards the end of February.  We'll be back...

But in the meantime...
Oh my : beautiful wee red lumps of sweet, juicy deliciousness.

Oh my!

So, apart from eating them 'straight', what does one to with fresh berries? There's the obvious answers jam, strawberry cake, pavlova.  What else? I think Pavlova gets my vote but I'd like to try something…

Gardening Rocks

Since we moved into our house here in the windy suburb of Newlands, we have been endeavouring to grow our own fresh produce.

Early this summer, I planted Peas, Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes and Silver beat.
So far, the peas and potatoes have been the most successful, but I hold good hopes for the onions and tomatoes later in the summer. The silver beat, well, I don't really like it anyway...


...and spuds

For dinner yesterday we bought some decent quality filet steak and some prawns.  If that doesn't scream Surf N Turf, I don't know what does!

We picked some peas and dug up some potatoes. Oh boy: excellent! There's nothing quite like having diner that is mostly made up your own garden produce.

Road Trip Part 2

Cathedral Cove set the bar very high it has to be said.  When we got back to our cars, we discovered that we were mostly hungry, so the consensus was reached that we should try to find somewhere to eat.  

So, we followed Tom, who thought he knew of a suitable place to eat.  However, this turned out to be a Ferry port (end of the road) and we had no notion of where to go next.

It was starting to get late by this point, but since we had the tent in the boot, we weren't that worried.

I switched on my tomtom to see if it knew of any good places to eat nearby.  It did : claimed that the closest place was a little cafe/restaurant.  I gave them a call, and they told me that the kitchen would be open for another half an hour.  Excellent!

I programmed the GPS and off we went.  10 minutes later, we still weren't near the place.  Strange.
The tomtom now claimed that what had started as a 10 minutes drive had 30 minutes left to go.  Very Strange.

We wanted to call Tom & Alfa to see what we …

Road Trip

I'm not generally the sort of person to make wild & outragous over-exagerations, but I think that this entry may qualify as an exception.  The Coromandel region in New Zealand is probably the most beautiful place in the world.  But more on that later.

We spent Christmas with our good friends Dom, Jen & Jordan.  We had a fairly traditional christmas - a nice roast dinner, movie and presents. Very pleasent evening was had, and we were all nicely full by the end of it.  Jen's mince pies were remarkably good :)

The following morning, Jacqui and I went north.  It was our other good friend Dave's (60th!) birthday on the 27th, but since he lives in Auckland, we decided to head a day before so that we'd be freah enough to wish him many happy returns without collapsing in exhaustion.  As always the drive north is outstandingly beautiful, but long (9 fekking hours!). The views of the mountains along the desert road are breathtaking, even after seeing them so many times.