chickenfeet: (mew)
 Perfectly serious question that's been troubling me about the Brexit situation.  How can the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland be any different than that between the rest of the UK and the rest of the EU?  I can't see it.  Let's look at people but I think the arguments apply equally to goods.  If a person can cross the border from NI to the IR without any kind of passport/visa check then anyone who is in, or can manage to get into, the UK is free to go anywhere in the EU.  Unless perhaps a "hard" border is established between the IR and the other EU states which I can't see happening.  The same is true in the other direction.  Either there are controls at the border or between NI and the rest of the UK and the IR and the rest of the EU.  Am I missing something?

Beer

May. 27th, 2017 12:19 pm
chickenfeet: (Default)
 Last night was the semi annual Craft Beer Festival at C'est What.  As usual there were about 50 beers on offer ($1 - $2 per sample).  Time was when this was a bit of a riot and quite often one found a really exciting beer from an unexpected source plus some real shockers.  Over the last two or three years though it seems to have settled down.  The experiments are less wild; no chilli, chocolate, durian IPA.  There are still new brewers but it's a more stable market and they have to be solid to be there at all.  So, bottom line, the 15 or so beers I tried all fell in a 5-8 point window on a 10 point scale, which means that everything we tried was way better than InbevAB or equivalent swill but nothing was mind blowing.  Best of the night:
Halcyon Infinity Mirror IPA - grapefruity IPA with a touch of Brett
Clifford Sour Cherry Porter - One of the best porters around with an interesting added note
chickenfeet: (Default)
 I've been watching a BBC Scotland documentary about archeological work on Orkney.  The basic hypothesis is that the "stone circle culture" that came to dominate the British Isles around 3000 BCE originated on Orkney among a group of settlers from continental Europe and then spread south.  It's an intriguing theory and the evidence looks pretty good.

Reading Penrose's latest "Faith, Fashion and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe".  Typical Penrose.  Unlike some other popular physicists he refuses to skip over the mathematical basis of his argument.  I had hoped to never again encounter a gauge tensor but there you go.

Just got back from a convo with a chap working on a PhD on how audiences perceive shows.  It made me realise just how analytical and model based my own process as an audience member is.  It's curious how little research there is on the cognitive processes of audiences.

For the first time in a long time I've been trying to fit some new and different ideas into my politics.  I'm thinking about two related ideas (or at least I think they are related).  One, which I wrote about here a couple of days ago is the idea of "sovereignty" and how the 19th century view of it as indivisible and mapped isomorphically to "nations" is probably very unhelpful, especially when thinking about multi-polity initiatives like the EU.  The other is land ownership and the idea again that "ownership" is a single thing vested in an "owner".  First Nations had/have a very different idea of the relationship between people and land and maybe we need to think some about that.  European settlement in the Americas can't be undone but perhaps new ways of thinking about the land and the people on it can help with the process of Truth and Reconciliation (and, yes, the unthinkable, Restitution).

Delusion

May. 2nd, 2017 10:22 am
chickenfeet: (Default)
 I see a lot of articles and the like about how the leaders of the EU consider the British government position to be "delusional".  I'm beginning to think though that a major part of the problem is that the EU's take on the British government (and a very large chunk of the British people) is also "delusional".  The EU seems to think that the UK is going to negotiate "rationally" where "rationally" means with a realistic (by EU political class standards) understanding of the UK's place in the world and its bargaining power.  I suggest this is a dead wrong assumption.

From my observation point, i.e. as someone brought up in the UK and still with strong ties there but having lived elsewhere for over 30 years, I think this is unlikely.  I'm sure the EU sees the UK as a medium sized political, military and economic power with very little bargaining leverage versus the EU27.  May, and her supporters (a big chunk of the population of the UK), think very differently.  They still see the UK as a "great power" and as very special.  This manifests itself in a number of rather odd ways:
  • An actual belief that the UK is a (more or less) equal partner with the US via the special relationship.
  • A belief that the world (and Europe in particular) owes Britain a huge debt for single handedly liberating Europe from the Nazis.
  • Clinging on desperately to the last bits of Empire in a way that would have made Lord Palmerston guffaw,.  I don't think he cared much for the "Britishness" of the people of Heligoland or the Dodecanese.
This probably isn't a view that too many would articulate in those words but look at the reaction to, say, the Gibraltar issue or the comments directed at Juncker along the lines of "if it wasn't for us you'ld be speaking German" (and leaving aside that he does...)  In short, the government will try to negotiate from a position that seriously overestimates its punching power and will be egged on by the press at every stage.  Paradoxically, the more this approach digs them into a hole, the more they will stick with it.  This does not bode well.

Another stumbling block will be the government's concept of "sovereignty" as something indivisible.  This is a really outdated 19th century notion that needs to be ditched.  The idea that there is an (indivisible) nation that is the only political entity that has the attribute sovereignty is manifestly not true in the modern world and it wouldn't be helpful if it were.  It's even a bit odd that it is such a shibboleth in a rather odd multi-national conglomeration that can't decide what the nation is anyway, at least partly because, outside the fringes, it's not even possible to raise the question and have a rational discussion.  Imagine asking Theresa May whether she is English or British, which of those nations she identifies with and which one is sovereign and whose sovereignty is going to be repatriated from the EU.  I think she's go into a core meltdown repeating "strong and stable" on endless loop until her head exploded.

chickenfeet: (mew)
 I've been reading Susan Brigden's biography of Sir Thomas Wyatt.  It's dense and interesting but one really interesting modern parallel struck me.  Diplomacy becomes all but impossible when one party self image of itself is something that the rest of the world simply doesn't acknowledge or recognize.  In this case it's Henry VIII's insistence that he is an orthodox Catholic despite the Break with Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  This puts his ambassadors to the Catholic powers (Wyatt was ambassador to the Emperor) in an impossible negotiating position.  This seems remarkably close to the current British government position on Brexit in that there seems to be a belief that the UK can be part of the Single Market while rejecting the bits it doesn't like.  Now Henry was a megalomaniac and probably had fallen on his head a few too many times jousting.  I'm not sure what May's excuse is.
chickenfeet: (canada)
 Just watched the highlights of the Singapore sevens.  Canada's first gold medal in the HSBC series and over the USA in the final at that.  And Lucas Hammond scored the winning try.  I used to coach that kid.  So not only have the Nomads produced the last two captains of the women's XV team and the captain of our medal winning women's sevens team in Rio but now this.
chickenfeet: (Default)
Reading about the massacre of the Eigg Macdonalds is leading to very silly speculation about the odds of there being a clan McMuffin or a clan McNugget. Neither seems intrinsically unlikely. Why should one not run across the McNuggets of ghleann cearc?
chickenfeet: (Default)
 So today's culinary excursion was an exercise in simplicity.  I had a lake trout fillet caught in Lake Huron yesterday.  I had asparagus.  I cooked some du Puy lentils and seasoned them with butter, salt, pepper and balsamic.  I grilled the asparagus.  I cut the trout into portions and heated a non stick pan as hot as I could get it.  A little olive oil and the fish skin side down.  A couple of minutes and I turned down the heat.  Flipped the fish to get some colour on the other side then flipped it again, whacked up the heat and nappéed the fish with some butter until it was just done.  I served the fish on a bed of lentils with a sprinkling of sea salt and a wedge of lime with the asparagus on the side.  Gorgeous!

Clean up

Apr. 12th, 2017 03:44 pm
chickenfeet: (Default)
 As part of the clean break from LJ I am disabling all sub and access links to LJ.  Everyone in my Dreamwidth Circle should be unaffected in terms of access from within Dreamwidth.

Time Reborn

Apr. 7th, 2017 01:39 pm
chickenfeet: (Default)
 I just finished reading Lee Smolin's Time Reborn.  It's a tough piece of writing that, like earlier Smolin works, argues that contemporary particle physics and cosmology are largely barking up the wrong tree.  It's a view that Roger Penrose also holds for different reasons.  This time the argument, crudely reduced, is that the methods of "physics in a box" cannot logically or realistically be transfered to a theory of the universe as a whole.  "Physics in a box" assumes independent observation and measurement of time and space.  Clearly at the scale of the universe there can be no such independent observation etc.  He then argues that the route forward is to reintroduce a heuristic view of time as we experience it (as opposed to the time invariance of Newton, Einstein, Maxwell and the Standard Model).  It's a clever blend of physics and metaphysics and he is a very, very smart person so maybe he has a point.  Then for reasons I don't fully grasp he goes off on a tangent into economics where he really hasn't done his homework.  He correctly points out that all the insights that the use of advanced mathematics have provided have been largely ignored by academic economists (though not by hedge funds) and then keeps drawing parallels with physics.  This drives me nuts.  Having spent umpteen chapters arguing about how, physically and metaphysically, a universe can have laws; whether universal for all time or not, he completely misses the point that economies are not ruled by extrinsic laws.  They are created and shaped by the decisions of the actors within them.  The "laws" can be changed by legislation or other government action.  The "initial conditions" of an economy are determined by things like trade rules and decisions on what lies in the public and what in the private sector.  It's as if Parliament or Congress could decide on the strength of gravity or the mass of the electron.  He just doesn't get this.  He seems to think the "Economy" is like the "Cosmos" and is just waiting for clever people like him to discover how it really works.  Would somebody please buy him the "Dummies Guide to Marxism" (not that I think Marx got everything right but he did realise that economics and politics are inextricably intertwined).  It's not just a case of finding a new class of Philosopher Economists who believe in evidence based decision making.  Gah!
chickenfeet: (srscat)
 I just went to check in on the handful of LJ friends who are not on Dreamwidth.  Apparently to do so one now has to sign a contract with what appears to be the Russian Mafia.  It isn't going to happen so I will no longer be visiting LJ.  There are a handful of accounts I'll miss so "byee".   Not that I'm terribly active over here anymore either but I do check in on my reading list fairly regularly.
chickenfeet: (resistance)
 Reflecting on the latest douchebaggery from US Customs and Immigration which "service" seems to be on a tear to make entering the US even more awful.  I don't want to exaggerate the changes because these people have always been complete bastards and I have had plenty of unpleasant experiences though nowhere near as bad as many people I know.  They epitomise the callous, rules driven approach of American officialdom at its worst and they have only been encouraged by the lack of scrutiny they expect from the Cheetoh Benito regime.  Anyway, the thought I had was that quite possibly Douglas Adams based the Vogons on US Immigration.  They have all the right characteristics; rude, loud, absence of empathy, bureaucratic.  I just hope they don't write poetry.

Well w00t!

Mar. 8th, 2017 10:00 am
chickenfeet: (resistance)
 A while ago I rather speculatively sent off emails to just about every producer/distributor of opera videos that I could get any sort of contact for.  The initial response wasn't great though Euroarts came through and a contact put me in touch with Universal Classics (DGG, Decca etc).  Now Naxos have come through and, in North America, besides their own stuff they distribute literally dozens of labels including Opus Arte, C Major and Arthaus. I may never have to buy another opera recording!

I did it

Feb. 21st, 2017 03:35 pm
chickenfeet: (four seasons centre)
 Today is technically my last day of employment with the Central West LHIN though really I haven't even pretended to do anything for a week or so.  I did apply for the Opera Canada editorship.  I'm not sure I can live on it but it's not full time and I can probably find enough other consulting/writing work to get me through to retirement!
chickenfeet: (resistance)
 The admirable First Dog on the Moon's latest creation is Raccoons of the Resistance.  Not content with saving Science by spiriting it away to safety in Canada they are now gearing up to take on Twitler on all fronts, especially garbage cans.
chickenfeet: (Default)
 The US DoD is the largest operator of IT infrastructure in the world.  It has over two million devices on its networks and, depending on the metric one chooses, is 2 to 4 times bigger than the next largest player; Google or Microsoft depending on the metric.  The mouse is mightier than the sword!

Microsoft's cloud offerings now include videoconferencing with real time language translation (latency measured in milliseconds).  Among the languages available is Klingon.  Geeks will be geeks.
chickenfeet: (death)
 Vlad's dream just came true...

Forget Syria.  Russia has no real strategic interest there.  The front line is the Donbas and the Baltic States.  Suppose, just suppose (and for fun let's pick inauguration day) Russia were to annex the Donbas?  Or even couple it with an invasion of the Baltic states?  Answers on a post card please.  Oh, and if I were Netanyahu I would choose the same day to announce the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza.  Strange times make strange bed fellows.
chickenfeet: (mew)
 Just back from a few days in Australia.  It's been twenty years since I last flew to Australia and, I think, thirty since I did it in cattle class.  Observations:

1.  I'm 20/30 years older than last time.  This does not help.

2. The introduction of new, really long range planes, has changed the game.  Used to be that LA to Sydney was about the longest flight segment out there (12 hours or so).  Now AC flies Vancouver to Sydney (15 hours).  This is quite a big change.  Also much shorter layovers as same plane Sydney to Toronto which makes for a lot of plane time pretty much non-stop (22 hours or so).  I could take this in J/F as it does shorten the overall journey time but it's very hard on the body in cattle class.

3.  It's going to get more that way.  The latest airliners have the range to do Sydney to London in one swell foop.  Guessing 20 hours plus.  The airlines will love this as it means lower costs (less fuel for takeoff/landings, fewer airport charges) and it will be a big win with the front cabin who will certainly prefer shorter journey times and where comfort, already not bad on e.g. 747s now allows for real sleep.  Could be pretty hard in cattle class though.

4.  No prospect of reduced journey times though until someone revives supersonic.  Air speeds are currently up around 900 km/hr which is about as fast as subsonic gets.

5.  I really think this will be my last Australia trip.  Another few years and I really will not be able to take it.


chickenfeet: (canada)
 So last night we were standing on Wynford Drive across from the Aga Khan Museum waiting for the 34 bus to the subway.  So were two other dudes who had been at the concert.  Bus arrives.  Out come four Presto cards.  "No Presto" grunts the driver.  Frantic scrabbling for the elusive "emergency token".  There are still places where one can get bitten by the TTC's half-assed/half-hearted Presto implementation.

FWIW we got to the museum on the Flemington Park bus.  This is surely the weirdest bus route in Toronto.  It must cross the Don Valley about four times as it weaves a bizarre route through those bits of Toronto that most white people never see.  Also it was packed.  Despite two coming together on a Saturday evening.  TTC outside the core?  The food bank of transit systems.
chickenfeet: (bike)
 It's not a particularly nice day today but I needed some fresh air and exercise so I decided to check out some of our new, improved and not so good bike infrastructure today.

So, north on Sherbourne to Gerrard, which is now open again.  The bike lane as far as Yonge is much better than before with more separation and an improved surface.  West of their it's like trying to drive a tank through the Siegfried line, as ever.  North on Bay to College, then St. George and west on Harbord.  All familiar, solid biking routes.  I cut north to check out the new lanes on Bloor which are alleged to have cut sales of kimchee by 40% or something ridiculous.  They are quite nice with decent physical separation as far as Avenue Road, then OK sharrows to Church where it gets really skeezy until Sherbourne.  OK bike lane Sherbourne to Parliament but the section from there to Castle Frank desperately needs flexipoles.  The traffic is really fast and inclined to clip the bike lane.  No fun.  The poled section from Castle Frank to Broadview is a massive improvement.  It's definitely glass half full.  I'm just vglad they don't let city planners design bridges because I swear they would design them with a gap in the middle.  

I then decided to try out Broadview since this is the city's recommended alternative to the currently closed Lower Don Trail.  It's a nightmare.  Clearly the recommendation was made by one of those planners who has never actually ridden a bike.

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