Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Going Postal

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2009 by lesmonde

Life must be beautifully simple in whatever delusory parallel dimension the collective mind of the Daily Mail resides. The moral landscape is a comfortable, if a little drab, chessboard of black and white. Science can and should deliver binary “yes” or “no” answers to complex issues and when it can’t we may as well just make up crazy shit and believe that. Britain is bloody great and every other country is populated with peculiar yokels. And people can be neatly sorted into perfectly homogeneous little squirming dollops of either “goodies” or “baddies” based on the most superficially obvious of their circumstances.

So, the depth of thought required to navigate rationally through our world where the human condition is an inextricable knot of complex interacting factors would make their tiny brains, sensitively balanced to handle only the most childishly simple of concepts, bubble and pop like simmering porridge. No surprise, then, that they avoid such attempts at analysis and deliver indignant headlines like the one we can see today:

“Millionaire who fought off a knife-wielding burglar is jailed (while the intruder is let off)”

Bloody hell! You’d be forgiven for thinking that each member of our judiciary had disappeared up his nearest colleague’s arse, forming a spectacular ouroboros of thousands of suffocating judges that would rival the London Eye. However, remember that this headline was written by denizens of the DailyMailian utopia where “the transgressions of goodies” is a logical non-sequitur and any unpleasant fate that befalls baddies is their just dues. Therefore, it’s no surprise that some “nuances” may be missing from this perspective on the events.

With that in mind, let’s attempt to fertilise this half-story with the semen of fact and see if we can’t deliver something more wholly resembling the truth. First of all, it is not in dispute that a “millionaire”, in this case businessman Munir Hussein, “fought off a knife-wielding burglar”. It also seems to be an undisputable matter of record that Mr Hussein has been “jailed”. What is implied by the headline, however, is that Mr Hussein was jailed for fighting off the knife-wielding burglar. Now, that’s not quite true. Mr Hussein was jailed for, after successfully “fighting off the knife-wielding burglar”, pursuing the fleeing criminal down the street before using a cricket bat, a metal pole and hockey stick to deliver an attack that was vicious enough to break the cricket bat into three pieces.

It also seems to be the case that the “intruder was let off”. “Let off”, however, is a rather rosy way of painting this particular picture. The intruder was declared unfit to stand trial for the burglary because Mr Hussein’s assault had smashed his skull to pieces and has left him brain damaged in a hospital bed.

Predictably, the mouth-breathing, Mail-reading masses have swarmed all over this roundly nasty little tale like maggots feasting on a gangrenous sore between the bum-cheeks of humanity. “It’s a travesty,” they froth “a dastardly outrage and a perplexing nonsense that the law will not permit us to exercise gruesome acts of violence in order to protect our property, our families and ourselves!” Thing is: the law does allow us to perpetrate horrendous violence with near impunity in the pursuit of these understandable goals. Consider the case of Nathan “Poseidon” Kirk, a young man who, when confronted with a “knife-wielding burglar” in his girlfriend’s house, unloaded a three-pronged harpoon from a spear-gun into the trespasser’s surprised face, causing serious damage (including the loss of an eye).

Sare AneSare Ane

He, quite rightly, walked from court a free and victorious man. In this case, Mr Kirk was confronting an ongoing threat. In the case of Mr Hussein, any immediate threat had passed, yet through anger or a desire for vengeance Mr Hussein gathered weapons, pursued his trespasser, and spent several energetic minutes challenging himself to turn the young man’s brains into Ardennes pâté.

We all, from time to time, allow ourselves to enjoy fantasies of the terrible vengeances we could mete out against our transgressors. Gladly, though, most of us possess qualities such as “reason” and “self-control” and never see these desires go any further than a few pejoratives grumbled into our spaghetti hoops. If we accept the right of the victim to deliver justice, and the right of the transgressed to decide how to deal with his transgressors, we accept putting power in the hands of the people least likely to be objective and sanction a return to times when the mob ruled, salt water was a decadent Christmas feast and the consumption of bees was considered a credible means of contraception.

So, should Mr Hussein have gone to prison for what he did? Truthfully, I don’t know. I’m positive, though, that he should have been punished. He might have been out of his mind with adrenaline (as his defence team suggested) and he may well have wanted to make sure there was no chance of the burglar returning. Neither of these considerations means we should excuse and passively encourage mindless or pre-emptive violence. It’s at the end of that little sewer of nastiness that mob-rule and vigilantism lies.

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Blue Eyes

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2009 by lesmonde

Here’s the much renowned “Blue-Eyes” puzzle. It’s been kicking about for an eternity and always seems to confuse and befuddle and lead to screaming matches and downright incredulity over the answer and the general structure of the puzzle. Most recently for me, over on the forums at Bad Science. Give it a go before looking at the answer (which I’ll provide a link to (or a link to what I, at least, believe to be the answer) at the end).

I’ve taken this from the XKCD wiki.

A group of people with assorted eye colors live on an island. They are all perfect logicians—if a conclusion can be logically deduced, they will do so instantly. No one knows the color of their own eyes. Every night at midnight, a ferry stops at the island. Any islanders who have figured out the color of their own eyes then leave the island, and the rest stay. Everyone can see everyone else at all times and keeps a count of the number of people they see with each eye color (excluding themselves), but they cannot otherwise communicate. Everyone on the island knows all the rules in this paragraph.

On this island there are 100 blue-eyed people, 100 brown-eyed people, and the Guru (she happens to have green eyes). So any given blue-eyed person can see 100 people with brown eyes and 99 people with blue eyes (and one with green), but that does not tell him his own eye color; as far as he knows the totals could be 101 brown and 99 blue. Or 100 brown, 99 blue, and he could have red eyes.

The Guru is allowed to speak once (let’s say at noon), on one day in all their endless years on the island. Standing before the islanders, she says the following:

“I can see someone who has blue eyes.”

Who leaves the island, and on what night?

There are no mirrors or reflecting surfaces, nothing dumb. It is not a trick question, and the answer is logical. It doesn’t depend on tricky wording or anyone lying or guessing, and it doesn’t involve people doing something silly like creating a sign language or doing genetics. The Guru is not making eye contact with anyone in particular; she’s simply saying “I count at least one blue-eyed person on this island who isn’t me.”

Note: The answer is not “no one leaves.”

My attempt to provide and explain the answer is here.

Blue Eyes – Explained (I think)

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2009 by lesmonde

Here’s my attempt to explain the answer to the famous Blue Eyes puzzle.  Bear with me.  Also, this may all be wrong.  It’s quite confusing!

The answer to the puzzle is that all 100 blue-eyed people will leave on the 100th night.  Why?  If there was only one person with blue eyes, they would leave the first night, knowing  from simple observation that they were the person the guru had mentioned.  Two blue-eyed  people will leave on the second night, because each knows that if the single blue eyed person they could see was the only one they would have left on the first night.  When they don’t leave they can assume that the blue-eyed person they see must also see a blue-eyed person, and seeing no other blue-eyed people, the know it must be themself.  So the night of leaving is the number of blue-eyed people each blue-eyed person can see, plus one.

The brown eyed people and the guru can never leave.

However, whenever this puzzle comes up, lots of people seem to get the answer but have a lot of difficulty understanding how the guru’s words can be important.  “She says she sees a blue eyed-person?  Well, duh, there are loads of them.  Everyone on the island can see a blue-eyed person.  What’s she telling them that they don’t already know?”

It’s a good question, and had me stumped for a while.  But she is telling them something very important:  she’s telling them how much confidence they can have in the assumptions of their peers.

The easiest way to understand this is to consider what will happen if there is only one blue-eyed person on the island.  In this case, the guru’s words are clearly very important.  If she announces she has seen at least one blue-eyed person, that blue-eyed individual can deduce the colour of his eyes because he can observe no other blue-eyed people in the population.  So he leaves the island on the first night, and the rest of the population are stranded.

In the case of two blue-eyed people the guru’s words are, again, very clearly important.  If individuals A and B are both blue-eyed they can deduce their eye-colour through the principle demonstrated in the one-blue-eyed-individual example above.  That is to say that A observes B as having blue-eyes and realises that, after hearing the guru’s words, if B had observed no other blue-eyed people he would have left the island.  Therefore when B does not leave, and A observes no one else in the population with blue eyes, A can deduce that he has blue eyes.  Exactly the same logic applies in reverse (from person B to person A), so they both leave the island on the second night.

Now consider the example of three blue-eyed people on the island: A, B and C.  Each of these three individuals can see two blue eyed people, so the guru’s announcement is not news to them.

We’ll look at the three-blue-eyed-person problem from A’s perspective but it’s very important to remember that the same thing is going on in the minds of B and C.

Okay, here goes: A knows that B cannot know the colour of his own eyes.  So A’s assumption about B is that, if A’s eyes are non-blue, B can only see one person with blue eyes: C.  Further to this (and this is where it starts to get a bit brain-knotty!) A can also assume that B is assuming that C can see no-one at all with blue-eyes (because A’s baseline assumption is that his own eyes are non-blue and he’s assuming that B mistakenly thinks his own eyes are non-blue).  If B believes C to be seeing no-one with blue eyes (he doesn’t believe that, but that is A’s logical assumption) then A cannot trust B to deduce his own eye-colour based on C’s behaviour.  And we end up with a logical stalemate.

However, when the guru announces that she can see at least one person with blue eyes  the stalemate is broken.  A need no longer worry that B thinks that C sees no blue-eyed individuals because A knows that each individual has been given the knowledge that there exists at least one person with blue eyes.  On this assumption, A can confidently observe the behaviour of B and C and compare it to what would happen in the two-blue-eyed-people example in paragraph seven (behaviour itself which is dictated by what would happen in the one-blue-eyed-person example).  If B and C don’t leave on the second night, A can deduce that he also has blue-eyes and all three, each observing no other blue-eyed-people, can leave on the third night.

It’s the same principle in the puzzle, but taken to mind-melting proportions.  Basically, everyone can see 99 blue-eyed people, but everyone only knows for sure that everyone else can see 98 blue eyed people, and everyone only knows for sure that everyone else only knows for sure that everyone else can see 97 blue eyed people.  And on and on and on, until you need the guru to break the stalemate and give each member of the population the confidence to trust that everybody knows that everybody else knows that there is at least one blue-eyed person.

QED, motherfuckers.

Criticisms encouraged.

Edit: I now no longer believe that this “bottom-up” way of looking at the problem accurately reflects the puzzle, but the principle is the same. The way I’ve worded it makes it look sort of like having blue eyes is a goal from the outset.

Fear Of Wart?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2009 by lesmonde

I decided to see if I could conceive, start, and finish a short story in the time it took me to drink precisely one cup of coffee.
Here’s the result.

I call it “Fear of Wart?”

Fear Of Wart?

Stephen Potato peered through his double-glazed windows into his reasonably well-kept back garden. Light rain spotted the window pane like the saliva of an awkward, ugly teenager who’s yet to learn how to control the contents of his mouth. It was a dull day, thought Stephen, the skies were heavy and grey and this didn’t bode well for the rip to the McGonagle’s Garden Centre he’d planned for tomorrow. He wasn’t too concerned though, he was never too concerned about anything. What was the worst that could happen? He wouldn’t be able to buy the ornamental terracotta chinaman he’d had his eye on until mid-week? No, there was nothing to panic about here, so he continued to stare, unfazed by the postponement of the purchase of the slightly racist nick-nack, into his bedrizzled yard.
This semi-hypnosis that had been brought on by all this staring coupled with the rhythmic pitter-patter of the rain was broken when Stephen had the sudden urge to adjust the orientation of his penis. It is the wont of many a man when engaged in aimless thought or long, boring telephone conversations that the penis must be manipulated in some manner of means. Often the scrotum too. And it simply not sufficient to peform this adjustment through the two barriers presented by the trousers and the underpants (Stephen was a fan of briefs, he found them comforting), there must be direct contact between the hand and the genitals. This requires the hand to be thrust into the underpants and it was in doing this that Stephen felt a slight catch. Something unusual on the side of his hand which had rubbed up aginst the waistband of his briefs. He quickly pulled out his hand and examined it. There, to his almost total indifference, was a wart. A wart. One of the most banal maladies known to mankind.
“I’ll have to get that seen to”, he muttered to himself. Then, almost immediately, the barely detectable concern provoked by the wart was superceded by the thought that Time Team with Tony Baldrick would be on in five minutes. Stephen pulled himself away from the window and set about making a cup of tea which he could enjoy while immersed in this weeks archaeological adventure.

The End.

MTS 2009

Posted in Uncategorized on February 3, 2009 by lesmonde

Just a short one.

We’ve lost three to their thirties, now, but we managed to convince them to put down their pipes and slippers and come out for a pint with Martin and I, whose veins are still flowing with the sweet, sweet water of youth.

So…..MTS 2001

MTS 2001

vs….MTS 2009

MTS 2009

“But What Have The Romans Ever Done For Us?”

Posted in complaints, science, Uncategorized on January 29, 2009 by lesmonde

Vomiting up inane opinions on things one knows nothing about is part of the pop-star package. It’s something we have to expect and learn to live with. Just look at that cunt Bono and his wiry, weasel-faced protege, Chris Martin offof Coldplay.
However, every so often one comes along with such a ludicrous, demonstrably flawed diatribe (usually against ‘the establishment’; whatever that is) that you have to chisel the impacted stupidity off of your eyes with a needle-gun and purify your ears with a year of silence.

At the tail end of 2008, the expiremental rock band TV On The Radio released their third album, entitled “Dear Science”. To some critical acclaim, I believe.
In an interview with Rough Trade’s Album Club Newsletter one of their number explained the title thus:

“The title comes from a letter I wrote to science that was pinned on the studio wall. I feel like: Come on guys just solve one problem just fix one disease. I swear to god I don’t need a smaller phone or a smaller mp3 player and we don’t need more defence system shit. Enough you friggin’ brainiacs. If you have brains, try to connect them to your heart, just for a second and see what happens. This record is the result of our desire to aspire to something higher than air conditioning or technology.” David Sitek, guitar/not knowing what he’s talking about/keyboard

It’s the classic, cliched, critique of “progress” trotted out every ten seconds by some self-important scrote like this Sitek character, who obviously doesn’t like to spend too much time thinking – unless that time is spent thinking he’s Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park. “Science has left human causes behind for the dollar of the arms industry or frivolous pursuits such as portable music players! Oh noes!”

I wonder if Sitek knows anyone who has died from polio? Or smallpox? Indeed, I wonder if he’s ever even seen anyone with polio or smallpox? Or had any experience of these things at all outside of history books or perhaps the tales of a grandparent? Perhaps a grandparent who lived twice as long as the average life expectancy when they were born.

Aside from sufferings that have already been eradicated, the efforts underway just now to understand conditions such as cancer and diabetes are positively Herculean. There are many, many more scientists working on these things than there are developing defense systems or miniaturising MP3 players.
I imagine Sitek’s response would be something like “So why don’t we have a cure for cancer yet, but we can build nuclear weapons, BRAINIAC! LOLOLOL”, possibly seasoned with some verbal flatulence about the Pharmaceutical industry covering up cancer cures to make money.
This idea that we could have cured cancer by now if we really wanted to is a common piece of anti-science rhetoric, chirped up by people who haven’t the first idea what they’re talking about.

Cancer is fucking complicated. It’s mind-meltingly complicated. Creating a nuclear weapon, putting a man on the moon, or whatever other piece of progress you want to compare it with for criticism simply doesn’t cut the proverbial mustard. These things are like making beans on toast compared with understanding, let alone finding some universal cure for, cancer. Here is an image demonstrating how some of the proteins involved in cancer (or believed to be involved in cancer) interact with one another. And that’s just a fraction of one part of the story. It’s a subject that involves genetics, epigenetics, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular physiology, physics, medicine and environmental biology. The possible permutations of human biology that could lead to cancer are unimaginable. No one person will ever understand the whole story.

So, I’d like to pen a response, on behalf on science, to the letter that Sitek so rebelliously pinned to his studio wall:

Dear TV On The Radio,

While you utilise the latest products of our ever expanding knowledge of electronics and information in the studio to help you fulfil your aspiration to “something higher than air conditioning or technology”; while you utilise the machines we have built to exploit the physical laws of nature to get from A to B in promoting your record; while you take advantage of the way humanity has harnessed the power of electromagnetic radiation to broadcast your art across the globe; while you can eat and drink with reasonable confidence that what you’re eating and drinking won’t kill you; while you’re not worrying about myriad diseases any children you might have may succumb to; while you can go for an operation knowing that, through safe anaesthesia, you’ll be protected from pain and that, due to understanding of infection, you’re unlikely to die from gangrene following the procedure; while living well into your eighties…

Please remember not to tarnish the good reputation of the human brain which has brought us all of these things, by making stupid statements about things you know nothing about.

Yours,

Science

(P.S. Our brains are connected to our hearts, hence the unfortunate outcome of decapitation. You twat.)

Career Criminals and Conmen

Posted in nonsense, Uncategorized on January 23, 2009 by lesmonde

Quite a while ago I made an attempt at translating Snoop Doggy Dogg’s song “Gz and Hustlaz” into plain English. It took me quite a while and sadly got lost down the toilet of time. Anyway, I found it again, and with any other sort of inspiration giving me a wide berth today, I’ll settle for posting this.

“Gz And Hustlas”


(Chorus)

This is for the Gz, and this is for the Hustlas
This is for the hustlas, now back to the Gz
Freeze, at ease, now let me drop some more of them keys

I’d like to dedicate this song to those people for whom crime and anti-social behaviour is a way of life and specifically those who enjoy extorting money by deception.
Now please stop what you are doing, relax and let me entertain you with my song.

[Verse 1:]

“It’s 19-9-tre so let me just play
it’s Snoop Dogg, I’m on the mic, I’m back with Dr. Dre
But this time I’ma hit yo’ ass with a touch
To leave motherfuckers in a daze, fucked up
So sit back relax new jacks get smacked
It’s Snoop Doggy Dogg I’m at the top of the stack
I don’t blank for a second, and I’m still checkin
The dopest motherfucker that ya hearin on the record
it’s me, ya see, S-N-double-O-P
D-O-double-G-Y, the D-O-double-G”

It’s 1993 and I want to have some fun. My stage name is ‘Snoop Dogg’ and I’m once again working with my producer, Dr Dre. My new material is much better than my older material and, upon hearing it, you may become visibly confused and/or delerious. Please enjoy my song and, if perchance you have not heard my music before, please be aware that I am far more skilled than others who share my profession. I am particularly sharp and on-the-ball and thus you are unlikely ever to find me lost for words. It would be a mistake to think that anyone else performing on this song is any more competent than me.
If you are confused about how to spell my name, let me help you out. It is spelled thus – S-N-O-O-P-D-O-G-G-Y-D-O-G-G


“I’m fly as a falcon, soarin through the sky
And I’m high till I dizzie, rizzide
So check it, I get busy, I make your head dizzy
I blow up your mouth like I was Dizzy Gillespie
I’m crazy, you can’t phase me
I’m the S oh yes, I’m fresh, I don’t fuck with the stress
I’m all about the chronic, I’m bionic ya see
Every single day, chillin with the D-O-double-G’s
P-O-U-N-D that’s my clique, my crew
Ya fuck with us, we gots to fuck you up
I thought ya knew, but yet and still
Ya wanna get real, now it’s time to peel, ya say chill
and feel, the motherfuckin realism
Snoop Doggy Dogg is on the mic i’m hittin hard as steel nigga”

At the moment my career is going particularly well, in fact, in this respect, I could be compared (metaphorically) to a bird of prey in flight. I am likely to remain in such a position of prestige until I pass on.
Whilst listening to me perform it is likely that you will lose the ability to control your balance and, bizarrely, you may lose control over the muscles in your cheeks such that you involuntarily take on the appearance of a professional trumpet player.
My behaviour is unpredictable yet it will still be impossible for you to outsmart me, in fact, my personality is generally made up of desirable traits. Marijuana is an important part of my life and I may actually be some kind of robot.
Every day I enjoy the company of my friends and we like to refer to ourselves collectively as the ‘dogg pound’. If you attempt to get the better of us or embarrass us in any way then it is likely that you will come to some harm – is this not obvious? Clearly not, as you are still not showing us our due respect. However, your bravado soon disappears when we come face to face.

[Chorus]

[Verse Two:]

“How many hoes in your motherfuckin group
Wanna take a ride in my 7-8 Coupe, DeVille
Chill, as i take you on a trip
where them niggaz ride, and slide, you know about the East Side
Niggaz like myself, here to show you where it’s at
With my hoes on my side, and my strap on my back
Papers I stack daily, and Death Row is still the label that pays me
but you know how that goes
We flow toe for toe, if you ain’t on the Row
Fuck you and your hoe, really though, so check it”

I would now like to imply that the female acquaintances of you and your friends would much rather spend their time being driven around in my expensive car than socialise with you.
I’ll take you to my home in the east side of Los Angeles where you will see that my friends are particularly skilful when it comes to handling a motor vehicle.
You should model yourself on men like me as women want to be near me, I possess some firearm paraphernalia and large amounts of money come into my possession every day. Most of this money is courtesy of my employers ‘Death Row Records’. My employers and I are very close and if you are not also an employee of ‘Death Row Records’ then I have respect neither for you nor your girlfriend/wife.

“It’s Snoop Doggy Dogg on the solo tip
Still clockin grip, and really don’t give a sheeit
about nuttin at all, just my Doggs, steppin through the fog
and i’m still gonna fade em all
With the gangsta shit that keeps ya hangin
How many hoes in ninety-four will I be bangin?
Every single one, to get the job done
As I dip, skip, flip, right back to two one
Where the sun be shinin and i be ryhmin
It’s me, Snoop D-O-double-G, and I’m climbin”

Despite my loyalty to my employers I am still a very independent man. I have my gun and I am not really compelled to concern myself with anything other than my friends, but even amongst them I am visibly superior. Admit that you find my criminal activities fascinating and exciting.
By the end of next year I will not be satisfied that my work is complete unless I have enjoyed sexual intercourse with all of the women of the world.
Let me now return to my neighbourhood where the weather is clement. I like to go here and ponder on words which are phonetically similar. I am definitely moving up in the world.

[Chorus]

[Verse Three:]

“I come creepin through the fog with my saggin Dukes
East Side, Long Beach, in a 7-8 Coupe DeVille
I’m rollin with the G Funk, bumpin in my shit and it don’t quit”

As I drive through Los Angeles it is clear for all to see that I am both sartorially and musically cognizant.


“So drop it on the one motherfucker put together that set
A nigga with a grip of that gangsta shit
With the Eastside hoes on my motherfuckin dick
And the Compton niggaz all about to set trip
Swing it back, bring it back, just like this
And if you with my shit, then blaze up another spliff
And keep the motherfuckin blunt in your pocket loc
Cuz Doggy Dogg is all about the zig zag smoke
See it’s a West coast thing, where I’m from
And if you want some, get some, bad enough, take some
But watch the gun by my side
Because it represents me and the motherfuckin East Side”

I am generally well respected and feared and I am sexually involved with several women from my neighbourhood.
If you are enjoying my music then please feel free to smoke some marijuana. In fact, it may be an idea if you keep a marijuana cigarette on you at all times. You see, I am really quite partial to administering myself pharmacologically active doses of cannabis plant extracts. Everybody in the west coast of the united states of America (where I reside) has a similar habit. If you have no marijuana left, please, help yourself to mine. But, beware, because I am armed and if you are in any way at odds with the values of my particular community there may be an altercation.

“So bow down to the bow wow, cause bow wow
yippie yo, you can’t see my flow
My shit is dope, original, now you know
And can’t no hood fuck with Death Rizzow”

You should afford me the same respect as you might a religious icon because I am terribly good at my job. Together myself and my employers are formidable competition and our position of prestige is unlikely to be undermined.

[Chorus]