Monday, May 31, 2004

Babies and boobs on the beeb

So, just when I’m suffering trough food poisoning, Lui has started to post some lovely Italian recipes in her blog [Heavy sigh]. I’m stuck on soup and cracker bread plus a few pills and plenty of water.
In the RTE news on TV this evening they said that the Irish whatever authority wanted to block one of the ads for the upcoming EU election. One of the clips in the ad was a woman breastfeeding a baby. OK, it’s kinda metaphorical – having a choice (left or right;-), but Irish kids’ health would definitely benefit if more of them were fed the natural way. I find all these television ads about artificial baby food, or artificial food in general, appalling. In fact, most of the ads on the telly are bad. How many shampoos, cars, toilet papers, sanitary napkins (silly term!), wash-up liquids, etc., do we need? How about some ordinary soap! And, people are paying these companies to tell us this via the TV, through their purchases of their products,?! I would like to see more film on TV. Good film. Not Questions and Answers from Dublin (What do you think you’d find in your belly button?). Enough for tonight. Back to the loo.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dragonflies and Sound Sculpture

Over the last couple of days I’ve been busy with meetings and admin, Yuk. Today it is yet another beautiful day in Limerick. I’m working at home today, writing on the PhD. When I feel stuck/frustrated/mad, I can go for a short walk down the fields and then come back and work and feel better. I snapped the image of the dragonfly, below, earlier today.

At lunchtime, I went out to Shortt’s steel workshop with one of our part-time MA by Research students, JJ Hegarty. His sound sculpture is finally coming together, full-size, in stainless steel.

Inside each structure he’s fitting a loudspeaker and a modified Theremin device. The output of the Theremins are then connected to a PC through a PICO A/D converter and the signals taken in by his pd patches that he has created for his sound designs. The final piece will be fully interactive. When people walk in between the three structures their movements will control the pd patches and the resulting sounds. We need to find a site for this piece of work, preferably indoors… Suggestions?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Still on 56k...

Thinking about why we can’t get broadband (boredband) where I live, just about 10 minutes drive from the University of Limerick (which is connected to the HEA-net) and 4 minutes from the village of Annacotty. Last autumn Shannon Broadband dug up the roads through our nearest village, Annacotty. They buried a bundle of dark fibre, i.e., optical fibre for telecommunications and data communication that is not yet in use.
It is 3.3 km from that optical fibre to my house. Good olde Eircom is out here on our road every other day. I’ve had a few nice chats with their workers. One major reason their out fiddling around with the copper-cables is that THEY DON’T KNOW who’s connected to what! This, of course is part of the problem as they now have to unbundle, to allow other, more competent, operators to provide the entire service – both connectivity and traffic.
Just to get the bigger picture, I did a quick surf to ITU’s server (International Telecommunications Union), and found a report from last year. This shows that Ireland is currently number 26 on the list in terms of digital access. People, that is I, you, my neighbours, are screaming, phoning, spending hours in voice-mail systems to ask for good connectivity, but they won’t give it to us! Instead we hear that government ministers are worried about the low uptake of broadband in Ireland. WHAT BOREDBAND? Get real!

Digital Access Index value, by access level, 2002 (Source: WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2003, ITU)

1. Sweden 0.85
2. Denmark 0.83
3. Iceland 0.82
4. Korea (Rep.) 0.82
5. Norway 0.79
6. Netherlands 0.79
7. Hong Kong, China 0.79
8. Finland 0.79
9. Taiwan, China 0.79
10. Canada 0.78
11. United States 0.78
12. United Kingdom 0.77
13. Switzerland 0.76
14. Singapore 0.75
15. Japan 0.75
16. Luxembourg 0.75
17. Austria 0.75
18. Germany 0.74
19. Australia 0.74
20. Belgium 0.74
21. New Zealand 0.72
22. Italy 0.72
23. France 0.72
24. Slovenia 0.72
25. Israel 0.70
26. Ireland 0.69
27. Cyprus 0.68
28. Estonia 0.67
29. Spain 0.67
30. Malta 0.67
31. Czech Republic 0.66
32. Greece 0.66
33. Portugal 0.65
34. United Arab Emirates 0.64
35. Macao, China 0.64
36. Hungary 0.63
37. Bahamas 0.62
38. St. Kitts and Nevis 0.60
39. Poland 0.59
40. Slovak Republic 0.59
41. Croatia 0.59

… the list goes on. 178 counties are included in the full report.

Hey, Janis – sing us a song!
Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Gigabit link!

Monday, May 24, 2004

Dangerous biking

I just did my normal scan of the news feeds on the web this morning. GWB has fallen of his tricycle during the weekend. I guess he was probably using chewing gum at the same time, hence no capacity left to things like balance or navigation.

The picture above shows some of the scratches but according to the report knees etc were also bruised. Perhaps Al-Qaeda had sabotaged his bike.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Fahrenheit and Turkey

I'm delighted that Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 got the Palme D'Or. I can't wait to see the whole piece. I've seen snippets on TV and on-line over the past few weeks, that looked very promising. From now on, every time GWB appears on TV, he'll be aware that somebody, somwhere, out there might be recording and re-editing him to bring the lies into the open.
I read another interesting piece about America by Kurt Vonnegut, Cold Turkey.
These two guys, Moore and Vonnegut, at least gives us some hope and perspective on what Americans think are going on on Earth. To quote Vonnegut "We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey".

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Lobster Day

Today is lobster day. I went in to Limerick city this morning and called in to the fish merchant Réne Cusack’s. Half an hour later, back home, I had the lobsters boiling in some salted water with dill.
After boiling for 20 minutes, leave to cool in the pot, to be served cold this evening with a fresh salad and bread.

It’s a beautiful day today.

Blue sky, the sun is shining, and birds are singing.

Carpe Diem!

Healthy Drinks

We all knew it. The cuppa of cyber-espresso the morning after is essential for our health. I just browsed a paper by Jimmy Everhart that he presented at the Digestive Disease conference in new Orleans the day before yesterday. Caffeine blocks some of the harmful stuff in alcohol; hence the Olde Cuppa is pure health food. I wonder if you can have a few cups of coffee before going for a drink. Will it help?
OTH, this is the ultimate proof that Irish Coffee is absolutely harmless. The only additive is the cream and sugar. So, if any body dies from drinking Irish Coffee, it's probably due to the additives. There's a somewhat similar and traditional drink in Sweden that the old guys used to enjoy when I was a child - Kaffe Gök (transl. Cuckoo Coffee). The recipe is as follows:

1. Put a coin in your cup.

2. Pour coffee in your cup until you can't see the coin anymore.

3. Pour vodka in the cup until you see the coin again.


Friday, May 21, 2004


I went out for a walk down the field the other evening. In the ditch, or as some call it - hedgerow, I snapped the image below. I call it Freedom.

So why is it called Freedom? Well, in my mind it can represent what the US government is doing in Iraq, what the Israeli government are doing to the Palestinians, and what many governments around this strange planet called Earth are doing to the people who happen to be living there. As the tree grows, year by year, minute by minute, nobody knows if and when the barbed wire will break, or if the wire eventually will strangulate the tree. But, if the latter happens, the wire will also fall flat to the ground and be left to rust, sink and disintegrate.

Quality time

It's 03:10 in the morning. I'm working on my PhD. Everybody else is sleeping. No phonecalls. No TV. No students. Just me and, as always, the radio. One thing bothers me right now: RTE are re-sending the same programs at night as they originally broadcast in the morning... I've already heard this stuff once (or perhaps it's all recorded. There's never anything new, just re-broadcasts - no sorry that's CNN). I've also noticed that they're probably running completely on tape. Quite often their news run into the next program and NOBODY seems to care. Interesting cacaphony though. We won't make it tonight, though. It'll take another few good nights of work to get this thesis (and all the friggin code that goes with it!) to work.

Irish Broadband (Bored band?)

So, what’s broadband then. Here, in Ireland today (where Intel invests billions of Euro, or perhaps dollars) we hear on the radio, see on the telly and the web that we should get it. Here in Ireland we surf to Eircom, IOL, EsatBT, and others, but eventually we’re stuck with… (you should hear a drum roll here) Eircom. And what’s the response? Well, normally you only get to listen to recordings on a computer “Press 1 to pay your bill; Press 2 to go to hell” (sorry, I might have misheard that one). If you eventually get through to a human being, or, find the right web page, you’re told that YOUR particular line cannot be used for broadband and there are NO PLANS for YOUR area to get it. And if you ask them where to move to get this, they don’t know. If, by any chance, you dare to try somebody else’s phone number (who lives 50 meters from the telephone switch) you’re offered a 128k ISDN line. That’s not broadband. I want megabits! At no cost! They should be honoured I even try to use their lines! They should send me a bottle of free wine for every gigabyte I download or upload. Hey, that’s the next problem. I normally upload more than I download. They can’t handle that. And I’d like to resuscitate an old PC as my house gateway (you know, they say Internet – always-on connection) so that I can be in my office and pick up a file by FTP from home – no, they can’t do that. Perhaps they don’t know what FTP is… F***k Telecom Providers, perhaps.


Where I live, in Lisnagry, County Limerick, Ireland we're having a lot of problems with illegal dumping of rubbish. You'd expect the environmental section of the local county council to do something about it. I have phoned in and emailed, numerous times, but still, I have seen no action.
At present, the situation along the little road leading down to the Pumphouse, off Mountshannon Road in Lisnagry, is absolutely horrible! If you'd like to see the rubbish, try this

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Finally - go blogging

OK, I've said for quite some time that I should start blogging. As I often have strong opinions about a lot of things I might as well put them on-line this away instead of waiting for a rainy day to do it properly.