Saturday, April 29, 2006


The Joy of Uncertainty

Miss Prism has been discussing "that's cool" science moments. This is a somewhat rambling, late night, one glass of wine too many response to her post. Somewhere in here lies a point. I think.

A few years ago I asked someone to tell me something interesting about science. They told me about the uncertainty principle. It was a good choice. It swept away many of my preconceptions about science in a single moment of "that's ace".

Life is much more interesting with a little uncertainty. So is physics.

I started reading more about it and got very excited about how well some of the concepts fitted people (I was working as a psychologist at the time).

One of the things that always concerned me in psychological experiments was the impact of the experimenter. People simply don't behave 'normally' in an experimental situation; the act of observation changes them. And hooray, the same thing happens in physics.

At this point I should apologise to any physicists reading. It's about to become blatently obvious that I remain horribly uninformed in the subject. Sorry.

In the double slit experiment physicists found that an unmeasured (unobserved) particle effectively existed here, there and everywhere on a probability wave, but if they observed it they forced it to be somewhere specific, collapsing the wave into a single point. Apart from being really, really cool it also gave me a new way of thinking about opinions.

I've always thought that it's important to be willing to reconsider an opinion and change your mind. Admitting you were wrong isn't a bad thing; it's inevitable if you continue to investigate and learn. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to avoid it. Then I realised....

Opinions exist in a state of quantum duality!

When you're just thinking about a topic to yourself you look at all angles and think around it and muse over the different possibilities quite happily. You weigh up the different sides to an argument and come to a decision, and when it's only in your head you tend to be quite willing to adapt it.

Once you've expressed your opinion to someone else, you get a bit more attached to it. If you express the opinion to the world, you find it very difficult to back down.

Personally, I think the world would be a better place if we fought this instinct. Admitting you were wrong should be seen as a good thing; if you're battling against the universe surely it's a strength, not a weakness. We need to reward people in power (politicians leap to mind) for being prepared to reconsider a topic. Things change. Opinions should too.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Government IT incompetence. Again.

Demonstrating their continuing hopelessness with IT systems the government has admitted that tax credits are still being overpaid. Over £2billion, the same as 2003-4. EDS have apparently agreed to refund £70m, but there are strings attached to part of that, relying on them gaining more Government projects. Well, that's alright then.

And people wonder why I worry about the potentially catastrophic ID cards system.

By the way, if you like the wallpaper on the screen in my wee animation you can download it here.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006


Campaign Against Childish Labour

I hate negative political campaigning. There are no excuses for it. Really. It's unacceptable.

What does it say about your party if you're not able to drum up 30 seconds of content explaining why people should vote for you?

The new campaign from Labour has annoyed me. Just a little.
Dave the Chameleon

Update: I will stop with this as it's annoying me too much, but I've added one more quick adaption from me before I move on to something more productive.

To complete the set I should also point you at Beau Bo D'Or's superb take on the campaign.
Tony the Chameleon.

You should also check this one out. A different topic, but it made me laugh out loud when it popped up on my screen.

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One in Seven

One of my work projects at the moment is aimed at encouraging equality for disabled people in the workplace. It's awareness raising rather than an indepth analysis (animated animals have their uses but there are limits) but I wanted to try and get some context so I have been reading around the issue.

I don't think I have read anything more powerful than this from Lady Bracknell.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006


Run away! Run away! It's the internet...

... and it's coming for YOU!


I've made a new animation. It stars a sheep in an unfeasibly large bow tie, some dancing computers and criminal penguins. Soundtrack by DogHorse and Miss Prism.

Daily Mail Picnic.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006


James Blunt throws tomatoes at James Blunt

I had an email pointing me at this transcript of an Australian TV show. In case it's not kept online I'll point out the relevant moment:
"ANDREW DENTON: Do you get surprised sometimes at the intensity with which people want to take exception to your music? I've seen a website which is 'You're Beautiful', but it's 'You're Gullible', with a doll of you singing and tomatoes being thrown at you.
JAMES BLUNT: I have quite a high score on that website.
JAMES BLUNT: Yes. I did, I cleared over 100 points.
ANDREW DENTON: Is that right?
Hehehe. Good man. You can throw tomatoes too.

And whilst I'm here, have a look at this.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006


Moaning blogger, happy robot

Forgive me, but I am here for a moan. I got caught by a chugger and I realised why I have such a problem with them.

I'm polite.

If someone talks to me in the street I respond politely. This is NOT a good tactic if you're disinclined to give strangers in the street your bank details. Politeness is seen as a weakness to be exploited.

They cost me around 15 minutes today, first off in explaining why I wasn't going to sign up a Direct Debit and then in taking a long route back to avoid being harrassed again. If I blanked them or was rather more blunt in my response I could have been through in a moment. In the past I've even been chased by an organisation to which I regularly contribute; they were very close to having my membership cancelled.

So please, if you must use street fundraisers at least understand that polite doesn't mean gullible or weak willed and once someone has said no they should be left alone.

Sometimes politeness is someone trying really really hard to avoid shouting rude words at strangers.

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Monday, April 10, 2006


Play time again

I have been very busy this year. I lied in this post, albeit unintentionally. I think I've got it this time. Everything is coming together.

If all goes to plan I have a couple of nice fun work animations to get on with AND time to finish the animation for Daily Mail Picnic, a splendid Doghorse and Miss Prism song from last year. The animation has been sitting half done for weeks, I reckon a couple of evenings will see it completed.

I'm also musing over animation possibilities for the Open Rights Group and the Save Parliament campaign. Vague thoughts for both are whirling around, so hopefully they'll become clear now I'm not running about in a frenzy.

So before I head off and make sheep sing and computers frolic here's a few links that I've saved over the last week of busy business. First up are the usual topics....

ID cards. An interesting article looking at the practicalities involved in implementing the National Identity Register.

Copyright. How many jobs are there where you can get continuous income from a single piece of work for the following 50 years? Poor old Cliff is feeling the squeeze and wants to extend copyright on sound recordings to 95 years.
Old rockers band together to keep royalties coming in from their hits
Will you still need me, will you still feed me...

I really need to find out more about this new SOCA bunch; the first details I read were over at Samizdata and they're somewhat alarming.

And finally, this is a ridiculously funny story, or at least it would be if it hadn't actually happened.

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