Arrg kxrrt!

Blog : Posts from January 2008 : Page 1

*

Infamy

In which FP discovers more people read this site than he thought


I went for a drink with people from the office. This may have been a mistake – on the other hand, it’s better to know things.

“Oh, we all read your blog,” said someone from the Accounts department. “Your boss told us he reads it too. We know you change all the names, so we try and work out who everyone is. ______ was convinced that she was ‘the cute one from the Accounts office’ and we kept trying to persuade her that it wasn’t her.”

Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t mentioned work much in the past few months, then. Or, alternatively, now I know they’re reading, that might mean I can mention them more. With it all understood and on the level.

(Yes, I know, I have to think about things to post before I can decide whether to post them or not)

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , ,

*

Diary page

In which FP encounters problems


Why is it that, as soon as you get one thing out of the way, another thing turns up? As soon as one serious fault gets squashed, another one pops up like bubbles under the wallpaper? That’s what work feels like at the moment.

At least there’s not too long to go now until my holiday. Although I have the feeling it’s going to be one of those holidays where we come back more tired than we started. That’s not a bad thing; but I could do with a rest at some point.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , ,

*

Good friends

In which we think suicide clusters are overhyped; and try not to be a drama llama


There’s been a lot in the news recently about young people killing themselves, allegedly to draw attention to themselves online. The whole story seems slightly odd, with little evidence for it, but it’s been raised by an MP so it got itself in the news. Most of the people in the alleged suicide cluster are young men, the highest-risk suicide group. I fully support raising suicide awareness and suicide prevention, but it seems rather like fear-mongering to try to place blame on social networking. There were teen suicides and “suicide clusters” years ago, long before social networking was invented.

I know from experience that suicidal feelings are something which people should always take seriously, and that internet messaging, by both its speed and lack of emotion, could easily make worse. But nevertheless – and because it is that serious – I don’t like the feel of people jumping on the exaggeration bandwagon without evidence, or trying to use the threat of others’ suicide to gallop off on their own over-dramatic high horse.* I’ve been on the internet for a while now,** I was a chatroom user quite a lot when I was a student, and I’ve seen people come into chatrooms and make darkly deniable threats like: “you shouldn’t be so nasty to X. If you keep being nasty to people in here and people end up dying, how would you feel?” Whether X is in the pits of depression, or just mildly irked, and whatever your intentions are, that’s a childish and nasty thing to do.

If you’re a friend to someone, and you think they’re being upset because of people on the internet, then the only thing to do is get them offline. Get them to put down the keyboard, go outside, and get some fresh air. Go and take away their network cable yourself if you really have to. But don’t just go around telling other people what they’re about to do. Don’t go around trying to amplify the drama, because people are only going to think that at heart you’re trying to make yourself the centre of attention. If you’re a real friend, go and help them, quietly and without fuss. Because help is what friends are for.

* or “drama llama”, as one internet friend memorably said.

** I can’t believe it’s over ten years since I first got online. The internet was in black and white back in those days – no, really: this was on a Macintosh Classic II, one of the last black and white only Apple models.

One comment. »

Keyword noise: , , , , ,

*

Astroturf

In which we smell a rat


Yesterday’s post clearly touched off a nerve. You can see four disparaging comments on it; there are plenty more in the comment queue that I haven’t approved.

Funny thing is, though, they’re all from a single address. Either one person, or a group of people working in the same office. It’s from the domain nng.co.uk. Which is owned by the company Northcliffe Media Ltd – who are, amongst other things, the publishers of the famously pisspoor Grimsby Telegraph! I don’t think they can have liked what I wrote – I think I’ll send an email to the Telegraph itself and ask if this is deliberate, or just some staff mucking about.

Keyword noise: ,

10 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , ,

*

Pride

In which we note the Grimsby Telegraph’s latest marketing campaign


The rather news-thin Grimsby Telegraph newspaper has decided to jump on a fish-marketing bandwagon and declare today to be Great Grimsby Day. A day to be proud of the Grimsby area! Its scenic mudflats! Its thriving heroin-injecting scene! The active support for boxing and extreme wrestling seen in the town centre every Saturday night! The wide range of chain-based shopping opportunities, and the picturesquely decaying industrial areas. Be proud, people!

It’s a good thing, I suppose, that they didn’t get it confused with National Fetish Day, which – equally arbitrarily – was yesterday. I hate to think what would have happened. There’s not much of a fetish scene in Grimsby, after all; a couple of the regulars in the Lloyds Arms and that’s about it.* I can quite easily imagine the Grimsby Telegraph’s staffers not understanding what the word means.

* I’m exaggerating, slightly. There’s more like four, plus a couple more people who drink elsewhere.

27 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Statistics and probability

In which we think about flooding and chance


In the summer, we had big floods up here, worse floods than anyone in this village could remember. It was, apparently, a once in fifty years event.

Now: we’ve got floods again, six months later. Maybe not a once in fifty years event, true, but let’s say (for the sake of argument) that this is a once-in-twenty-five year flood.

Maths time: in any 6 months, your chance of having a 1-in-50 year flood is 1/100. 1/50 for the more likely 25-year flood. The chance of having both, though, is those numbers multiplied together. 1 in 5000. Which doesn’t, at face value, look like a particularly big number; but that’s because we’re not great at judging magnitude. Something that has that chance of happening within 6 months should, on average, have happened once in the last 2,500 years. That’s once, since the start of the Iron Age.*

The problem with probability, though, is that you can’t say: this will definitely only happen once. It could happen three times within a week,** and still be within the bounds of probability. It could still happen, within the rules of our simple model; it is just highly unlikely to happen. If it does, you’ve just seen something amazing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your starting figures are off. On the other hand: if something happens that, according to your figures, is highly unlikely, it does make more sense sometimes to decide that the numbers you’re basing your statistics on are out of date. Suddenly, big floods aren’t rare any more.

* slightly more than once, to be honest, because the Iron Age started about 2,700 years ago.

** Hull was flooded twice, 14 days apart, in summer 2007. Some of the floodwaters in unimportant places, such as verges and parks, still hadn’t drained from the first flood when the second (and worse) flood came. That, though, means that normal “multiply the two numbers together” probabilities don’t work. The two floods weren’t independent of each other, because of all that water lying about, so the probability of the second was rather lower than it would have been.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , ,

*

Fear

In which we think scary thoughts


We’ve just been watching Nosferatu, the classic silent vampire movie, and one little touch jumped out at me. The menu screen of the DVD shows the cover image, a stylised pastel portrait of the titular vampire, but with one small difference: every couple of minutes, he blinks. The sort of thing that: when you see it, you’re not sure if it really happened.

It got me thinking about the nature of fear; and, particularly, fear of images. When I was younger, I had a book,* full of exciting information for children and suggestions for fun activities. It had everything from face painting and magic tricks, to the colour wheel and the platonic solids.** I loved it – but one page, I was terrified by. The page – well, double-spread – on toxic and dangerous animals. I didn’t really mind the tarantula, and I can’t even remember anything else on the page: but what terrified me was the picture of a piranha down in the corner. It scared me so much that I wouldn’t dare touch it, even though I knew it was only a picture. I’d find a different way to turn that page, without going near the piranha. I can’t explain why I found a picture, essentially a picture of a fish with big teeth, quite so frightening, but I wouldn’t touch that picture for years.

* A pedant writes: as I rarely get rid of books, I still have it, and it’s still on the primary Bedroom Shelves rather than relegated to storage somewhere.

** Tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron, I think. I might have missed one. My favourite part of the book was also the longest: a project to build your own electrical trivia game with questions about the solar system. I never did try to build it.

One comment. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , ,

*

Floating in the air

In which we look up to the sky


Following up from last week’s ink polaroids: some photos. This batch: gliders, at Kilburn.

The view from the Yorkshire Gliding Club Glider launching by winch Glider taking off Plane and glider taking off into the sun

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , ,

*

Spot The Non-Difference

In which we spot France being invaded amid seaside amusements


Today’s blog is like one of those spot-the-difference puzzles where you have to spot hard-to-find differences between two apparently identical pictures. To make it a little bit different, though: here’s a carefully-prepared Spot The Non-Difference puzzle, where (for a change) you have to spot the hard-to-find connection between two apparently little-related pictures.

Firstly, we have a photo I first spotted in today’s Guardian. It’s a publicity still from the award-winning film Atonement, and shows James McAvoy hard at work apparently invading war-torn France:

James McAvoy in Atonement

Secondly, this photo, taken by Dimitra, some years ago now:

Cleethorpes beach, December 2001

Yes, I’m pretty sure they were taken at almost the same location, although, to be quite honest, if I didn’t already know that Atonement was filmed in the Symbolic Forest area, I’m not sure I would have spotted the link between them.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , ,

*

Excitement

In which we anticipate a holiday


I’ve already told this to just about everyone, because I’m bouncing up and down already. In a few weeks time, we’re off on holiday. To Riga! I thought I’d mention it here, though, just to say: if any readers know anything good to do in Riga in winter, let me know. I know it’s a long-shot, but you never know who reads this and where they’ve been.

Mr E Shrdlu of Clacton writes: “I’ve been to Clacton!”

Yes, I know you have. Shush there.

6 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , ,

*

Search this site

*

Contact

E: feedback [at] symbolicforest [dot] com

IM: Ask me if you'd like to know

*

Post Categories

Artistic (118)
Dear Diary (349)
Feeling Meh (48)
Geekery (109)
In With The Old (34)
Linkery (37)
Media Addict (164)
Meta (79)
Photobloggery (94)
Political (113)
Polling (7)
Sub category (19)
The Family (31)
The Office (70)
Unbelievable (53)