It was pointed out to me (thank you to sneerpout) that the man convicted of killing Mia Zapata has had an appeal upheld, not against his conviction but against the severity of his sentence. But even if he gets a decade lopped off the previous 36-year stretch, he'll still likely die inside.
There have been some interesting studies out too. That one on male bisexuality has apparently been printed now, as has one allegedly claiming that men are clever than women (difficult to prove using a tool like an IQ test, for only very slightly technical reasons) and also one on the worthlessness of homeopathy. I should probably drone on about each of these . . . and I may if I get bored.
What I probably will do sooner or later is spell out at unforgiveable length when and how I think the animal rights movement lost the plot. I mention this now rather than at any other point because A Prominent Local Scientist (not me or anyone I know personally) has had his van vandalised and his house threatened recently, and someone else from the same institute had had their house vandalised shortly before. A few years ago, of course, the Roslin Institute was firebombed, as was a building at the Bush Estate (part of Edinburgh University). In the latter case, the wrong building was actually bombed (stupid fuckwits), as the lab that was burnt out (destroying many years of work by a good number of people) was actually a tropical botany lab. You can insert the usual "vegetable rights" jokes here if you like, of course. Still, at least nobody was hurt. Or, alternatively, at least nobody's been hurt yet. All fun and games.
I don't have anything exciting to report about my life and travels, as I've been mostly sitting in the house for the last couple of days, stroking the cat and bringing up phlegm. I'm not downcast, though. New Model Army have a new album out very very soon (and I'll get to go see them on my birthday), Leonard Cohen has one out RSN, there's what looks like a very promising club on tomorrow and a big firework display on Sunday.
Finally, I'd just like to pass on a quotation about the Old Man of Storr, lifted from the NVA book:
"Had this rock been on the plains of Hindostan instead of the mountains of Skye, it would have been an object of greater devotion than the Jaggernaut Pagoda." J Macculloch, Geologist, 1819.
In between sleeping, I've been reading a book of Dave Langford's SFX columns, which is now done so I should choose something else . . .
Last night I fiddled with Audioscrobbler a bit. It looks interesting, but it'll be a while before I can tell whether it'll be useful. I did bad and evil downloading things too, to see me over until proper recorded and released versions become available.
And the monochromator's back. Again. Fixed this time. Apparently. And they've packed some surge protection in the box with it this time, because surges always come and destroy equipment just as you're turning it off. I feeling of great futility has just come over me. In theory I ought to unpack the thing and set it up, but its rapid failure is so inevitable that there hardly seems to be any point. Perhaps I should just stick a small screwdriver through the PSU capacitors and claim that it broke exactly as before. I'd save myself a couple of hours' work that way.
Anne Clwyd got the party chair, which is a little annoying. And Charlie Clarke is going ahead reintroducing the ID card legislation - well, Home Secretary hasn't for a long time been any sort of job for the scrupulous. On the other hand, the plan to double EU aid spending has been agreed, which is better than a poke in the eye with a wet herring. Roll on the G8 summit, when we can watch the neo-cons try to undermine it all.
Oh, yes. Someone (and I'm sure it couldn't possibly be the slightly difficult bloke upstairs) has found an empty room and filled it with light-tight plant-growing boxes. The fact that this was the room we have builders coming to shortly makes this not at all inconvenient, of course, and neither is it annoying that the note I left asking for whoever it is they belong to to contact me was totally ignored. I'm going to put another note on today. If there's no response I should probably go around the whole building asking whose they are, but it'd be very tempting not to bother and just let the experiments be ruined by stacking the boxes outside at that point.
I expect a question to arise quite soon about whether we should get our money back and find a more reliable piece of equipment elsewhere.
Well, I met Anneli. She does actually exist.. And is very pleasant and helpful. And tall. The monochromator's back too, so in theory we now have the complete working all-singing all-dancing highly-automated widefield fluorescence microscopy system.
The downside is the shorter handle we'd quite like for the stage gearing will cost us nearly a grand if we really need it. At that money, I suspect we don't. I can't really see how it could possibly cost that much. Even at the elevated rates normal for scentific instrumentation . . . it's still only a handle. Two concentric tubes with a universal joint at one end . Maybe the workshop could knock something up?
It was interesting getting the mail from the makers yesterday. Even through the language barrier and the transcription to electrons and back, you could hear the scraping of fingernails as they fretted over what the problem could be.
It's very quiet here.
Looks like I've got the Genetics Society membership sorted. That's the 28th nailed, then.