the hypothetical maximum data transmission rate of a telecommunications medium

Archive for the ‘day to day’ Category

Delicious e-mail

Posted by dlandgren on 2011-04-28

del.icio.us logoSo, Youtube founders have bought del.icio.us from Yahoo!. (I hope they bring back the old domain name, delicious.com makes you wonder if they were hoping to bring AOL users on board).

I opted in to have my bookmarks (3000+, although god knows how many are 404s these days) transferred over to Avos. They wanted my first and last name, which annoying. The original owners never saw the need.

For my troubles, I received the following message in my inbox:

Hi david,

Hooray! Your data can now be moved along with Delicious.


Originating IP address:

It’s the last bit that I have doubts about. One more reason to not believe everything you read on the net.


Posted in day to day | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Breastfeeding: the good, the bad and the ugly

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-04-20

No, nothing to do with Mme Marceau today.

I just watched a 4-video interview from The Atlantic on the question of breastfeeding, where 4 women discuss their experiences in breastfeeding and what it all meant. I found it really bizarre. But then again I find modern America profoundly bizarre. I forget that the richest, most powerful country on earth can’t get its act together sufficiently to offer a woman a year off work to introduce her child to the world.

They discuss the pros and cons of breast versus bottle, which seem to boil down to what’s in it for the child, and the mother. (well duh!)

I have difficulty coming to terms with the mindset that makes people care to hypothesise over whether there is a tangible, measurable clinical health benefit that may accrue to a breastfed infant and then complain about the difficulty of drawing reliable inferences from the available statistics. Different social classes make different choices about breastfeeding (well duh! redux). And it messes up the stats! It’s hard! Not fair!

Nor should it be a problem that women could be engaging in some narcissistic feel-good behaviour at the same time. Those sneaky women! They’ve just gone through nine months of all sorts of ups and downs, and you would begrudge them that? If they draw some physical or psychological pleasure from the act, well, think of the savings in medication!

And people give you filthy looks when you say you don’t breastfeed. That’s okay, people give you filthy looks for all sorts of things. It’s in our nature. Whatever gets your child fed is fine by me.

But what really got on my wick was the futility of the exercise. Because the whole issue is moot! How long has the choice been available? By a rough calculation (based on consulting a couple of Wikipedia pages), formula in the present form only kicked off after the World War II, when complex industrial society really took off. Breastfeeding has been around for, hmmm, 300 000 000 years. So, here’s a question: which one will go away first? And even if I’m wrong in those numbers by an error of four orders of magnitude, evolution is still looking pretty good. (Sidelink: an article on how mammary glands may have evolved).

The question, if a bald, clinical question is to be posed, is:

On the one side we have an assembly line requiring formula foodstock, water, electricity and a bunch of specialist technicians to keep the thing tuned. And a largely petroleum-based delivery mechanism to bring it to you. On the other side, we have a woman, who is just hungry. And an infant.

When does it become more energetically interesting to just get some food to the mother, and let her produce the milk? When does the costs-benefits analysis go positive? I think that the fact that we can do without formula means that at some point in the foreseeable future, we probably will. So if in the meantime, formula does it for you and the water’s pure, go for it, end of story.

It’s another one of these things that we will just continue to do until we can’t, and then we won’t.

Posted in current-events, day to day | Leave a Comment »

Tulips in spring

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-03-28

We bought a bag of mixed tulips when we were up in Amsterdam at Christmas. The label said there was red, orange, yellow, blue, white and purple flowers in the packet.

There’s an alley along side a canal that has shop after shop selling all sorts of bulbs. Both they and Amsterdam residents must laugh at the silly tourists who come and allow themselves to be ripped off. We bought a packet of fritillaria that contained about 30 bulbs. Two have sprouted. And a couple of calla bulbs, which are I suspect are quietly composting themselves. Not to mention a gigantic cyclamen bulb that has about as much biological activity as an abalone shell.

So back to the multi-coloured tulips… the results were not what we expected; we were hoping for a few more colours, that’s what the label said. Oh well, uniform colours are okay too in their own way…

In looking very closely at the leaves, we discovered that one bulb was in fact slightly different: it’s leaves had a faint yellow striping along the edge. Bonus!

I remember looking for a long time at a packet of agapanthus. Now I don’t feel so bad. You didn’t get all my money, you scummy retailer!

Although we did have a bunch of hyacinths that came up, with an absolutely heavenly perfume.

Posted in day to day | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sophie Marceau – the Batty and the Breast

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-02-10

We were talking with some friends the other day and at one point the topic of conversation drifted to Sophie Marceau and what a bad actress she is. We laughed as we recalled her speech at the 1999 Cannes film festival. It’s a classic.

What is more difficult is finding a transcript of the speech on the Web. I had read it at the time in le Canard Enchaîné (and saved the paper for years, thinking I’d post it on the web one day, but never got around to it, and it vanished into household entropy). Fortunately someone else either did just that, or actually sat down and transcribed her ramblings from a video like the above (in which case I take my hat off). After a long search was therefore pleased to track down:

Discours de Sophie Marceau lors de la clôture du festival de Cannes 1999.

It’s so goood, I simply had to tranlsate it. So (he nods to search engines far and wide) here’s an English translation of Sophie Marceau’s speech at the 1999 Cannes film festival:

Kristin Scott-Thomas: And now, for the most controversial prize, the most consensual, but always the most coveted: the Golden Palm, I welcome a most eclectic, and truly international French actress, envied by all for spending her time in the company of the most seductive of secret agents, Bond, James Bond… Sophie Marceau.

Sophie Marceau : Good evening. Oh, what a day, uh… three days ago I was asked to present the Golden Palm, I was honoured, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Things have been hectic since then, and uh… a lot was needed, so I thought of eighteen speeches, I wrote five; someone handed me one back stage, five minutes ago, I’ll read it to you after, perhaps it’ll be, uh… fine, uh…

So I just, I got here ’bout a couple of hours ago, I wanted to know is Cannes like, what’s it about, what’s going on, what’s it like, what is it, I asked everywhere, so I… I got like, sorts of answers, um, that said: “Oh! Cannes, it’s such a pain, it’s awful, I tell ya, Cabourg is much better” And uh, yeah ok, but what about the films, what about them, uh, the films, uh, oh! There was, uh, luckily Almodovar was around to wake up the Croisette a bit, there was, shhh, excuse me?

There was, there was, well I’m getting mixed up, but [deep breath], I’ll get there, uh, there are all these films, uh, that are, uh, that are here tonight and that were… um… um… watched. [cat-calls in the audience]. In any case, I will, um, be very happy for the lucky person who tonight will win this, this Golden Palm and will remind us, uh, all those who have won the Golden Palm and who, and all those who didn’t win it but who were with the cinema, who made the cinema and who uh… And who, and it’s important and, and I wanted to to say, I wanted to to speak to you of of of th… I wanted to speak of other things than the cinema, because there are other things more important than the cinema and then, and then, I spent a day with some children [cat-calls] who were seriously ill.

And I can tell you [cat-calls] that the cinema is something that counts in the world, instead of making war, we make films and I tell you that it makes people dream, and that gives them a… a purpose, a project, uh, right now and something that stays forever, um…

I will now…

Kristin Scott-Thomas : Monsieur le président, we will now… Oh! Pardon me, I interrupted you…

And that led to the second subject of discussion, The Breast of Sophie Marceau at the 2005 Cannes film festival. She scored herself some serious airtime when, walking through a thicket of photographers and news crews filming the Beautiful People for all the rest of us plebs, the shoulder strap of her dress fell down, and revealed a breast. Shocking!

Of course, lots of people made even more fun of her after that episode, because if you watched the replay closely it was quite easy to see she was rolling her shoulder through little circular movements leading up to the Event. And thus when the strap fell, at maximum photographer per square meter density, she was able to express innocent surprise at what just transpired.

The really, really weird part of the story is that you can’t find the footage on the web any more. So much for information wants to be free. If you search for it on Youtube, there a clip sure enough… but it only lasts for four seconds. You can almost see the last shoulder swivel.

So you get to see the breast, well, yippee. That’s the first thing you notice when you come into this world anyway, so… not a big deal. Dailymotion has a clip which is apparently longer, but some puritan has succeeded in having it marked as “mature content”. Some people have no sense of humour.

What you can’t see anymore is longer footage that shows how she set it all up. I dunno, maybe she has really aggressive lawyers that hunted down and exterminated people hosting longer clips. In any event, she managed to kick-start her film career after this little show. I guess, if that’s what it takes…

Posted in day to day | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Snow! It’s snowing!

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-02-02

Woke up this morning to find everything covered in white. It’s really quite rare for it to snow in Paris. The past couple of winters were snow free. I snapped some pictures with my telephone. The quality is about what one would expect, but it’s better than nothing. (Apart from that, the telephone is quite good at making and receiving calls).

It’s raining now. The day is here and the city is warming up. It will all be gone by tonight. Still, it was fun while it lasted. It rained most of the day. If only it had been colder, we’d’ve been rolling in the stuff.

In a particularly enjoyable episode of schadenfreude, it was fun watching some fat slob of businessman in a late model Jaguar get into trouble. He’d hit the juice, spin the back wheels, and the back of the car slewed dangerously towards the row of parked cars. Then he’d slam on the brakes, lock up the front wheels, and slide the front closer to the edge. The other cars on the road gave him a wide berth. At one point he was driving along at about 25 degrees off centre. He did this dance about three or four times until he managed to get past the traffic lights and then I lost sight. What a loser. None of the people zipping round in smaller cars appeared to be having difficulty.

Posted in day to day | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Dumping VHS

Posted by dlandgren on 2008-10-06

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been copying our old VHS tape collection onto DVD. The process is pretty simple since the DVD player has a built-in hard disk. It’s just a matter of firing up the copy and forgetting about it. The DVD will record a maximum duration of eight hours, otherwise if I’m around I can stop the recording earlier.

Afterwards I break out the films from a single tape into separate files and edit out the advertising, station identification segments and whatever else happened to be captured during the original recording, since many were done via timer, and one always had to allow a decent overlap to take into account the fact TV stations are never on time, at least, not in France. After everything is done I then burn the films onto DVDs. It took me a long time to realise I could use quite heavy compression and save three or four films onto one DVD will no real loss of quality. Duh.

It’s actually quite a giggle to look at TV advertising from 15 years ago. Things go out of date so quickly. I think I’ll assemble some of these out-takes on a DVD.

In the meantime, I now have a couple of linear metres of VHS cassette tapes to throw out. And I’m not even half-way through home recordings, never mind store-bought tapes (and I haven’t made up my mind yet about their fate). Laure rang up the recycling hot-line to ask how to dispose of them, and they said to throw them in the non-recycling bin.

So the tapes will be incinerated and finish up generating enough energy to run a lightbulb for three hours, I suppose. There must be a certain amount of valuable minerals on the recording coating, just not enough to yet be worth recovering. This seems wrong.

Posted in day to day | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »