Sad London Bicycles, slightly happier Amsterdam ones

In the time I was a “real” photographer and in the time since when I’ve been armed with an iPhone camera, sad bicycles have caught my eye. Back in the day in London, very often wheels were bent or stolen completely. More recently in Amsterdam, the bicycles have just been collateral damage from the crappy weather. Anyhow by special Reddit request, here are the pictures. I believe the EXIF data should be intact, so if you really care, the phone photos should locate themselves. Why couldn’t SLRs do GPS?

London

Amsterdam

Taipei

Taipei is less about bicycles, although they are present, than scooters. I couldn’t find the photo I really wanted which was of a swarm of scooters waiting for a light to go green, pouring out fumes. I believe now there are many more electric ones, with convenient battery swapping stations. I do love the guy with gas bottles stacked on the back of his scooter.

Summary

So there you have it. The people of Amsterdam clearly value their bicycles more than Londoners, which given how much the Dutch travel by bike is only to be understood. Given the amount I’m walking at the moment, I daresay I shall encounter more, especially if I go to particularly bike-dense areas.

2022 was a crap year.

I can safely say 2022 was a dreadful year for me.

In the macro, the combination of Covid, Brexit and Ukraine conspired to make the U.K. an awful place to be. The utter stupidity of twelve years of conservative rule basically ruined the country. There are now more food banks than ever, energy has become unaffordable for many and many industries are striking to have their pay and conditions reverted to pre-Tory levels.

On the micro level, I conspired to blow up my life. One careless throwaway comment rendered twelve years of what I thought was a happy marriage null and void and it is now in the hands of her solicitors. I was made homeless and ended up camping with friends from a previous life. On the slight upside, I got a job in the Netherlands so skipped there, negotiated the bureaucracy (I hate you, Brexit) and found an apartment in basically the Camden of Amsterdam. I go into the office maybe one day a week, so there’s that.

The swimming pool I used to use is still here, and I got myself a museumkaart which is good for 450 museums here. So far, I can say Van Gogh is great, it’s sad he died so young. Vermeer’s paintings are vibrant. Banksy is inspired.

I can safely say that native Dutch cuisine is pretty awful. Asian food is plentiful and good, however. When they get round to opening it, I’ll be practically living above a Vietnamese banh mi place. Thanks to Duolingo my Dutch is coming on by leaps and bounds and thanks to market traders who speak good English anyhow, I can generally negotiate the market in Dutch.

I’m slightly annoyed that the Dutch prime minister has apologised for slavery but not for the genocide of villages of Taiwanese people.

So that’s my life now. I’ve resurrected a few friendships of survivors from the last time I was here, I’m still cranking out Perl, doing loads of corporate training and negotiating an extremely secure environment. 300 people doing what half a dozen of us did ten years ago, with an interesting mix of nationalities.

That’s my life now.

Buxton

The crescent
The Crescent

It’s a bit unfair to call Buxton a baby Bath, but it is. Built to service the spas by the 5th Duke of Devonshire it’s cute. It has a station with an hourly service to Manchester and beyond, though I suspect it had a much better service back in the day.

Buxton station
Buxton station

It has the obligatory park, lots of pubs and craft beer outlets, some decent restaurants and of course the assembly rooms in the crescent:

The assembly rooms
The assembly rooms ballroom

A pub:

A pub

If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit.

The monarchy

The Queen

Let’s start by asking the question: “how on earth in the 21st Century do we still have inherited wealth and privilege on this scale in a monarchy?” Most other civilised countries seem to do OK without it, and all the pomp and pageantry that goes with it. I’d sooner see an elected figurehead looking solemn than an inbreed who got there by chance of birth.

I’ve been collecting choice nuggets about the royal family on Facebook, so here they all are, and more, in one place. It’s by no means a complete list. Can you tell I’m not a fan of the monarchy?

  1. Prince Andrew was caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. This let to the family paying as much as £12 million to Virginia Giuffre.
  2. The royal family is notoriously racist. That’s probably to do with the queen’s cousin, Prince Philip, but have you ever seen a black footman?
  3. The Bowes Lyons had two children Nerissa and Katherine who were mentally diabled. So what did they do? Put them in an institution and never visited them.
  4. Because of a clause in the law, Charles doesn’t pay inheritance tax on the the £750 million he inherited from the queen.
  5. The Queen presided over the Malayan Emergency from 1948-1960, where an estimated 6,700 guerillas and 3,000 civilians were killed.
  6. In Kenya, the Mau Mau rebellion from 1952–1960 was brutally repressed leading to some 90,000 Kenyans killed or tortured.
  7. From 1962-1969 there was a covert war in Yemen. That led to around 200,000 deaths. My dad did his nation service there, ten years before that.
  8. From 1965-1966 there was a genocide in Indonesia which alongside the Americans, we had a large hand in.
  9. Obviously, there was Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland in 1972. NI was a mess, obviously, but really?
  10. A lot of her wealth came down through slavery starting with the first Elizabeth. Meghan Markle’s treatment by The Firm shows that attitudes haven’t changed much.
  11. The queen has privately invested millions offshore.
  12. In 1949, before she became Queen, Elizabeth took a stance against women’s rights? She attended the rally for a conservative group and spoke out against women who divorce their husbands.. She was patron of this far-right organisation to the end.
  13. In 2010, the Queen applied for a poverty grant to heat the royal palaces.
  14. The Queen is heavily invested in uranium based weapons.
  15. The Queen and Prince Philip went trophy hunting and shot a tiger in 1961.
  16. New: The queen and the CIA attempted to overthrow the Australian Gough Witlam left-wing government in 1975.
  17. Charles was pretty tight with pedophile Jimmy Savile.
  18. Charles brokered a £4.4 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and recieved a suitcase of cash for “charitable” purposes.
  19. Charles is still backing homeopathy.

At least she continued the tradition of having her bees informed that she’d died.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you have anything else, please leave it in the comments.

condoms
condoms

Running Oracle database server on a Mac.

Due to my upcoming job having a large part being Oracle, I figured I should install Oracle on my Mac. I found this article on the Oracle site that made running it in a virtual machine look easy. Simply, it’s:

git clone https://github.com/oracle/vagrant-projects
cd vagrant-projects/OracleDatabase/21.3.0-XE 
# Optional: download the Oracle Database installation file and place it in this directory
vagrant up

And that’s where the wheels fell off. I haven’t used Vagrant for a couple of years. My Vagrant fell into a wibbling heap. I needed to do the following to drag everything up to date:

brew install vagrant

And then install Virtualbox from the Virtualbox downloads page. Bringing up vagrant then refreshes the vagrant image, brings the oracle image up to date and runs it.

    oracle21c-xe-vagrant: INSTALLER: Started up
    oracle21c-xe-vagrant: Oracle Linux 8 BaseOS Latest (x86_64)           3.3 MB/s |  49 MB     00:14
    oracle21c-xe-vagrant: Oracle Linux 8 Application Stream (x86_64)      3.2 MB/s |  37 MB     00:11
.
.
.
    oracle21c-xe-vagrant: INSTALLER: Oracle preinstall and openssl complete
    oracle21c-xe-vagrant: INSTALLER: Environment variables set
    oracle21c-xe-vagrant: INSTALLER: Downloading Oracle Database software

You’re going to need the instantclient libraries. Do the following in the instantclient directory, you might want to have copied *.dylib* into /usr/local/lib:

$ chmod u+w *
$ xattr -r -d -s com.apple.quarantine instantclient_19_3

vagrant ssh into the Virtualbox, sudo su – to root, thence to the oracle user and sqlplus sys as sysdba gets you in. This isn’t wildly useful but it’s a start.

Chatsworth

Chstsworth – a good day out.

So I happened to be up in the Peak District and obviously had to visit Chatsworth. Ok, between paying for parking, a tour book, access to the house and garden and finally spending money at their farm shop, it was not cheap. It was worth it! The Cavendishes are currently showing off their art collection which ranges from the ancient, through Picasso to Damien Hirst and a collection of sculptures in the gardens.

From the ancient
To the modern

One thing that really stood out to me was the chairs. Having been to the chair museum in Copenhagen, it takes a lot to impress me, but these did!

Obviously the wildlife was amazing. Aside from finches begging for crumbs, I also saw a load of wagtails.

T

he geology was impressive. I didn’t even walk through the coal tunnel. Yes, the Chatsworth greenhouses were lush.

And finally, the farm shop.

So, if you’re in the vicinity and want to kill a day, do visit.

Star Trek Physics


The funny thing about the Star Trek universe is how they pushed technology and some of it has even come true. Here, I look at some of the tech they use and how it relates to where we are.

Communicators

I have one in my hand almost all the time: it’s called a smartphone. Not only can I make a voice call, but I can also use it to make a video call, I can use Skype or Signal. It’s with me 100% of the time. On earth, I think landlines are dead. I only have one because BT says I have to have one. It has Wifi.

Tricorders

On the subject of tricorders, see above. It knows where I am, what the weather is going to be like (more or less), can identify plants and birdsong, do my banking, if I were female, keep track of my periods. It can show stars in the sky. It can track my cycling and daily steps. When coupled with a smartwatch it can keep track of a lot more of my health data like blood oxygen.

Tablet Computers

The original Star Trek had these. Is this where the idea came from? This can store my photos, let me produce great art, play games, do my shopping, do office apps and so much more. Largely stylus-free.

Universal Translators

True story. About ten years ago we were in Hong Kong meeting friends who only spoke Cantonese. We only spoke English and Mandarin. Guess what, alongside a little writing, Google Translate got us through a meal and beers. I suspect ten years on now, it’ll be even better. I use it today to decipher Welsh. I want a Babelfish.

Hypospray

These are coming. The technology is asymptotically approaching something useful.

They’re just taking time to come to market.

Cloaking Device

This is almost here. I’ve seen cloaks that let us blend into backgrounds, not just blue screen effects. If anyone does it, it’ll be the military.

Indeed they are all over it.

Replicators

Another technology that appeared to arrive, was useful to a minority and seems to have faded. We can 3D print things (slowly) in plastic. I’ve seed 3D food printers, but more excitingly machines that can 3D print buildings. Scale that up and it’ll be a game-changer.

From a few years ago.

Sonic Showers

Some news fragments floating ideas a few years ago, but nothing since then. File under Too Hard (for now). Some cleaners use sonic cleaning but the item needs to be wet, defeating the point.

Beaming

Beyond the quantum level, forget it.

Warp Drive

You cannae change the laws of physics. I’ve just been reading about space and learned that the vacuum of space is made of stuff and something about that prevents us from going faster than the speed of light. Ever wondered why aliens haven’t contacted us? It’s a long way, which means it’s a long time. That said, the stuff we know a fair amount about is only 5% of the universe. We know nothing about dark matter or dark energy. *Maybe* when we do, breaking the speed of light becomes possible. After all, during the big bang, the universe exceeded the speed of light. Briefly. Wormholes are an intriguing idea, too.

Tractor Beams

There were some news items 5-10 years ago about tractor beams on the micro-scale but nothing since.

NASA is on it. Don’t hold your breath.

Artificial Gravity

I don’t think that’s going to happen. Revolving spacecraft, maybe, but that’s not the same.

Again, NASA is thinking about it.

Phasers

This is probably down to the military.

David HodgkinsonPosted on Categories Sci-FiTags , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rock Guitarists

This is by necessity a personal list of guitarists. I’m sure I’ve left some out, and I’ve left them out because I’m just not familiar with their work.

Ritchie Blackmore
Ritchie Blackmore

Banjo Players

This is by necessity a personal list of guitarists. I’m sure I’ve left some out, and I’ve left them out because I’m just not familiar with their work. Some I’ve put in because I really ought to get to know them better! But many of these are the guitarists who have touched me. Oh, by the way, the really good music stopped in 1976!

Ritchie Blackmore

We have to start with him. Of those of his era, like Jimmy Page, for me, Blackmore stands head and shoulders above them. Starting off playing pop-rock and doing sessions for Joe Meek, it all came together when Deep Purple was synthesized. Starting off with slightly psychedelic rock, and Hush which took America by storm, at Ritchie’s behest they sacked a couple of people, brought some others in and took the world by storm with Machine Head and Made in Japan. Ritchie has a reputation for being difficult (or a total asshole) and indeed in the Rainbow years, for terrible pranks and attempts to set keyboard players on fire. If he likes you, fine. If he doesn’t like you, watch out.

Tommy Bolin

One of Deep Purple’s other guitarists was, briefly, Tommy Bolin. After Blackmore left, they got together and suggested names and Tommy’s name kept cropping up. Tommy is the opposite of Blackmore: he’s a feel player, not a technician. I like him. His only album with Purple has a mixed fanbase but his solo albums are well worth checking out. I have them on vinyl.

Bernie Tormé

A guitarist who formed the backbone of Ian Gillan’s solo band, did an ill-judged but actually very good stint in Ozzy’s band, plus Atomic Rooster. I heard some of his later stuff with John McCoy which was rather good too.

Gary Moore

Here’s one I should know better. A great blues-rock player with a lovely, throaty voice.

Robin Trower

Another one I should know better. For example, I had no idea he was in Procol Harum!

Rory Gallagher

Same again. Listening to his stuff makes me wonder why it’s not part of my rotation.

Eric Clapton

He has to be on any list. To be honest, he’s like vanilla ice cream to me. He’s good, but to my mind, there are better. It did take me a while to “get” the outro to Layla though!

Jimi Hendrix

What’s there to say about him? He reinvented the style, stormed Woodstock, had a great band and came to the UK to get great management. I know at least two other guys trying to emulate his style! Deep Purple even covered one of his tracks.

Jeff Beck

Another guy I should listen to much more. He’s the master of understated playing and knows just how to hit the right note.

Honorable mentions

Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, Eddie Van Halen, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Steve Morse, George Harrison, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Uli John Roth, Brian May, Michael Schenker, Peter Green and Lyndsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac, Scott Gorham and Brian Roberton from thin Lizzy, Paul Kossoff, Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden from Blusesnake and a few I’ve left off (which I’ve been reminded of).

In the overrated department, I’d put John Sykes. It was lovely seeing him guest with Deep Purple for Smoke on the Water, throw his guitar in the air at the climax and have it land on his head!

Photography

I used to do photography. I did some at the University of Bath, a year of nights at three different Central St. Martin campuses and I’ve taught in London and Taiwan. When I was in Camden I’d be out a few nights a week shooting people from Logan Plant to Midge Ure. Obviously, I’ve travelled around following Deep Purple, the US, Canada and much of Europe. I gave up my camera and lenses a few years ago and now rely on my phone and for zoom a Canon point and click. Well, here are a few of my better photos from the past. I *do* have a load of Cardiff, as you can see from this blog of Cardiff tourist stuff. I think my best is printed on Moo business cards but I can’t find the originals.

First the Camden ones:

Staqbles Market
Stables Market. The top-end by Morrisons.
Legalise Tea
On the balcony above the West Yard.
Regents Park
Regents Park. Lens wide open.
Crafty fag.
Crafty fag.
Parked.
Parked.
Chalk Farm.
Chalk Farm. I had a queue of people behind me.
Lous Floyd Henry.
Lous Floyd Henry. Brick Lane.
Entertaner.
Entertainer. South Bank I think.
Book stall.
Book stall, South Bank.
Bubble guy.
Bubble guy, South Bank.
Sweet corn.
Sweet Corn, Taipei.
Transporting gas.
Transporting gas, Taipei.
LA sunset.
Sunset Venice Beach, LA.