Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forDecember, 2005 | back to home

21 December 2005
Filed under:Humour & Entertainment at12:00 pm

Someone just found me Cute Overload – a weblog of all things cute (and the front page has some exceptional examples).

20 December 2005

Seems everywhere I look there is news about how revenge corrodes the soul and how the ‘good guys’ often act badly.

Historical papers revealed by the Guardian in the last week told how during and immediately after WWII, Britain ran interrogation centres that sounded as bad as anything the Gestapo came up with. One in Germany that starved and tortured prisoners first targeted Nazi party members or former members of the SS then by late 1946…

suspected Soviet agents. Some were NKVD officers – Russians, Czechs and Hungarians – but many were simply German leftists. Others were Germans living in the Russian zone who had crossed the line, offered to spy on the Russians, and were tortured to establish whether they were genuine defectors.

By a depressing irony, “Of the 20 interrogators ordered to break the inmates of Bad Nenndorf… [six] were mostly German Jewish refugees who had enlisted on the outbreak of war.”

The revelations of the previous week were even more disturbing. During and after WWII, a torture centre was run in London – the “London Cage”. The fact that those tortured appear to have been largely SS men and those accused of war crimes does little to excuse the brutal conditions there.

And now by an odd coincidence Spielberg is about to release a film – Munich – about Israel’s decision to hunt down and assasinate the killers of 11 of its atheletes at the 1972 Munich games (reviewed here).

All of this makes one think about the way that things seem to be going both here in the UK and in the US where torture may now be illegal but evidence obtained under torture may be OK and where peaceful protesters against military recruitment are attacked by police.

Also see my earlier post-Abu Ghraib musings on a similar theme…

But hopefully with that out of my system I can return to our regularly-scheduled Xmas cheer!

18 December 2005
Filed under:Interesting facts,London,Personal at5:04 pm

Strange twilight at Canonbury Station

Originally uploaded by D & D.

It’s fairly well known when the longest and shortest days of the year (the Solstices) are in a given location (this year the Winter Solstice in London will be 21st Dec). But for complicated reasons (see this post for explanation), the sun started setting later here around the middle of this week. So if like me your primary concern is when the sun sets and not when it rises, the long dark tunnel of winter is already giving way to spring – in my head at least…

17 December 2005

Thank you Cartoonbank!

14 December 2005
Filed under:Humour & Entertainment at10:56 pm

pill box

Just keep taking the pills. I found them in a Parisian pharmacy alongside these:


Which (at a quick glance) appeared to have remarkable powers – they could help with “baisse de moral” – low morals? (Actually low morale…)

11 December 2005

It seems that while processor speeds are accellerating so are electrical power requirements – at least for servers. This is starting to worry one Google engineer. I had no idea that, for low-end servers, “If we assume a base energy cost of nine cents per kilowatt hour and a four-year server lifecycle, the energy costs of that system today would already be more than 40 percent of the hardware costs.” I had the impression thanks to EnergyStar and similar programmes that overall power consumption was going down on PCs. I guess/hope Google’s servers (which are on all the time, presumably working at full speed and not built to minimise power consumption like laptops) are unusually power-hungry.

8 December 2005

New Scientist magazine – a weekly magazine of science news – a bit like The Economist or Prospect magazine for the scientifically-minded – has recently launched a weekly 12 minute Podcast – a great way to catch up on what’s going on in science while you are driving (or cycling!).

I used to be the magazine’s Net Editor ten years ago (!) and I am pleased to see that it is still keeping abreast of the latest Internet trends…

5 December 2005
Filed under:Search Engines at11:46 pm

If you are curious about whether your favourite search engine really does work better or you just think it does because you are used to it you can check out a “blind taste test“. I haven’t done this myself though. For what it’s worth (unoriginally) I tend to use Google for nearly every search – in part because it integrates well with academic databases. Though perhaps Yahoo and MSN Search also do? Something I might try out the next time I do a difficult search…

P.S. in other news there has been a big jump in the proportion of time Internet users spend using search engines.