Monthly Archives: January 2011

What is there to drink that tastes as good as beer and wine?

I love good beer.  Really love it.  Ales mostly — nearly all the Fuller’s beers, Brains, Ruddles, almost any IPA, and lots of local brews including our own Gold Miner, by the Freeminer brewery in Cinderford — which I have just, as I am writing this article, discovered is 2.4 miles away from my house.

I’m pretty serious about beer: I am not exaggerating when I say that I have more than once had a religious experience mediated through beer: it makes me profoundly thankful to live in this world.

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Tagore Smith on functional programming

My travails with functional programming have been a bit of a recurring theme on this blog, and I have to admit that my attempt to learn Scheme has stalled, more than anything due to all the other things I’ve been doing.  I’m sufficiently aware of it to feel guilty, but not sufficiently to actually invest the time I ought to into actually learning it.

But today, Togore Smith wrote a brilliantly insightful comment on one of my oldest posts (Closures, finally explained!), and it’s got me thinking about this subject all over again.

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What I’ve been listening to in 2010

I keep track of what music I’ve been listening to on my computers through the year, and at the end of each year I like to produce a compilation of ten tracks representing what I’ve heard.  (More than ten tracks is wearing for people to listen to.  I learned this by ploughing through a friend’s Top 25 one year).

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so what I’ve done is to pick the top ten albums that I listened to the most in 2010, as recorded on the computer where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or on the iPod.) I limited it to no more than one album per artist, and I skipped albums that were on last year’s list — with the exception of this year’s top album which also made the list last time around.  Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively picked one song that I felt represented them.

The running order is based on what I felt sounded good rather than on where the albums fell in the number-of-listens order.

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On arbitrariness

Last time around, in a post about Luke’s role in the Star Wars saga, I wrote about the lightsaber duels in the movies:

The lightsabre duels in the original trilogy are sort of stately and choreographed. You can see and understand what’s happening, and follow the progress of the battle. In The Phantom Menace, the speed and elaborateness were raised in the Darth Maul fight [...]. By Attack of the Clones, they were too fast to follow, and in Revenge of the Sith they are faster still, so we literally can’t see (or, really, care) what’s happening: the result is that the fights — all of them, and there are plenty — end up being reduced to a random whirls of light that continues until someone arbitrarily wins.

It’s that arbitrariness that bugs me.  You can’t tell me that, in the climactic Anakin/Obi-Wan duel on the planet made of lava, there comes any point where either one of them works himself into a position where he has a convincing tactical advantage over the other.

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Luke Skywalker: A New Hope

Last time out, I belatedly posted my old review of Revenge of the Sith, and promised some further thoughts.  What follows is assembled from an email dialogue between myself and Matt “The 10-Minute Astronomer” Wedel, so he can share credit.  (Basically, all the dumb parts are his work, and the good stuff is mine.)

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