Using #! (Crunchbang) Linux

Crunchbang is sleek, fast, minimal linux flavour based on Debian, one of the largest families in the linux ecosystem. It uses the X-Window system and Openbox window manager, with a lightweight underpinning of GTK+2.0 but without the full Gnome desktop environment, making it considerably more snappy to boot and use than full-bodied distributions such as Ubuntu or Fedora. I've been using it for a month or two and liked it enough to decide to rebuild my Samsung Q320 laptop, around it. I'm going to cover a few of the tweaks I applied, problems I tackled, additions or subtractions I made - just in case they're of interest to you, the reader, but mainly so that they're written down for me when I come to repeat this process at some point in the future.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in blog | 2 Comments »



Where science and politics meet, uneasily

I feel like I've spent a couple of months now reading everything I could find about the Chernobyl disaster, the unfolding crisis at Fukushima, and scientific papers on contamination effects, radiobiology and radiation. It has been informative, but I'm so full of it I almost feel like I'm emitting I-131 and Ce-137. The first of the articles is up now, the second will be in next week's Big Issue magazine and will be up here soon after. While interesting, especially in parallel with the progressively more and more polarised rants from the pro- and anti-nuclear lobbies in the media and online, it has made be realise the limits and fallibility of a number of things I suppose I'd always held to be pretty bulletproof. Probably quite naively so.

Read more »

Posted in blog | No Comments »



On Egypt and hypocrisy

No one can have watched the events in the Arab world unfolding this month and not been moved by the sight of spontaneous uprisings, people power, and the fall of corrupt and authoritarian regimes. I had not paid such keen attention to the news in as long as I can remember as over those 18 days in Cairo's Tahrir Square, as 30 years of Egyptian anger and resentment boiled over and forced out the deeply unpopular president Gamal Mubarak. To see the running battles in the streets, the bravery and sheer bloody-blindedness of the protesters in the face of police violence, thugs, beatings and live ammunition used on unarmed civilians was extraordinary. To see that it worked, in some fashion, is more extraordinary still. That a committee of military generals should be welcomed over an elected government, albeit one elected in a discredited poll, demonstrates the depth of disgust at Mubarak's 'revolutionary' regime. It also shows Egypt's unusual relationship with its army, no doubt made up itself of young conscripts not far in attitude from the protesters themselves. I was moved by the army's statement early on that they would not fire on protesters. But the reports of army arrests of journalists and activists, of secret beatings and intimidation, and the troops' failure to intervene between pro-Mubarak thugs and protesters revealed that everything is not as it seems. The army has an agenda of its own, and clearly decided that remaining popular -- practically sanctified -- in the eyes of the people was more important that backing Mubarak, whose position looked less credible by the day.

Read more »

Posted in blog | No Comments »



On missing a trick

I can’t help but think that this haberdashery on Northwold Road in Stokey has missed a trick here with the potential for a good pun. Surely ‘Knittaz with attitude‘ would be the obvious choice? Even though it might end up sounding more like this.


Posted in blog | No Comments »



A novel approach to freelancing.

I received this the other day at work, into the email account normally filled with club/gig listings requests (we have no listings), work experience requests (we don’t have room), offers of illustration (occasionally used) and the rantings of lunatics.

From: Camila-Catalina Fernandez
Subject: A Blog for you?

I am an unemployed, highly educated (Bachelor and half a masters) very young girl, living in London. I spend my days walking around Kensington or Buckingham Palace with my iPod which only has one earphone that works. I am a Swedish Latina, highly attractive, but that’s not the point. The point is that I kind of like need a big break or some publicity or even some love. If you would read my blog and maybe laugh a little or recommend it to a friend, you would make one beautiful melancholic girl very happy. Maybe you could even feature it? If you don’t, at least I know I tried.

Now, while this is rather sweet (“at least I know I tried”) it’s not exactly a professional approach. And yet, stick in a quick reference to “Swedish Latina, highly attractive”, and lo and behold, we’re checking out her website just in case. Turns out it’s militant veganism, with a side order of poorly researched opinion.

This article is one example – complaining that “Silicon Dixoide, Caramel Colour, Citric Acid and Maltodextrin in your meat” is like “buying a crucifix from the devil” is a bit like suggesting that lemons (citric acid), starch (maltodextrin), and sugar (caramel colour) are going to kill you stone dead. As for the silicon dioxide, well… I’m sure it’s really, really finely ground.

Posted in blog | No Comments »



The Gold Bar re-opens, again

Stoke Newington Church Street is a fairly busy thoroughfare with shops that do a good trade, but there are one or two buildings that seem to keep falling through the net. One is the Gold Bar, at least that was its most recent incarnation, which was open for less than a year before shutting last year after, apparently, a fire.

I noticed while having a pint at the Lion on Tuesday that it is due to become the Baby Bathouse, after its alma mater in the City. So we can all expect nipple tassels and pasties with our pasties in terms of food and drink on offer.

UPDATE: The Hackney Citizen carried the story in the same edition of this month’s paper that reported how Hackney council has banned strip clubs and sex shops in the borough, while allowing those that exist to stay open. Actual sex establishments, ie saunas, massage parlours and the like will be unaffected. Hmmm. So, establishments that allow women to charge for getting naked will be banned while the Baby Bathhouse and it’s ilk, where people pay to see women getting naked, open without comment.

This is sadly typical of the vastly irrational, tribal and ultimately harmful debate that surrounds what have become wrongly known as ‘sex encounter establishments‘, and the result is rarely anything than pointless gesture politics, Victorian throwback morality policing and, all too often, increased danger or even harm for the women working in the industry. The rise of burlesque as a supposedly acceptable alternative only serves to highlight how reasoned argument flies out the door the moment the bras come off.

Posted in blog | No Comments »



Buran and Baikonur

Following my visit to Chernobyl and Pripyat, another abandoned part of the world that bears echoes of the past: the remnants of the Buran space orbiter project at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, once the crown jewel of the Soviet space program, and now, sadly, only thousands of tons of scrap metal.

Read more »

Posted in blog | No Comments »