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The Real da Vinci Code

tiled_rainbows Re:How is this not totally pointless? (235 comments)

How is this not totally pointless?

Dude, let me count the ways:

1. Da Vinci is, like, one of the foremost intellectual figures of the Italian Renaissance, which is a pretty important period in history, especially as regards culture and technology and stuff.

2. One of the most interesting things about the invention of the computer is not the various engineering challenges such as how to build the logic gates and stuff, but the initial idea that computation itself can be usefully reduced to a physical, deterministic process. If, back in the 15th century or whenever, there was some guy thinking along the lines of encoding machine-readable data in the for of little bits of carefully-crafted wood, then, even if the idea didn't work, the fact that he had the idea at all is pretty amazing and has all sorts of implications for the Renaissance concept of the mind, of logic, etc, etc.

3. One of the reasons that Da Vinci's inventions are so famous is that, while they are obviously shockingly ahead of their time, no-one knows in many cases whether they were ever built, whether they worked, or even what they were for. Any progress in unravelling these mysteries is a significant step towards understanding Da Vinci himself (For the point of this, see point 1 above).

4. It's a mediaeval-style robot. Not only is this self-evidently cool in itself, it also has major implications for Dungeons-and-Dragons-playing Slashdotters, who can now, with an arguable degree of verisimilitude, introduce clockwork robot buggies into their campaigns.

I mean, how can you ask what is the point? What's not the point? This is Slashdot, a website for geeks. Da Vinci is the proto-geek, if not The Uber-Geek Of All Time. This is an article about how he built a clockwork robot. This should be rocking your world. If it were not for your low UID I would assume that you'd found your way on here by accident.
Hope this answers your question

more than 9 years ago

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Tea

tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  more than 10 years ago Well, firstly, applelaserwriter (below) is right in that it is best to put the milk in the cup first, scientifically speaking.
Confusingly, though, this is seen, at least in upper-middle class / upper-class circles in South-East England (can't speak for the rest of the country) as not the done thing: putting the milk in last is one of those secret signals used to signify one's membership of the social elite, along with many other, equally arbitrary things such as spurning fishknives, never referring to pudding as "dessert" (and never serving it without a fork).
Luckily, though, you don't have to worry about any of that shit, so put the milk in the cup first.

Apart form that, people over here are in general agreement on the correct way to make a pot of tea:
1. First select your teapot. Heavy, thicker-walled ones don't look so posh put hold the heat better.
2. Half-fill with boiling water. This is to warm the pot. The secret of a good (English-style) cup of tea is that the water should be as hot as possible during the first few seconds of contact with the tea.
3. When the outside of the teapot is hot to the touch, empty the water out and add one teaspoon full of tea per person, and an other teaspoon full of tea. I know the little metal ball things you mentioned - you could give this a try, but some people feel that they don't give the leaves enough room to circulate. The alternative is to put the leaves in completely loose, but to use a tea strainer (like a very small seive) when pouring.
4. Pour in the boiling water. It must be BOILING. This is the thing that upsets most English people abroad. When we say BOILING we don't mean "very hot" or "just boiled", but BOILING. Of course, it will stop boiling as soon as it leaves the kettle, but that's OK.
5. On the subject of boiling water, some people say that you should never boil the same water twice for tea, but boil a fresh kettle of cold water every time. Apparently this is something to do with the amountof oxygen dissolved in the water affecting the taste, but I've never noticed much of a difference.
6. Leave for a few minutes. Three or so.
7. Serve with cups on saucers, a teaspoon on each saucer, a bowl of WHITE sugar, a jug of COLD milk, and (optionally) a pot of hot water to add to the tea if it starts getting too strong (as well as getting stronger over time, as you pour tea out of the pot, the tea:water ratio gets stronger).
8. Regarding the brand of tea itself, "Jackson's of Piccadilly" and "Twinings" are probably both worth Googling. "Taylors of Harrowgate" are a Yorkshire firm - Yorkshire tea is known for its strength.

I think that's pretty much everything I know about tea. I'll post this in my journal - please let me know how you get on.

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tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  more than 10 years ago

As I've got older, this conflict between doing the ironing and going out looking for adventures has become one of the defining tensions of my life. Much as I value the unexpected and the unpredictable, I also have to admit to rather liking security, stability, predictability, and sameness. Whenever I have moved to a new area, I have felt slightly lost until I have settled on a local pub[1]. I always eat lunch at the same café, even though there are only two things on the menu that I really like, meaning that I have to eat ham, egg and chips on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and shepherd's pie on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My wife is not like this. She has travelled. When she was a kid, she spent a year in India, and then hitchhiked home. About three years ago, she decided that she wanted to go travelling again, and tried to convince me to come with her to South-East Asia to see the ancient temples and jungles and elephants and stuff. I thought of the ancient temples of Angkor Wat (vide Tomb Raider 1), the beaches, the street-markets of Bangkok. I thought of how I was yuoung and without responsibilities, and how such opportunities don't come along very often. I wondered how many other people have ever had a beautiful lovely woman ask them to accompany them to the other side of the world to explore strange new cultures and lie around on the beach. But then I thought to myself, "But I have got responsibilities. It's a bad time, work-wise, to be taking time out, and I'm angling for a pay rise."
So Sarah went and spent eight weeks in Cambodia, and I took the pay rise. It was a difficult decision to make, and, in retrospect, it was wrong, too. Sarah brough some amazing pictures back, and saw some incredible stuff, but she said that it felt lonely at times, without me. I was, in retrospect, a bit of a fool. It wasn't much of a pay rise anyway.

Endnote
[1] Currently the Bedford Arms, on the corner of Bedford Hill and Fernlea Road, Balham, SW12. Not the big saloon bar, though, but the quieter public bar around the corner, which is accessed via a separate entrance on Fernlea Road.

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Before the big bang

tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  more than 10 years ago This was originally written as a post in response to someone claiming that the Big Bang theory rested on a "leap of faith" because it couldn't say what happened before the big bang. It pretty quickly (and fairly) got modded offtopic, but I like it, so I thought I'd put it here instead.

what happened before Creation?

Small Kid: "What's North of the North pole, daddy?"

Dad: "Nothing, son. you can't go North of the North Pole."

SK: "yeah, but, daddy, suppose you did? What would be there?"

Dad: "Nothing."

SK: "You mean, like, a big empty space?"

Dad: "No, I don't mean a big empty space, I mean, no space at all, nothing, there's nothing North of the North Pole becuase that's as North as you can get."

SK: "So, if you're at the North Pole, and you go North, which direction do you go in?"

Dad: "You CAN'T go North of the North pole, because there is no North from there!"

SK: "So, suppose you're half a mile south of the North Pole, and you walk North for a mile, where are you?"

Dad: "You're still half a mile South of the North pole, but on the other side."

update: Moderation now (22 Jan 04) stands at 30% funny, 30% offtopic, 20% overrated, score 1: insightful. Not sure how that works or what it means but it's most definitely the weirdest moderation I've ever got.

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What was that URL on Hungerford Foot Bridge?

tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  more than 10 years ago

This has been gnawing away at the back of my mind for many years. First, a little background for non-London dwellers:

Crossing the Thames Between Waterloo and Charing Cross, pretty much in the geographic centre of London, is a large railway bridge with a footbridge running along side it. This is called the Hungerford footbridge.

Nowadays, the footbridge is a big shiny contemporary looking-thing, but up until about three years ago it was a narrow, crappy-looking thing bolted to the side of the railway bridge itself. Being a bottle neck for commuters walking to either Waterloo or Embankment Station, it was popular with beggars, itinerant street vendors, and sundry other weirdos and vagabonds.

At the North end of the bridge, where the walkway ended and the stairs down to street-level began, was a high set of spiked railings designed to prevent access to a flat roof, covered in soot and pigeon shit, that lay underneath the rtailway bridge. A dark and grotty corner such as one might find anywhere in Central London, more so in those days.

Anyway, the point is, on a wall abutting this flat roof was chalked a long URL. Since the new bridge has been built it is no longer there, but before that it had been there since I could remember, and I have been crossing that bridge since before there were such things as URLs.

I cannot remember what the URL was - indeed, when I first saw it, I didn't even know what a URL looked like, but I passed it nearly every week for several years ,and always wondered what it meant.

I think (and here it gets interesting) that it began http:\\slashdot.org. I think (and here it gets even more interesting) that it pointed towards someone's journal; I seem to remember a tilde character ~ in it.

Does anyone else remember seeing this URL? Was it for a Slashdot journal? Whose? Are they still active?

If it was, indeed, a slashdot URL it must have been from the very very earliest days of Slashdot. When did Slashdot start up? 96? 97? That would just about fit, I think.

Anyway, if anyone knows anything, do let me know.

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Sexual politics in Buffy

tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  about 11 years ago

The following is a draft - think of it as an early beta. Bug reports welcome.

I haven't seen series seven (the last series) yet, nor have I seen Angel, so the following comments don't take these into account.Also, I've sen the fiulm, but I won't go into that. Lastly, some of the examples I use below count, I guess, as mild spoilers.

The prevailing morality changes over the six series, as the cast get older. In series one, they're all fifteen, and drinking, smoking, sex and drugs are all bad. Actually, I don't think there are any references anywhere in BtVS to illicit drugs, but I assume they're frowned upon (although there are obvious parallels with Willow's seduction by, overuse of, eventual dependency upon and virtual destruction by Wiccan magic).

Alcohol is here worth a mention, as the way its dealt with has parallels with the more complex issue of sex, and thus gives a convenient introduction to the genewral ethical framework of the series.

The only earlier episodes in which Buffy drinks alcohol (that I remember offhand) are:

1. in which the beer is cursed and turns her into a grunting cavewoman (wickedly sharp social commentary, that one, oh yes, if you're smart enough to get it) and
2. in which she goes to a frat house party, against the advice of her friends, and the drink turns out to be drugged, as part of an evil plan on the part of the frat boys to knock her out, sexualy molest her, and then sacrifice her to a big snake-thing in the basement (ahh! snake! Symbolism!).

After the characters reach twenty-one or so, suddenly beer loses its evil powers (removing the necessity for all those not-quite-convincing scenes where they got to nightclubs and drink coffee), and its okay for them to drink it in moderation, although still only Spike touches the hard stuff (Jack Daniels), just as he is the only smoking character, both of which (plus his fondness for black leather, industrial goth-rock and dodgy english accent) all serve as signifiers for his irredeemable evilness.

Basically, in Buffyland, no-one can have sex without something horrible happening. Especially if you're Xander, for some reason. Xander is engaged thoughout much of the series in an inner tussle with his manly, butch side and his uncool, jumper-wearing, friends-with-girls side. Whenever his manly side wins out he usually ends up being seduced and almost killed by a monster.

This may be because Josh Whedon, the creator and #1 scriptwriter of Buffy, is an overweight fantasy nerd who was probably an overwieght fantasy nerd during his high school years (evidence: his highly empathetic and knowledgable depiction of the Evil Trio - the three evil nerds in series six. Many of the in-jokes, star wars references, etc were evidence of a deep insider knowledge of geekdom). He probably didn't see as much action as he would have liked during his teenage years, and, in creating BtVS, has developed a self-justifying mythology where any sexual activity, or even attempts at sexual activity, or merely, in Xander's case, attempts at adopting a sexual persona (ie being a cool manly man rather than a jumper-wearing friend-of-girls) before the age of twenty-one or so is actually WRONG and EVIL and will be punished either by emotional upset or by scary monsters.

Below is a list of all the significant sexual relationships in Buffy that I can think of, and the various horrible things that happen to the participants as a direct or implied result of their sinful ways. Exclamation marks after names indicate that the people involved had actual naked sex rather than just going to the cinema together or whatever.

Buffy's boyfriends:

1. That nasty bloke in the first year of college! - seduces Buffy, turns to to be a dick in the end. Something bad happens to him, I forget what.

2. Angel! - cursed to turn super-evil every time he has sex with Buffy. In the end Buffy has to kill him. He returns from the dead, still evil, but she tames him by keeping him chained up with no shirt on and, most importantly, not having sex with him.

3. Riley! - goes okay for a while, but Riley feels emasculated by the fact that Buffy can kick his arse, and buggers off in the end.

4. Spike! - Spike and Buffy's relationship must be one of the most psychologically unhealthy and twisted ever depicted on popular television. Wayyy to complicated to get into here, but suffice it to say that they both spend most of the time wanting to kill each other, but every time they get into a fight they end up having sex, mostly standing up, mostly with their clothes on, as though to emphasise the basically unnatural nature of their relationship.

Dawn's Boyfriends:

1. The only love interest I can remember is when she gets a ride with some older boys. They turn out to be warewolves and Buffy has to kill them all.

2. No others. number one seems to have scarred her too deeply.

xander's girlfriends:

1. Mantis creature posing as Jenny Callender, takes him home with promises of sexual delights, turns into giant praying mantis, tries to eat his head.

2. Inca Mummy Girl - Seems like a Latino hottie, turns out to be Inca Mummy Girl, tries to suck out his life force (in a bad, non-fun way).

3. Cordelia - bitchy stuck-up girl who doesn't like Xander and whom Xander doesn't like. Mostly palyed for laughs.

4. Anyanka! ex- vengeance demon. Longest-tem ralationship in the whole of Buffy, I think. Turbulent and troublesome, which is probably why Whedon lets it last so long - Xander doesn't need to be punished for his relationship with Anyanka, because the relationship IS the punishment. In the end, he stands her up at the altar, and they both feel terrible.

Willow's girl/boyfriends:

1. Oz! Turns into a warewolf, has an affair with anothe warewolf and has to leave to get his shit together or something.
2. Terra! Goes very well. Probably Whedon does not feel the need to punish them, as they do not have the necessary equipment to represent a threat to his masculinity. Anyway, at this point in the story, Josh is too busy punishing Willow for her over-use of magic (ie drugs).

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Most disturbing Slashdot posts of all time!

tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  more than 11 years ago This was first suggested by Mr_Kcleen in response to the following post by AEton complaining about how his isp's anti-virus filters won't let him email his mum:

Seriously, I go to email my mom, and I use the subject "ILOVEYOU" or "I love you", and instead of delivering the message, it gives me a nasty SMTP response whining about viruses or something.

So I change the title to "Baby, this love is virus-free. Won't you be good to me?"


Which made me laugh. Mr_Kcleen mentioned the goatse guy and "the guy who keeps posting links about having sex with dolphins" (don't know about that one - I'm new here) as possible contenders.

Please let me have your nominations!

NB: I generally read this at work, so please don't post anything non-work safe without fair warning. Cheers.

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tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  more than 11 years ago Here's how to make a link: (this works in either Plain Old Text or HTML Formatted slashdot posting modes, I'm posting this in Extrans so you can SEE the tags)

<a href="URL HERE">DESCRIPTION HERE</a>

Here's a real one:

<a href="http://slashdot.org/">Hot Dupes DAILY!!!!!!</a>

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nickname

tiled_rainbows tiled_rainbows writes  |  more than 11 years ago regarding my nickname - it's an anagram of my real name (first and last names). It's not that unusual, at least not in England.
Another one is "Tribal Windoes"

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