Life the Universe and Everything



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Last weekend we moved house. Our new place is a house rather than an apartment, just 1km north of our previous apartment. If you need my new address then please drop me an email.

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: The Two Towers OST

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Ugh, two obituary posts in a row. I’m not blogging enough and too many people I admire are dying.

I can’t now remember when I first met Caspar Bowden. I think it was in London at perhaps a Scrambling for Safety event organised at UCL by Ian Brown and Ross Anderson. The most recent time was this year’s CPDP in Brussels where Caspar, a regular speaker at the event in recent years, was continuing his long crusade for privacy as an internationally recognised human right, in particular for the digital privacy of ordinary people (i.e. those of whom there is no serious evidence of criminal activity) to be recognised by all governments, whether or not that person happens to be a citizen or resident of the country or not. Snowden’s revelations bore out may of Caspar’s most pessimistic estimates of what the US (and their junior UK partners) were doing with the authority granted them by FISA.

Tragically Cassandra-like his pronouncements may have been  in some ways, yet his tireless work on behalf of the rights of ordinary people should inspire us all to continue his efforts.

BBC obituary: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33473105

Current Mood: (grumpy) grumpy

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Almost a year since my last blog post. Very bad of me. The last one was a report that I’d finished Kiki’s Delivery Service Book 2. It’s taken me ten months to finish books 3 and 4, but I’ve now done so. I’m just over half-way through Book 5 (which I’m racing through, having read the first 150 pages of 280 in just over two weeks). I’ve also now seen the recent live action Kiki movie. This is definitely derived from the first book, rather than from the Ghibli animation. In some ways it sticks closer to the book. For instance Kiki cannot accept money in return for her magic services. It’s never quite explicit in the book, and the “economics” of this are somewhat glossed over in terms of how she manages daily existence if she can’t earn money (or possibly can’t even deal with money directly). There’s something of an implication of receiving services in “barter” for her own and she can certainly accept gifts in kind in exchange for her services. Although this bit is closer to the book, and some of the scenes/sequences in the movie are heavily inspired by chapters in the book, it’s still quite a departure from the book in many terms. In the book there’s a sequence with a girl asking her to deliver a black envelope to another girl, which it turns out is an old tale of witches cursing people. In the book this is dealt with on the small scale of the girls involved only, whereas in the movie it’s part of the plot whereby after this incident people start distrusting Kiki and even returning things she’s delivered to them, back to Kiki instead of back to the sender.

I watched the movie in Japanese (no choice – there doesn’t seem to be an English subtitle version available – but I wanted to do that anyway). Since I know the story pretty well and it’s a kids/teen movie, I was able to follow much of the dialogue well enough, but I certainly wasn’t understanding every sentence in detail. Harder than the book, of course, since spoken word is harder to follow because of speed and difficulty to re-tread (I was watching it with $DAUGHTER so could hardly stop every thirty seconds and re-play to get the dialogue, though I may do some of this later to try to improve my Japanese listening).

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished

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2013 Typhoon No. 26 will make move through Tokyo area in the next 12-18 hours. It is not seriously dangerous, though will disrupt transport. Luckily for me I have no appointments tomorrow so will just work at home. $WIFE has to go to the office (but has rearranged a meeting outside since her interviewee is not sure of being able to make it in) but she uses the subway to get there, so should be fine.

Current Mood: (crushed) crushed
Current Music: None

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The first week this month, I was in LA. A few days after getting back from that I flew the other direction to Denmark. After a week of me being jetlagged at home $WIFE headed off to Canada leaving me to do my part of taking care of $DAUGHTER as a lone working parent (I am NOT complaining about this – I do it too often to her and she doesn’t complain). She arrived back in Tokyo yesterday and less than 24 hours later (just fourteen hours after she arrived home I left home) I flew out on the trip I’m currently in transit on. I’m in the Senator Lounge at Munich airport in transit to Lisbon (there are no direct flights from Tokyo to Lisbon that I can see, so I’m on Lufthansa via Munich on the way out and Frankfurt on the way back). Two days after I get back to Tokyo I head off to Hong Kong. At least that’s a medium haul flight, daytime flight both ways and only one hour time difference. I get a break from travel then until late August and Worldcon.

Unfortunately my talk is the first one in the first session after the opening plenary tomorrow morning, and because of the connection I’mnot even scheduled to land in Lisbon until 21:50. Still, I’ve no hold luggage and Lisbon airport isn’t far out so I hope to get to the hotel and fall over by around 23:00.

Current Mood: (tired) tired
Current Music: None

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So, I arrived at Narita airport this morning expecting to get on a plane at 10:30 to fly to Kuala Lumpur on business. I should learn to check flights before leaving home as the departure time was listed as delayed until 19:25. Having checked in (it took 90 minutes, because I’m not flying with the airline alliance I have status with) so at 10:15 I headed home. THey later delayed the flight departure expectation to 22:10 and this has now been confirmed. So, I’m still at home for another half hour before heading back to Narita again (but this time having to take awkward trains since the Keisei Skyliner doesn’t run this late 🙁 ). Instead of a nice daytime flight I’ll now have an overnight flight to arrive in KL about 6am. In fact, the further delay may well have been so that we can arrive amongst the first landings allowed at KLIA in the morning (I’m not sure if they have an overnight shutdown there).

Current Mood: (jealous) jealous
Current Music: None

As part of my research I need to look into Amazon.com’s Kindle account offerings. Because of their setup with geographic rights restrictions it’s difficult to set up such an account without a US-registered credit card. Does anyone reading this have an Amazon.com Kindle account who is also available to help us get information about their practices? It’s nothing bad, it’s that we’ve been told Amazon.com provide a “Family Account” with features we’re recommending more service providers should give, but which aren’t available on Amazon.co.uk (and Amazon.co.jp’s account information is mostly in formal Japanese which is a bit beyond me).

Current Mood: Interested
Current Music: None

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The year just turned in Tokyo. Despite some illness this year my life is generally pretty good and I’m happy with it. I hope you are with yours, or at least that 2013 gets better for you.

Current Mood: (happy) happy
Current Music: None

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A collection of the various shorter pieces Jim Butcher has written in his urban fantasy series. These are quite a varied set of stories, a couple of which I’ve read before, but most of which were new to me. There are two stories written from the points of view of other characters (Thomas and Murphy) which is somewhat interesting, though I’m not sure they work as well as the Harry-viewpoint ones, probably because Butcher hasn’t had time to really develop their “voices” are narrators. There’s definitely more than a hint of unreliable narrator in the Thomas story.  It’s nice to see the background story that’s mentioned in one of the novels (what Maeve did to Billy and Georgia’s wedding). It’s also interesting to see his first story written about Harry, though as he acknowledges his writing skills at that point were much more limited. Some of these are clearly written (as he more or less admits in the introduction to them) on specific commission and not springing from his own imagination directly, so something of a mixed bag. Worthwhile for fans of the series, though. Better value than the standalone publication of Backup (the Thomas story) that was well overpriced.

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: None

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The HP Lovecraft Historical Society seems to have missed this one, so I’ve filled it in for them.

Great Cthulhu’s Coming to Town (lyrics)

You better watch out
You better keep an eye
Better not doubt
I’m telling you why
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s is coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

He’s making no list
I’ve checked this out twice;
Gonna find out Who’s tasty and nice
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

He sees you in your safe place
He knows if you’re alive
He doesn’t care if you’ve been bad or good
Just to stay sane you must strive!
O! You better watch out
You better keep an eye
Better not doubt
I’m telling you why
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

Creative Commons Licence
Great Cthulhu’s Coming to Town (Lyrics) by Andrew Alexander Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://blog.a-cubed.info/?p=637.

Current Mood: (amused) amused
Current Music: Star Wars Episode III OST

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