February 2006

There are some photos of my 30th on the web. These ones were taken by Barney. If anyone’s got any more, do point them out to me.

There’s also a video of David B and me dancing rumba, but that will never see the light of day, oh no. Barney got a couple of scribb1e and me singing Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin, too.

Seeing yourself on video is odd: I do hunch my shoulders a lot, don’t I? Must stand up straighter. Also, I sound a lot posher than I think I do. Cambridge has rubbed off on me, dontcherknow.

Row erupts over insults to Freedom of Speech:

A row erupted yesterday after newspapers were accused of portraying Freedom of Speech in a manner which might be offensive to Europeans.

“It is totally unacceptable to us what has been happening,” said Mr Handybandy of the Freedom of Speech Action Committee. “Freedom of Speech is very important to Europeans, and the constant barrage of attacks on it over the last two weeks has been very offensive.”

Yep, it’s those Drink-soaked Trotsykite Popinjays For WAR again. In further, slightly more serious, news, We Are All Danes Now.

I also found an interesting interview with Robert Baer, a former CIA agent, on the situation in Iran and Iraq. Pessimistic but informative.

Though it’s written from a female perspective, Janis Ian’s At Seventeen conjures memories of being that age. lauralaitaine and Libby (WINOLJ) saw my college matriculation photo and said “aw, bless, you were such a huge geek”. I had huge square glasses and a pretty unfortunate haircut (although thankfully I’m not that bloke in the front row who is the only one wearing white trainers). I’d never had any sort of girlfriend, and wouldn’t for another 3 years. That’s a long time, when you’re 18. I held as an article of faith the idea that if I did find such a fortunate lady then all my problems would be solved at a stroke: I’d never be lonely again, in fact, I’d be just about as funky as you can be. (Aside: apparently there are people on the Internet who believe that the Mr Jones of the song is Adam Duritz’s willy: fortunately this turns out not to be true).

I’ve turned 30 today, so I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come. It’d be nice if there were a way to speak to the 18 year old me and let him know that articles of faith aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, but that that things would work out in the end (and maybe give him a little sartorial advice). I suppose that’s partly what I’m trying to do when I write things addressed to CICCU members or advise the Young People about Courting.

The stuff about hair and clothes is easy, but only gets you so far. The problem with my fantasy of setting my 18 year old self to rights is the obvious one: much of what I needed to learn cannot be taught. I suppose all anyone can do in giving advice is hope to help another person avoid your more spectacular mistakes, always assuming that those mistakes were the ones someone else would be prone to anyway.

I’ve had a great 30th. I’m amazed that I can fill a house with people who like me (at least, I’m assuming that was the motivation rather than free booze), especially at a week’s notice. That’s just about as funky as you can be.

Just uploaded another version of the LJ New Comments script. This one never displays negative numbers of new comments (“-3 new”) next to your friends’ entries. I also noticed that Firefox was getting fat and slow after much LJ browsing. Turns out that Firefox leaks memory like a sieve when you do the thing that the script does to let you click from one new comment to the next. This is Firefox’s fault, but luckily a way to get around this was discussed on the Greasemonkey mailing list recently. So I did that. All seems well so far. FF1.5 is so leaky that it’ll probably get fat for some other reason, but with the amount of LJ I read I’ve probably helped myself a bit.

It occurs to me that the same sort of tricks LJ New Comments uses to find comments could probably also be used to make a version of the LJ Thread Unfolder which worked with more than just the default comment style. I might do that if I get around to it.


The cartoons were part of a debate on artistic self-censorship in the face of fears of violence from Muslims. They were designed to provoke a reaction. Imagining it from a Muslim point of view, we might say they were trolling Muslims. A troll wants you to respond. Some Muslims have done so in spades, proving exactly the point that the original Danish newspaper article was making.

Just as with the Jerry Springer the Opera uproar, the test of the tolerance practised by a group of believers is how they respond to someone attempting to troll them. The right way to deal with trolls is to ignore them: they hate that. The wrong thing to do is respond with cries of “help! help! I’m being oppressed!”, or with threats of violence. I’m glad to see some British Muslims have realised that such threats are counter-productive, and that a moderate Muslim group has formed in Denmark to try to calm things down.

As for the rest, we must not have a society where people (or at least, people above the age of 5) who think they have an invisible friend are able to stop certain kinds of speech merely by saying that they’re offended on that friend’s behalf. We do not extend such protection to any other opinion a person might hold. We should not extend it to religion, whether the religion is Christianity or Islam or anything else. Jack Straw’s weasel words are frankly vile (although perhaps not surprising from the government which attempted to quash freedom of speech itself with the Religious Hatred bill).

A few links: The Times has a sensible editorial on the whole business. jnala, commenting on ladysiyphus‘s LJ, writes against self-censorship. Wikipedia has an excellent article on the controversy.