serious

Better.

Well, mostly better. And back at work, because it seems that somebody has to be here who understands the monochromator's little idiosyncracies. It has, I should say at this point, been working very well for the last few months, and I think people are now very pleased with it. A while back I mailed Till to thank them for whatever they did the last time they had it back, because whatever it was it certainly did the trick. There's a (very) slight problem with the control software, but I suspect that that's the fault of the software company, who are unconnected. There's a very simple workround, anyway. That was what Kirsten's call on Wednesday was about. Tom called me at home yesterday about another issue - he just couldn't get any illumination from it. I couldn't think of anything that might cause that, and when I fired it up this morning it worked perfectly. So it goes.

It was pointed out to me (thank you to missfairchild) that the man convicted of killing Mia Zapata has had an appeal upheld, not against his conviction but against the severity of his sentence. But even if he gets a decade lopped off the previous 36-year stretch, he'll still likely die inside.

There have been some interesting studies out too. That one on male bisexuality has apparently been printed now, as has one allegedly claiming that men are clever than women (difficult to prove using a tool like an IQ test, for only very slightly technical reasons) and also one on the worthlessness of homeopathy. I should probably drone on about each of these . . . and I may if I get bored.

What I probably will do sooner or later is spell out at unforgiveable length when and how I think the animal rights movement lost the plot. I mention this now rather than at any other point because A Prominent Local Scientist (not me or anyone I know personally) has had his van vandalised and his house threatened recently, and someone else from the same institute had had their house vandalised shortly before. A few years ago, of course, the Roslin Institute was firebombed, as was a building at the Bush Estate (part of Edinburgh University). In the latter case, the wrong building was actually bombed (stupid fuckwits), as the lab that was burnt out (destroying many years of work by a good number of people) was actually a tropical botany lab. You can insert the usual "vegetable rights" jokes here if you like, of course. Still, at least nobody was hurt. Or, alternatively, at least nobody's been hurt yet. All fun and games.

I don't have anything exciting to report about my life and travels, as I've been mostly sitting in the house for the last couple of days, stroking the cat and bringing up phlegm. I'm not downcast, though. New Model Army have a new album out very very soon (and I'll get to go see them on my birthday), Leonard Cohen has one out RSN, there's what looks like a very promising club on tomorrow and a big firework display on Sunday.

Finally, I'd just like to pass on a quotation about the Old Man of Storr, lifted from the NVA book:
"Had this rock been on the plains of Hindostan instead of the mountains of Skye, it would have been an object of greater devotion than the Jaggernaut Pagoda." J Macculloch, Geologist, 1819.
NMA, Leonard Cohen and now Kate bush rising from the grave? What's going on? It's like being in a zombie flick.
Further update on the male bisexuality paper: the author has provided his raw data to dr_d, who is writing a response for a journal; he's just getting stuck into it now so I'll have more information shortly on whether the data really represents what the author claims.
I will play the new single off the NMA album tomorrow. It reminds me very much of the 'love of hopeless causes' period.

Feel free to make other requests.

"That one on male bisexuality"?

spell out at unforgiveable length when and how I think the animal rights movement lost the plot

I look forward to reading it.. I can't fathom why animal rights is OK but the London bombings are terrorism.
There has been Much Discussion in certain circles about a paper failing to find any men who seem equally stimulated by both men and women as measured by a penile plethysmograph. There's a little more to it than that, but in a nutshell that's the issue.
penile plethysmograph

*howling with laughter*

that has to be the best name everfor any scientific test or piece of equipment. I wonder if GU clinics use it to frighten irresponsible young men?
as has one allegedly claiming that men are clever than women

LOL, there's something really wonderful about a man making the above error. Now, I'll leave you to decide precisely which error I may be referencing. ;-)
Its author might find it amusing that someone disagreeing with him would make that mistake.