dave: September 2003 Archives

Valerie Plame Affair


Well, those squirming liars in the White House have outdone themselves this time. Not only have they committed treason by naming a Covert CIA operative, they appear to be completely unable to tell the truth. Check out Talking Points Memo on PlameGate.

Hopefully this is the first in a long line of events which will lead to the entire Bush administration languishing in the clink for crimes against humanity.

Pictures of Conor


Here's a picture of Conor as taken by a nice lady, Miss Suen, who was sitting next to us at the restaurant tonight. Conor was being his usual charming self, dribbling over anyone who'd pick him up but doing so very cutely. Meanwhile, his sister was being grumpy. The lady in the shot is Miss Suen.

What a strange Phenomenon (do doo be-do-do)




Baghdad Burning is a blog by a young Iraqi lady. It's well written and horrifying all at the same time.



We went up to Tung Choi street again this afternoon to get some more fish - all the ones we have are very small, and the tank was looking very empty. We also got some rocks and driftwood to provide things for the fish to hide behind.

It's not always easy for me to know what's in the tank, as all the fish sold in bags labelled in Chinese, and the Chinese name may not correspond very well to the English name. However, with the aid of AquariumFish.net, here are some of what we have:

There's a bunch of other, very generic looking fish, which like to shoal together. They look like very small tuna! There's also another shoal of light pink with black mark fish, who always point the same way.



Apparently, my site's been down (or effectively so) since Sunday night (log rollover time). The reasons it was down was that I upgrade the webserver software (apache), and the RedHat upgrade put pack a file I had removed which tried to force the server to host an SSL page with the same name as the main page. This caused it to think that it wasn't working.

Yet Another Microsoft Vulnerability!


There are more Microsoft vulnerabilities revealed last night/this morning. Computer Security Experts, say you should go here to download the patch.

I say you should probably go here, or maybe here instead.

The use of Microsoft products must cost business billions of dollars everytime some problem like this comes along. There must come a point at which the cost of using Microsoft Products:

  • The restrictive and expensive licensing,
  • The costs of securing networks against successive security holes and vulnerabilities
  • The costs of forced upgrades due to aggressive end-of-lifing of Operating Systems
  • The costs of forced hardware upgrades because each versions of Windows requires about twice the horsepower of the one before it.
  • The costs of having to run server level applications on vastly overspecified hardware because of inefficient and bloated programming (Think of the clusters of machines required for a reliable Exchange installation versus what would be required for a Unix mail solution. There's a good reason why Hotmail still doesn't run on Windows.)

must be greater than any potential productivity gains by using Windows.

The situation now is ridiculous: there is an acceptance that all computers are vulnerable to these attacks and that massive downtime is just a cost of doing business. This is just not so. It's a result of years of wilful spreading of cluelessness on the part of Microsoft, of years of dumbing down the skills believed to be required to run a server room. It's a direct result of saying "See? With Windows, running a room full of servers is just as complicated as playing Minesweeper!". This is precisely the attitude which has resulted in the profession of System Administrator being relegated to a career for school leavers who, lacking any experience of anything but Windows, perpetrate all the same mistakes.



We went out today to buy a proper fishtank. We had one before, a small one (15"x8"x9") with which we had terrible luck with the fishes. They never lasted very long.

When we moved to the new flat, we brought the fishtank, although by that time we had no fish.

Chinese believe that having fish in the house is very lucky. Seeing as how we could do with a little luck at the moment, we went out to get a good tank.

The best place to go for fishtanks and fish in Hong Kong is Tung Choi Street, near Prince Edward MTR station. It's shop after shop of tropical fish and associated paraphernalia. (There are also a lot of bicycle shops, which is very surreal.) We got a 24"x14"x20" (width by depth by height) tank for HK$180 and some small fish to go into it. We got a bunch of really small fish, this time, all about one or two centimetres long so that they would shoal around. We had goldfish the last time, and they were a little too big for the tank.

The amount of water which goes into a big fishtank is truly amazing - I've filled the tank to a depth of 16", so I reckon that there's 88kg of water in there! I guess the whole thing weighs as much as I do! The little fish look a little lost in the big tank, but they seem quite happy to shoal around.

Meanwhile, the kids, of course, are fascinated by it.

If I can get a long enough USB cable, I might put the webcam facing the tank.

Monstrous Regiment


I just happened to stroll into my local Dymocks Bookstore today and was greeted by a very welcome sight. Terry Pratchett's latest oeuvre, Monstrous Regiment, along with a sticker saying "Not to be sold until Nov 1". Naturally I bought a copy straight away. I thought about telling them that they shouldn't be selling it, but, what the heck, new good books are not the easiest of things to get here, so I just kept mum.

I haven't started it yet - I was in the middle of re-reading Thief of Time by the same author, the only "Buy on sight in Hardback" author I know of.

Project Censored


Project Censored's Yearly Report - interesting reading.



Avast there shipmates! It be Talk Like a Pirate Day today, so Roll your Arrrrrr's, shiver your timbers and scupper the mainbrace!

That Macdonald's Coffee Lawsuit Urban Legend


Yes, a woman was scalded by hot coffee from Macdonald's and was awarded a lot of money in compensation, but No, the version passed around by email is generally wrong. FACT SHEET: MCDONALD'S SCALDING COFFEE CASE explains what happened and the eventual outcomes of the lawsuit. (Link courtesy of Making Light, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's wonderful blog.)

Also, Snopes.com is a useful site for investigating those dubious claims people send you in email (You know, the "Bill Gates will give you ten thousand dollars for spamming your addressbook" nonsense (which is debunked here).



I had a thought a while back (don't laugh, it does happen!), but have only got around to putting it somewhere public now. Look at this table of events:

September 11, 2001World Trade Center Attacks
October 12, 2002Bali Bombing, Indonesia
November 13, 2003?
December 14, 2004?

Each attack a year and a day after the one before. I think I'm staying home on November 13 this year.

Lorem Ipsum


Courtesy of http://www.lipsum.com/:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam id elit id urna commodo blandit. Mauris semper erat vel massa. Fusce ullamcorper ante id elit. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Ut quis lacus ut pede laoreet vestibulum. Sed et sem. Nam tempus vestibulum nunc. Donec eros. Phasellus cursus, elit ut bibendum laoreet, orci erat consequat quam, vitae dapibus felis augue et diam. Nulla molestie lorem vitae mi. Maecenas iaculis orci in enim. Nam dictum lacus in est. Integer euismod. Mauris odio. Duis et mi. Proin luctus.

Yep, it's very geeky. If you're wondering what the heck it means, just go visit the site above.



I've been trying to read a few of the better political blogs recently. While these are mostly American blogs, there are a few others. One thing which amazes me is the comments sections. After a few comments, any discussion of political issues will be drowned out by gibbering right-wing nutjobs. And I'm not talking about those with politics to the right of mine, I'm talking about the "KKKlinton killed Vince Foster", or "Hillary is the AntiChrist", or "if you don't toe the Republican line, you're a traitor to America". It's quite scary how much this happens. And it's stifling discussion. It is impossible to have a political discussion in a public forum without gangs of trolling Freepers (so named because the congregate on the absurdly right-wing FreeRepublic.com, and no, I'm not linking to them.) turning up and spewing hateful nonsense everywhere.



Yesterday, Verisign hijacked the Internet's Domain Name System. Any mistyped .com or .net address will now resolve to sitefinder.verisign.com. While this sounds like it might be innocent, it has one important ramification:

Spam - One of the best ways to guard a mail server against spam is to reject email from non-existent domains. This change will ensure that all domains exist and so rejecting non-existent domains will not work. There are workarounds for this. Blocking Verisign.com is my chosen route.


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I stumbled (via Breanagh's Blog) on a disturbing thing tonight. Apparently, if you mistype blogspot.com as blogpsot.com (not the transposition of s and p there), you get redirected to a bible site: http://www.bibledesk.com/. Now, I have nothing against Bible sites, and often frequently check out many religious sites myself to see if what people claim is holy writ really is. For example, just after September 11 2001, many people quoted Al Qu'ran as saying that martyrs received 72 virgins in the afterlife. You can check out that claim here if you want. Nothing shuts up a fundie like appearing to know his own holy books better than he does.

However, redirecting people who make a simple typing mistake to your own site is the sort of thing Porn Spammers do. Witness the Official White House Website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/ and a porn site (with skanky interns) http://www.whitehouse.com (which I am not going to link to). It's not good company for a supposedly Christian site to keep, now is it?

I'm going to email Earl Ball, domainhost@worldnet.att.net about this and ask. That's a very suspicious email address. He also lives at PO Box 10142, St. Petersburg Florida 33733. Actually, there are a lot of spammers in Florida, so I'm not going to email him. That address looks fake as all heck to me anyway. I'll just leave this permanent record about his duplicity here...

Tomb Raider - Cradle of Life

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It's a great old tradition of adventure movies to make stupid mistakes in the portrayal of Hong Kong on the silver screen. Classics include "The Man With The Golden Gun", where Bond has an altercation outside a club in Kowloon, is driven to Queen's Pier in Central (Hong Kong side) before the cross harbour tunnel was open, then hops in a boat back to Kowloon.

I watched Tomb Raider - Cradle of Life last night. It wasn't as bad as I expected. Although, since I expected it to be significantly worse than watching paint dry, I suppose that's not much of a boost. Anyway, here's what they got wrong about Hong Kong:

  • Chai Wan Private Airport - and the picture showed the plane landing just in front of the Bank of China Tower, which you can't even see from Chai Wai. Both of my children were born in the Pamela Youde Nethersole hospital in Chai Wan, I know what you can see from there and what you can't. It's around the eastern coast of Hong Kong Island.
  • Times Square - Yep, they are in Times Square, Causeway Bay -it's got those transparent elevators and those balconies. The one thing it hasn't got is Two IFC directly overhead. (, An article about it by the owners.) The Times Square building is a few miles away from Two IFC, which is in Central, not Causeway Bay.
  • Gliding - shortly after apparently going a few miles horizontally in an elevator, then 88 stories vertically, Lara and Terry don gliding suits and leap from the top. Lara says that they have to glide about 2.5 miles to get to their ship. Instead, they go to a ship in the middle of the harbour, not more than a kilometre away. Still, nice action sequence.
  • Aberdeen - After they split up, Lara turns up on a fishing boat in Aberdeen, Hong Kong. It's very obvious that it's Aberdeen as there are several very distinctive landmarks and of course there's the fleets of fishing boats which you will find there. A fishing family living on a junk? That's quite likely, although they might not have the large plasma TV Lara uses. Then again they might, they're saving on rent by living in a junk, after all. What's really implausible about this scene is that Lara speaks to them in Mandarin. They're rather unlikely to speak Mandarin, being fishermen. Although there's a chance the little girl might be learning it in school. Cantonese would be their language. Also, I really don't think we have Spongebob Squarepants in Mandarin on TV here, just in English or Cantonese.

That last is a really strange mistake to make - presumably Spongebob in Cantonese would just be as foreign for an American audience as having it in Mandarin would be, and I guess that the actors could learn enough Cantonese to ask some simple questions. Also, in the other Hong Kong sequences, there are no crowd noises beyond an occasional shout. Very strange. Any crowd of people in Hong Kong is a noisy affair, with people talking all the time. It's as if the film-makers wanted to have no Cantonese at all in the movie.

Ride On


It's been a frustrating day. We planned to drop my brother's bags at the In-Town Check-in then go out for a few pints, before sending him off back home. On arrival, we found that Singapore Airlines close up their in-town check in at 8pm, even though they have early morning flights (8am!) the next day. Clearly Singaporeans believe in nobody staying up past the bedtime of a small child.

Anyway, so we had to come home with all the bags, then go out for a last pint. We headed for the Wanch, where I had been assured that The Bastards were playing. These guys are the quintessential Hong Kong Pub Band. Loud, punk and in yer face. Unless, of course, they couldn't be bothered turning up. We rolled up outside the Wanch at about 2230, and there was no sign of the band. They had made no attempt to inform the Wanch that they weren't going to be there, so there was nothing happening in the Wanch, just the usual desperate Filipinas looking for drunk gwailos.

After some debate, we decided to have a quiet pint in Carnegies. Luckily for us, it was Power Hour (10-100pm Fri, Sat), with beers (and ciders) being $10 per pint. This is cheaper than drinking at home, when you're drinking cider, so we had a few rounds there and came home.

The brother elected to watch a Bond movie from my collection of VCDs of the same, while I made some bread in anticipation of an early start. Of course, watching movies and making bread all consume so amounts of time. It may be that certain among us get no sleep until after the little brother is safely place upon his aircraft (or at least upon the airport express).

After watching the movie, and testing the bread (Wholemeal bread with garlic baked in, slathered with butter and peppered mozarella, MMMMMMMM), I grabbed a book to read whilst falling asleep. Unfortunately for me, it was Jimmy MacCarthy's "Ride On".

This book is very clearly based on Christy Moore's biography. Christy Moore highlights the stages of his life through the songs he was singing and what was happening to him at the time. "This is the first song I sang in public, and I actually remember getting stuck into the drink after performing." His autobiography shows an awakening of musical talent running parallel with an appetite for the drink and the effects thereof. He brings you into the world of a man whose drinking is out of control: "I remember singing this song at a festival, but I can't remember what festival that was", and eventually brings you, the reader, along on his personal journey of salvation, which involved some very spiritual decisions. While I'm not religious like Christy is, having been dragged through his memories, his route to a normal life makes a lot of sense. It's clearly right for him, and he explains how he arrived at that place, and the consequences and effects of his decision.

Jimmy MacCarthy, on the other hand, beats you over the head with "You must accept God and the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous", with the implication that, if you have ever taken a drink, you're an alcoholic. This is an intolerant attitude, often found amongst reformed drinkers who feel they have a mission to save the rest of us from a lifetime of servitude to alcohol.

The thing is, you can be a drinker who feels no compulsion to drink. You can even be a heavy drinker without being an alcoholic. Sometimes you go out for a few pints and end having a few more than 'a few' without it being a serious problem. OK, it might feel like a serious problem the next day, when your head is throbbing, or you may have enough of a tolerance that you don't get hangovers, but you spend the next morning thinking: "Two bottles of wine? Why don't I feel worse?"

I have known real alcoholics. They don't drink too much beer. They don't have a little too much wine. They have Gin and Tonic for breakfast. They can't eat lunch because they're hands shake too much. They don't eat anything, because they get all their calories from alcohol. They die from kidney failure, or renal failure, or malnutrition because their liquid diet is missing somethings. I know at least two people who have died like this.

Abstinence is a poor philosophy in these cases. Moderation is the key. Did you know that a glass of red wine per day is good for you? That having a few beers every now and then with your workmates strengthens bonds with them and is good for your career? That many of the greatest works of art of all time were made by people who liked to have a drink? How about that the worst governments in the world are those extremist Muslim regimes who enforce Shar'ia (Muslim fundamentalist law) which outlaws any consumption of alcohol?

A Chinese Wedding


We went to a Chinese Wedding tonight. My wife does wedding make-up for these, so she goes all the time. Tonight, however, the bride asked for me to take some photos and for the kids to go along. As my brother was in town, he came along as well.

Sanley's day started at about 6AM, when she had to go along and sort out the bride's makeup for the 'refusing the groom entrance' games. (A traditional Chinese Bride has to refuse the groom entrance for a little bit, even if they're actually living together.) Then she had to make sure that the make up (and it's a lot of makeup - the bride has to be flawless) was ok at the registry.

After all the legal stuff, a Chinese couple has to throw a banquet for all their friends (and colleagues, and acquaintances...), so at about 5pm, we all turned up in the Star Seafood Floating Restaurant in Sha Tin. Let me tell you right away, that this is not a real floating restaurant, unless Science has found a way to make vast quantities of concrete float. It's more like a building with a moat. Or maybe one which happens to have a two foot puddle around it.

So, first things first, I'm the photographer, so I lurk there with my Z1-p and FTZ-500. and take a few snaps. Only there are now three photographers (or maybe more) and all the others have Nikon D100s. (This is a state of the art digital SLR.) These other guys are flailing through shots, stopping only to change battery packs and the occasional CF card. I, meanwhile, am working on the zen of removing a roll of film with one hand while inserting one with the other. This is hard work.

Note to self: Never wear shiny shoes at wedding ever again. If you're going to be standing and taking photos, comfortable shoes are the order of the day. Also, you'd pretty much have to turn up naked to be the worst dressed guy at a Chinese wedding, so wear comfortable clothes. One of the witnesses from the registry ceremony came straight to the banquet in the jeans and polo shirt that he was wearing then. And there were people there (including one of the photographers) who looked like they made some time from their busy schedule of cleaning sewage pipes to pop along to the banquet.

Every combination of friends, relatives and colleagues of the bride and the groom was paraded in front of the photographers and we dutifully snapped frame after frame of people staring expressionlessly at the cameras. (Meanwhile the kids (including mine, sad to say) were running riot around, so we'd have to choose a moment when no sproglets were in shot. Pentax's autofocus is very bad at that, so I'd normally focus on the bride, then turn AF off and wait for the right moment.)

Meanwhile, Alan (my brother) took over the second hat I was expected to wear - that of Candid black and white photographer. Apparently the bride and groom had read some arty publication which glorified the candid black and white shot and wanted that. That stuff is very difficult to do. And you certainly can't do it while also trying to get formal colour shots. So Alan has my MZ-5, stuffed full of T400CN and Portra 400BW. (My Z1-p is stocked with Kodak Portra 160NC, a lovely film with gorgeous skin tones. This is ok for a Chinese wedding, were makeup makes people look like they don't spend too much time in the sun. At an Irish wedding, where half the girls have slathered on the orange foundation which makes them look like Oompa-Loompas, I'd want either 160VC or Fuji Velvia, to really make that orange sear your eyeballs and make you want to sing the Oompa-Loompa song.)

Luckily, after only four hours of group shots, the food started. (The last twenty minutes of shots were carefully chosen to avoid the tables being shuttled in by the staff.)

As is traditional at a Chinese wedding, Roast Suckling Pig was the first dish. Just think crackling, if you've never been to a Chinese wedding. Me, I like this. My brother, like many unsuspecting victims of real Chinese food, was a bit stunned. He didn't partake of much of the delicacies. A shame really, I thought the Snake Soup and the Abalone were rather good. As were the Scallops and the steamed Garoupa. I was put off by the Chicken, which always appears to have been starved to death because it's so scrawny, but which does taste quite nice, if you can eat around the bony bits. I donated all the fleshy bits to my little brother, as he'd avoided the earlier dishes, and was looking rather hungry. They didn't even have cider for him, just Carlsberg or 7up.

So, finally the wedding banquet is finished, it's time to go home. I have ten rolls of film to get processed. The guys with the Nikon D100s are smirking. "We save megabucks per year because we don't have to pay for processing and printing.", they say. And they're right. If you take a lot of photos, digital is yer only man. I am just waiting for the Pentax *istD to come here. Also waiting to win the Mark6 (Lottery) so I can afford one, of course. When you have no job, and the money is running out, thoughts of buying $20,000 DSLRs are a bit pie in the sky.



We were up in Shenzen today. I'm in two minds about the place. One mind is that there are some good bargains to be found there, and there are things you can do which you can't in Hong Kong. Go-karting at Honey Lake, for example, is fun and cheap: $65 for about 10 minutes howling around a track in a kart.

The other mind says "this is China." This is a dirty place, full of people who stare at you, hassle you to buy stuff from them, drive like dribbling morons and who beg all the time. We queued for a taxi near Lo Wu and had a bizarre collection of disfigured beggars pleading for money. The 'Dog-boy', on all fours except that he has only on working leg (the other is folded in half and wasted away) and one hand is permanently touching you on the leg, was the most bizarre. I have heard rumours that these beggars are deliberately crippled to make more money for their controllers.

It is disgusting. I might have sympathy for one or two, but four or five maimed, crippled, disfigured beggars working a queue of twenty people just makes it a freak show. Also, you know, if you've spent any amount of time in Asia, that if you give money to one, all the others will demand money from you too. It's heart-breaking, but you have to just not see them.

Inside Lo Wu city, the touts were very aggressive today. "Sir! Buy DVD-9? Photos? Rolex?" The DVD-9 is just a dual-layer DVD copy. They are better copies than they used to make, but they try and demand HK$20 for each one. We bargained them down to about HK$12 per unit, although this was only attainable because we've bought stuff there before and we told him (in very loud voices) that his quality was crap, and my wife is a demon bargainer. (The first time we were there, they kept talking to their colleagues in their own dialect that they were taking some Kong Kongers for a ride. Unluckily (for them) their own dialect was that of the Chiu Chow Region, which is where my wife is from. Boy did they get an unwelcome surprise. "You just told your friend you bought these for ten dollars each. Sell them to us for 11 dollars and you make ten percent. Keep asking for twenty dollars and we walk away.")



There's been one reported (and apparently confirmed) case of SARS in Singapore in the last few days. I guess this means that we'll have a return of the panic and hysteria surrounding the disease which gripped the world earlier on this year.

SARS, or atypical pneumonia, killed about 300 people in Hong Kong in the four months or so that it was active here. Ordinary pneumonia kills about 2600 people (mostly old people) per year in Hong Kong. SARS would therefore appear to be less virulent than ordinary pneumonia. And it's far less of a problem than something like malaria, which knocks off a few thousand people per day.

Warren Zevon Dies


The BBC reports that Warren Zevon has died of cancer.

Interesting Article


There's an interesting article from Saturday's Guardian Newspaper. It does smack of conspiracy theory a lot, but it also sounds somewhat plausible.

Found on Charlie Stross' Blog.



I've been getting assaulted by spammers again. This time is Paul Cabay, of utyx.com, who is apparently scanning my website for keyword and them sending email to various addresses asking me to link to him. I thought about telling him what he was doing wrong, but realised that that would merely confirm that the addresses he sent to were live.

This brings me back to the cardinal rule for spam: Never reply to a spammer. It just gives him an email address (yours) to sell. The only way spammers make money is:

  • When idiots try and buy the Penis/Breast Enlargers, Florida Mortgages, or Brooklyn Bridges they're selling. Or maybe the Viagra, West African Ill Gotten Gains, or other nonsense.
  • When people reply to a spam saying "Stop sending me spam!" or click on the unsubscribe address.

All either of those things do is confirm that the email address sent to is valid, and that the recipient reads spam! Never reply or respond. If possible, don't even open the spams, as they can have links which confirm that your email address read their spam. Then you'll just get more and more and more, etc.

It used to be that I'd encourage people to complain about spam. Now, that's a bad idea. The ISP (Internet Service Providers) who don't get rid of spammers straight away now are those who'll take anyone's money, whether it be:

  • Penis Enlargement Spammers
  • West African Fraud
  • Cheap USA mortgages
  • Paedophilia
  • Bestiality

Or any of the other rubbish which fills your mailbox.

What you should do now is delete all the crap which comes in, and only complain about it if you really know how to read headers. If you use Outlook, you can't see all the headers anyway, so you can't complain effectively. You should make rules which put all email from people you know into a 'safe' folder, and all other email into a 'possible junk mail' folder, which should be read with extreme prejudice.

Hong Kong Nonsense


I was passing through the Wanchai Market today, and I thought of something: I should really build that little quiz site I've been thinking of for a while. "Pet Shop or Restaurant?" - I show a picture of the outside of a Hong Kong establishment, and the readers have to guess whether it's a Pet Shop or a Restaurant. This is a very Letterman thing. I should stop watching that show. Maybe I should expand the choices: "Pet Shop, Zoo, or Restaurant". Mind you, in China, there are places which combine the last two choices.



Well, it's the end of summertime here in Hong Kong. This means the the rainfall is heavy enough to stun a mule and there is imminent danger of drowning while walking down the street.

Irish Culture


I was watching the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen earlier on tonight and, while it's only a so-so movie (with very bad special effects), it made me think.

The premise is, like the comic-books it's based on, various adventurers from the Victorian era (*cough* more or less) get together to Fight Eeeee-vil. It's cheesy, and corny and hackneyed, but it's not a bad idea for a story. When you have an action movie, and the only star who looks like he ever threw a punch in his life is the 73 year old star (Sean Connery), you know the movie needs work.

Anyway, the thing I thought of was that, supposing you wanted to write a story with other groups of roughly contemporary characters being heroes, what group is left to write about? Holmes has been revisited, as have the Greek Gods and the ancient Irish heroes (Cuchullain, Fionn MacCool, etc). So who's left?

I had an idea that the Irish playwrights of the 20th Century could have been an elite special forces team, but the image that kept springing to mind was Brendan Behan jumping up and shouting "The power of this whiskey makes me Borstal Boy!"

And, as if that wasn't bad enough, I've just had a flash of a mustachioed Padraig Pearse gesturing at some vast piece of steaming, hissing, rumbling machinery and saying "Behold! This is my Murder Machine! Muahahahaha!" (He'd probably be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he'd still have a better Irish accent than Richard Gere did in the Jackal.)



So there we are, sitting around at home, watching the movie on the TV (Snake Eyes, Gary Sinise and Nicholas Cage), when my little brother disappeared for a few minutes. "Oy!", he says. "Do you know that you have all three Back To The Future movies here?"

"I am familiar with that fact, yes. Would you like to indulge in 80's movie nostalgia?"

"Do we have enough wine?"


"Hit it."

We were just going to watch BTTF 2, (the original having been indelibly imprinted on our genes as we grew up in the 1980's), but the ending segues into BTTF 3 in such a way that you can't stop watching, and need to roll movie 3 straight away.

It's still good stuff. It is a classic time travel movie, where the logic behind time travel is discussed and taken care of. Paradoxes are pointed out, examined and dealt with. It has dated a bit: the 'future' antiques shop in 2015 has a Mac Classic in the window: they're pretty much antiques now in 2003. I suppose in 1985, a Mac would have almost been science-fictional.

(I saw my first computer in 1979, and then some Apple ][s a few years later on, with Macs a year or so after that. We had a computer in the house on a regular basis since about 1983 or so, and a fulltime computer in the house after 1984 or so. It was a BBC Model B, which was a great computer. You could get an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet) in ROM and still had a very powerful machine (by the standards of the time) with a very competent programming language. It even had one of the classic games available: Elite. Two video modes on screen at once, and an enormous galaxy to explore, all in 8kb!)



Barely one day after landing here, my brother is about to see his first Typhoon! Typhoon Dujuan is heading straight for us at a blistering pace. (You can see the current track here. Note that this will only show the current typhoon track. I must do something about showing the typhoon tracks I have records for at some stage.)

This one is really heading *straight* for us, which is quite unusual. Normally, they come up from the South, having trashed the Phillipines first.

Right now, the T8 is up (See here), and Hong Kong is starting to shut down. The ferries are locked down, the schools are shut, the busses will run until about 1630 and the MTR may shut down later. Shops and offices will close and everyone will go home and Play MahJong.

I was just reading the Big White Guy's site, and his Tale of Typhoon York reminded me of my experiences from that Typhoon. We were living in Wanchai at the time, in a slim building which was quite tall. We weren't that high up (only 16 floors, or about half way up the building, but we could feel the building swaying in the wind.

There hasn't been a big typhoon like York in the last four years, so I guess we're about due a biggie. Right now, we're on the 1st floor of a 6 storey building (That's one floor up, for those used to American floor numbering), and in quite a sheltered little valley. We shouldn't experience the swaying this time.

Update: 8:30pm: it's been upgraded to a T9!

Update: 10:00pm: It's been downgraded from a T9 to a T8.

As of 1:30am, it's been downgraded to a T3.

It never looked like much from here. We had to close the windows, but we have to do that anyway when it's raining. The winds never got up to the howl I've heard before, and the rain never got to the stage where visibility is under five metres, which happens when the black rainstorm goes up. Perhaps it's because this flat is low down, in a little valley and sheltered by taller buildings. Perhaps it's that the typhoon went to the north, and hit the New Territories hard, which it certainly did.

Update: 03:30am: All signals are down. I kind of feel for the bloke seen getting bladdered on the local News: "Well, there'll be no work tomorrow, so why not go out and drink. Er, and meet people." Yep, you wouldn't want people to think that Essex lads just want to drink all night.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by dave in September 2003.

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