Archive for December, 2012

Gingerbread house

Monday, December 31st, 2012 | Photos

Here is this year’s gingerbread house. Bit more of a success than last year’s.

IMG_2334 IMG_2337


Sunday, December 30th, 2012 | Life

Those of you who are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy will know that warmth, comes right at the bottom, on level one, along with food and shelter. It, therefore, seems quite odd to me that we don’t take it particularly seriously.

Take our apartment for example. It’s too warm in the summer (so much so that they felt the need to install an air conditioning unit) and too cold in the winter. So was my last apartment, and the house I lived in before that. In fact, here is me moaning about it in 2008. My parent’s house and student halls seem to be the only places that were ever capable of properly regulating temperature.

I was quite hopefully when we moved into a posh, very well furnished apartment in February, that we had finally found somewhere that was properly heated. It had a fancy system where you could set your temperature range and it would do the rest.

But, after months of fiddling with it, we don’t seem to be able to make it do what we want to do. How hard is it to maintain a constant temperature? It’s not like we moved into an old build, Nest was probably already around when they furnished the place.

Worse still, the very design of the building is just stupid. The radiator is right next to the bed, rather than below the window. This means when it is on, it blasts Elina’s head with heat the whole night while her feet, down the other end of the bed, are cold because of their proximity to the window. You have to go out of your way to design a system so badly.

Not to mention that all of this is on electric heating, so costs us three times as much as it should.

Roll on Gene Roddenberry’s glorious future, it might be socialist, but at least you will be able to set the temperature of your quarters.

Updating phpMyAdmin on MAMP Pro

Sunday, December 30th, 2012 | Life, Tech

The phpMyAdmin that ships with MAMP Pro is now seriously out of date, so you’ll probably want to upgrade to the latest version. You can do this in a couple of easy steps. Firstly, download and uncompress the latest version of phpMyAdmin. I did it to my Desktop. Then, open up Terminal and enter the MAMP Pro folder and rename (best to rename rather than delete) the current phpMyAdmin.

cd /Library/Application\ Support/MAMP\ Pro/
mv phpMyAdmin phpMyAdminBackup

Next, copy in the new version of phpMyAdmin.

cp /Users/you/Desktop/phpMyAdmin-x.x-all-languages ./phpMyAdmin

Finally, you need to set up the configuration for the new phpMyAdmin.

cd phpMyAdmin

Change the authentication type and add a username and password entry to the file.

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_type'] = 'config';
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['user'] = 'root';
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['password'] = 'root';

If you’ve changed the MySQL root password on your MAMP Pro, you’ll need to enter the new password instead.

Once done, save the file and you’re done.

Updated food drive guide

Saturday, December 29th, 2012 | Foundation, Humanism


Earlier this month, the Humanist Action Group completed our third annual Holiday Food Drive for local homeless shelters. This year was bigger than ever, raising, including in-kind giving, almost £3,000! We learned a lot from what we did this year, tried some new things, some of which worked and some of which was less successful.

To reflect this, we’ve now got a new edition of the HAG Food Drive guide – this publication provides all the information you need to run a food drive in your local area and now includes whole new sections based on our recent experiences. Get in touch if you would like a copy – it’s free!

Newtown shootings

Friday, December 28th, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

Back in July, I wrote about how it might be time for the United States to re-think their attitude to guns in the wake of the Batman cinema massacre, that left 12 people dead.

Then, just as that incidient faces from our memories, or at least those of us who weren’t personally affected, a fresh gunman walks into yet another high school, this time in Newtown, and massacres 26 people, including 20 children.

The US gun lobby was quick to explain how the situation could be resolved – armed guards at the entrance to every school, and maybe even teachers with guns too, that way they can return fire and stop it before it turns into a massacre. Guns are always the answer!

The more civilised portions of society spoke out about the tragedy.

I have to say, however, that I don’t think tragedy is the correct term. To me, the term tragedy suggests a degree of chance or unpredictability – 100,000 people die per day, but it isn’t a tragedy (it probably should be – but that is another discussion) because most of them die of old age. A busload of children going off a cliff though – that is tragedy. It is an unfortunate and unlucky event.

The reality is that there is nothing unlucky about someone walking into a school in the United States, and shooting the place up.

Rather than calling it a tragedy, they need to face up to the truth. They have a simple choice. Choice A is to maintain the freedoms they enjoy, namely, being able to bear arms and not contribute to the cost of providing health care to others and accept that from time to time, some of their children are going to get massacred.

Choice B is to restrict the freedoms to own weapons designed to kill, and contribute to the cost of providing mental health care to those who need it. The advantage to which though is that you get to life in a society where you know your child isn’t going to be shot in the head by a gun-toting young person in need of psychatric care.

Much like providing freedom of expression has the unfortunate consequence of meaning you have to provide nutters like Nick Griffin a platform to spout their views, if you want to live in a society that loves guns and hates universal healthcare, you have to accept the consequences of your actions.

The reality is, that the United States chooses to have these massacres on a regular basis. That is the true tragedy of the situation.


Thursday, December 27th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

This man has a tattoo of Leviticus 18:22.


The verse is as follows.

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Unfortunately, he apparently got that before reading any further. For example, Leviticus 19:28 says the following.

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you

In short: no tattoos.

Boxing Day

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 | Thoughts

Ever wondered what the etymology of the term Boxing Day is?

Given the amount of sport that takes place on Boxing Day, you could be forgiven for assuming that it was the day that traditionally was used to stage big boxing matches. But it isn’t. Or at least it probably isn’t, the origins of the term are unclear.

The leading theory claims that it was traditionally the day when tradesmen would collect a box of gifts from their superiors – hence boxing all the gifts up.

Day off

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012 | Life

What do you mean I can’t come into work today?!?!?

Navigating VIM on Mac keyboards

Monday, December 24th, 2012 | Life, Tech

If you’re trying to get around documents in VIM using a Mac keyboard, you may feel fairly stumped without a page up and page down button. But you need not be!

VIM has an extensive set of commands, including moving backwards and forwards through a document a page at a time. They are logically named too – Ctrl+F will go forward a page and Ctrl+B will go back a page.

Intoxication and consensual sex

Monday, December 24th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

Last week, I was showering, while thinking about how silly it would be for someone to mount the argument that any level of intoxication removed a person’s ability to consent to sexual activity. Then, by coincidence, the next day I saw some tweet that exact argument.

Of course it wasn’t a very good argument, because you only have 144 characters, and therefore no space to actually make an argument to back up the claim you have stated. But even with more space, it would seem difficult to make such an argument.

Before we dive into the politics here, let us first remember that under British law, any gender can rape any other gender (or indeed the same gender), so there is no split down gender lines here.

Under British law, you are still responsible for your actions, if you get drunk. it’s called voluntary intoxication, and it is no defence to a crime. If you knew that you would become intoxicated when you took the substance, and with alcohol you do know, then the law deems it your own fault if you do something stupid.

Presuming we want to live in a fair society with only a single standard that applies to everyone, you would therefore assume the opposite was true – if you get drunk and do something you later reget, but did it all voluntarily, you can’t then blame someone else for what you did. We all have to take responsibility for our actions.

But some advocates would have you believe that once someone has consumed so much of a drop of alcohol, they are no longer responsible for their own actions, and can later change their mind, and decide they were raped instead.

This is nonsense. What we’re talking about here is completely consensual sex – ie, a boy gets drunk, explicitly agrees to come back to my place and have sex, then wakes up next morning, changes his mind and says he was raped because he was unable to consent due to intoxication.

This brings up a whole new round of rational dilemmas – most notably, if we’re not going to hold people responsible for their own actions while intoxicated, then surely if the alleged rapist is also intoxicated, how can you hold them responsible, given you have taken up a position that states people are not responsible for such behaviour?

To differentiate between them creates a double standard.