Archives » 2011 » September

Reelin’ In The Years 18: This Flight Tonight

This reworking of a Joni Mitchell song was a hit for Nazareth, Dunfermline’s finest. As I work in that town, why not?

Nazareth: This Flight Tonight

I did once before mention Nazareth in connection with the 1960s song My White Bicycle.

For comparison purposes here is Nazareth’s version.

Nazareth: My White Bicycle

Nazareth also had hits with Broken Down Angel, Bad Bad Boy and Shanghai’d in Shanghai.

Sublimity on Mars

This is really cool.*

Below is Astronomy Picture of the Day for 26/9/11.


These are pits of dry ice near Mars’s South Pole. The gold colour surrounding the pits is very nice but its composition is apparently not known.

Dry ice is not normal water ice but is instead solid carbon dioxide. Unlike most solids, CO2 does not usually melt but changes directly into a gas. The Astronomy Picture of the Day blurb calls this evaporation but the technical term is sublimation – which describes both the direct solid to gas and the reverse gas to solid processes.

Solid CO2 can be found in Mars’s polar regions and some of it sublimes in the Martian summer.

Dry ice is most familiar on Earth in that stage effect where you get mist swirling around performers’ feet. The solid sublimes at -56 oC and water vapour from the air condenses on the cold gas to form mist.

Carbon dioxide can be made liquid but only at pressures more than 5 times that of Earth’s atmosphere. The Martian atmosphere is of course much, much thinner than that. *And the temperatures can straddle CO2‘s sublimation point.

Station Park, Forfar

On Saturday I took some photos of Station Park.

It doesn’t look very prepossessing from Carseview Road.

Station Park  Forfar, Approach, Carseview Road.

I could hear a cattle auction going on nearby and you can get the faint whiff of cow’s urine on the road up.

It’s a lovely traditional football ground when you enter though and thankfully the air is fresher.

This is a stitch of three pictures taken from the North terracing, the nearest after you enter the ground.

Station Park  Forfar, Panorama From North Terracing

And this is the view from the other end, with the covered terracing down the right hand side.

Station Park  Forfar, Panorama from South Terrace

Here’s a closer look at the stand.

Station Park  Forfar, Stand from North Terracing

All photos including the ones the stitches were made from are on my flickr site.

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

Gollancz, 2008, 345p.

The Steel Remains cover

This is the most unusual Fantasy I’ve read in years, perhaps ever. Not only does it have two gay main characters, there is also a high (but realistic) degree of swearing, both of which are normally conspicuous by their absence in the worlds of the Fantasy novel.

Ringil, a hero of the finally triumphant war against the lizard folk, grown tired of the political and social disappointments that peace time has brought, now lives quietly in a rural backwater, apart from dealing with the occasional corpsemites which inhabit and animate dead bodies in the local graveyard. A master swordsman, he dispatches the corpsemites with little difficulty. He is drawn back to the capital city when his mother asks for his help in rescuing a female cousin who has been sold into slavery as a result of the debts incurred by her deceased husband. Ringil does not suffer fools gladly and before embarking on his search manages to upset more than a few of the city’s bigwigs. He is also warned that a semi-mythical species known as dwenda may be behind the strange occurrences in the region where she has been taken.

Two of Ringil’s former wartime comrades, Egar, a plains-dwelling nomad chief, and Archeth, last of the Kiriath, are also given narrative strands. All three are fully rounded, Ringil and Archeth in particular seeming like real people with all their flaws.

If I have criticisms then they are that the dwenda, when they appear, despite their ability to flit in and out of the grey spaces, seem to be too like humans – indeed it might be possible to read The Steel Remains as Science Fiction rather than Fantasy – too many of the asides outstayed their welcome, it is a pity there is still a default mediaevality to the setting and the resolution is much as you might expect from a standard fantasy. But it’s all good rollicking stuff.

Morgan deserves huge credit for taking on the Fantasy genre and thoroughly shaking it up. If all Fantasy were like this I might read more of it.

Aurora Video

This is cool.

Via the Astronomy Picture of the Day for 23/9/11 and NASA, here is a video of a Southern Aurora taken from above by the crew of the International Space Station.

Blog Posts Restored

I’ve just put all my missing posts back up via the medium of googlereader.

My blog administrator could see them all and showed me how to access them. Much cutting and pasting followed.

Unfortunately the back up he attempted did not succeed (there was some error message) and as a result the comments have gone. I think all the comments – for up to five months!! – have disappeared. Only ones since the restore are there.

This all seems to have played havoc with the formatting of the second page of entries.

Forfar Athletic 0-2 Dumbarton

SFL Div 2, Station Park, 24/9/11.

A welcome win. But… Something weird is going on.

We haven’t won (or even drawn) at home in the league. Yet away, we’ve won two, drawn one (and lost one.)

We had marginally the better of the early exchanges here though neither side looked likely to score until a run through led to a good save by the Forfar keeper and Brian Prunty just missed the rebound; in the stramash Mark Gilhaney’s blocked shot came back to him and he smashed it against the bar but Prunty was offside and his tap-in didn’t count.

We soon lost the hard running Pat Walker to injury but the sub David Winters scored when the Forfar defence stood still at a Scott Agnew free kick. In oceans of space and with his back to goal Winters fashioned a kind of horizontal bicycle bick to slot the opener.

All through the game Forfar played neat and tidy stuff and tried to pass the ball but generally looked curiously out of sorts. They had several half-chances but no clear cut opportunities.

Forfar’s keeper had at least three good saves though, one from Mark Gilhaney squirmed onto the post before bouncing out.

Our second came when a bit of dig from Scott Agnew in midfileld won him the ball and he despatched Gihaney whose cross was killed by Prunty to set up a volley which he thumped into the net.

Then came the most ridiculous sending off. A nothing situation gave us a throw in on the halfway line and a Forfar player pushed David Winters who fended him off with his hands. The ref scurried over flashing a red card. The Forfar guy escaped with only a yellow.

We managed to hold out without too much torment – though I was looking at my watch a lot – and we seemed quite well organised at the back. Paul Nugent was solid at right back. Loanee Ross McKinnon was okay at left mid but may not be quite match fit.

Apart from the win the most noteworthy occurence was Stephen Grindlay came for and held several cross balls!!!! That’s been missing from his game for too long. (He did miss one later on though.)

Can You Change The Laws of Physics, Captain?

Italian scientists have reported a finding that implies that neutrinos can travel faster than light. So much for Einstein, then. (And perhaps Lieutenant Montgomery Scott of Star Trek fame – to be born in Linlithgow in 2222.)

I can’t deny it’s quite exciting and may mean we have to throw over everything we thought we knew about the the way the universe works.

And perhaps all those space operas where starships cleave the paper light years with ease might be reasonable after all.

Well, maybe.

The result is only that the neutrinos seem to arrive 60 billionths of a second earlier than they should have, with a plus or minus margin of 10 billionths of a second. It awaits checking.

Caution may be in order. Remember cold fusion?

In any case light is already known to travel at slightly different speeds depending on the medium it is moving through. It is slower in glass and air than in a vacuum, so maybe this is a similar effect.

Anyway, the reported difference between neutrinos and light isn’t much – 299,798,454 metres per second compared to the 299,792,458 metres per second of light in a vacuum and according to the first link above it’s already been postulated that neutrinos might be faster than light, if only by a fraction.

I think there’s sufficient accumulated evidence to suggest that Einstein’s famous E = mc2 equation is reliable that we won’t have to junk it just yet. Newton’s F = ma and F = Gm1m2/r2 are still going strong after 400 years.

Reelin’ In The Years 17: The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)

A track from 1970. As I recall I bought this in Bexhill on Sea.

Like Fleetwood Mac’s 1960s song Man Of The World which I featured as Friday On My Mind: 7, this is more evidence of the dark state of composer Peter Green’s mind. There’s a definite air of menace surrounding this. Not to mention weird.

Fleetwood Mac: The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)

Leuchars Air Show

The Saturday before last we went to St Andrews for the afternoon.

It’s one of our favourite places. We stopped at the Botanic Gardens to look at the plants for sale.

By coincidence it was the day of the Leuchars Air Show. The assistant mentioned that she hadn’t heard the aeroplanes much so far. On the way back to the car (50 metres?) we were subjected to a blast of sound and 8 aircraft in formation swung over the trees. I didn’t have my camera out then unfortunately, but I did later.

I just timed this right to get four aircraft above the church in South Street.

Four in Formation above Church.

Here’s one of four in formation.


And this is “patriotic” smoke trails.

Condensation/Smoke Trails 1

The eight halfway decent photos I took are on my flickr site.

I’m glad I got the pictures because with the RAF leaving Leuchars soon there won’t be many more opportunities.

free hit counter script