October 26, 2006
My company is celebrating its 5th birthday by heading for Dragsholm Slot for two days next week. Looks like a great place: 12th century castle, top-notch restaurant, drink, music - and the ghost of the 4th Earl of Bothwell, apparently.
This snippet from the English section of the website made me laugh ...
Balls and dinner
Through centuries, Dragsholm Castle has been the setting for both balls and smaller parties.
Both balls? Not one? Oh, (in the words of the great Frankie Howerd) never mind.
SQL for checking whether a set exists as a subset
The following SQL will give all other lists which contain the specified list as a strict subset. Works for Oracle, haven't tried it for MySQL or SQLServer ... YMMV.
SELECT lt.list_id FROM list_table lt GROUP BY lt.list_id HAVING NOT EXISTS ( SELECT list_id FROM list_table WHERE list_id = :list_id MINUS SELECT list_id FROM list_table WHERE list_id = lt.list_id) AND lt.list_id <> :list_id;
SQL for checking whether a set already exists
The following SQL will give all other lists which exactly match the specified list. Works because, in the case of equality, the union and intersection of two sets is the same, so the difference between them (the 'MINUS' operator in Oracle) returns the null (empty) set, which is tested for by 'NOT EXISTS'. Nifty, eh?
SELECT lt.list_id FROM list_table lt GROUP BY lt.list_id HAVING NOT EXISTS ( (SELECT list_id FROM list_table WHERE list_id = :list_id UNION SELECT list_id FROM list_table WHERE list_id = lt.list_id) MINUS (SELECT list_id FROM list_table WHERE list_id = :list_id INTERSECT SELECT list_id FROM list_table WHERE list_id = lt.list_id) ) AND lt.list_id <> :list_id;
October 25, 2006
My favourite lightbulb joke
Q. How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Two. One to change the lightbulb and one to fill the bathtub with brightly coloured machine tools.
Six word sci-fi
For those of you with short attention spans, there is ... hello? Yes, over here; I'm talking to you! Where was I? Oh, yes ... there is an article in "Wired" with about 70 six word SF stories commissioned by a variety of authors such as Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Charlie Stross, Cory Doctorow, Michael Moorcock, Harry Harrison and Ken MacLeod. My favourite? This:
He read his obituary with confusion.
- Steven Meretzky
October 23, 2006
Arrogance and stupidity
Senior US state department official Alberto Fernandez remarked during an interview with Al-Jazeera (in Arabic, of which language he is a speaker) that the US had acted with "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq. An amazing admission, and one which is so obviously true that the shock of hearing that a senior official has admitted it is very great.
The story now emerging, however, seems to be that Fernandez has been "got at" and has announced that he "seriously misspoke". Simultaneously, the state department says that Fernandez was "misquoted", although the Beeb's Monitoring Service say that the initial report (tallying with Fernandez's account) is accurate.
It's fascinating to watch the Bush propaganda machine rolling backwards and forwards over one of its mistakes, trying to squash it back into the ground. They have presumably calculated that the risk back home (where speakers of Arabic are var from numerous and hence where the lie can be controlled during the elections) is so small that it's worth going all out for the Pinnochio Cup yet again. Let's hope the mainstream US media don't shy away from this.
October 03, 2006
Best excuse for a spliff ever
A couple of days, George Michael passed out at the wheel of his car at a set of traffic lights. When police arrived they found him in possession of a small spliff:
A friend added that his penchant for cannabis was linked to the fact that he was now a Buddhist convert and it helped his chanting.
Inconveniently foreign part 2 ...
Another heartwarming story of one person's suspicion inconveniencing a fellow traveller. This time, someone speaking in Tamil on their mobile phone is delayed at Sea-Tac for questioning (and misses their flight) because a nosy parker who was earwigging couldn't understand the conversation. How paranoid and stupid do you have to be to grass someone up because you can't understand the conversation you're overhearing? What if it was Danish or German or French? The airport spokesman, one Bob Parker, doesn't exactly instil confidence either:
Parker said it is incumbent on airport officials to investigate reports of suspicious activity.
"It's hard to triage over the phone," he said.
But Parker had no explanation as to why a man speaking Tamil, which is spoken worldwide, would be considered suspicious.
80 million people speak Tamil around the World, according to Wikipedia. Except in Seattle, where apparently it's close to a Federal offence to Not Speak English:
Parker said the man was cooperative and boarded a later flight to Texas. He told officials that he would not speak in a foreign language on his cell phone at an airport in the future.
This is exactly the kind of bullshit that must have genuine terrorists just rolling about. How about if reporting false cases of suspected terrorism carried the same penalties as bomb hoaxes? I'm sure we'd see a sharp decline in these kind of news stories.