Saturday, June 23, 2007


Coal Fire

"Coal fire
I got coal fire
I got coal fire
And we ain't got no water"
sang Lee Perry more than 30 years ago. A wonderful tribute to one of nature's wonders: coal has been the backbone of our industrial civilisation. There was an entire genre - coal music - dedicated to its glorification. I cannot help remembering greats such as Sam Coke and Smokey Robinson with a (smog assisted) tear. But what now? What of coal's fall from grace? My question is: why is there so much negativity surrounding the use of fossil fuels?

"Another question is, is it possible to build an entire post from this very weak soul/coal pun?"

If you'll excuse me, Dinky, I'm trying to build up a head of steam here. So to speak.

Coal, oil and town gas were good enough for our parents' generation. Why are they so "out" all of a sudden? Geological evidence suggests that coal has been a part of our everyday lives for the past 350 million years. Surely we should be celebrating our heritage, not sweeping it under the carpet.

I read that environmentalists quoted by the BBC had the temerity to suggest that owning a private jet (admittedly a 750 seat Airbus A380 superjumbo) was like "buying a filthy coal-fired power station just to use to charge up your mobile phone." Woah, woah, woah! What's with the filthy dig? What's with the contrasting the supposedly trendy mobile telephone gadget of today with a coal-fired power station? I can still remember a time when a lump of coal was the coolest possible thing to be seen with. OK, I made that bit up. Anyway, you can read the story here:

We would appreciate our readers writing to the BBC to formally protest their decision not to seek balance in their article by canvassing the views of a supporter of fossil fuel burning. We will be doing the same.

Lee Perry's mixing console at the Black Ark was well-known to be powered by a separate coal-fired power station.

Meanwhile, watch out for our new range of branded t-shirts, badges and hats supporting the burning of coal, oil and gas. We hope to get some prototype designs out in the next few weeks.

Coal fire... It's burning, burning, burning in my soul.


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Monday, April 23, 2007


What are we now, chopped liver?


Why haven't we updated this, Kazza?

Dave adds: "For my part, is it because I don't exist?"

Hrumph. A fine admission.

Dinky adds: "Or is it because my account got erased by this blasted new 'Google' Blogger system. They really should have stuck with FORTRAN, if you ask me. (I arguably also don't exist either - at least in the sentient sense - but that excuse appears to have gone already.)"

But do they ask you, Dinky? Are these 19 or 20 posts the extent of our genius?

Or is it because we've been dead for years?

Is this our sleepy, unfrequented tomb? Is that the extant of our genius? (Oh damn, apparently extant isn't a noun.)

Dave protests: "It hardly seems fair to die without ever having lived."

Or have I just completely run out of ideas?

Well that probably doesn't matter anymore, because we finally have that digital camera! Prepare for an endless stream of cat/baby/Tommy's first day at school/"soccer" match photos!

(Is this what the tomb looked like during the 19th century?)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


GFC 2006 Report

Dear All,

It's Dave here, and I'm presenting our 2006 report. I'd like to say a particular "hello" to anyone who doesn't really know us, and couldn't care less what we've been doing. Don't worry - we'll send you another report next year. Anyway, what a year it's been...

First of all, I'd like to be the first to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. If you're preparing to celebrate that great holiday with the giving of gifts, you might like to consider that if pointless mass market tatt and nick-nacks didn't exist, we'd probably have invented them.

Dinky hit the top of the charts in seventeen countries in November with his re-release of The Look of Love by ABC. He even managed to dislodge the Scorpions' Wind of Change in Germany, which had been number one there since 1991. (It has since returned to the top.) Sadly, the royalties deal we signed was terrible, so not much to show for it.

On the science side, Hugo devised an equation of the form y = ax + b that explains all phenomena in the physical universe. He is now planning to spend more time gardening and with his philanthropic projects (which of course he never utters a word about).

That pretty much wraps up this year's round-up. I've not been up to much myself. There's only the twisted ankle I got chasing that cat for its photo. I would like to comment on this blog, though. Here at GFC, we've always been among the first to embrace new technology. I've got a SONY WALKMAN and a dot-matrix printer, and we adopted the steam engine before even the Romans had them. Still, the lack of a digital cameras is a shortcoming. If we had one, we could show you even more of just how well the kids have been doing at school, my championship winning rally car and the new GFC foundation centre for disadvantaged children. (I did have one of those disposable cameras from Boots, but I broke it trying to get the ill-fated cat photo.)

Anyway - I've got to go and shovel some more coal into the generator. Hear from you soon, I hope.


(Hope that was obnoxious enough for you.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007



Will there be any excuse made for or any mention of the two month intermission?

No. No there will not.

Indeed! Surely we are to expect some kind of apology?

No, there will be no apology of any kind whatsoever. You ought to thank me.

But I was so looking forward to the results from BLOG ROBOT.


At this point, Dinky adds:

"Hi, Dinky here. Look, all we were going to do was make some lame jokes based around the 'fun' you c
an have by contrasting very different phrases that can fit into the same sentence. This sometimes produces silly combinations. For example, instead of:

"During the lunch hour, Dolly and I got down to the latest tunes from Natasha Bedingfield."


"During the Cretan bronze age, Dolly and I got down to the latest tunes from Natasha Bedingfield."

or, if you like:

"During the lunch hour, Dolly and I got down to the latest tunes from J. S. Bach."

(Again, this would probably be funnier if it was a sixties prog-rock band, or something, but we don't know any.)

Quite frankly, it was more effort than it was worth. Oh, and the other thing I was going to mention was that pushing the sliders to their limits causes some really strange things to happen. For example, dragging the right-on-ness slider all the way to the right will cause BLOG ROBOT to print

It's just political correctness gone mad.

every four sentences. There - look I've pretty much done it all anyway now. Don't you know I've got seasonal vegetables to get in?



Thanks for rescuing me there, Dinky. Sorry - i was getting a bit ragged for a moment, wasn't I.

Say, did anyone get one of those round robin letters over Christmas telling you how perfect someone else's family is? Who you probably barely know? Yes... that's what we'll do. We'll let you know how we've been getting on. Now, *that* you need to see.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006



If you live in the United States, then thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks.

Canadian thanksgiving is different, of course, and has already passed. I celebrated that. We had a turducken. It was fantastic. For American thanksgiving, however, a different approach is appropriate, and I, for one, would like to have a turducken.

What is a turducken? In case you don't know, it's the only invertebrate mammal. It's natural habitat is Louisiana, although it's perfectly happy to sit around in the fridge for a couple of days. The turducken I had for Canadian thanksgiving looked like this:

Once out of the oven, it bears a resemblance to a de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck stuffed with a de-boned chicken with bits of sausage and cajun seasoning.

Now, some people erroneously believe that some people erroneously believe that famous American football personality John Madden himself invented turducken. Those people are in the wrong. John Madden did indeed create the first turducken in a genetic engineering experiment in his warehouse in Oakland, California. In an exclusive interview for GFC, John commented, "that's big time football!"

Big John Madden

In agreement with him was ex-Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan, who added, "I firmly believe that Robert Lee is the best midfielder in the country."

Little Kevin Keegan
(or that's what my mum calls him, anyway)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Blog robot - part two

Hi everyone,

Sorry I've left it so long to continue my treatise on BLOG ROBOT. I've not had much time lately. It could be because I've been busy getting in the seasonal vegetables at the shop, or it could be because I'm a figment of someone's imagination, and they've not had much time lately. Either way, this is the first chance I've had.

Anyway, it's time to get down to business, and actually fire-up BLOG ROBOT and see how it works. After you shove the disquette into the drive, there's a bit of whirring and we see the opening screen, which invites us to LOAD or GENERATE a "BLOGGER PROFILE". (If you've got the compact cassette version, you'll find it takes around five or six minutes to get to this stage.) I hit GENERATE and we move on. (There are a number of preset profiles that ship with BLOG ROBOT, including Beverley Craven, Terrell Owens and Genghis Khan. We will start afresh, however.) I'm now asked to delineate my general personality characteristics using a set of sliders that look like this:

The manual that accompanies BLOG ROBOT describes the sliders thus:
BLOG ROBOT's slider matrix allows you to choose from an incredible array of realistic and/or historical personalities!
Drag the HUBRIS SLIDER to adjust your degree of self-confidence. The slider runs from "unpleasant" to "completely unbearable".
How many art and craft projects do you have on the go? Perhaps you only knit a couple of jumpers per week? Set the PRODUCTIVITY SLIDER all the way to the left-hand side for "little". Alternatively, maybe you feel you mirror the industrial economy of a small country! In that case drag the slider over to "manufacturing plant" on the right.
What about your political motivation? If you like to share your views on the matters of the day (this is supposed to be a blog, after all!) then the RIGHT ON-NESS SLIDER is the slider for you. Of course, every blogger should be right on, but if you like to go out of your way, then slide that RIGHT ON-NESS SLIDER all the way over to the right! (Do you see what we've done there!?!)
Last of all, there's your level of vitriol - particularly for the squares, oldies and generally non-Davina McCall/Craig David-savvy individuals of the world (or nonDM/CDSIs, as we call them at WR:TW.) Drag the BILE SLIDER all the way over to "Roy Keane" to let 'em have it! (Note: this slider works particularly well in conjunction with the RIGHT ON-NESS SLIDER.)
Heavens. Still, despite all this, the manual assures us that:
Don't worry - if this is all too much work for you, or if you cannot find a CELEBRITY PROFILE to suit your needs. BLOG ROBOT's default personality is more than capable of producing sparkling blog entries.

Well, ok. Perhaps it's best if we just move on to the next screen while I take a few deep breaths.

Next up, I'm invited to choose what I'm into. Do I like to knit, crochet, sew, weld, "hang out with my friends", snorkel, hang glide or something else? What football team do I support, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea or West Ham, or am I happy just to support the highest placed London club? To be fair to WR:TW there really are a lot of choices, and if there are sufficient routines in the code to generate realistic story lines around them, then I'm impressed. (Crucially, this screen doesn't allow me to specify anything that qualifies as taste rather than simple interest. Taste - particularly in music and books, of course - is factory set by WR:TW.)

And now I'm ready to go! Next time we find out what happened when I pressed BEGIN. I confess, I'm so excited that it may be as little as another month before I write again.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Blog robot - part one

Hello Everyone,

It's taken me a little time to get this together, but I'm now ready to begin my report on WR:TW's BLOG ROBOT. (Not least, I had to check the status of my court order - apparently it's fine for me to review other people's code...)

I'm going to be dividing my report into three sections. Today, I'm going to discuss technical aspects of the software and its implementation. If you're not a web developer you might want to skip this. In my next post, I'll run through how to use the code on your blog. Finally, the third installment will provide some examples of the results. I hope you enjoy my commentary, and that it helps you decide whether BLOG ROBOT is for you. (Obviously, I think BLOG ROBOT is a cretinous waste of time, but I'm going to try to stay objective.)


From the coding point of view, I'm afraid I find little or anything innovative. As is increasingly the case with multi-author software produced by a largeish company, BLOG ROBOT relies on a suite of standard routines bolted together. Random number generation relies on the computer's internal clock and user key presses. That's about it, really. No attempt is made to optimise the code for home computer operation, although such sloppiness hardly matters these days with the speed of hardware being what it is.

I still remember the early days of webdesign - before even FORTRAN 77 - when pages were written in CPU specific assembler language. RAM and CPU speed were at a premium, so we often had to employ clever solutions. That was real design. Having written each individual statement onto punch cards, one would drop them into a reader and hope for no snags. On a longer piece of code, compiler errors could sometimes take 10 to 15 minutes to come back via the line printer. Oh, happy days. One wonders whether today's latte generation would have been able to handle it.

Anyway, I'm digressing - I have to take the wife to the optician's now (it turns out she couldn't tell the difference between myself and Martin Fry on the new Look of love video), so that's all until part two.


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