Posts Tagged: YouTube

The Thing About Watches Is That They’re Timeless

Sunday 18th May 2008

According to my Mum, in any case. Made me lol for quite a while after she said that to me on the phone earlier today.

Anyway, exams are almost over! I’ve almost certainly failed Friday’s though. The paper generally was troubling, but about 5 minutes before the end I realised that I’d done a fairly important part of the first question wrong. The question was basically work out the reactions for this (apologies for quality of drawing):

Arch Question

Working out the vertical reactions is easy, so I got that bit fine (frankly I deserve to be shot if I cocked that bit up, it’s AS-level stuff). But for the horizontal reaction, I got H=P. Which is just wrong, however way you look at it. I’d assumed my mistake was just an algebraic one (cancelling something by accident, or whatever). To work out the force, you assume the horizontal displacement at the supports is zero, and then you equate that with the partial derivative of the strain energy with respect to the force. You get a nice equation, do some whizzy maths stuff, and the force (hopefully!) drops out. One of the terms in the equation is the partial derivative of the moment with respect to force (H, in this case). My error, realised just before the end of the exam, was to differentiate wrt x…

Of course, getting that bit wrong meant that my answers for the next bits are wrong too.

For the first time in my exam-taking career, I was suitably pissed off that I wrote a note by the side of the mistake. “I realised with about 5 mins before the end of the exam that I should’ve differentiated wrt H, not x. This probably explains the silly answer on the next page…”


In other news… I think I’ve expressed my displeasure before with the fact that I’m gonna miss the Monaco Grand Prix next weekend, due to a field course. I’ve just come across this, which just annoys me even more. It’s one of the worst races of the season (because apparently it’s hard to overtake cars on a bumpy, twisty, narrow road at 150+mph…), but as a spectacle it’s fantastic, and it’s actually one of my favourites. Fast cars on essentially normal roads is not a sensible idea, for any sane person anyway, and watching the drivers there is just mind-bending:

In the wet, it’s something else. I’m gonna get Mum to record it at home, but that means avoiding news for a week (and no-one texting me the result…). Utterly annoying.

Posted In: MotorsportRandomStuff Tagged: | 10 Comments


Tuesday 18th March 2008

First, a continuation of the last entry: Holy Crap that was a good race. I got up at 4am (after an hour’s sleep. Ahem) to watch it (thus missing all the nauseating pre-race buildup, yesss!) and the didn’t feel at all tired watching it, cos of all the excitement. If the rest of the season is half as good as that race, I’ll be happy.

Anyway… I should’ve written this entry a while ago, but I had a bunch of other stuff to do at the time and by the time I didn’t have to do that stuff any more, I forgot I was going to write this. Oops.

So a while back, a Derren Brown show called The System was broadcast on C4. The premise of the show was that he’d worked out a 100% foolproof way for someone to win on the horses. The first part of the programme is concerned with how he gave tips anonymously to this (extremely irritating) woman, and how they were right each time. She gets confidence in The System, to the point where he persuades her to place one final bet for as much money as she can get together, on whichever horse he predicts will win the race. Theres some experiment/tricky bits he does as well, outside of the horse thing, to convey ideas about probability, for instance tossing a fair coin 10 times in a row and getting heads each time. He says that “the key to understanding this [trick], is the key to understanding the system”. Which really is a big hint…

After the woman places the last bet, Brown tells us how the system works. Basically, it’s a pyramid scheme; you start with a big group of people, split them into n groups (where there are n horses running in the same race), and assign each group a horse. You then tell each group that you “predict” that horse will win the race. After that, take the winning group and do it again, and again, and again. Until you end up with one person who happened to be in all the winning groups and has therefore seen a string of correct “predictions”. The person who you tell to get as much money together to place it on (effectively) a random horse…

I’ve probably summed the programme up badly, but the idea of it wasn’t to prove that there is or is not a system for winning at the horses. The idea was to basically show up faith.

The woman in the film (and by extension, the viewer, since we only see her perspective of events) assumes that there really is a system; that Derren Brown really can predict which horse will win a given race. But that’s because we can only see part of the story – we only see the one in 8000 who happens to get lucky at each level of the pyramid. The point is that to have faith in something, whether it be homeopathic remedies, religion, or in this case a system for winning at the horses, requires a certain amount of ignoring the bigger picture. The point Derren Brown is trying to get across is that just because we perceive something to be so, that doesn’t necessarily mean that our perception is correct.

The example given in the show is that of homeopathic medicine (the sort of thing where the medicines basically consist of water), but it applies to any sort of religious faith. One of the (many) things that annoys me about religion (or faith, or whatever you want to call it) is exactly this point. To believe in a religion – doesnt matter which one – requires you to blindly accept certain things. Whether that be a story of creation, a certain moral code, or simply the notion of a God, its the same thing. And that sort of blind acceptance is at best foolish, at worst downright dangerous.

As so deftly explained by xkcd (and thats quite coincidental, cos I started this post before that cartoon was published), the core of science is the notion that ideas – any ideas – are tested by experiment. You shouldn’t accept facts just because someone says they are true, or because they were written down in a book thousands of years ago. It’s so irritating when you have an argument about religion with, say, a Christian, and every response they come up with is prefaced with the phrase “well, the Bible says…”. I don’t want to know what the Bible says, I want to know what you say!

OK, excluding extremists (who are just nuts), it all seems slightly innocent for some people to be religious, doesn’t it? If it brings comfort to them, if it gets them through the day, surely thats fine? Well no, it isnt. The very core of a religious viewpoint is this ability to accept without question; to do without thinking. It leads to flawed logic, to arbitrary judgements, to conflict. If more people accepted a more “scientific” frame of mind, the world would be a better place.

Basically, religion = bad. When I’m in charge, it’ll be classified as a mental illness…

Posted In: MotorsportProcrastinationRandom Tagged: | 3 Comments

Waxing Lyrical, Reprised

Thursday 6th March 2008

In that post, I talked about Heima.

Well, Sigur Ros are taking over YouTube tomorrow, and as part of it, guess what’s being shown in full… Or don’t guess, click the link and find out.

Dunno how good the quality will be (it’s YouTube…), but well worth watching at least some of whats up there, if you have the time.

(I think this post could be tagged stmtm. Am I correct?)

Posted In: MusicRandom Tagged: | No Comments

(Extremely) Irrational Desire

Saturday 23rd February 2008

A car website I read has a feature where they find a car for sale each week which is under £1000, but fairly interesting. This week’s is one that you wouldn’t touch with a bargepole (unless you’re a talented spanner monkey), but reading the forums I came across a link to an episode of Old Top Gear where Clarkson tests it.

I want the V12 version. I reckon £4000-5000 would probably buy you a semi-decent one, and then £x on a classic insurance policy (limited mileage, blah blah blah). This is pretty harmless desire at the moment, as I don’t have £7000+ lying around. But give it a few years and I may well do…

I shouldn’t, but damn I know I’ll be tempted. Anyway, all irrelevant at the moment. And frankly at the moment theres not many cars I wouldn’t want…

On the topic of the Top Gear ep, its interesting to see how much it’s changed. I prefer Clarkson’s reviewing style in the old one to the way he is in the newer format. There’s coverage of the British Rally Championship in there too, and that’s always fun. Incidentally, it was back when Colin McRae was in the BRC, and watching him you see why he was so successful. With most of the other drivers, you watch it and think “pah, I could do that!”. But with McRae, you watch and think the exact opposite. It reminded me of a video of Jean Ragnotti I saw a while back. When I watch those kind of videos (esp Ragnotti), I see the way the car gets out of shape coming up to a corner and think “oh crap, this isnt gonna be good, he’s gonna crash”, and then somehow they gather it all together and go through the corner. Sideways.

I saw Ragnotti drive at Donington last year (incidentally, one of my favourite circuits), and the way he threw the car through the Old Hairpin (pretty much a 90 degree right hander. At the bottom of a hill) was electrifying. In fact… This is the exact corner I’m on about. And the spin on the exit is deliberate by the way (christ, I actually remember that run. Is that sad?). Also, watch him parking.

Someone who I wish I could’ve seen drive is Gilles Villeneuve. He raced in the late 70s and early 80s, and for my money he was probably the most naturally talented driver ever to have raced. One of my favourite stories from motorsport concerns him and the 1979 US Grand Prix. On the first day of qualifying it was raining. A lot. Only a few drivers took to the track, and they pretty much all said it was too wet to drive. Then Villeneuve went out and recorded a lap time nine seconds faster than anyone else. To put that into perspective, at last year’s US Grand Prix (albeit on a different track, the crappy Indeanapolis infield circuit), the gap in qualifying from the fastest car to the slowest car was about 2.3 seconds. 9 seconds is a lifetime in F1.

Another example from the same year. The French Grand Prix at Dijon. Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux had such an intense battle for second place in the last few laps of the race that, when people talk about that race, the fact that it marked Renault’s first win in F1 racing is pretty much forgotten. If you don’t like motorsport, watch this and tell me it’s boring. Oh, and watch all the way through, cos the last couple of laps are brilliant.

Villeneuve died in 1982 though after crashing in qualifying for a race. He tripped over another car and went into the barrier. The impact ripped his seat, along with him, from the car, and threw him across the track. If you watch the video on YouTube, you kinda watch the car go off. You don’t notice the white ragdoll being flung across the track… Horrible. Incidentally, I read Jackie Stewart’s autobiography a short while back, and one stat that took me back is that between about April and July 1969, one major driver died each month. Stewart said that, at the time, if you were a professional racing driver in F1, you were more likely to be killed than to retire normally. And yet when people suggested it might be a good idea to improve safety by, for instance, putting fences at the sides of tracks to stop people crashing into trees and the like, other people (including some of the drivers, iirc) said it was a stupid idea. Just so you get an idea, this is a clip of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium from the 60s (taken from Grand Prix, the movie), and here is the same circuit in 2007. Spot the difference…

I make no apologies for the car & racing nature of this post. I can understand why some people don’t like Motorsport, but to me it’s just brilliant. I love the places the races are held, I love the cars, I love the skill of the drivers. When I went to Donington last year, the brother I went with said it was the most excited he’s ever seen me (I don’t usually do excitement). It’s 3 weeks till the 2008 F1 season kicks off, and I know that I’ll get excited when I hear the theme music for the first time at the start of qualifying. It’s been far, far too long.

I could honestly write about this for a long time, so I’ll stop now before you start losing interest (if you haven’t already). I shall save the topic of Why Michael Schumacher is an Absolute Genius for another day (seriously, I could probably write a whole post)… By the way, the videos are kinda important to the points I’m making, so try to watch em all (apart from Top Gear, that’s not so important. But watch the first couple of parts [Clarkson and the BRC] if you’ve got 20 mins free, cos it’s entertaining).

I think the lack of motorsport may have something to do with my disdain for January-March. Is that bad?

Posted In: CarsMotorsport Tagged: | 2 Comments

A Spanner in the Works

Thursday 21st February 2008

Good idea: Going to bed at midnight.
Bad idea: Starting to play games at midnight.

Good idea: Going to bed once finished playing games.
Bad idea: Browsing YouTube instead.

Good idea: Going to bed now.
Bad idea: Writing this…

I have a book sat by the side of my bed that’s tempting me to read it instead of, like, y’know, sleeping. You know you’re bad when you procrastinate about sleeping.

I fail at Life :-(

Posted In: ProcrastinationSleep Tagged: | 6 Comments


Monday 14th January 2008

I’m trying to work out why anyone could think this is anything other than a horrendously bad idea.

It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to see on The Peter Serafinowicz Show…

Posted In: ProcrastinationRandom Tagged: | No Comments

Sheer Pornography

Sunday 6th May 2007

This is a video clip of an advert from Shell. It cost about £2 million apparently, making it one of the most expensive adverts ever. Worth every penny, if you ask me.

The best thing is the sound – theres a reason I like Ferrari more than almost any other car manufacturer or racing team, and part of that reason is that their cars always sound exactly right. The bit of the film where it switches to the modern car (F310, I think?) is the best bit, I think – no matter how foul a mood I’m in, that part of the film always makes me smile for some reason. Sends shivers down yer spine.

One sad thing though – apparently, the filmmakers wanted to film part of it in London. The reason why they didn’t? “Health and Safety” concerns. Sigh.

Posted In: CarsMotorsport Tagged: | No Comments