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Four things

Sil, whose birthday it is today passed me the following meme. Fascinating reading no doubt, especially the section on holidays. Further, if I have missed anything off the list of essential breakfast ingredients, I hope you will let me know. I’m sure I have.

Four jobs I’ve had in my life:

  • Relief strongroom assistant
  • Student assistant (librarian)
  • Senior library assistant
  • Head of current cataloguing

Four films I can watch over and over:

Four TV programmes I love to watch:

  • Lost
  • University Challenge
  • Top Gear
  • Desperate Housewives

Four places I’ve been on holiday:

  • Stirling
  • York
  • Looe
  • Wales

Four of my favourite dishes:

  • Lasagna
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Full English breakfast (full mind you: eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding, fried tomatoes, fried bread, baked beans, large mug of strong milky sweet cheap tea or coffee, and, if you’re going to call it a full Scottish (or Northumbrian) breakfast then by all means throw in some haggis)
  • Christmas dinner, especially parsnips

Four websites I visit daily:

Four places I would rather be right now:

  • My bed
  • My living room
  • My kitchen
  • York

Four bloggers I am tagging:

CSS tartan

I’ve been playing with the idea of transparency in CSS and come up with CSS tartan. I know it works on Mozilla 1.7 and IE 6.0. The cross-browserness of the technique was effectively taken from Quirksmode. Some of the widths look a little odd in IE due, I think, to the box model incompatibility problem. There is no additional styling on this text, so it may not look as elegant as it could. There is also an example without text.

The tartan is (apparently) a Tipperary tartan and is copied from this image from the no-doubt scholarly Tartanweb site. I believe my family hails from that part of Ireland. Different tartans would need different sized divs and different colours, though I doubt you’d need that big a palette.

There are twelve separate divs to produce this effect: six for the horizontal lines and six for the vertical lines. All the colours are primary simple css colours: red, blue, green, orange, and black.

I don’t know whether this could be of any use: I for one don’t intend to set up a Scottish (or Irish) themed website. However, I was playing with the idea of css transparency and fancied a go. I shall certainly try to use it a bit more often to see if I can break away a little from the blockiness I usually fall into.

Librarians’ stress

The Times reports some research that has been done…

…which suggests that being a librarian induces more stress than working for the emergency services, driving a 125mph express, or teaching a class of ill-behaved children.

I offer no comment except to say that it seems that CILIP have their work cut out.

Google video

Google Video (via Crooked Timber) looks very interesting, some it really good, some of it really bad. It is a mixture of films, private videos, TV clips, etc. A good measure of this mixture both of content and quality can be seen in what are currently the two most popular items:

  1. The Top Gear clip of Jeremy Clarkson comparing racing a car round a track on a Playstation then trying the same car on the same track in real life (good).
  2. Cha. Vs. Wall in which someone, presumably called Cha., runs into a wall then proceeds to writhe around in pain for a short duration (bad, though mercifully short at 17 seconds).

I may be being unfair in that I saw the Top Gear clip on telly and I don’t have sound on this computer so may be missing some of the more pertinent nuances of Cha. Vs. Wall.My three year old son loves trains and I’ve been struggling to find good video footage on the web for him to watch, especially of British trains he sees regularly. Although there’s not a lot in quantity, the Google Video search made it really easy to quickly find some good stuff.

I’ll be very interested to see how this develops, whether it goes more commercial and ends up somewhere significant to purchase video material (there’s a lot of paid content, including full-length films already), whether it ends up a dustbin of awful and dubious home videos, or whether it sinks without trace. It looks like they are prepared for a mix of the first two, as they have neatly segregated the Store and the Popular sections. We’ll see.

Weeding Iraqi libraries

Juan Cole quotes an interesting piece On Removing pro-Baath Books from the Libraries in Iraq, specifically university libraries. This is interesting in itself, although having seen the reaction to book weeding in the UK, I can’t help wonder exactly what is happening in Iraq, i.e. whether this is an attempt at balance, presumably with the accession of other books, or whether this is a proper purge. Some of Juan’s commenters have a similar attitude to those in the UK who find the public library’s skip and launch into hysterics:

Good libraries are scarce just about anyplace outside the OECD. Here they diminish too. Many libraries in the US are dumping old collections. A few internet terminals are cheaper than new hardbound volumes or staff. Reading has declined. In 1922, when W. Lippmann wrote Public Opinion, newspapers and public lectures were the primary means of political information. Now they barely rank at all.

Reading has declined? I buy most of the books I read (from charity shops) and I do most of my non-fiction reading and research- news, and what I would have used a dictionary/encyclopedia for- on the web. I very rarely use libraries. Furthermore, maybe many Americans are wealthy enough to go and buy books now.

Returning to th piece by Keith Watenpaugh quoted by Juan Cole, it is not certain whether these books are being destroyed, and thus truly purged, or whether they will be kept in the Baath Party Special Collection, where they can be studied by future academics. Then again, maybe reading is declining in Iraq and they don’t read anymore.

Queuing music

I went into the bank at lunchtime. The Halifax on Tottenham Court Road has taken the bizarre decision to play music in the branch. However, when there’s a queue, it is probably best not to play Elton John’s I’m still standing.

Reducing cow gas

After the Swedish efforts to harness the methane of (admittedly dead) cows, and Jeremy Clarkson’s complaints about the huge contribution (live) cows make to global warming through methane emissions, Scottish scientists have apparently come up with a way of reducing the methane cows emit and producing more meat at the same time. One has to ask, does this mean there is less for fuel upon the cow’s decease?

Lost lottery

Aquarion has written The grand lottery checker which works out how much you would have won for a given set of UK lottery numbers if you had played every day since it started. I tried the Lost numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) and ended up £849 out of pocket, which isn’t too bad compared to some random calculations I tried. The full summary was: Spent £1049, won £200 (20 wins) (£-849, maximum was 3 numbers. I really should start doing the lottery: I keep seeing nice houses on telly I want to live in.

Happy new year

Happy new year!