Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Overdue update

I realized that I haven't given any news on what's been happening since July 20th. As the thesis deadline looms in the horizon, things have speeded up a bit.
My disposable time - how about that phrase? - as disposable income is what you have left over after survival essentials, disposable time is what you have left over after survival essentials, i.e - obtaining the income, eating and taking a shower (or a bath if you're English) occasionally - has decreased. My mental disposable time - i.e. time you have free but feel too guilty about actually doing something enjoyable has decreased even more.
But anyway, I am in the London summer groove, which means enjoyable things come my way without me being able to do anything about it.

Last week in July had dinner with the Guy's girls at Carluccio's and Robin's birthday at the Waterway. In August finally managed to do a taster climbing session at the Westway Climbing Centre, although I didn't manage to climb all the walls I faced I did ok and have already registered for the climbing course proper. Btw, a friend told me that climbers are a physiological improbability (I am full of nice words today) as they are too light for the amount of muscle they need. Any ideas on this? On the 15th I went to Portugal for a week, lovely weather but rather spoilt by all the fires. Apparently 10% of Portuguese forestland has burned this year and you could smell the smoke everywhere. But anyway a lovely weekend at Mafalda's birthday where her father spent the whole time cooking and Mafalda spent the whole time washing dishes.. I managed to have a birthday dinner myself in Portugal, then another one here followed by a birthday party on Saturday. Then Sunday and Monday was the Notting Hill Carnival where I played capoeira in front of a large crowd for the first time. I also learned how to dance the forro (no big deal, I know) and got some samba and salsa in. Plus a lovely party at Ric and Phoebe's flat.

Also starting the previous weekend and ending this Monday, through several interesting conversations and e-mails (with several guys)I have managed to gain a lot of interesting insights into the male psyche. Unfortunately this has only led me to conclude that when you think you have finally began to understand a little bit, one or more guys will come along that do everything the opposite way. And there's no way you can apply the law of averages here.

Back to my thesis, and since I have no idea what I'm going to be doing or where I'm going to be come October, no point in going into future plans. Suffice to say that there is a slight probability this is my last month in London and the UK. So any suggestions for last orders welcome!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fish and Chips

From last week's Time Out:

'Who invented 'Fish and Chips'...
...frying [fish] in batter is a technique that has been used by the Portuguese...probably since the Middle Ages. Some scholars have suggested that the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Portugal in 1947 may have been the genesis of fish-frying in London's East End, as many of those Sephardic Jews fled to London. The Portuguese took the same technique to Japan where it was refined into the dish we now call tempura

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pub science

Hey, if this name catches on, let it be known that I coined the term. As far as I know. You'll get the idea of what I mean after reading the two texts that friends sent me:

Physics enlisted to help singles
Successful couples are said to have chemistry, but a study by an Oxford graduate suggests that dating may actually have more to do with physics.
Richard Ecob adapted a system for modelling atoms in radioactive decay to investigate how we look for partners. He found that "super daters", people who have many short relationships, have a good effect on others' lives. This is because they break up weak couples, forcing their victims to find better relationships.
Transit states
At the root of the system, says Mr Ecob, is the similarity between the probability of the nucleus of an atom decaying and that of a couple breaking up. The decay of a nucleus is described in terms of "transit states": the series of change it has been through to get to its current situation.
The probability of someone having been in two relationships, for example, is the same as that of a nucleus decaying twice.
"We had an inkling that it might be the same because we saw similarities," he told the BBC News website.
"When we worked it out, the graphs we got were very similar."
To model the phenomenon, he wrote a computer program which placed "software singles", people seeking partners, in an imaginary social network. Each single had a set of interests, which they also looked for in potential partners. The research suggested that multiple daters, those who form many relationships, were less effective at finding the right partner than those who remained in one place and let others come to them.
"If you have a complex network and you stay in one site you see more traffic coming through," he said. "It's a denser network, so there are more possible matches."
Another surprising discovery was that an increased set of preferences made no difference to a single's chance of ending up in a relationship. Despite modern people having more complex and varied interests than before, said Mr Ecob, this had no impact on their ability to date. So long as they were still willing to accept partners who met only a fraction of their criteria, the number of potential matches remained the same.
Prestigious contest
The next stage of the project is to show that it can also be applied to business and political matches as well as it can to personal relationships.
"We think it'll match up the same," said Mr Ecob. "If you're with a phone company and you know they're not an ideal match, you're going to look for someone who is. It's a very similar situation."
Mr Ecob, who was recently awarded a first class Physics degree, undertook the study as part of his Masters research project. He worked closely with his supervisors, David Smith and Neil Johnson, who are now taking the study further. They have entered the project in the prestigious Science, Engineering and Technology Student of the Year awards, which will be presented in London's Guildhall next month.


The Soul Gene
Rome, April 1, 2000
According to a spokesperson for VatGen, a holy owned subsidiary of the Vatican, the gene for the soul has been identified. The search for the soul gene has been a crash project for VatGen during the sequencing of the human genome. According to the Pope, the human species evolved and acquired souls during the course of evolution by the grace of God. It naturally follows, said B. Ware, chief geneticist for VatGen, that the Lord must have inserted some specific gene in the genome which enabled humans to have souls. VatGen has dedicated its 650 Meg supercomputer to scanning the sequencing data for the genome using the "Here a miracle occurs" algorithm perfected by VatGen programmers. According to B. Ware, the soul gene has 666 coding base pairs, and an intron which, when translated, reads "ecce homo". Leading evolutionary theorist Michael Behe commented on the news, "I knew there was intelligent design and this is the proof." A worrisome side note to the discovery is that, according to a genetic survey conducted by VatGen, about 40% of the world's population has a defective soul gene. The Vatican has petitioned WHO, the World Health Organization, to undertake a world eugenics program to sterilize "The Half Souled Ones." A spokesperson for WHO said that the Vatican's petition has been accepted but that no immediate reaction is planned.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Portuguese Psyche

I might eventually have written about this, but Vasco Barreto has done it for all of us!
Here's the link, next installment, according to Vasco, in August!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

PJ analisa exemplares de "Mein Kampf" e CorãoBrigada Antiterrorista apreende material suspeito numa empresa libanesa em Sintra 03.08.2005 - 08h55 Lusa, PUBLICO.PT

A Brigada Antiterrorista apreendeu ontem material suspeito no escritório de uma empresa libanesa em Sintra, noticia hoje o "Diário de Notícias". Entre os elementos encontrados figuram um exemplar em árabe da obra "Mein kampf", de Adolf Hitler, e do Corão, o livro sagrado do islão.
As autoridades apreenderam ainda várias cassetes, documentação e uma revista, que estava aberta nas páginas que relatavam os recentes atentados em Londres.A empresa visitada é a Multayman Importações - Exportações SA, alvo de arresto por dívidas a terceiros, o que levou a uma operação desenvolvida pela PSP ontem de manhã para concretizar uma acção de penhora.Quando os agentes da PSP se depararam com o "material suspeito", foi chamada a Brigada Antiterrorista, afirma o DN. O Ministério da Justiça confirmou a acção da PSP e da Brigada Antiterrorista bem como a apreensão da documentação, que está agora a ser analisada pela Polícia Judiciária.De acordo com o mesmo jornal, a empresa Multayman Importações - Exportações SA é detida por uma família libanesa e tem um sítio na Internet onde são exibidas ligações a Portugal, Reino Unido, Egipto e Emirados Árabes Unidos. As empresas a que surge associada não são referidas na lista da Câmara do Comércio e Indústria Árabe-Portuguesa e a renda do edifício foi paga por três anos, de uma só vez e em dinheiro. O ramo de negócio a que se dedicaria a empresa é variado: informática, construção civil, transportes, entre outras actividades.

Fernando Veludo/PÚBLICO