February 15th, 2004


Sex on the brain

The details of what is going on—the vole story, as it were—is a fascinating one. When prairie voles have sex, two hormones called oxytocin and vasopressin are released. If the release of these hormones is blocked, prairie-voles' sex becomes a fleeting affair, like that normally enjoyed by their rakish montane cousins. Conversely, if prairie voles are given an injection of the hormones, but prevented from having sex, they will still form a preference for their chosen partner. In other words, researchers can make prairie voles fall in love—or whatever the vole equivalent of this is—with an injection.

A clue to what is happening—and how these results might bear on the human condition—was found when this magic juice was given to the montane vole: it made no difference. It turns out that the faithful prairie vole has receptors for oxytocin and vasopressin in brain regions associated with reward and reinforcement, whereas the montane vole does not. The question is, do humans (another species in the 3% of allegedly monogamous mammals) have brains similar to prairie voles?

From this economist article


The Mozilla stand-alone browser has been rebranded as FireFox.  I downloaded it, used the new installer, added in the must-have extension "Tabbed Browser Preferences" and had it up and running in about 30 seconds.  Another two minutes to get Shockwave and Flash installed and I was able to browse about 99% of the internet.

If you're not using it and you're fed up with the ridiculous popups, adverts, crashes and general annoyances that come with Internet Explorer then you should bloody well be downloading it here.

If you're still not sure then check out the 13 Reasons to use Firefox page.

Oh, and there's an "open in IE" extension that I use about once a week for pages that really don't want to work in FireFox.  Right-click on the background and select open in IE and there it is.  I always feel dirty afterwards tho.

Get Firefox

Fight Club Quotes

May I never be complete.  May I never be content.  May I never be perfect.  Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.

You buy furniture.  You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life.  Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled.  Then the right set of dishes.  Then the perfect bed.  The drapes.  The rug.  Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.

The gyms you go to are crowded with guys trying to look like men, as if being a man means looking the way a sculptor or an art director says.

At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.

...you're not how much money you've got in the bank.  You're not your job.  You're not your family, and you're not who you tell yourself.... You're not your name.... You're not your problems.... You're not your age.... You are not your hopes. 

I see the strongest and the smartest men who have ever lived... and these men are pumping gas and waiting tables. 

Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don't need.  Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don't really need.

I've met God across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him, and God asks me, "Why?"  Why did I cause so much pain?  Didn't I realize that each of us is a sacred, unique snowflake of special unique specialness?  Can't I see how we're all manifestations of love?  I look at God behind his desk, taking notes on a pad, but God's got this all wrong.  We are not special.  We are not crap or trash, either.  We just are.  We just are, and what happens just happens.  And God says, "No, that's not right."  Yeah.  Well.  Whatever.  You can't teach God anything.

No fear.  No distractions.  The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.

God, I love that movie.  I love the fact it has no answers.  Lord save me from people with answers.
  • Current Music
    Bjork - Violently Happy

Killing Time

Putting off writing some code I've promised to write for my parents, fairly simple, but I can see that it's going to be making it nice to use that's the hard bit.

I _hate_ making things nice to use.  Once it's functional, the fun bit's over - I've made some part of the universe move in a way that does something that's useful.  I've bent it to my whim and shown that I was better than it was.  Making it look pretty is a job that's (a) never over and (b) incredibly fiddly.  I need to work with people that can deal with with aesthetics for me or they tend to just not happen.

Which is one of the reasons I'm _appalling_ at getting web pages done.  I know the basic syntax, but when you get right down to it it's all about _layout_, which is something I only care about up to a point.  That point being "It's readable."  I can happily debug other people's HTML code if I'm given a specific goal - "Can you make those tables line up" or "Why do the pictures keep moving about?" or something similar.  But faced with something that's just plain ugly I have _no idea_ what to do. 

It's not that I can't recognise the difference between prettiness and ugliness (well, ther's disagreement there, but I'm not going to argue about taste here), it's that I can't see a way from A to B - the fact that lightening the background colour, reducing the font size and dividing the layout into blocks will suddenly make it 300% more readable is just _beyond_ me.

For some reason this doesn't apply to text - I can copyedit until the cows come home.  I even find it fun.  I wonder if this is something I can learn, of if it's built in.
  • Current Music
    Bjork - Human Behaviour


Have just established that the work I've promised my parents isn't as simple as I first thought and that I need my specification clarified before I can do anything with it.

Of course, I really should have clarified it a week ago, but there ya go.

My calendar seems quite remarkably full for the next two weeks:
Monday - Farewell My Concubine (for which I have a ticket I need to sell - £4.50 for anyone who wants to join me and Ed).
Tuesday - helping Erin and Yonmei strip walls.
Wednesday - Earthdawn in Stirling with Rob, Gordon, Clare and Hugh.
Thursday - Teach Ed the basics of HTML
Friday - Book Club
Saturday - Susan's 30th in Glasgow
Sunday - Legend of the 5 Rings
Monday - recover slightly
Tuesday - Dentist & Emperor and the Assassin
Wednesday - Earthdawn
Thursday - Recover slightly
Friday - Work's SF-soc's night out
Saturday - Sleep.  A lot.
Sunday - Sunday 29th Drinks in the a.m. Legend of 5 Rings in the pm.

After that things quieten down for two weeks, then I'm off stateside.

If anyone wants to know what I'm up to, they can check here for my online one, which I synch with the Palm whenever I remember.
  • Current Music
    David Bowie - Hallo Spaceboy