I have fond memories of growing of watching the TV show Spitting Image. It was a wonderful satire show that, at its best, was poisonously apt and brilliantly, side-splittingly funny. I'm reminded of this show whenever I'm in a situation where I feel I ought to ask a question, and don't know quite what to say. In 1986, Michael Heseltine resigned from Margaret Thatcher's government over the Westland Affair, essentially an arms-deal-gone-wrong. Heseltine and Thatcher disagreed, rather publicly, and Heseltine resigned. I vividly remember scenes from the Spitting Image treatment of this event. Heseltine is shown at a news conference in front of a crowd of journalists (all, incidentally, pigs in trenchcoats and trilby hats), as he explains that his decision was quite unpremeditated and spontaneous ... as explained in his new book, which he then pulls out from under the desk. Thatcher is shown, in parliament, I think, saying "I have here Mr Heseltine's resignation letter. It reads: 'Dear Michael you're fired, be out of the building in ten minutes'." And finally, I remember the chaotic Q&A session with the journalists, one of whom asks "Mr Heseltine! Mr Heseltine! I don't have a question, but I want my editor to see me so I can claim expenses."
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
Very different results to Richard's. I know Richard, and I wouldn't said we were that different - I wonder what the key factors were? Fun stuff anyway. Makes me think I should some day get around to watching Bab5 all the way through - I've seen about three episodes in my life. It must be available on DVD by now.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I'm in San Jose at the Semantic Technology Conference. Jim Hendler and Ora Lassila's keynote address this morning: reviewing five years of progress on the semantic web. Not much to disagree with. One of Ora's closing slides mentioned lack of progress in agents (see picture). It's a little hard to read, but the last line is "little progress on agents". The commentary from Jim and Ora was fairly muted about agents, even though they claimed (particularly Ora) that having agents act on the user's behalf was one of their key motivations originally. My view: a lot of the rhetoric about where we really want to go with the semantic web depends on a representation of intention, and agents are exactly the expression of intention in computational form.