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Justin Mason's Weblog Posts


Brilliant! A while ago, Dan Lyke commented, Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to do gzip -dp phonelist.gnumeric | xmlsearch “select phonenumber, longdistanceprice from” | xmlsort “person.longdistanceprice”?

Well, here’s a step along that very road. xml2 converts XML into line-oriented name=value pairs, perfect for Perl, awk, grep or sed to mangle in the traditional UNIX style.

I can see this one coming in very handy!

It also points to Pyxie, which sounds similar — but I think I like the xml2 notation better.

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Apparently, a replica of Michelangelo’s David has caused a bit of controversy in Lake Alfred, Florida (pop 3,890). A quote: “I work six days a week. And we do live in Lake Alfred… you know? What we look at is raccoons and rattlesnakes. To me it was a naked man on the side of the road.”

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Gerry reckons the Irish Times are taking the piss.

Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 14:42:46 +0100
From: “Gerry Carr” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: IT are taking the piss out of me

Mere days after I send them this letter

Dear Sir,

Having read Mr Cruishank’s invaluable insight into the Health Shambles, can I offer the majority of your contributors a handy Irish Times letter generator;

Dear Sir/A Chara

How can one convince this Government that we need; a decent health system; help for the homeless; housing for travellers; free care for drug addicts; help for the 3rd World; free computers for every school; more social welfare money; more money for teachers/nurses/doctors/public servants/dustbinmen/soldiers wives

much more urgently than:

2 stadiums; a spike in O Connell Street; politicians’ beanos on St Patrick’s Day; a Eurovision song contest; sponsoring a race car; bailing out RTE; fireworks on the Liffey; a government jet/building/pay rise/reception/refurbishment/chauffer/travel expenses/secretary/ etc.

Is the government lacking morals/priorities/reason/sense of proportion/focus/ethics/

yours etc/Is mise [ADD NAME HERE]

Just delete as appropriate and you’ve got yourself 6 months worth of material.

Yours etc.

They print these 4 in a row;


Sir, – Let’s see if I understand the £60 million offer of our money to the GAA. It appears to have been offered the money to ensure that foreign games would not be played at Croke Park (thereby strengthening case for Stadium Ireland), and on the understanding that some key GAA matches would be played at the folly. In effect, does this mean that the payment is designed to ensure that Croke Park will be under-utilised? Just how far are our politicians willing to go to support an ego trip which could cost a billion or so by the time it is build? How will its annual financial costs of, say, £60 million be met? That amount equates to a Croke Park “donation” for every year to infinity! Surely, this money could be better used – to reduce the national debt, improve the infrastructure, assist the underprivileged and so on. Yours, etc.,

BRIAN FLANAGAN, Blackrock, Co Dublin. Sir, – The money being proposed for financing a national stadium in Abbotstown would be equally well spent on a submerged clock counting down the 998-plus years, second by second, to the next millennium. – Yours, etc.,

JERRY TWOMEY, Woodlawn Court, Santry, Dublin 9. Sir, – I would like our Taoiseach to complete the following sentence. I believe that £1 billion should be spent on a national stadium and not on our ailing health service because . . . – Is mise,

CIARAN MacAONGHUSA Baile an tSratha, Tír Chonaill. Sir, – Haemophiliacs are offered £4 million, the GAA is to receive £60 million. What a great little country we live in. – Yours, etc.,

EAMONN TIERNEY, Beverly Avenue, Knocklyon, Dublin 16.

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Eircom gets beaten up by regulator. Check out this quote: “As eircom has failed to supply all the relevant information, I have set interim prices […] Eircom’s approach with respect to costing and the level of response and co-operation on this issue is not acceptable.”

MEDIA RELEASE For Immediate Release April 30th 2001 Telecoms Regulator sets prices for Local Loop Unbundling.

Etain Doyle, Telecoms Regulator today (Monday 30th April 2001) cleared the way for implementation of local loop unbundling. In a Decision Notice today the regulator set prices for access and directed changes to eircom’s Reference Access Offer. Monthly line rental is fixed at €13.53, or £10.66.

According to the Regulator ” while there has been an LLU reference offer available from Eircom since the due date of 31 December 2000, this was incomplete and non compliant in several respects. In order to ensure that consumers are in a position to derive the benefits that Local Loop Unbundling can bring I have decided to intervene and set prices.”

Local Loop unbundling has to potential to increase significantly the range of competitive services available to businesses and consumers. It requires the network owner to provide access to the copper pair connecting an individual telephone subscriber to the nearest point of interconnection with the main telephone network at the local exchange. This allows new entrants to offer a full range of broadband services directly to the customer.

The regulator continued “As eircom has failed to supply all the relevant information, I have set interim prices based on the information available to me. Despite repeated requests and the clear direction that the 30th April was the final date for the determination, there are still very substantial gaps in the material provided to me by eircom. Eircom’s approach with respect to costing and the level of response and co-operation this issue is not acceptable.” These charges set are based on data from eircom, benchmarking and other reviews and analyses by the ODTR of efficient operator costs. They are within the range of pricing in other EU countries. The line rental at €13.53 is within the EU range from €8.23 to €19.51, and connection at €119.73 compared with €47 to €221.69.

The setting of these prices does not relieve eircom of its responsibility to address the deficiencies in its pricing proposals and to make a comprehensive re-submission to the ODTR on all matters.

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Why Finns are sick of illnesses named after them.

From: “Martin Adamson” (spam-protected)
Organization: Management School
To: (spam-protected)
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 12:00:05 +0000
Subject: Why Finns are sick of illnesses named after them

The Times


Why Finns are sick of illnesses named after them


GERMAN measles, the Ebola virus and Lassa fever may be a blight on the regions that are forever linked with the illnesses. Even conditions such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever West Nile encephalitis or even Malibu disease (a nasty skin complaint suffered by surfers) add insult to injury. Political correctness has spread to diseases. Doctors are to discuss ending the practice of naming them after places in case it has a “negative impact”.

Doctors from 70 countries meeting in France this week at the World Medical Association will hear calls for change raised by the Finnish delegation, upset that Salla disease, a genetic disorder, was named after a small town of 10,000 souls in the north of their country. It is not Finland’s only place in the lexicon of illness. Kumlinge disease, a viral encephalitis, took its name from a Finnish island and Pogosta disease recalls a small village in eastern Finland.

The Finns want an end to the practice of naming new diseases after “persons, communities or regions”, pointing out that diseases are “very seldom restricted to a certain area”. The Finns conclude: “Germs and infectious agents can usually be found anywhere in the world. When giving names to diseases or pathological conditions, no names should be used, which could insult or have negative impact on persons, communities or regions.”

The naming of diseases is regarded as something of a privilege for scientists making the discovery, as reflected by conditions named after researchers such as Huntington’s, Down’s and Hughes Syndrome — a blood-clotting disorder described in 1983 by Graham Hughes, a British doctor.

But there are also countless examples of places forever linked to the first recognition of rare and distressing illnesses, such as Marburg’s disease (an acute haemorrhagic fever, with some of first reported cases in Marburg, Germany, in 1967). Peter Lackman, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “The naming of diseases is something which has grown up in a quite unorganised way and this is probably inevitable. What is important is that a consistent name is always given. Otherwise this causes confusion.

“For example, the English Disease is what the French used to call syphilis while the English called it the French Disease.”

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