Archive for October, 2014

Today I thought I would share this great song by The Cure – “Boys Don’t Cry”. It was originally released in June of 1979, as their second single. I remember it being released, I was quite a fan of the song at the time, but from what I can find it did not get very high up the charts. It was then re-released in 1986. Upon its second release, it got to number 22 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts, but does not seem to have made the charts at all in the US.


The song is a poignant one about losing love and then giving up on trying to regain it, instead hiding one’s emotions by pretending to be happy and go-lucky. It was written by band members Michael Dempsey, Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst, and sung by the band’s lead singer Smith.

I would say I’m sorry
If I thought that it would change your mind
But I know that this time
I’ve said too much
Been too unkind

I try to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I try and
Laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes
’cause boys don’t cry
Boys don’t cry

I would break down at your feet
And beg forgiveness
Plead with you
But I know that
It’s too late
And now there’s nothing I can do

So I try to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I try to
laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes
’cause boys don’t cry

I would tell you
That I loved you
If I thought that you would stay
But I know that it’s no use
That you’ve already
Gone away

Misjudged your limits
Pushed you too far
Took you for granted
I thought that you needed me more

Now I would do most anything
To get you back by my side
But I just
Keep on laughing
Hiding the tears in my eyes
’cause boys don’t cry
Boys don’t cry
Boys don’t cry

Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite Cure song?

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At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Revolver” by The Beatles. As I said in my blog about “Abbey Road”, the last album that The Beatles recorded, “Revolver” is my favourite Beatles’ album. To me, this album is simply perfection, there is not a weak song on it. Even the McCartney songs are amongst his best, with songs like the groovy “Gotta Get You Into My Life”, the sublime “Eleanor Rigby” and the beautiful “Here, There and Everywhere”. This is McCartney at the top of his game.

At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums is "Revolver" by The Beatles.

At number 3 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Revolver” by The Beatles.

There are three songs by George Harrison on “Revolver”, the first of which, “Taxman” opens the album, something Harrison had not been granted before. One of his other songs on this album is the Indian-music infused “Love You Too”, which is my favourite Indian-influenced song by him. Of the 14 tracks on the album, three were written and sung by Harrison, one Lennon & McCartney song is sung by Ringo – the kids’ favourite “Yellow Submarine” (the first Beatles song I ever remember hearing), 5 songs have McCartney on lead vocal, and 5 have Lennon on lead vocal. Unlike its predecessor, “Rubber Soul”, there is much less two or three-part harmonies on “Revolver”, an indication that the band were going more and more their separate ways.

My favourite songs on this album are the Lennon songs. In particular the incredible “Tomorrow Never Knows”, the Beatles’ first foray into psychedelic music. It is a mesmerising song with surreal lyrics and a complex soundscape which involved hours and hours of work in the studio by the band and their producer George Martin. “I’m Only Sleeping” speaks of Lennon’s insomnia, and “She Said She Said” came from a phrase that actor Peter Fonda apparently kept whispering in his ear at a party – “I know what it’s like to be dead”.

For me, albums don’t get any better than this one. This is the best that there is, bar none!

I thought I would share the opening track with you, George Harrison’s “Taxman”, his swipe at Government taking 95% (yes, ninety five percent) of their income in the mid 1960s. The “Mr. Wilson” and “Mr. Heath” in the lyrics below refer to Harold Wilson, the then British Prime Minister, and Edward Heath, who was leader of the opposition Conservative party at this time.





Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

Cos I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

Don’t ask me what I want it for (Aahh Mr. Wilson)
If you don’t want to pay some more (Aahh Mr. Heath)
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

And you’re working for no one but me

Here is a YouTube video of the song. Enjoy!

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In this blog, I derived the expression for the surface area of a sphere, A = 4 \pi r^{2}. In today’s blog, I will derive the expression for the volume of a sphere. Actually, once one has understood how to derive the surface area of a sphere using spherical polar coordinates, deriving the volume is pretty straight forward. It only involves one extra step, and that is to create a volume element dV with the same surface area dA that we had before, but with a thickness dr, and to integrate over r in addition to integrating over \theta \text{ and } \phi.

As we can see from the figure below, the volume element dV is given by dr \cdot dA where dA is the same surface element we derived before, namely dA = r^{2} \; \cos \theta d \theta \; d \phi. So, the expression for our volume element is

\boxed{ dV = dr \cdot dA = r^{2} \; \cos \theta d \theta \; d \phi \; dr = r^{2} dr \; \cos \theta d \theta \; d \phi }

The volume element dV is given by dAdr = dfdf

The volume element dV is given by dA \cdot dr = r^{2}dr \; \cos \theta d \theta \; d \phi

We need to integrate this volume element over all three variables r, \theta \text{ and } \phi so we have

\text{total volume of a sphere} = \int d V = \int_{0}^{r} r^{2} dr \; \int_{-\pi/2}^{+ \pi/2} \cos \theta d \theta \; \int_{0}^{2 \pi} d \phi

\text{total volume of a sphere} = \left[ \frac{ r^{3} }{ 3 } \right]_{0}^{r} \left[ \sin \theta \right]_{-\pi / 2 }^{ + \pi / 2 } \left[ \phi \right]_{0}^{2 \pi} = \frac{ r^{3} }{ 3 } \cdot ( 1 + 1 ) \cdot 2 \pi = \boxed{ \frac{ 4 }{ 3} \pi r^{3} }

as required.

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After winning all of their previous games this season, the Ospreys went down to a heavy defeat on Saturday to Northampton. Ironically it was Welshman George North who ensured the size of the loss, he ran in four tries to given his Northampton side a 34-6 win. With such a heavy defeat, one has to ask whether this was because the Ospreys were having an off day, or is this indicative of the gulf between their previous opposition and Northampton? Maybe it’s a bit of both?


Chelsea, on the other hand, have hung on to their unbeaten record. They came within a hair’s breadth of winning, Man United scored their equaliser 6 minutes into added time. Although I’m sure Chelsea are disappointed to have let in an equaliser so late in the game, the main thing is that they are still unbeaten. It leaves them four points clear at the top of the Premiership, but with Man City losing over the weekend the surprise is that Southampton are now in 2nd place.


Chelsea recorded a record 6-0 win in the Champions League in mid-week, so it is certainly fair to say that their season thus far is going just about as well as any fan could wish for.

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Today I thought I would share this great song by John Cougar, “Jack & Diane”. The song was released in July 1982. I loved this song from the first moment I heard it, and I bought Cougar’s album “American Fool” on the strength of this song. “Jack & Diane” only got to number 25 in the Disunited Kingdom singles charts, which surprises me as it got a fair bit of radio play. However, it got to number 1 in the US, so was clearly a massive hit there.

John Cougar's "Jack & Diane" got to number 1 in the US charts, and to number 25 in the DUK.

John Cougar’s “Jack & Diane” got to number 1 in the US charts, and to number 25 in the DUK.

“Jack & Diane” was recently voted number 94 in BBC Radio 2’s list of the 100 best guitar riffs, a list I blogged about here. Maybe it was/is too “American” a song to have been a massive hit in the DUK, with such lines as “suckin’ on a chili dogs” and “two American kids growin’ up in the heartland”, pretty foreign references for most British teenagers.

Little ditty about Jack and Diane
Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland
Jackie gonna be a football star
Diane debutante backseat of Jackie’s car

Suckin’ on chili dogs outside the tastee freeze
Diane’s sittin’ on Jackie’s lap
He’s got his hand between her knees
Jackie say, hey, Diane
Let’s run off behind a shady trees
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please
Say a

Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
Say a
Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
They walk on

Jackie sits back
Reflects his thoughts for the moment
Scratches his head
And does his best James Dean
Well you know, Diane
We oughta run off to the city
Diane says, baby
You ain’t missin’ nuth-in
Jackie, say-a

Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
Oh yeah, I say, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone

Gonna let it rock
Let it roll
Let the Bible Belt come
And save my soul
Hold on to sixteen as long as you can
Changes come around real soon
Make us women and men

Oh yeah, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
Oh yeah, I say, life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone

Little ditty about Jack and Diane
Two American kids done the best they can

Here is the official video of this song. Enjoy!

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This story got my attention a while ago, but for some reason I forgot about it until recently. It is astounding to think that it was only in 1995 that we discovered the first extra-solar planet (exoplanet), and less than 20 years later the tally is at over 1000!


The first few hundred exoplanets were discovered using the Doppler technique, where an orbiting planet causes its parent star to move back and forth in a rhythmic and regular manner which can be detected by shifts in the star’s spectral lines. However, in 2009 NASA launched its Kepler Space Telescope, and this led to more and more exoplanets being detected using the transit technique, and as of now most have been discovered by Kepler using this technique. You can read more about these two techniques in one my previous blogs here.

There is also a great episode of BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time” which was broadcast last year (2013) which discusses exoplanets. The link is here, it is still available to listen to. Enjoy!


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At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan. This album, released in 1965, is one of two albums Dylan has in the Top 10, the other one being Blonde on Blonde, his 1966 double album which is at number 9. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it was a list of the best albums in The Observer newspaper when I was about 14 or 15 which first prompted me to buy a Dylan album – “Blonde on Blonde” was listed as number 2 or 3 (I forget which), with “Highway 61 Revisited” also in the Top 10. The only thing that has changed in the over 30 years since that list is that now, “Highway 61 Revisited” is rated higher than “Blonde on Blonde”, but I’m not sure which one I rate higher in my personal list.

At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums is "Highway 61 Revisited" by Bob Dylan

At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums is “Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan

Both are exceptional albums, as is Dylan’s third album of his mid-60s trilogy, “Bringing it all Back Home” (also released in 1965). The three albums together represent, for me, the peak of Dylan’s 1960s music. This album, “Highway 61 Revisited”, has some absolutely stunning songs on it. I do not like every song on this album, but the ones I do like I adore. My favourites are, in no particular order, “Ballad of a Thin Man”, “Queen Jane Approximately”, “Highway 61 Revisited”, Like a Rolling Stone (rated as not only Dylan’s greatest song but the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song of all time), and the incredible “Desolation Row”, which carries on for over 11 minutes, a length unheard of before in rock ‘n’ roll songs.

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

The link to the lyrics for this stunning song on Bob Dylan’s official website is here, where you can also find short audio clips of the studio version on this album, as well as three alternative versions.

Here is a YouTube video of Dylan performing the song at his “Royal Albert Hall” concert in 1966 (the concert was actually in Manchester). How long the link will stay working I have no idea, so listen whilst you can. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite song on “Highway 61 Revisited”?

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