Unstable Dalliances

Since my initial burst of activity with DALL-E 2 I’ve tried a few more queries on it, most of which didn’t produce much of interest, but there were a few exceptions. Things got more interesting when I was able to compare it with Stable Diffusion, which has been opening up to beta testers and let me (and thousands of others) on a few days ago. Unlike DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion is aiming to be completely open, with no holds barred, which means it’s inevitably going to be used to churn out AI-generated porn and to rip off living artists. Not the greatest advertisement for the power and promise of artificial intelligence. But judging from some of its results, I wouldn’t panic just yet (click through for a gallery)…

Stable Diffusion rendition of grizzly bears sitting at a desk

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14 August 2022 · Comment · Art


I’ve been meaning to overhaul some of the older corners of this site for a while, and the other day got started with the oldest: Pacific Islands Politics and the Cartoon Lounge. As well as bringing them into line with the overall look of Speedysnail since 2016, I’ve cleaned up a few minor glitches and have improved their print style sheets. Still some incremental tweaks to come, but worth noting here in case I forget to later.
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10 August 2022 · 2 Comments · Site News


Time to wind back the clock again to pick up the thread of our trip around the world that started in New Zealand in 1997. At the end of November that year we flew out of Auckland to Honolulu for a brief stroll along Waikiki Beach, and then on to San Francisco, to start a trip up the west coast to Canada to reach Alberta by Christmas.

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5 August 2022 · Comment · Memory

Intelligible Artifice

It seems a lifetime ago now, but as an undergraduate I took courses on Computer Graphics, Digital Image Processing and Artificial Intelligence, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been fascinated by DALL-E 2 and the results that people have been getting from it. I signed up for the wait-list two months ago, and yesterday received an invite. I’ve already burned through half of my fifty credits for the month, so had better start pacing myself… but it’s so much fun. Here’s a gallery of my best results so far.

DALL-E 2 rendition of a spaceship over Edinburgh

1 August 2022 · Comment · Art

New Moon

There have been more fine sunsets since I posted that gallery of them in June, with a couple this weekend accompanying the rising new moon, so I’ve taken the opportunity to add some extras to it. Meanwhile, here are some that were the wrong aspect ratio—click through for the rest.

Polwarth, 30 July 2022

31 July 2022 · Journal

Talk to the Handfish

Song of the Summer. A World on Fire.

Hot-weather tips from Cambodia, India, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

A new ozone hole has been discovered over the tropics.

The amateur investors ruined by the crypto crash.

The YouTube scuba divers solving cold cases.

How Scotland is reinventing its canals. We’ve lived a short walk from one for twenty years. Impressive to think that it was so radically improved only a year or two before we moved here.

I grew up a short drive from these and never suspected.

Consider the octopus.

Three seconds of joy.

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22 July 2022 · Weblog

Owl Babies

In the first year of the pandemic one of our few day trips out of Edinburgh was to the Scottish Owl Centre, a wonderful place with more species of owl in one spot than just about anywhere else in the world. Last week I was out there again with my daughter, giving an opportunity to take more photos of the same birds, with a few new ones in evidence as well. Here’s a gallery.

Owls Revisited

18 July 2022 · Journal

Highlands Taxi

At the start of the month I drove my son and his instruments all the way to Skye in a single day, via Callander, Glencoe and Fort William, for a week-long music camp culminating in a four-date tour around Scotland.† It’s quite a drive there from Edinburgh, so I didn’t try to get all the way home the same day, but stayed a night in Roybridge before making my way back through the Cairngorms. Glen Etive and Glencoe were as spectacular as always, and I got a few misty pics of Eilean Donan to add to my castle collages.

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16 July 2022 · Journal

Mammoth Finds

Months after a burst of underwater explosions created an immense crater, many Tongans are still without internet access, while Australia and New Zealand are seeing dazzling sunsets.

How Tonga thwarted a new libertarian nation.

A mammoth find in Mexico City. A baby mammoth found in the Klondike.

Godzilla meowing.

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30 June 2022 · Weblog

Civilian Targets

Western coverage of Ukraine receded in recent weeks as Russia scaled back its attacks in the East. With the loss of Sievierodonetsk over the weekend, and a Russian missile attack on Kremenchuk, eighty miles from the front line, on Monday, that’s changing.

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29 June 2022 · Events