Thursday, December 23, 2004

Why whites of eyes spell 'danger'

So that scared look on my face is perpetually infectious... that explains my sociopathic tendencies. Anyway, marry christians, one and all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Insult Swordfighting @ The SCUMM Bar!

"People consider my fists lethal weapons."
"Sadly, your breath should be equally reckoned."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Earthsea in Clorox by Ursula K. Le Guin: "As an anthropologist's daughter I am intensely conscious of the risk of cultural or ethnic imperialism -- white writer speaking for nonwhite people, co-opting their voice, an act of extreme arrogance.... Ged isn't a petulant white kid.

It's like casting Eminem as Jim in Huckleberry Finn."

The amazingly-still-alive Ursula Le Guin comments on the celluloid massacre of her books. Grill's reading list assignment; The Dispossessed, again showing off Le Guin's deliberate colour-blindness and liberal internationalism.
Guardian Unlimited | Life | Atomic tomatoes are not the only fruit: "The Chinese news agency Xinhua stated that, 'in China the radiation effect is always positive, leading to bigger and better vegetables that will revolutionise agriculture.'"

Right, I'm flying to China so I can be exposed to radiation and become SuperGrill, able to sear food and remove fat in seconds. I'm afeared of my Nemesis George Foreman, but I'm hoping my sidekick Muhammed 'Chemical' Ali will be able to spike his hotplate...
Lucian of Samosata (A.D. c.120-180): "Amongst them, when a man grows old he does not die, but dissolves into smoke and turns to air [a convenient ploy for disposing of dead aliens also used in more recent science fiction, such as 'The Man Trap' and 'Catspaw' episodes of the original Star Trek series]. They all eat the same food, which is frogs roasted on the ashes from a large fire; of these they have plenty which fly about in the air, they get together over the coals, snuff up the scent of them, and this serves for their victuals. Their drink is air squeezed into a cup, which produces a kind of dew."

The first Sci-Fi perhaps? Lucian of Samosata wrote speculative fiction about the inhabitants of the moon about a hundred years after the other great raconteur...
Infidel Guy :: Rational radio and Debate - Critically examining what you believe to be true!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

I’m all nervous. I’m, tentatively, starting in a relationship at the moment and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve had one that’s lasted more than a few sweaty gropes, so my nerves are all-a-jangle all the time. Through a pervading sense of alienation through my youth, I’ve grown up as a wholly independent person who can be entertained by the smallest of things, which gives me an odd tolerance and hence predilection for the utterly boring. However, merely because I’m living through a situation a little different from the norm, it feels oddly wrong to be sharing the majority of my time with another individual, even though I want to.

I also keep finding myself grimacing to myself whenever I think about the future. I have a problem with the future, a real tooth-grinding, lip-curling problem. I just can’t handle the concept. I think it might be that whenever I think of a possible scenario in the future, whether different from my current lazy-arse immensely secure position here or not, I feel a little twinge of terror at the narrowing of the scope of future life opportunities available. Oddly, when the actuality of change comes about, when the scene I’m living through shifts and twizzles like a rotating stage, I tend to be quite good at coping with it (if a little confused) possibly because of the total relief derived from such a removal of tension.

Perhaps it’s the pressure of expectation again; another thing I simply can’t take is the friendly, vicarious, wishes of family and friends for you to do well in whatever you do (though obviously they’d prefer you to do well along so-and-so lines, because it’s grand to know someone who works for The Times.) I hate disappointing people, but I hate them forcing an obligation on me to make them happy by altering who I am. I’m keen to create my own ideas and opportunities to entertain them, but not necessarily at the expense of said narrowing future.

Anyway, it’s just nerves. I’ll work through it, one way or another.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Just Fucking Google It

An exceptionally helpful site when someone annoys you for the four billionth time about an inconsequential and obvious question. Just send them this link.

What the hell is that?!?
Q-TARO.COM: Takara Dream Factory: "put this beside your bed and record what you want to dream about. It plays some relaxing music and just before you wake up when you're dreaming the most, it replays your message which causes you to dream about what you programmed" And a relaxing fragance as well, apparently. From the people who made the Bowlingual and the Meowlingual, for all your pet communication needs.
The Half Life Saga Story Guide
The Half Life Saga Story Guide

Monday, December 06, 2004

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Query Letters I Love

If you're going to pitch a movie, at least do it well...
A Message From Albia

Excellent political satire, in the form of a hack's blog from distant Albai. Could be Yes, Minister 3.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New Video Game Recreates Kennedy Assassination
Katz's Delicatessen New York has the best Maztoh ball soup I've ever eaten. Dumplings the size of your fist. Mmm, brains. It's also the location of 'that scene' in When Harry Met Sally. And Carnegie Deli has the biggest sandwich I've ever eaten ' The Woody Allen', which is alternated pastrami and corn beef in a bowl shape, literally, genuinely, the size of your head. I managed about half of it before a semi-aneurysm, and suffered complete shame at having to throw so much food away. There's a photo of it here. (That plate is a dinner-plate.)
The Infinite Cat Project - Slide #1 - Frankie

My Cat Hates You

Monday, November 29, 2004

Back from New York, back into the loathsome slough of the office. My hotel proved to be as bad as it was painted. I walked into it from Times Square, and it was immediately obvious that it hadn't been decorated since the thirties. Peeling wallpaper, threadbare carpets scattered over the holes in the floor, and a lobby crowded with more scary, demented Falun Gong than China itself, all of them pinned with lacquer posters, or sat round a dilapidated table planning their leafletting like a mini-soviet. (FYI, if you don't know who the Falun Gong are, check this. The best explanation is that they're a bunch of idiots who managed to scare the Chinese government one morning, and have been persecuted for their efforts ever since.)
Half the Falun Dafa are shouting at the receptionists, so I grab my key and make for the elevators. Except they're also crammed with Falun, and there's more on the sofas, staring blankly at the ceiling. Reluctantly, I make for the stairs.
On the second flight, I pass the first (aged, bedraggled) prostitute. The third flight has what looks to my colour-blind eyes a puddle of either blood or diarrhea that's trickled down the steps and been half cleaned with scrunched-up newspaper. I'm half-expecting the doors to have "Sam Spade, Private Dick" scrawled on them in magic marker.
I make it to the room, check the bathroom (stinks, no hot water, bulb's blown), try the TV (no working channels) and look at the view (an intra-building channel, filled with take-out rubbish, piled up into nice burrows.) To be honest, so far this has exceeded my expectations from the reviews so I'm not unduly bothered at this point. I sit down heavily on the edge of the bed which collapses. Looking under it for the leg, I find crack pipes. $89 a night, ladies and gentleman. $89. I take them down to the sleek, silver-haired manager/owner, who quickly hides them, and then asks "any other problems", and faced with incredulity and a demand to move rooms , reveals he has no rooms left. I spend the night at a slope, and thankfully move to a much nicer room the following morning, after the morning's manager proves much more helpful. Max Payne, eat yer heart out.

Friday, November 19, 2004

New York City: Carter - Deals and Reviews - You will contract a parasite if you stay here: "I have stayed in some disgusting hotels, but they are usually tolerable if the staff is nice and friendly. When I said I had a reservation, the lady said, '$89 Now.' They have no manners and in fact barged in my room while I was sleeping to ask me when I was leaving. They lost my reservation and messed it up 2 times after that. The 'cable TV' they offer has one channel on it. The bathroom had about 2 plys of toilet paper in it when I checked in, and the worst part: The pillowcases read in bright red, 'Wanna ?'
You are better off renting a place by the hour."

I'm off to New York on sunday, but I think I booked the wrong hotel...

Friday, November 12, 2004

How to Buy Cheap Airline Tickets -

For my own perusal, but very useful.
Barney Home Page

What President Bush has obviously been focussing on for the last five years; the war on terrier... (Seriously, the White House is wasting resources on this why?)
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Vanunu arrested by Israeli police

Arafat's dead - so this is a good day to bury bad news, in more ways than one.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Fun With Prime Numbers
Mmm, a contradiction in terms. Perhaps our resident oxymoron and mathematics maestro Mark will explain all?
I've been playing more computer games than god recently.
Though god tends to play games with people, not PCs.
He's traditional multiplayer like that, has Baal, Krishna guru Murphy and Dionysus round for gin-rummy regular-like (he didn't invite Dionysus, but he always turns up anyway - claims he's the spirit of every party.)
Which reminds me; YOU!
That's right, YOU!
The person with no shame!
Go and buy Munchkin now!
A quizzical self-referential game about roleplaying as someone playing a game.
Available nowhere, now!

Erm, where was I? Yes, games. Filled up my 160GB hard drive, lickety split. (Is that the phrase or is that something Paul used to say? In my senescence, I forget.) Doom3, Dawn of War, World of Warcraft, EverQuest II, Battle for Middle Earth, Half Life 2, Freedom Force (I got bored of the other ones, okay?) Oddly because of this, I'm reading loads again as I have to sit here and wait for my computer to slowly burn through the piles of absurdity sloughing onto my hard drive. Excellent Catch-22 alike called The Choirboys I picked up for pulp entertainment. It's all short snippets of just how the police exploit their time and authority, but the characters it builds walk straight into your imagination without knocking. They're all stereotypes now, but the way they're written feels so fresh. Looking about it looks like a movie was made of it with Charles Durning from The Sting as lead. sounds bloody awful, but has a middling IMDB rating.

Oh, yeah, almost forget, I read Bukowski's Pulp last night - incandescent pulp parody, but with that loving edge that leans towards tribute. Nick Belane is an alcoholic first and a detective second and an alcoholic first. (hic!) The beginning of the book is perfect; it has the dame's entrance scene, the first stakeout, the counter-offer, the surly landlord, the dangerous driving, Celine. Well, perhaps Celine isn't a traditional character, more of a 19th century french writer, but nor is Lady Death or the space aliens or... yeah, it starts out as good parody anyway, but the middle bit where Belane just walks into bar after bar and argues with bar staff over and over and over, that, McGuffin, that could do with some work.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

ThinkGeek :: Plush Microbes

Aw, I want the Rhinovirus...
Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight - m4m

From Wonkette
BBC - Mark Steel Lectures

Having listened to these on the radio, and just watched the first two on TV I heartily recommend you all get yourself entertained and educated as soon as possible. And have a look at the whole Open University site while you're on there, there's plenty to do.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Check it out for larger versions of the pictures below (and for some absolutely excellent art in general.)

The top half of a middle-sized Dostoevsky painting I did - the canvas is too large to scan properly. Posted by Hello
Album: halloween2004

A recent painting I did - though quite low-res as I don't want to hog your bandwidth. This is a colour-blind person's attempt at Nietzsche. Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Amusing places close to you

Ah, beautiful smut. I live near Butt Hatch, Crab Hole, Bullyhole Bottom, Wet Pits and, of course, Sodom.
I dream of lying in long dry grass and looking at the clouds through the seedheads. I dream of walking off into a whiteout in a blizzard. I dream of being thigh-deep in peat on top of Kinder Scout struggling through wind and rain to get to the next tussock. I dream of being a monk going to sleep on a stone bed, with a single thin pillow in a cell where the moonlight falls across the cobbled floor, casting a small barred shadow. I dream of hot sunlight on my naked back as I trudge up the arid side of a mountain.

These are my favourite dreams.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

BBC NEWS | In Pictures | In pictures: Face of addiction

Feck, that's horrifying. Mind, the Oil of Ulay pictures were worse.
Urban Legends Reference Pages: Sports (Winning Tradition)

Since 1936, if the Redskins won their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent was re-elected. They just lost their last home game. Go Kerry!
Alton Towers

Photos from Hallowe'en and Alton Towers (Richard's Comments are well worth reading.) I'm the one in the pinstripes and skull mask.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Anyway, another book. I’ve foisted on you all the works of Italo Calvino (this I know, as I have very few of his books left on my shelves) but I fear I’ve burnt myself out to appreciating him. This month I’ve read The Baron in the Trees (about a nobleman’s son who after a quarrel lives off the ground), The Cloven Viscount (a nobleman is bifurcated by a cannon ball on crusades, and his two halves come back separately), and Invisible Cities (Marco Polo creates fantastical cities for the palace-bound Kublai Khan to appreciate, though they are all in fact aspects of one; Venice.) I’m also still reading, though I might leave it on the partially read pile in my bedroom, The Nonexistent Knight (a suit of armour acts a knight). Invisible Cities is brilliant, short flights of fancy, but then that was this month’s first. The others have got progressively less impressive; I was particularly disappointed by the Baron in the Trees; I think Calvino is a short story writer, and once his imagination is drained in a certain field, only a dull sump is left. The Baron was an odd idea and, for me, it didn’t work. There was a lot for him to do up there in the foliage, but it was mostly the same as what we do down here. So the piece really became a romantic opera-type thing, a Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones piece, which never bore interesting fruit (especially as the more interesting characters, which Calvino has no difficulty creating but problems writing) were sidelined or killed rapidly, and the baron himself was the typical winsomely odd hero. It’d make a good Hollywood movie though, because of the incidental’s humours, and the central love story.

Anyway, must dash – Hallowe’en party to go to, and gotta get tarted up.

Meanwhile, on the book front, I’ve just finished Alan Garner’s Thurlsbitch (he's the author of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, if you're wondering). Set in the Peak District (where my folks live, where we’ve always walked and where I’m going tomorrow), Thurlsbitch is the name of an ancient dale, where two hundred years ago people lived, and is now habituated solely by peripatetic walkers. Both sets take part in the book, and their stories interweave. It has a fascinatingly well-researched section on Pagan ritual, and the most touching approach to severe illness (I’m not sure whether the description is Parkinson’s or MS) I’ve read in any fiction.

I was also surprised to find that Garner is an alumnus (of sorts) of my old Oxford college, Magdalen (as is the recent Booker prize winner Alan Hollinghurst). He went there as an undergraduate, and was obviously genius-level. His tutor took him to one side, and said “Here’s my advice to you; go home now and write a work of genius. If you can't do that, come back and you can study real geniuses with me." As the website says, “He has commented that he does not read fiction because he doesn't want to be subconsciously influenced by other writers' ideas.”

I worry about two things here; first, and minor, that I should care about his attendance at Oxford. I’ve never wanted to belong to any set, and my recognition of his similarity annoys me without my quite being able to understand why. Secondly, that I’ve read a lot of fiction, an awful lot; I get through a good few books a week, it’s my main hobby, and I do it obsessively. I’d like to write properly one day, though friends scoff at that, and if Garner’s thesis is true then I’m crippling myself further with every novel consumed. I feel like a runner taking steroids to bulk up, only to find out they’ve been banned.

I’ve lost my critical faculties, I’m sure I have. I’ve watched so many good movies in the last couple of weeks due to the Bath film festival, I can’t distinguish good from bad. Oldboy is the cause – a genuinely disturbing, beautifully conceived movie; a businessman gets drunk, is arrested and then released, before he is kidnapped and locked in a hotel room for 15 years. I won’t spoil the rest, but it’s a must-watch; a scene where he eats a live octopus, not for kicks, or out of anger or because he wants to disgust people but through a sort of resigned apathy which freedom gives him, is just fantastic; the sight of the tentacles writhing across, clutching at his impassive face as he chews and chews is both hideous and alluring. I think it’s good, but it’s so perfectly made, that you can’t tell if you’re interested or not; the impassivity of the lead character is infectious, and the movie never really takes an emotion and runs with it.
Then there’s The Saddest Music in The World – fantastic, strange story, beautifully shot, slightly spoiled by a more generic than expected ending and not quite surreal enough in places, but great all the same. A tale of an amputee beer baroness in frozen Canada and her attempt to find the saddest music in the world by playing off the countries of the world. A family from her past get involved, and take different sides, playing their various instruments against each other in Dueling Banjos scenes on stage in the beer hall. It’s shot in a 1930s ‘M’ shaky-cam, with snow scattered across the monochrome screen.
Finally there’s Saw – weaker than the rest, an American attempt to do Japanese horror. Nasty, mean obvious but also scary and initially conceptually attention-grabbing. Two men wake up locked in a bathroom, chained to opposite ends by their ankles, with a dead man lying between them. They have six hours to kill each other or their families will die.
People keep criticising me for not putting my personal thoughts up here more regularly. I thought I was; then I looked at the dates of personal posts and realised how much of my life I’m losing to a pretty-much unconscious existence, with intermittent periods of awareness. I wonder if everyone’s lives are like that? So I’ve boshed down a load of stuff that’s been building up on my desktop, in order to sate your vicarious palettes for a while.

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning

Aah, nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Whatever happened to Flipper, Skippy, The Littlest Hobo, Lassie and the rest? Have animals stopped caring for mankind? Or has the caring animal simply become extinct?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Monday, October 25, 2004

Australian platypus research has implications for understanding the evolution of human sex determination

Good lord. Evidence for a higher will is finally found. Bow down beneath the randomly evolutionary platypus.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Fleeing villagers mistook disco lights for aliens
Squatter sells flat for over £700K

George Weiss, a friend of late comic Peter Cook, says he will use the money to launch a rival to Hello magazine called Goodbye. It will feature dead celebrities and the houses they lived in.

He has also launched a political party - the Wonderfully Egalitarian Association of Creative Thinkers.
Peru develops edible super guinea pig

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Guardian Special reports | Why is war-torn Iraq giving $190,000 to Toys R Us?: "Here is a small sample of who has been getting 'reparation' awards from Iraq: Halliburton ($18m), Bechtel ($7m), Mobil ($2.3m), Shell ($1.6m), Nestl? ($2.6m), Pepsi ($3.8m), Philip Morris ($1.3m), Sheraton ($11m), Kentucky Fried Chicken ($321,000) and Toys R Us ($189,449)."

Watch The Corporation. This edict is not open to discussion.
Some old mini-news which we never ran in the mag that I just found in an old documents folder. Some good links in there.

Following in the illustrious, politically aware footsteps, of George Michael, the thin white duke himself (David Bowie you ankle-biters!) has announced that his latest album is available for free download; indeed, he positively wants you to download it, mix it up with your own tunes a la DJ Danger Mouse, and send it back to him. Then a panel (including Bowie) will decide which is best, the winner mixing it up with Bowie on his next album.

Mr Tony Blair
Assaulted on all sides, Mr Tony Blair must be feeling like his world is caving in, and now a new threat waves its order paper from the sidelines. ‘Bluesnarfing’, the act of taking control of a device via Bluetooth, has been spread to the Palace of Westminister by no less illustrious an organisation than The Times. A hack snuck his laptop into the House of Commons and was able to use it to listen into MP’s conversations over their phones, mainly because most Mps have failed to change the default password. Espionage on the cheap anyone?

Kill Chrille
Remember Star Wars Kid, the chubby Canadian lightsabre dancer. Real name Ghyslain Raza who was an internet hit when a home-movie of him dancing with a broom, Darth Maul-stylee was released onto the net? Well, he’s back in a new feature. Well 106 new features. The latest Kill Bill 1&2 spoof is certainly Class A, but Star Wars kid also features in SWK vs South Park, Raiders of the Lost Dork, Lord of the Onion Rings, and, of course, Dine Another Day.

Old Presents
Sick of passing the same plaid sweaters around the family every Christmas? Well, Orbital Development of Carson City, Nevada (WARNING! Things promised by people from Nevada may well turn out to be false, aliens or indeed weather balloons.) offered people the chance to dump their unwanted gifts on the moon. The auction took place on Ebay, but unfortunately didn’t reach the $6 million reserve price and will go ahead when a buyer is found. It will involve a space vehicle specially built, based on a commercial Russian lander.

British Sports
Sod football, rugby, cricket and curling, such is the decline in sports standards that even fictional British games are now falling to foreign champions. The latest casualty is, alas, not gurning but in fact Pooh Sticks, the creation of A.A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh. This year’s event in Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire was won by the Czech team, with the Brits winning the singles event. PCFormat thinks we should lynch that Henman feller for being a bad influence. Or henman that lynch feller. Dammit Brits, just pull your act together, and get online practice at the link below!

At the end of the day, like, at this moment in time, with all due respect… that short semi-sentence consists of the four most irritating sayings in common use today, as voted for by members of the Plain English Campaign. Spokesman John Lister said “Using these terms is about as professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ringtone on your phone.” PCFormat’s quick Hansard search found 151 uses of ‘like’, twenty-one ‘with all due respects’, one ‘at the end of the day’, and not one “at this moment…” And that was just Tony Blair – John Prescott’s stats were 231 ‘likes’, 13 ‘at the end of the day’, and not a jot of ‘respect’

German parents are getting the chance to experience life inside the womb, thanks to Sterling efforts of Frankfurt artist Marie Krebs, reports Ananova. Ms Krebs has designed a uterus room for mothers and fathers to crawl into, packed with stratified spongy materials, padded with squashy balloons that yield to every movement of the body, and dimly lit. The sounds of a heartbeat, amniotic and intestinal gurglings, and a distant female voice round off the experience. Oh, and never, ever seach for uterus on the internet, okay?

Couch Pizzatoes
Tired of having all the way to shops, when there’s a snack machine just round the corner? Then worry no further, as the next vendable item popping up will be the Pizza! The Wonder Pizza company UK is planning to install machines that deliver hot pizza in less than two minutes in railway stations and other public places. For £4 the machine tops, cooks and despatches a 9” pizza; the test one in Bournemouth sold about 200 pizzas in its first four days. PCFormat is thinking about getting one for the office.

Tabletop Veneer
Sick of your coaster being totally unabsorbent, but too lazy to go and buy coasters instead of using AOL disks? Thank Sony then, whose latest innovation is a new compact disc made mainly from paper (well, 51%). With the development of new Blu-Ray DVD technology last year, these new 12cm discs will be cheaper to produce, safer to dispose of, and have a 25GB capacity. They’ll be produced by the Toppan Publishing company of Japan.

“People of Mars, I salute you. Well, I would if I hadn’t done my neck in that quad accident. Have you got any green M&Ms?” Yes, the British public, that undeniable argument for tyranny, have voted Ozzy Osborne as the nation’s favourite ambassador to visiting Martians, with 26% of the vote. Yahoo’s internet poll also rated the weird Siamese coupling of Ant and Dec at 15%, closely followed by Tony Blair at 12%, and Dubya and Jordan drawing at 9%. PCF says: send them all out, and bring on the tripods!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

<>I promise to stop it with the Rita stories after this, but her origin sounds like a work of fiction. If you just want to read that skip the next three paragraphs.


I took the train up to Carlisle on the friday, caught the wending country bus to Ecclefechan, and got a lift to Rita’s cottage at the base of Burnswark, the old Roman fort she built her cottage beneath, a great plateau raised above the lowlands of the Borders. Her son Johnny, an Italian with the thickest cross of a mancunian-italian accent a bollixed linguist could imagine, had appeared and collected her ashes from the crematorium. The physical remains of Rita were contained in a cheap plastic urn, like a large cash tube from a deli. When you shook it, it sounded like dice in a well.

<>The following morning I wandered around Ecclefechan, the birthplace of Thomas Caryle. He wrote about and there’s nowhere more in need of his thoughts than Ecclefechan; it’s an empty, lonely town with a huge broad central road leading from nowhere to nowhere, a suburb in search of a city. The kids and teenagers stand around the bus-stop with nothing to do, seeing more than a handful of people on the high street must mean it’s a holiday and most people just drive everywhere. I’m sure its soul is warmer than that really, but to an outsider it feels brawer than a collie’s nose.<>

Anyway, at about
2 O’clock, we all headed up the hill, preceded by the piper blasting away. The farmer brought his quad-bike, with a trailer, and chauffeured the more elderly members up the slope to the stone on the flat top, like Boudiccea in her chariot. The air as we trudged up to the top of the hill was of a ramblers’ outing; we were all glad it was over for her and pleased to see so many people, from such diverse backgrounds, had come a long way to send her off. The wind was rough at the top so we got straight to it. Sir Rupert Buchanan-Jardine (scion of the Opium Warrios) made a little speech, my step-dad Tim read out some poetry he’d heard on Poetry Please, and then Johnny threw what remained of Rita into the wind, where she blew away into the shafts of sunlight over the firth. (apart from the rattley bits that toppled down the hill, where they’ll keep the sheep healthy and confuse future archeologists.


Anyway, Rita’s origins, from what I garnered at the funeral. Turns out I was wrong about her time during the war. Her dad came back to be with her mum as the war broke out, but went off to join the partisans (the anti-Nazi fighters). Her mum’s best friend (as her mum was English and spoke no Italian) was the local dressmaker, the only other Jew in the village. Heavily pregnant, Rita’s mother was walking to the central square where the dressmaker lived, to talk over what they should do as the Germans were coming. Rounding the corner, she sees the dressmaker’s shop has german tanks in front of it, and hears a scream as the dressmaker throws herself out of the first-storey window. Understandably, Rita’s mum faints.

When she comes to, she’s in labour. She crawls off to a relative who looks after her until Rita’s dad and his brothers turn up. They take Rita and her off into the woods, where she tries to give birth. Unfortunately, it’s a breech birth, and the baby dies. Rita’s mother is seriously ill, and bleeding heavily, so Partisan Dad reluctantly takes her to the hospital, sneaking her in and getting a promise from the resident priest not to tell anyone she’s Jewish. The priest, thinking it’s better the Partisans die than innocent villagers are persecuted, shops her to the Germans. (The square where Rita’s mum fainted is now named after that priest, Piazza Luigi Bosco, or so Rita said.) Thankfully, she dies before they get there. Not thankfully, they now know about Rita, who has to go with the partisans to the hills, and hence the cable car and wild child story.<>

Now, after the war, Rita falls for one of the partisans ‘because he looked like Errol Flynn’, though she didn’t really get on with him. Interestingly, this Errol was one of the partisan leaders, well known in the area, so the Nazis had also come for him. When they couldn’t get him, they’d captured his dad, and told him “Get the word out; either your son hands himself over to us, or we hang you in 24 hours.” The son was up in the mountains and didn’t hear until it was too late, and his father was hanging over the town. So Rita fell for this Errol-alike because of his looks, and the shared loss they had over their parents; They didn’t marry, cos he wasn’t the marrying type, but they did have a child, Johnny. Which is enough about Rita I think.
I’ve spent the day in frantic negotiation over a quibble. My boss wants a game to go in the magazine; his boss wants it with an even more frantic desire. I feel that it would be good for the magazine in the short term if it went in, bad in the long term, because the quality of review we’re going to get from a couple of days play for this particular title is likely to be very poor and damage our reputation with people who give one, even a flying one. That said, there’s a certain camaraderie building up between me and the put-upon PR, as we both act as the poultice absorbing the vitriol and tension from the developer and the magazine, and I feel like a soldier crouched in a trench while all sorts of shit flies overhead, who knows that when the war is over he’ll be able to have a pint with his opposite number and slag off the idiots who sent them unprepared into such a fight. Not that I’d use the word idiot with reference to anyone in authority, lawks no. And not that I’m going to tell you what the game is, unless you ask dead nice, like.
Welcome To Flying Thingz

Holy Flying Lawnmowers Batman!
The Deptford Mice - The Rat Lair

Does anyone else remember The Deptford Mice? This series frankly terrified me when I was a kid, and was the most unforgiving, horrifying thing I've ever read. It was like the siege of Munster (nice photo there) or Pol Pot's Cambodia but with anthropomorphised piratical rats and wussy mice and happening beneath our feet, all the time. You know that bit in Star Wars when Obi Wan gets struck down by the baddies, and the way he reappears as a sprite at the end? How it's moving and touching? In the Deptford mice, nigh on every last character is killed, and they all appear as ghosts, tormented monstrous ghosts, slave to a bloated, demonic cat. Equally tormenting was the idea of a leading character being chased down by an Owl, and eaten, and his friends finding his bones amidst the pellets. All those daft Duncton moles and Watership Down rabbits had nothing on it for childish visceral horror. Only Sendak comes anywhere near for.
The Deptford Mice - The Rat Lair

Does anyone else remember The Deptford Mice? This series frankly terrified me when I was a kid, and was the most unforgiving, horrifying thing I've ever read. It was like the siege of Munster (nice photo there) or Pol Pot's Cambodia but with anthropomorphised piratical rats and wussy mice and happening beneath our feet, all the time. You know that bit in Star Wars when Obi Wan gets struck down by the baddies, and the way he reappears as a sprite at the end? How it's moving and touching? In the Deptford mice, nigh on every last character is killed, and they all appear as ghosts, tormented monstrous ghosts, slave to a bloated, demonic cat. Equally tormenting was the idea of a leading character being chased down by an Owl, and eaten, and his friends finding his bones amidst the pellets. All those daft Duncton moles and Watership Down rabbits had nothing on it for childish visceral horror. Only Sendak comes anywhere near for.

Monday, October 11, 2004


Certainly the weirdest collection of writing about, if not the most boring. Give up any notion of being an author, as we all are now.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Has been what? Oh...

Ben Folds, Aimee Mann, William Shatner. New album, some good tracks, the new Leonard Cohen?
Not really, no.
The new Leonard Nimoy?
Make it so.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Strange find: Soviet shuttle at Persian Gulf emerged - science - MIRROR ON-LINE ONE

Just testing out this photo blogging program with an old Picture of Toby, Phil and me. Posted by Hello
Filmfodder: Mel Brooks: Spaceballs Will Return


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

eBaby - Your Personal Baby Trading Community
More about Rita:

I'm not sure but I think Rita was from Cormayeur in Valle D'Aosta one of Italy's quirkier regions (not like it doesn't have loads), though she herself was Jewish. Her father was head-chef at the Savoy at London, but he left her back in the valley when he was working there. When war broke out, she was still there and her parents were in London, or so I'm told. With no supervision, she turned into something of a wild child, and by the time the Germans had arrived, she was a bit nutty.

Anyway, for her safety the partisans took her up into the mountains. They sat her beneath a tree and said "don't move" and went off to blow up the cable car. Well, she heard the explosion and she crouched down really small, and then she heard a wailing, whipping noise and looked up to see that the cable had snapped like an elastic band, hurtled through the air and wrapped itself around the tree above her head, burying itself deep in the trunk. Apparently, it's still there, or so she told me. Then she went back to being a wild child for the rest of the war.

Monday, October 04, 2004 | Broadcast | Fox News apologises for Kerry fabrication: "'Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!' Comparing himself to the president, Mr Kerry was supposed to have said: 'I'm metrosexual - he's a cowboy.' Women voters, he purportedly added, 'should like me! I do manicures.'"

"I wish I was allowed to make up quotes like that" said Edith Berman, 112, of Swinchaw, New Sidonia.

Astounding. A thorax-rattling piece of computer art.
Ah, my adoptive Irish-Italian-Jewish granny died of lung, lymph and liver cancer Wednesday morning around 4.30am. My mum and step-dad had driven up to Ecclefechan near Lockerbie to be with her on Monday, and she deteriorated rapidly over Monday and Tuesday. Apparently, she bent down to pick something up on Sunday night, couldn’t get back up and was stuck there for three hours.

It’s odd because she was possibly the strongest-willed person I’ve ever met; My mum and step-dad were with her on Tuesday night. She was obviously on the way out, had the morphine drip to stave off the pain, and my parents had been just praying that she’d go. Her friend Nancy (who works in an old folk’s home, and hence was used to it) just said “the heart’s too strong.” It’s soppy but then people are.

Rita’s already booked a piper for her wake (she hated bagpipes, but as she put it “I won’t be feckin there”) and she organised her cremation a couple of weeks back. Impressively, she bargained the funeral director down from £1,500 to £60. When he insisted that he needed all that cash to organise the ceremony, tidy the house, she said she didn’t want any of that, she’d done that herself all he had to do was drive her down to the cremation, and then ‘just burn me.’ Then she had a long go at him about exploiting the grieving. As I said, strong-willed. What she was planning to do with the saved cash isn’t clear.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

"I remember taking the train to Boston when I was a kid, to go record shopping with my allowance money. I usually got about three albums, and if one of them was, say, Yes' Tormato, that was it-- my music for the month. Our children should never live in that hell."

After lengthy disclaimers about suing government agents who access his computer, one user's reason for sharing music. Not logical, but enough.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Escher for Real

Oi, Mere, check it out. Some bloke's made himself all those Escher posters in real life... (apart from the hand writing itself, obviously...)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I've been reviewing two DVD encyclopedias today (Encarta 2005 and Britannica 2005), which has given me the chance to indulge my perverse side and test out their batshit knowledge. While checking out their knowledge level on the Thylacine (Tasmanian Wolf, extinct 1936, covered well by both of them, but better by the online Wikipedia) I've been sidetracked (temporarily, Mr Commissioner) into exploring the freakzoid Marsupial populations of Ozzieland, and I'm just falling in love with them. The best is the Marsupial Mole, a creature so bizarre that its students have no idea how to classify it...

The Marsupial Mole, the Numbat, and the Quoll.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Having intimidated some of Chrissy's female publishing friends with an experienctal justifcation of video games as a shortcut to the immortality we crave (as a way of staving off the reality of our death) by attempting to experience as many things as possible and video games being one of the richest simulations available for visual and audio stimuli, and for being able to encompass other forms of media (again not a real belief, but one worth spinning), we ended up talking about a) breast sizes (initiated by the girls as a way of shutting up the cyberhacks) and b) what animal we each were. FYI, Kieron was a Boa Constrictor (specifcally Ka from the Jungle Book), Chrissy was apparently a Gorgon, and I was a Cougar.

A fecking Cougar. I've no idea what that means?! Trying to think of a more appropriate animal, me and Ron have since decided on the goat, which happily fits both my personality and into the Jewish scapegoat / Greek goatherder / Welsh goatlover stereotypes. It also appears to be my Chinese animal, which brings me to the point. What's your proper animal, and is it appropriate. Choose from the Chinese horoscope. Discuss...
Chinese Astrology - The Animals of the Chinese Horoscope | Higher | Space probes feel cosmic tug of bizarre forces
Weight Watchers recipe cards, circa 1974

From Penny (though that URL is quite disturbing...)
Guardian Unlimited Film | News | In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema

Monday, September 20, 2004

I Found Some Of Your Life: Introduction

Hilarious. Primitive peoples (say, Geordies) believe that when your picture is taken your soul is sucked out through the lens and used as lagging for the Devil's pipes. Here at last is evidence; this man's life has been stolen, merely because he left 227 photos of himself in the back of a taxi.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Colin Powell in four-letter neo-con 'crazies' row

Quality. New-found respect for Straw and Powell. And kudos to James Naughtie for somehow finding this out...
Locus Online: John Shirley: Global to Local

A good coffee break read, thoughtfans.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Erm? That's really, really disturbing. I think it's some sort of conceptual sculpture of the crossover line between man and dog, but I'm not sure. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Morning News - Tricks of the Trade Jonty contributed to this piece. He so proud!
Monkey World Road Trip madness

Road trip to Monkeyworld back on the bank holiday. Almost died. Very much like Robert Silverberg's The Book of Skulls (which incidentally, has been optioned for a movie.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Slashdot: Politics section

If this works, essential reading.
Am I the only one with an undue pleasure at larger government, indeed, at all things threatening and perverse? For example, walking home down the city streets, weighed down by multiple bags containing more hi-tech crap than the terminator, I'm perversely pleased that there's security cameras around to watch over me, and so I've got a captive audience to torment with bad tap-dancing when I'm drunk. Similarly, I quite fancy the ID card system; the more daft photos of people around in existence, the better I say. (and of course, assuming the state ceases its slow slide towards authoritarianism, we have nothing to fear from it beyond what we already fear; the innocent are safe.)

Similarly, McDonald's. We've known forever that eating a 99p cheeseburger from Maccy D's probably takes more life than smoking a pack of fags, but we still did it. However, having read Fast food Nation (before it became big, lovey, and thought it was big pile of judgemental horseshi'ite) and knowing the premise of Supersize Me (who needs to actually *see* the movie?) I felt more desire to go out and eat hamburgers and cheeseburgers, and particularly McDonald's, than ever before. I've eaten battered Mars bars and haggis and bits of meat that the animals themselves probably have a preternatural sense of shame about, in the full cogniscence of what affect this will have on my body, fattening flesh, filling arteries, and generally bringing inevitable death sweetly near.

The ancient philosophers called this akrasia, and it's one of my key concepts. It means incontinence and means knowing what the right thing is to do, but simply not doing it. Of course, it assumes that what you're doing isn't the right thing, and that the right thing is not the thing you *want* to do. Truthfully, it isn't the right thing for you if you don't want it; it might fit in with your moral code, but your short-term desire is stronger in you than a long-term health and happiness that might never come (with the fragility of life.) Combine this with a skeptical viewpoint on personal identity, and the future person you'd be preserving the body for isn't you anyway.

Which brings me to the final perversity; laughing at death. A recognition of the fleeting nature of our personalities and the self's coherent existence can bring acceptance of the valueness of the self, unless it is specifically chosen to have a value. To this I ascribe the ability to feel sorrow at the death of a loved-one, but also to joke about it; it is not merely a coping technique, it is not only a symbol of western desensitisation to violence, it is also a different mathod of valuing the life we have. Anyway, that's how I justify the inevitable jokes that are going to emerge at truck stops and in black cabs over the next weeks about South Ossetia, Darfur, and Iraq.

Anyway, enough grade-skool philosophical lecturing; nite!
Hilarity of Benn's Nigeria trip

Sent a link with the added imprecations, now familiar to stop putting up links and write more. Thank you Mr Mere Dreth.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Monday, August 30, 2004

The official Rocky Horror Show script with all the ad-libs! (Including the audience's)
Manchester, So Much To Answer For - How a boom ended Manchester's bust.

A returnee's view of Manc - myself, I get vaguely the same feeling when I pop back, the feeling that the reconstruction after the IRA bomb hasn't really worked and that the little shmatty shops that filled the corn exchange (indeed, the location of the Arndale before the Post-war planners blitzed it) were what held the Manchester spirit; the scrubby endless Stockport market that runs over cobbles streets and iron bridges and through old market halls, that always knew more of what Manchester was about than the frankly souless city-centre. Albert Square, Urbis, and the new Marks 'n Sparks - they all symbolise the absolute shittiness of the central town planners, who should have just left the place to develop the way New York did.

Toby and I have been discussing our genes. Unusually for an Indie-kid (perhaps because I've never really been a whole-hearted one) I'm quite looking forward to having sprogs. Yet most of the supposedly liberal set I know aren't; in fact, most of them are dead set against it. Phrases range from “I wouldn’t inflict my genes on another generation” to “I loathe the little buggers.”

Whether this is a reflection of the increasingly hardened hedonism that afflicts our generation, with even the most vocally socially progressive having little real regard for world concerns, I’m not sure. It could simply be disinterest, though I’d opine it’s genuine selfishness. Of course, my motivation is also unclear; whether it’s the biological imperative, a genuine mookish liking for kids, a desire /to/ inflict my genes on the world, or just a cunning subliminal plan to get someone in the sack, the real motivation is shielded even from me.

Anyway, we found this excellent site, if you’re thus afflicted by the Indie apathy; Man Not Included takes away all the responsibility of having a child from the commitment-fleeing male, and let’s you donate your semen anonymously to a Lesbian couple, probably in Scandinavia. Personally, I’d only do it if there was a financial reward involved, not through greed but as a pay-off for the inconvenience involved for me. Anyway, if you’re looking for advice on sperm donation, the excellent MSN Slate site had a good article on it here.
Oxford Tops UK Air Pollution List

NOx Cigarette Equivalent
in 24 Hours

Oxford 61.4
Bath 46.8
Glasgow – Kerbside 44.7
London, Marylebone Road 30.0
Kensington & Chelsea, King’s Road 29.6
Exeter 27.7
Hammersmith Broadway 27.3
Bristol – City Centre 27.1
Sheffield – Tinsley 27.1
Brent 26.7

For a non-smoker, it appears I've unfortunately averaged a 50 a day habit over the past six years. What the headlines (and study) didn't tell you, is that this is only nitrogen content; the carcinogenic tar adn nicotine aren't tested for, making for a frankly useless study.

Anyway off to Monkeyworld. No, don't ask why.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Liberated Games

Note to Toby & Terence - Linux games! -- 24-Hour News: National News -- Company pulls toys depicting Sept. 11 attack:

"Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled."
Drug lords develop high-yield coca plant: "Colombian drug cartels have developed a new strain of coca plant that yields up to four times more cocaine, dealing a setback to a campaign against production of the drug that was beginning to show results."

Final proof that GM crops are bad for you, with the added bonus that they may lead to the U.S. napalming large areas of your farmland and funding right-wing paramilitaries which is somehow equated with a war on drugs... mmm...

Google Image Result for

Remind me not to do an image search for testicles, ever, ever again, mhmm?
Thatcher in balls munchies shocker: "opponents of despotic President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, claim he eats the testicles of executed prisoners in the belief that it boosts his sex life."

Nguema, Thatcher, and example testicles (a cat's).

Bad luck for 'Sir' Mark Thatcher, in that the dictator he may have been involved in over-throwing has a taste for prisoners' balls; also an indication that there may have been justification in the coup attempt.

How exactly did the arms-running son of Margaret "Sink the Belgrano" Thatcher end up a knight? If, as I suspect, it is to do with her being a Baroness leading to her heir automatically acquiring the title, then isn't it an indicator that something needs to be done about our honours system? An honours system that honours only politicians, rich businessmen, civil servants, and their kin, and throws at most an occasional mediocre MBE to the public services that deserve our congratulation. (Though if I talked about them, we'd be forced to bitch about them too...)

Friday, August 27, 2004

Darwinia . Exposure . Future Publishing Demo Day Look, I'm semi-famous! (The other shots are blackmail material...)
Ho hum; I just spent four days sat in a hotel conference room in Slough with five other lads. To disabuse you of the glories of PC games journalism, there's no quicker way than to point to the horrors of four days of young lives poured into a computer, producing nothing, relaxing in no way, but both compulsive and entertaining. For me games are a guilty pleasure, something not helped by my job; it seems expected that when I review a game, I do it in my own time, which I see as just unreasonable. I'm quite happy to work overtime occasionally, as my contract states, but that would institute it as part of my (already limited) free time.

Anyway, I got back into the office, and the atmosphere was poison. Alec had nicely warned me that bad stuff had been happening, but the place just felt like a fight had just finished and that I'd better keep shtumm unless I wanted to kick off a new one myself.

Moreover, I'd forgotten it was the bank holiday, and I've failed to organise anything, again. I'm terrified now, as I realised last weekend that I've lost touch with some of my favourite people from home and from university, and others I've been downright rude to. If any of you are reading, I apologise; get in touch. I'll *try* and do the same.
Yahoo! News - Revenge Really Is Sweet, Study Shows: "'After squeezing back the intruder, you can't help but notice a smile creep onto your face,' Knutson wrote in a commentary.

That instinct probably evolved to grease the wheels of human social interaction, the researchers said.

'For thousands of years, human societies did not have the modern institutions of law enforcement -- impartial police and impartial judges that ensure the punishment of norm violations such as cheating in an economic exchange, for example,' they wrote.

'Thus, social norms had to be enforced by other measures, and private sanctions were one of these means.'"

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Slickball Online Demo For all those lab-monkeys with time on their hands...
Sick to death of Bath. Maybe it's cos I'm away every other weekend, but 'm just tired of . I love it here when it's sunny, and I can lie outside in a deckchair, and read, and booze, and have pub lunches and have an occaisional kickabout. But when it's grim, I'm nailed to my flat and TV/PC screen, which is horrible. I'm going to book a holiday for the end of september, come back from that, and see if life feels any better. If not, I'll actually apply for one of those great jobs I see elsewhere - and if anyone sees anything, do forward it to me, eh?

The Woking Martian

My stepdad once played a referee in a boxing match on TV, who lasted about five minutes before being sucked up into a Tripod and brainplanted. Curiouser...
BBC NEWS | Health | Prozac 'found in drinking water' So, I guess we should be happy, nu?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

PC Games - GAME MIDIs Music For my own reference, TBH.
Being colour-blind might mean that my artistic proclivities should be somewhat stymied, but I've found that I still enjoy doodling and painting unduly. When I was doing pottery at school, I tended to daub my organic/architectural pots in garish oil paints because I was too lazy to test-fire colours on them I couldn't see anyway. For this reason, my teacher said I should look at Gaudi's work; I did, I loved it, pinched elements wholeheartedly, and fell headlong in love with that whole Catalan art thing; well maybe just Gaudi and Dali (I love Goya, but have no idea if he's from the same region.) Put shortly, the place I've single-heartedly most wanted to visit in the world was Barcelona, and particularly the Sagrada Familia, his eternally-building, monstrous cathedal at the city's heart.

Now I have (for a press trip, noch), and I'm still in love with it. I spent most of my free time in Barca climbing it, and I've stocked up my memory palace (See below) with another Cinerama-image from the top of the half-built church. It's fantastic, a molten mass of dark stone covered in mosaics, angels, snails, flowers and birds, with criss-crossing walkways and dark towers building to the sky. It's a petrified hand, a lava-clad crab, silhouetted against the cornflower sky. And inside it, there's nothing, a void packed with scaffolding, new traitorous architecture, cheap concrete replacing Gaudi's hundred-year stone. I swam on the beach at three in the morning and could still see the glinting gaudy towers...

(The memory palace thing, I'm sure I've mentioned before, but here it is in summary: A technique used by medieval types to keep important memories at close hand, the memory palace is a familiar place within which memories are embedded. It's mentioned by Umberto Eco in The Name Of The Rose I think. Until I hit the top of the Sagrada I'd forgotten all about mine, indeed forgotten the location. After scouring my brain, going through all my childhood locations I realised, to my shame, that the location I chose all those years ago was the first level of a game, Ultima Underworld 2, which I was more familiar with than any real world location...)

Crafty sheep conquer cattle grids Mmm, hmm! Hot mutton roll...
Simpler pump boosts failing hearts What's unusual about this artificial heart is that it doesn't produce a pulse - it produces a constant stream of blood rather than intermittent pumping; perhaps this'll help people live longer, though it sounds like it might lead to the atrophying of the muscle in veins and arteries increasing the chance of fatal hemorrages...

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The New York Times > Magazine > Phenomenon: The Roach That Failed: "Scientists, who had first tested the concept by dipping communion wafers in the poison, toyed with the idea of selling the wafers under the label Last Supper"

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Journalist Anti-FAQ

Both very handy for those seeking to make their way in the media...

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

People with pencils discuss Fahrenheit 911 in a purely rational, sensible not at all cartoony, black & white, manner.
A fascinating insight into the mind of a Grill from my time in France.

I’ve developed quite a style in these forn lands. As I was only planning to stay two days (rather than six), I’ve developed two separate outfits. The first is my travelling kit; it just so happens to be the clothes I was wearing when I flew out which, obviously, stink. The second set is whatever else was in my bag, which stinks slightly less and is my conversational kit. As I speak less French than English, I do everything in my power to avoid human contact (Eating large breakfasts and skipping lunch, walking instead of getting taxis, etc.). As also I can’t remember how many euros there are to the pound, or vice versa, this saves me further embarrassment. When the days begins I guestimate whether I’m going to have to talk to anybody and whether I’m going to care about stinking like a bishop’s morals, and then put on the appropriate clothing set.
From while I was in France last week

Futuroscope, c’est fantastique! Situated in the middle of fricking nowhere, this appears to be some sort of amusement parc, though I feel that aliens must have dropped it on France in primitive times to bring their culture up to the 1970s…Because it is the 1970s embodied, or perhaps 1950s; Sleeper is the bet example. Great perverse shapes serving no discernable purpose, mostly containing enormous strange cinema screens… outlandish vehicles for kids to ride, walkways supported by water jets floating over lakes that alternately belch fire and water 100 feet up… an odd little garden, peeling wood, with raised timber walkways between great hoardings depicting famous cities and scenes each with dissonant music that clashes as you walk between, all of it sunk in a great tub of water in green lawns… and this, the press centre, with it’s accompanying auditorium.
Here the elite of world games have met, to do what? Sit in darkened conference halls, like the usual nerdology? The lower levels, perhaps. But the elite sit in an imax theatre facing the audience. There are two teams of five and in front of each man is a computer with two monitors; one facing him, one, larger, facing the audience. Behind them, on the Imax, is a Shoutcast internet broadcast of the match they’re playing. It features webcams of the team captain’s faces, a top-down map updated in realtime of where the players are in the enclosed space, and footage of two of the protagnist’s screens.Over the top is French commentary (with English provided by infrared headsets ditributed to the 1000-strong crowd.)
This is CounterStrike, a shooting game where players play terrorists versus counter-terrorists. The game is strongly tactical, and the commentators talk about it with the same incomprehensibly specialised but truly simple language that you get from American Football. There's terms like 'Creephacks his natural', a WarCraft III phrase, meaning to steal an experience-garnering kill from near an opponents base after the opponent has weakened it.
And this feels like sport. I feel like a proper journalist, for the first time in my life, attempting to cover a story, sitting in the press centre, watching the english commentary on the widescreen and typing. And it’s more enjoyable than most sports, and it feels like it involves more talent than simple physical prowess; it requires brains, the ability to recognise the constraints of the arenas and the engine, and to exploit them in spectacular fashion – to watch one of the strategy player’s hands move over the keyboard like lightning, running on automatic, is fantastic.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I'm normally something of a fan of Tony Blair, mainly through a vitriolic hatred of all things conservative. I've been a quiet defender of him But, as with everyone, my turn has come. I will not stand by while he denigrates liberalism. Today he has announced the end of the 1960s Liberal Consensus. I understand he means no such thing, that nothing will really happen; this is what we have come to expect from him and from the entrenched bulwark of the civil service. I at least hope he isn't tending to the stupid, reflexive authoritarianism of the people in power; Britain is a country that could slip into a happy Singaporean police state all too easily. I see what he's saying as just a vote-winner for future elections to appeal to conservative voters, without having to do anything concrete.

However, even this language offends me. He is doing down liberalism, the mind-set that, all things equal, progress (ie alteration of the status quo) is good. Liberalism is already a dirty word in the Untied States, because of their predominantly christian conservative mindset; why make it so over here? Even if he doesn't mean what he says, he is turning liberalism into a perjorative term for his own temporary political advantage. Through the mainstream politician changing the sense of the word Liberalism, he makes it acceptable to do it down and stokes unthinking conservatism (already a strong unwanted trait in the British), much like mainstream politicians using the language of invasion when referring to asylum stokes racism and gives parties like Pim Fortuyn's, Jorg Haider's or the BNP a veneer of sense they do not deserve.
As I went to sleep last night I looked up at the ceiling, and saw an outline of my monitor burnt into the ceiling, the wardrobe, my paintings on the wall... everywhere I turned my burnt retina I saw a glowering grey square.

Am I spending too much time on the computer? Nah...

Thought occurs though - if I get so absorbed in my computer I start dressing like it, does that make me a Tronvestite?

You can have that one for free, Dov.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

I'll put up more about my France Jolly when I remember to get it off my laptop, but meantimes I'll just bitch about work.

Ooh, just remembered an old university recipe of mine. Very simple; shred some cheap onions, and chuck on some chilli powder. Fry up on a middle heat until nicely softened, then break a load of eggs over the top. Mix up rapidly, so the egg isn't setting yet, then stop and let cook. Eat on thick-cut crusty white bread. Mmm.

Lil Bro Dov (Hi dov!) came along for the weekend (though he only meant to stay the night, he stayed his welcome and not beyond.) Reminds me everytime how perverse it is to call a six-foot hairmonster 'little bruvver'. Even if I fell into a semi-heuristic synchronistic infundunbulum, and reappeared several years younger than him, I'd still consider him my little brother. This is nothing to do with age, this is because I am *enormously* patronising. And don't think anyone here wants to disagree with that, mm-hmm?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Saturday, July 10, 2004

2.30am, 10 July.
They’re right that the days get longer as the summer goes. Or perhaps it’s just my perennial problem of not getting enough sleep; if there’s a theme to my days, it’s that. Though it’s not clinical insomnia; it’s more not letting myself sleep until I’ve done what I intended each day, and pushing the boundary of what know is healthy.
This week’s a prime example; was in the pub watching the Greece game until late on Sunday followed by a daft piece of freelance. The following morning I rolled onto my stereo’s remote at 5, setting off what I think is my alarm. Am ready for work by 6.50, when I realise the time. So was tired for work. Monday night came home and played City of Heroes (where I am a tough mutant dwarf called Y’gor who can jump and building) till the wee hours (I think.) Am woken at six by builders pouring liquid bird crap through our window by accident.
Tuesday night went to see Don Juan, translated by Simon Nye from Moliere. (Irredeemable shite unfortunately; the two male leads were passable, and Rebecca Hall is delicious as always, but the script was dull, unfunny, certainly not witty and the supporting cast was mostly dross. The movement on stage was uninspiring, and the whole thing was over before I’d noticed it’d begun.) Then went onto Moles cheesy night – very good, though too out of shape to Cossack jig properly. Have cold bath and can’t get to sleep until 3. Woken at 6 by builders.
Wednesday night Katy Marshall’s leaving do – at about 11 I stagger home, and get soaked to skin while tapping and ‘Singing in the rain.’ Dry off, play some City of Heroes, go to be about 1.
Woken by alarm at 4.30. Get-up, run bath, groan a bit on bed, have bath, grumble around the flat packing my bag, come here. (Here being the Futuroscope in Poitiers.) The PR accompanying me misses the flight so am on own. Finally arrive here about midday. Make way to Futuroscope, gawp at surroundings, watch a little CounterStrike, see the new SLI set-up from NVIDIA (who are kindly paying me to be here.) Then shipped off to a local race track where, non-driving me finds himself packed into a blue jumpsuit and put in control of a racing car. Make it round one lap in the wrong gear before misjudging a turn and ploughing into gravel. Vow never to race again (until I can drive properly that is.) So Luciano (great head PR for NV) gets this feller, who turns out to be some sort of racing champion, to give me a spin. Terrifying, worse than Jonty’s driving. Amazing feats of sliding the car, spinning it round corners, hardly ever braking… then flown back to Futuroscope in a helicopter (some sort of Little Bird alike.) Knackered and feel sick. No chance of sleep though, seems a *big* night is planned…

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Michael : Mike's Message : Blog

"I hope they don't put a bomb in your theater." Probably worth reading...
MSNBC - Saturn probe sheds light on Titan's secrets: "“It’s dangerous to interpret a surface we’ve never seen especially on so little sleep,” she said. “But we can’t resist.”" Oh, those zany astronomers. I'll bet they'll start seeing canals down there, and claiming that's where the Martians got to...

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

One Trilogy to Rule Them All: "The Matrix is based on the 1968 East German play Wirklichkeit ist eine Illusion, also lassen Sie uns sprechen R?tsel, Eintragfaden-Polizei und Tanzkampf ('Reality is an Illusion, so Let Us Speak Riddles, Shoot Police and Dancefight'). The original live production ended with a stunning dance sequence (set to Wagner's Nightsong of the Gun Mechs) which the Wachowski brothers have set side in favor of a silly RoboCopesque sky-shooting fireworks display that resembles an inner-city New Year's Eve celebration from the year 2214. "

Also brilliant.

One Trilogy to Rule Them All: "The Matrix is based on the 1968 East German play Wirklichkeit ist eine Illusion, also lassen Sie uns sprechen R?tsel, Eintragfaden-Polizei und Tanzkampf ('Reality is an Illusion, so Let Us Speak Riddles, Shoot Police and Dancefight'). The original live production ended with a stunning dance sequence (set to Wagner's Nightsong of the Gun Mechs) which the Wachowski brothers have set side in favor of a silly RoboCopesque sky-shooting fireworks display that resembles an inner-city New Year's Eve celebration from the year 2214. "

Also brilliant.
50 Reasons Lord of the Rings Sucks: "The concept of the violent dwarf was based on Al Pacino. "

Monday, July 05, 2004

This site is certified 36% EVIL by the Gematriculator
Wired 12.07: PLAY

Busting myths; explosive decompression.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116
What my Stepdad read as a marriage vow to my mum last weekend... God, what a sweet speech he gave as well; I had to go and hide in the kitchen for fear of tears. Not mine - I only cry at movies - Bowling for Columbine and My Girl being two unusual ones.

In fact, I'm a little worried (always a little worried, Dan) as I've been reading Camus' collected works (donated by a fellow Sociopath to the Educate-Grilly cause) and the Outsider has disturbed me unduly; especially as I'm following it with Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading which picks up where Outsider leaves off. The Outsider deals with a man not living up to the norms of society, the expectations of society in the face of moral events (the death of his mother, his eventual murder of an Arab) and how society treats one who will not react correctly (I'll clue you in - the trial isn't what you would call favourable.) Beheading picks up with a man waiting in prison, in anticipation of an imminent execution that never comes; as we all are is the immediate cod-philosophical response. I'm only a page or two into it, but the writing style is pleasingly experimental and similarly disturbing - there's something of Lolita in it, more of The Trial of Joseph K.
Paul Wolfowitz hosts Ask the White House

Fascinating discussion pre-handover in Iraq.

jon, from huntington beach, ca writes:
I realize that Iraq is in control of a great deal of the government but why dont you catch the insurgents off-guard and turn full control over to Iraq now. What difference does a few days make? I have the feeling that they are planning some big attack on the 30th. Remove the significance of June 30th.

Let the Iraq deel with the insurgents starting right now.

Paul Wolfowitz
That’s an interesting idea. The terrorists work by surprising us and we need to think about what we can do to throw them off balance. But their real target is not so much a date as it is the new government. Saddam’s killers and Zarqawi’s terrorists are already ramping up their attacks.
Yahoo! News Photos - Powell Sings 'YMCA' at Asian Security Meet Colin Powell gets local with the Village people in Indonesia.
BBC NEWS | Programmes | From Our Own Correspondent | Singapore slings a little caution to the wind

Nice... one of my favourite bands The Tiger Lilies have been playing in totalitarian Singapore (a place where diners are politely informed that to order more than they can consume will be punished with a fine and importing chewing gum is illegal.) They sing songs about buggering, amongst other things, sheep, hamsters and jesus. Despite the vulgarity, this we call progress.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Thursday, July 01, 2004

FYI Mum's wedding was sugar-coated, more info on that later though. Tonight I eschewed the football and the drawn-out leaving do of my publisher in favour of nobler pursuits; I went to the theatre. Not through design, I'd hasten to add; simply free tickets available to Future employees, which a friend had nabbed. The play was fantasti; thought-provoking, mooving, energising and surreal by turns. The name is Man and Superman, by George Bernard Shaw, performed by the Peter Hall company, and it combines a typical (and, oh-so-enjoyable) battle of the sexes with the philosophy of nietzsche, an entire second act devoted to an extraneous what-if about Don Juan in hell, and comment on fin de siecle morals and what it is to be yesterday's progressive man turning into today's conservative, and how little it means in the face of the superman (which, in this case, I'd interpret as woman, in her gloriously manipulative forms; which isn't bigotry, but a theme of the play.)

Thursday, June 24, 2004

:::::: DANGERHERE ::::::: Football Humour, Opinions and Gaffes

Might as well keep in with the spirit of the times...
GovNet newsfeed: "The Mental Capacity Bill would, for the first time, ensure that people who lack capacity either through disability, mental illness, brain injury or illnesses such as dementia are placed at the heart of decision making."

Friday, June 18, 2004

Zero protection from nuclear code

In the depths of the cold war, one number stood between just anybody pushing the button and the President of the United states. That number was the nuclear keycode, and the number was an eight-digit code, which was

Straight Dope Staff Report: When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Drunkish. /should be asleep but have fantastic tales to regale all and sundry with. Well, not really. As far as it gets are tales about the unattended female orgasm relayed by Chrissy (who will regret them in the morning) and pooh-poohed by Kieron (who shall dine out on them for days to come, if you pardon the impression.)

Am left with niggling, relentless feeling I should be doing something with my life. Have feeling that games writing is not for me, is only a stop-gap wherein something is caught, and I am entangled; it should be a hobby for me, nothing more. But where does one who believes in nothing lay his working head? The place that produces the most eudaimonia, the msot lifelong benefit. I feel that this place is not for me, is not the place where I could find that. Perversely, here people are too keen, too enthusiastic about video games, as an art-form, as a subject worthy for academia (nothing IMO is worthy for academia except vapid forms that provoke deep thought; games, currently, are not this and nor do I think they should be.

Enough babble - to bed.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Now, this *is* worrying; wonder when I got like this? (Starts scratching self nervously - no, wait, that's ob-com. Starts, er, avoiding things?)

Disorder | Rating
Paranoid: Low
Schizoid: Moderate
Schizotypal: High
Antisocial: Moderate
Borderline: Low
Histrionic: Moderate
Narcissistic: Moderate
Avoidant: High
Dependent: Moderate
Obsessive-Compulsive: Low

URL of the test
URL for more info

Meanwhile, my Furi-Kuri personality test has me coming out as... Canti? The robot who does nothing? What sort of Narcissuississussiciss(Hell, I've forgotten how this word finishes)schizm is this?
i'm canti, who are you?
Which Furi Kuri (FLCL) Character Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Oh, bugger, there goes my brain. I really must stop playing so many computers games, and foaming at the mouth. Mildly worrying.
Ming the Merciless

When we say Merciless, that's in terms of relentlessly insane.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Missile Bases :: 20th Century Castles, Unique underground properties.

Could someone buy me a Titan 1 base, pretty please? Any sugar-daddies out there?

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Geek Test

I got 28.0% making me a total Geek. What will you get?
The Simulator - Garnet Hertz - 1997

Horrible, sickening, but not disgusting. Though I do want to eat a burger now. So badly.
The Ape of Thoth: A Thelemic Text Daemon

Beautiful gibberish. Read it for long enough, and it begins to make sense...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A Sound of Thunder - Ray Bradbury

Classic Old Skool Sci-Fi Short Story.
TOC FrameSet

The Mysteries of Machinery.
Road Squadron - Ship Reference

Star Wars Geeks Only

Monday, May 17, 2004

I love the coast of Europe from the sky. From here you can really see differences between the places (and the shocking similarities between most places.) Holland is like something from the mid-atlantic, some newly formed land with its rough fresh sands pouring into the channel and the north sea, and soft, flat clouds scudding quickly over. France and Germany are curiously similar in their make-up, patchwork countries, land stitched together artificially, like the countries themselves with their arbitrary boundaries crystallised after the wars. It's hard for me, and even more so for the many of my generation who weren't born with their nose in a book, to conceive of France and Germany being one continuous entity, or rather, one endless stretch of thousands of independent entities, counties, cities towns and villages, reducing right down to the households and the individuals inside. That's probably why it's so easy for me to accept a unified Europe; I know that the world used to be this way, but can't conceive of this so find it easy to fail to conceive of how it might be once Europe is united again. All these people moaning about their cultural exceptions and unique cultures; from up here they're all just white-limned coastlines and green-quilted fields.

That said, Denmark from above is fantastic, Roke come to life from A Wizard Of Earthsea. Great fluted swinging mills, satanism fled, no grist to them, pumping power to Copenhagen, massive trading ships low beneath cargo containers but close enough to touch, a boy and a snowman floating above the clouds, the diaspora of islands with cute silly roads running in ludicrous lines on the smallest promontary. There's even one that, threatened with erosion I presume has been surrounded with a sea wall... Ah, to sleep there for a while.


Good website idea - interesting suicides. Get people to make webcam movies of themselves dying. sky-diving without opening your parachute, deliberating lengthening your bungie cord, slow drowning, snow-bound death, etc, etc.

(Waits for applause - doesn't get it)

Well, okay then. I thought it was a good idea!

Saturday, May 01, 2004

No link, just a picture of a big robot the US military have built WITH TAXPAYERS' MONEY FOR NO GOOD PURPOSE. Maybe.

Check out The Royal Society in - To The Moon. A sober and meaningful explanation of an attempt by Pepys and Newton to organise a trip to the moon, way back in C17.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Thanks be to Toller for this:

Chuang YC, Lin TK, Lui CC, Chen SD, Chang CS.

Department of Neurology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung,
Taiwan, ROC.

We report a 41-year-old woman with complex reflex epilepsy in which seizures
were induced exclusively by the act of tooth brushing. All the attacks occurred
with a specific sensation of sexual arousal and orgasm-like euphoria that were
followed by a period of impairment of consciousness. Ictal EEG
demonstrated two events of epileptic seizure that were provoked after tooth
brushing for 38 and 14 seconds, respectively. The interictal EEG showed
epileptiform discharges over the right anterior temporal region and interictal
single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan showed relative
hypoperfusion in the uncus of right temporal lobe. Brain magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) revealed right hippocampal atrophy. We suggest that tooth-
brushing epilepsy, especially with sexual ictal manifestations, may provide
insight into the cerebral pathophysiology at the right temporolimbic structure.
Thanks to Mark Meredith, I'm now very, very disturbed…

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

BBC - End of Story Worth a shot

(Yawn!) says Deadlined Dan...

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I’ve had a stay in Santa Monica, I’m now in San Fran, and I’m starting to feel like I’ve bushwhacked by randy kangaroos. This trip is definitely a working trip for me, more than for any other hack out here; I’ve been kept busy every hour I’ve had awake, and the time I’m not interviewing or filuming, finds me sat in LAX or some other godforsaken airport being endlessly checked, having to unpack my bags, take off my boots sign more forms than , and then either run for my plane or wait many, many hours for it. I saw Vegas for a day, had a half-hour stroll on Santa Monica’s beachfront and pier, but beyond that I’ve had no respite. Grind, grind and indeed grind.

Each night I find myself in hotel rooms which are spectacularly gorgeous and cost hundreds of dollars a night, which I can’t appreciate because I’m too knackered. Each morning I wake up at five, jet-lagged to mother mary, more tired than the day before. On top of that, all the footage I’ve taken is useless as I’ve just found that the camera guy neglected to give me a microphone for the camera. Arse. So every piece is dead-silent developers mouthing to themselves in some parody of a silent movie. And now I’ve got to write four pages on what I’ve seen so far. Games that is, not airport interiors.