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.)