Friday, December 30, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | Charlie Brooker: Supposing ... Video games taught me something useful

Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | Charlie Brooker: Supposing ... Video games taught me something useful

Uh... oh.... nah...
(Thanks Toll)

Sorry about no updates - was in bootiful snowy Derbyshireville with no mobile phone or internet access. Huzzah!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cute Overload! ;)

Cute Overload! ;)

What can you say? Probably the cutest site on the internet, postiively vomitworthy.

SNB BNS Banknotes: New banknotes project

SNB BNS Banknotes: New banknotes project

From Boing Boing - a virus, a skull, the human nervous system and the AIDs virus all feature on the new Swiss banknotes.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Essential Ghoul's Record Shelf: CRISWELL PREDICTS | mae west

The Essential Ghoul's Record Shelf: CRISWELL PREDICTS | mae west

Following up on Kong! I've been listening to the rest of Dr Mysterian's archive and reading his potted histories of the genesis of each of these truly weird and morbid songs. The first of them is a nutsoid Mae West singing about a psychic she once knew; why not start from here?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Life Update (for those who care.)

Ah, the stench of that dark cloud hung over us yesterday as we all trudged home from work, feeling like we were fleeing the Martians (H.G. Wells' original Martians that is, not whatever spitworthy mass media Martians were conjured up for the movie.) My trudge had a little more bounce in it, despite the miasmic inhalations, because I'd had a damn fine weekend. I'd seen my dad against the wishes of my step-mum apparently and we'd had a great time, then met up with some other friends for a 360 LAN (Perfect Dark Zero multiplayer proving a surprise hit), then got drunk with Toller, Penny and the delightful Elly in Putney and finally got lost in Camberwell... Sunday I saw John Stewart (an unfortunately expensive and tedious reading of the Daily Show book), wrote a review of Condemned for Metal Hammer and didn't have to go to the office. For the first time in weeks. How could it get better?

Well, I interviewed Graham Linehan yesterday, the writer (with Arthur Matthews) of Father Ted, in his studio where he's cutting his new sitcom The I.T. Crowd. Meeting one of your life's heroes and finding that he's exactly as down-to-earth and pensive as you hoped he would be (and also a gamer, hence the interview). (His wife was also surprisingly gorgeous.) Pity Ted himself is no longer around, though the IT crowd manages to maintain that "weird-leading-the-weird" sense of humour of Big Train, Black Books and Ted.

I also managed to complete Condemned last night; possibly the most brutal and nasty game I've ever had the fortune to come across, it's also tightly plotted, challenging and addictive, with one of the best end sequences to a game since Monkey Island 2. It makes me want to go back and play it again, even though I know it would be boring as hell, just to unlock the other elements of the plot.


Oh, yes, before I forget Chris Warr, a man of unparalled esteem, came up with a wonderful neologism; Kroney, for a lady who from behind looks 16 but from the front looks 64. (Kronenberg 1664 being the link to Crone.)


Absolutely excellent Kong song from The Essential Ghoul's Record Shelf. Worth a download just to hear the inexplicable shouts of Kemo Sabe Kong!

(Via Boing Boing)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lock Out

Yes, I got locked out again. I got back to my flat at 11p.m. after working late and explicitly refusing to go to the pub cos I wanted an early night, to find that my landlord, bless his ozzie socks, had been in to show the flat to a surveyor for remortgaging and locked the door with a key I didn't have. Rob had the key, but he was in Qatar. So I yelled and cried for a bit, then rang the landlord, let's call him Owen (cos that's his name) and found out he was in Paddington but very drunk, so I got back on the bus to ealing broadway, picked up some dinner at the chippy, got on a train back to paddington, and by only 12.30 I was picking up the keys from sozzled Owen, and refusing a drink for the tenth time. Then the last train back to Broadway got delayed and delayed, then when I got back to Ealing the buses didn't turn up, so I started walking at which point three (really three!) drove past me, then I got into the flat, sat down for a second, put my head against the pillow, saw the time, and thought about getting ready for work...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Grill of Babylon

Woo! I'm doing Metal Hammer's game reviews section jointly with young MasterGillen (no not that one), for this month anyway. We need to come up with a name for ourselves though - they rejected Gril N' Gil for sounding fay. Which is fair for a metal magazine...

Anyway, I've been forced to put a bit of blog up elsewhere, for the magazine. It's rough but it's up on However, you'll notice (having immediately clicked on that link in your frenzied hunger to consume more of my ouevre - which I think means egg) that you need a log-in code for that link. If you're really all that interested, mail me and I'll try and find you one...

Oh, and a friend of a friend died suddenly in the gym about a week ago - 27 I think he was. He'd never looked healthy, but he was actually fit enough he must have just pushed himself too far. No more exercise for me then!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Game X

I’d just like to point out I *HATE* Franchise X. Really, really it’s the Pits. It’s the epitome of unthinking franchises, designed to eke yet more money out of us, without risking anything, appealing to our basest instincts, sex and conservatism (it’s been around for a long time). The games companies do *so* well with this OUTRAGEOUS MEDIOCRITY that they have no need to panic until their profits sink an iota below their spectacular projections. At which point they’re normally bought out by someone even more mediocre (lowest common denominator games being oddly attractive to investment bankers.)

The ethics of this are convoluted. I have a moral obligation to bring my concerns about this pile of twaddle to our readers, however I also have a moral obligation to give this the benefit of the doubt (inherited from some diseased Romano-Christian mentality), assuming it may improve between now and release (which I know it won't, seeing such failure of imagination that can only indicate poor, broken developers working for money rather passion, driven by the financial whips of gravy-chinned higher-ups.)

Rather than giving it the pre-emptive kicking that it deserves, which an alternative morality says thickens and hardens it, making it a stronger, more resilient game as it responds to the criticism (inherited from the Judeo-Arabic morality, perhaps) I have to grin like a fox eating shit off a wire brush and dissemble to myself that it might show promise. Also, if I kicked it, it's likely that they'd pay no attention anyhow, as they've their deadlines to hit and my comments are too far down the production cycle to matter (let alone being insignificant to them) *and* it's likely my magazine would never be allowed near it when it came to review, so there's an element of selfishness here. Ah, the good ol' days on Format, where no-one cared what you wrote...

Phew. Hope that’s out of my system. Now to writing the big positive preview… (yes, on my weekend - don't you just love working on four separate issues in the same month? No, me neither.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


On the game

London’s rich, saturated with events, fascinating people, ringing phones, history and more tosh like that. There’s not enough life in a person to do it all, which is why it’s worth doing none of it.

Edit: And that's what happens when you use blogger to make diary notes, boys and girls. Sorry!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Face Off

Scientists show we’ve been losing face for 10,000 years - Newspaper Edition - Times Online: "The human face is shrinking. Research into people’s appearance over the past 10,000 years has found that our ancestors’ heads and faces were up to 30% larger than now.

“Many men then would have had the shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s head while women might have looked more like Camilla [the Duchess of Cornwall]. By contrast, Tony Blair and George Bush are good examples of the more delicate modern form.”"

Us throwbacks have a genetic base then, with our lantern jaws, ill-fitting teeth and heavy brow-ridges. At least it's reassuring to know (as the article says) indicates that they can't attribute a reason to why the cranial vault has grown and the face has shrunk; that to me is a signifcant failure of imagination. The decreased solidity of the human face could be explained by a reduction in the need for defense, by the increased importance of voice in communication, by a slow degeneracy into pygmies, by a slow rise into sylphlike aliens, or any other arbitrary position you care to take. Having said that, perhaps they've considered this and made a deliberate effort not to judge what the cause is, as there's so much evidence for every theory...

Edit: Or perhaps rather than rising into aliens, we've come from them. The Website at The End of the Universe points to the theory that we portray aliens as short on physical features because of the way newborns perceive their parents, as a prototypical human face. Why are all our physical features being eroded into this odd abhuman conformity? I'm sure one-time football commentator David Icke has an opinion on this...

In other news... I unexpectedly got given the day off today, so I lazed in bed until 1 p.m. reading Grendel by John Gardner. A nice short book, about Beowulf's foe, the monster Grendel. With a nihilistic dragon, an animalistic mother and the structuralist humans endlessly encroaching and growing, Grendel is brought across as a casually violent existentialist, wanting to believe man's myth-making but crippled by their initially hostile reaction to him and his fundamental loneliness. I've a feeling it'll bear endless re-reading (especially if you're an ex-english student made to study Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon, I suspect.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Blowing Dust?

Local London Forecast - Blowing Dust.

Blowing Dust? What the hell does that mean? Shouldn't it say Cloudy or Overcast? Anthropomorphised particulates sounds creepily post-apocalyptic; I wonder if I'm going to get warnings about;

'Decreasing fallout levels; cephalomutant activity is likely to increase in your area. Do *not* open your bunker door, not even if they make noises like your long-dead puppy. Check your seals."

AGH! That's just reminded me I've not fed my Nintendogs for a week! (Hoperfully, they'll have run away by now so I can stop worrying.) - Sign up to hear from your MP about local issues, and to discuss them with other constituents - Sign up to hear from your MP about local issues, and to discuss them with other constituents: "“So, the voting is over. The politicians vanish to Westminster, and everything carries on as before, right?”

Wrong. Between elections the internet is really starting to challenge politics as usual. As part of this change, we'd like to put you in touch with your new MP. Not for a specific purpose, but in order to hear what they're working on, to debate their thoughts in a safe, friendly environment, and generally to build better, more useful relationships between constituents and their MPs.

If you enter your details, we'll add you to a queue of other people in your constituency. When enough have signed up, your MP will get sent an email. It'll say “20 of your constituents would like to hear what you're up to – hit reply to let them know”. If they don't reply, nothing will happen, until they get an email which says there are now 100 people; 200 people; 500 people – until it is nonsensical not to reply and start talking.

When your MP replies, it won't be one-way spam, and it won't be an inbox-filling free-for-all. Instead, each email will have a link at the bottom, which will take you straight to a forum where the first post will contain the MP's email. There'll be no tiresome login – you can just start talking about what they've said. Safe, easy and democratic."

A good idea - sign up please!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jeff Minter Speaks!

Xbox 360 Movie Player

I interviewed the llama-crazed visualisation genius Jeff Minter a few months ago; the first half of the interview was on our first cover-disc, the second half is available here on our website. Tis a pity they cut out him shouting 'Vindaloo' at the camera and a lot of what he says is bleeped out, especially towards the end. I apologise for the welsh speakers in the background as well.

Friday, November 18, 2005


(Frequently Used Profanities.)

Mine are "Piss N' Blood", "Arsebandit", "Fucktarts" and "Kant". What are yours?

(This is actually a dead clever way of increasing my hits by using obscene language; I get enough of the "sexy gril" hits anyway...)

NPR : 'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

'My Lobotomy': Howard Dully's Journey

Another fantastic link from Jonty, about the psychiatrist Walter Freeman and his rapid ice-pick lobotomies. Curiously, I think my grand-uncle was given a lobotomy many years ago, but it's one of those topics that my family refuses to talk about. (And considering most lobotomies require familial consent, who can blame them?)

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I know I never link to game industry stuff, as it's mostly indulgent tosh (I should ahve prefaced this with Dear Dairy myself, perhaps) but Ralph Koster's Piece on game design here is just very well done. He probably says about one original thing in there, but it's a doozy.

All About Me

I feel like I've not slept in days. I'm subsisting on booze and junk food. My flesh swells, cotton candy floss brushes against the back of my eyeballs, I just want to have some time off, and spend it wisely (if I can remember a way of doing that.)

We got the second issue out, it came back and it's good, pretty, high-quality, eminently superior to the first. Now we're on-line for two more in four weeks. Hence the blimping horror of work, as we rapidly near the end of the first. We reviewed the Xbox launch line-up in a week, some for this issue, some for next, some for the last, now there's very little left to look at but we've got to grind and grind to do the rest of the magazine. It's frustrating and difficult and the rumours of the xbox 360 missing its launch window, having less than 100,000 units in the UK and so on, hardly help.

So I go out at nights and I get drunk with people from the industry, as it's like being asleep but fluffier, then I get home, flash myself into bed, and am back, groggy, in the office seconds later. And it happens every day, and it'll likely happen every weekend. I had an anxiety dream last night about fleeing to Bath on the bus, and losing my stuff as I travelled due to overtiredness, my boots on one bus, my coat on another, my bags the next, chasing after the diverging buses and worrying about my boss chasing me to get into the office, as it's nearing 1.00p.m. and I've missed nearly a whole half day...

A *whole* half day. The thought of spending that out of the office makes me stressed?

Why *do* people want to do this job?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


From Jonty. An office worker struggles to cope with working; the final episode to the tune of Radiohead's Creep is particularly special.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Griliopoulos's User Page -

Griliopoulos's User Page -

I've just installed this on my computer; a piece of music preference tracking software that uploads its results to the interweb. It's been around for ages, but the combination of a small, easy-to-use radio player and a tracking plug-in for almost any media player means I can finally work out where my musical tastes tend (I've always listened to anthing M.O.R., or at least anything with a depressive/manic edge.)

I seriously dream of the day where every computer I sit down at will track my preferences, allowing me to access all my information without having to do anything; I may have to set up a USB key with a proprietary version of mobile Firefox to do this.


Reading Gore Vidal's great historical potboiler Julian (I suspect this is a repeat reading, though I may be confusing it with Count Belisarius by Robert Graves) I'm puzzled about Eunuchs. Yes, castration can retain a good voice and guarantees that the recipient won't fuck around / think about his genetic legacy as he has none. However, this doesn't explain why they predominated in bureaucracy, particularly senior bureaucracy, when they, over millenia (Assyria, Media, Persia, Greece), proved themselves as corrupt/acquisitive as their sexed counterparts; indeed, often they retained their sex drive. Either they were self-perpetuating or castration provides other significant advantages methinks.

Today in the oh-so-fantastic Berliner/Guardian I find that there are significant mental changes when one hits puberty. This is to be expected. Yet they are significant /crippling/ mental changes. "It is possible that brain reorganisation that occurs at the onset of puberty also accounts for this educational dip, as well as the social challenges of adjusting to a larger school and a new learning environment" according to Dr Sarah-Jane (Yes, not Colin animal-rights fascists) Blakemore. I wonder if the castrate is able to avoid this dip? I wonder what other advantages the lack of hormones conveys? I wonder why the hell I'm thinking about this at 1.00a.m. on a friday night...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wired 13.11: The Mystery of the Green Menace

Wired 13.11: The Mystery of the Green Menace: "One of the ingredients is thujone, a compound in wormwood that is toxic if it's ingested, capable of causing violent seizures and kidney failure. Breaux hands me a bottle of pure liquid thujone. 'Take a whiff,' he says with an evil grin. I recoil at the odor - it's like menthol laced with napalm. This is the noxious chemical compound responsible for absinthe's bad reputation. The question that's been debated for years is, Just how much thujone is there in absinthe?"

Apparently, many absinthe's have just 5 parts per million - that's close to homeopathic levels. I really do worry about my kidneys after that new cocktail we made at the weekend. I think it was absinthe, chocolate liquer, cointreau, chilli vodka and ice, accompanied by Terence's Special Cigarettes.

No wonder I feel like shite today.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Books / Liberal Indoctrination.

This has been sat on my desktop for some time now, so I'd better get it out. Books are my life. I feel depressed and hungry when I can't read, I lose my sense of self when I'm not defining it in relation to a piece of literature. My primary horror in life is book burning and the destruction or repression of viewpoints and knowledge; I believe my first post on this blog, three years ago, referenced Rousseau's comment on the sacking of the Great Library at Alexandria about the acceptability of the destruction of 'wrong' opinion. I couldn't agree with him less. To steal a quote from John Stuart Mill from the American Library Association. "“But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” — On Liberty. Which is why the ALA's list of banned books (they have the fantastic "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, which was banned for nudity and offensive language, the exceptional "Flowers for Algernon" and "Of Mice and "Men (an UK high school text) up there!) and their recommendations on action is such fascinating reading and why several of those are now on my Amazon Wish List. (In case anyone fancies helping the cause ;) )

Anyway, for those of us who share the internal diktat to spread opinion/knowledge and also deem ommissions to carry as much ethical weight as acts, the failure to promulgate a variety of knowledge is immoral. Which is why the limited selection of texts on the THE FIFTY TWENTIETH-CENTURY WORKS MOST CITED IN THE ARTS & HUMANITIES CITATION INDEX, 1976-1983 is particularly interesting. Oddly, James Joyce is the only author to be regularly cited (perhaps because of the technical, experimental nature of his writing; I don't find it enjoyable, but I do find it thought-provoking from a linguistic standpoint; he created many of the literary techniques that we take for granted nowadays, even if he didn't really know how to use them.) Mostly everything else is doubtless-worthy but dry-as-bones useless stuff that will generate more of the same without challenging. At least Wikibooks provides genuinely useful knowledge through communally created textbooks; I'm tempted towards the opinion that the UK's national curriculum should shift to using this (more for the lack of copyright and the fact that it's free, than the libertarian implications of having an open-source knowledge source.)

Anyway, several of my friends appear to be taking advantage of the Nanowrimo "Write a book in a month" challenge. Very noble; I would have joined in, had I remembered. Perhaps I still can, but for those who have I urge you; write something controversial, express an unknown viewpoint, find the places that sting those who would limit us and prick the pricks. If you're not going to do that, sign up to Librivox. Not everyone can read english or has the time; making audio books available to those, to the blind and the elderly is a good cause.

Fantasy Basketball Advice - Fantasy Basketball Cafe 2005

Fantasy Basketball Advice - Fantasy Basketball Cafe 2005: "There are two ways to define the phrase “Drafting with your eyes closed”. Number 1: Flushed with confidence, you breeze through every round, knowing that whoever you pick will turn out just magical, like a new-millennium, high-definition version of the original Dream Team, but with sexier shorts. And number 2: Slightly out of sorts following a party the night before that lasted until 5 am, you fall asleep at your laptop and miss the first three rounds of the most important draft of your career."

Aw... I really should have woken him up, but he looked so peaceful. And he wasn't talking about fecking VU for five minutes, so it was a nice break... :) (Sorry, Rob!)

Missus Miggin'se Olde Piee Shoppe

So it’s Sunday morning, and this is the fourth weekend I’ve slept Saturday night in my clothes. I’m sitting in the Olde Pie Shoppe in Maritime Greenwich, eating a hearty 10 a.m. breakfast of ‘meat’ pie, mushy peas, limpid mash and gravy. It’s the cheapest meal I’ve found in London at £2, so I’m enjoying the fact that I can waste the rest of the tenner on crap at the local flea Market. I’m the first customer of the day, understandably, and the staff are warming up to their usual banter.

“I can’t believe it’s Sunday again” whinges the shrivelled up old cocknette behind the counter. “It comes around so quick.” She’s said this every time I’ve been here. Like clockwork, the younger owner says, “It does. Wonder what the new boy’s going to be like?” Every Sunday I’ve been to this place, they have a new staff member in to learn the ropes, who disappears by the next weekend; obviously the mass of tourists descending on the pie shoppe (they’d put an extra ‘e’ on pie if they could away with it) traumatises the new workers every time.

Then the owner proceeds to explain his philosophy on life. “He/she should be here by now. There’s two types of people in this life; shirkers and workers.” At this point you expect a puritanical work ethic to spout, about grinding fingers to the bone or suchlike. But no… “Workers die at sixty, shirkers die at ninety. This place has been in my family since 1951.” Ah, so he’d rather not be working. Fair enough, man after my own heart.

By now I’ve scraped together my two scoops of liquid mash for long enough to get it in my mouth, nailed the pie in four forkfuls, and wolfed the mushy peas. Ready to slog home, shower and sleep. Now that’s getting ready for the working week.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Rant #124.23

I hit twenty-six last week and, suddenly, I feel old. Really, old, depressed and tired. “My skin’s losing its texture, I’m putting on weight”; the complaints are real, but the motivation behind them is a maudlin introspection. All the usual complaints of middle age stem from a fear of death, or at least a fear of not having achieved all that you could.

And I feel old, because of the young people in my industry. At least I should, as I met one just now who was only seventeen, but actually most of them are my age or older; I’m the bottom tier, and they’re all ageing with me. There’s something horrid about some of them as well, who see this career as a passport to better things, to fame and immortality; you know my thoughts on that (for those who don’t, avoid la peur.) I feel ambition to be filthy, especially ambition by the credulous, leery and stupid. I don’t mind justified ambition, the few people I meet (like the sparkling Leo Tan) who are ambitious and talented I respect and wish the best to. It's the mediocrities hauling themselves up by ambition in the absence of the talented that really get on my nerves.

Anyway, I could claim fame and fortune. I could self-promote. This week I've organised three (maybe more, we'll see) world-exclusive reviews of games that are going to make tens of millions of dollars for a console that's not even out yet. There's a bit of self-promotion. I couldn't care less though; I just want to get the job done, make a good magazine, write some bad puns and get back to my books and MMOs. (And, possibly, socialise a little). Is that too much to ask?

Oh, yes, I'll be playing City of Villains as either The Man-Bat or The Ludocrat, if anyone's interested.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Coolest Headshots

Coolest Headshots

NNDB is a big crock of nowt, but it has some of the best lists around.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I post up my short fiction on this blog here. It's been a long time since I wrote any, so I've bunged a piece up this morning. Perhaps I should migrate to Wordpress and take all these feeds and make a proper website...?

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Dead Parrot? (First Post)

Mr. Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting. Nothing to do with Avian Flu.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Mr. Praline: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting! Anyway, he died in quarantine, so it doesn't count as dying in England. No flu here, nooo sir.

Mr. Praline: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) 'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you
show... How about some nice cold cure? Lemsip? Chicken soup?!

Owner: No no! 'E's pining! Moreover, his death from Avian Flu doesn't invalidate the UK's pet shop license, because he died in Quarantine, which is a video game version of Taxi Driver.

Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

(A parrot died of Avian Flu in UK quarantine.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Shinning

Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle was the first of a genre, and still one of the most unassuming and best; the conditional history book, the speculative historical fiction. Dick's question was "what if the Germans and Japanese had won the war?" and he played it out with the Japanese and Germans coming to the edge of war over the perceived evil of the Germans, much like happened really after the war. Meanwhile in a high castle a man writes a book about "what if the americans had won the war?"

Other questions that spring to mind: What if Napoleon had won? What if Edison had been honest? What if The Shining had been a rom-com? Oh, there's an answer to that last one, and what a work of genius it is.

Heap of Trouble

Lawks. Fantastic short films from Zed include the indescribable glory of this "Heap of Trouble".

Friday, October 07, 2005

1st Ave Machine>View Media

(From Rossignol).

Lumme, that's amazing. Either someone's spent hours making thousands of remote controlled special effects, or bio-organic lifeforms are with us. I sincerely hope it's the latter.

Can we hurry up and live in the future now? Dammit, I want scientists meddling with our genetic code, I want implants and cyborg elements, I want plants with fricking thumbs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Voigt-Kampf Industries MODEL VK2016v1.5

Voigt-Kampf Industries MODEL VK2016v1.5

Neat-o. (Not Netto). A working Voight-Kampff tester. Well, working in that it makes the motions, shows your eye on the screen, the bellow work and so on. It still can't tell the difference between replicants and humans as there are no humans. I mean, replicants. Course I mean replicants, ho and indeed ho.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' - Britain - Times Online

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side' - Britain - Times Online: "The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so....

“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.””"

X-Prize man launches rocket race

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | X-Prize man launches rocket race: "Peter Diamandis, the man behind the $10m X-Prize for suborbital space travel, has brought forward his new initiative: the Rocket Racing League.

The RRL will see Grand Prix-style races between rocket planes, flown by top pilots through a '3D trackway' just 5,000ft (1,500m) above the ground."

Fantastic. I hope all the pilots are convicts flying for their chance at freedom. As long as some blond mormon kid doesn't get a surprise win and become Darth Vader, I'm all for this.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Will We Merge With Machines? - Popular Science

Will We Merge With Machines? - Popular Science:

"Telekinesis Tech
• • • 11 - 15 years
Researchers at Brown University and Cyberkinetics in Foxborough, Massachusetts, are devising brain implants that will enable us to communicate with machines. A microchip implanted in the motor cortex just beneath your skull will intercept nerve signals and reroute them to a computer, which will then wirelessly send the command to any of various electronic devices, including computers, stereos and electric wheelchairs."

An interesting article on the next generation of human-integrated technology, and how far off each piece is. More fantastical was Ray Kurzweil's article in this month's New Scientist, which pointed to the information singularity as key to Man 2.0. This is due in the next fifty years, when our (exponentially-increasing) ability to acquire, process and retain information reaches a critical point so that the collective 'we' understands pretty much everything about our world; his only fear is that government regulation will slow down our progress.

I'm reminded of those daft science books from the 1970s, which pointed to enormous egalitarian machines conducing to all our happiness and saving the planet. Our modern-day scientists are more realistic, yet still there is the oft-ignored question; "where's the profit?" Moreover, is the projected profit more than the profit from existing alternative investments? Because if it isn't, banks aren't going to put their money in and the project will remain a full-colour illustration in a kid's textbook.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

When The Weatherbot Says It's Raining...

It appears as though the arguments of linguists and philosophers are about to be answered, and that our language is to be regulated. I read in New Scientist that weathermen have been roundly condemned. A bit Wittgensteinian, but it appears that they were deriving entirely different conclusions from the same data. Apparently, their language was too fluffy, resulting in ‘morning’ varying from midnight to midday and evening taking up the whole afternoon and night, with conditions described in, well, cloudy language.

So big business, which needs accurate weather predictions to ensure the safety of its oil rigs (and their personnel, of course; there can be very expensive lawsuits if someone dies) stepped in, and now weather data is fed straight into a computer which has been programmed with a fixed syntax, meaning that morning, evening and so on are all decided and regulated. No more of “nones” varying with the dawn, now all our words must be scientifically defined. As a philosophy and economics student, I’m both happy and sad; we need concrete definitions for efficiency but we also need accuracy, which I worry about; as a writer I worry about the richness of language that is lost as the loose beauty of words is drawn down.

Find the Brownie - Journal

Find the Brownie - Journal: "Game objective

The objective of the game, as defined by NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, is to find an important government job occupied by a person with no apparent qualifications other than strong personal, political, or business ties to a member of the administration.

The game was inspired by the compliment that President Bush paid to Michael Brown, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a few days after Hurricane Katrina had hit New Orleans. After Bush said 'Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job', reporters focused on Brown and his complete lack of qualifications for the important job he held.

As the Katrina fiasco proved, unqualified political appointees constitute a grave threat to all Americans. This blog will try to find the hidden Brownies before they cause any more harm."

We really need one of these for Quangos over here...

Hello, I must be going!

Lawks. My hits have exploded to treble figures. Thank you Kieron! I must take advantage of this historic moment to win readers by posting yet more random shite and half-formed opinion.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cthulhu Round-up.

A Shoggoth on the Roof
"There are some things that man was not meant to adapt to musical theatre, and A Shoggoth on the Roof has long been regarded as a musical that cannot and must not be produced. Since 1979, every attempt to produce this monster of a musical has ended in disaster, horror, agony and madness. Yet in spite of this hellish track record, seldom does a month pass when the HPLHS doesn't hear from some intrepid band of thespians who think they have what it takes to put A Shoggoth on the Roof. Most are never heard from again. If you're crazy enough to consider the notion, we want to hear from you."

Yes, combining Fiddler on the Roof and Lovcraft's Cthuluian Mythos gives you... Shoggoth on the roof! (I always said Cthulu was Jewish anyway; It was the curly nine-dimensional, many-angled hair that gave it away...)

Edit: Better though, is this astounding Abba parody "Do you hear the pipes, Cthulhu?"

"Do you hear the pipes, Cthulhu?
They were being played by shoggoths on the shores of Carcosa
Can you hear our prayers, Cthulhu?
Deep in sunken R'lyeh waiting for the rightness of a star?
Where the Deep Ones worship Dagon, Mother Hydra in sea chambers built afar?"

Grab the MP3

Armed Dolphins Freed By Katrina?: Science Fiction in the News

Armed Dolphins Freed By Katrina?: Science Fiction in the News:
"Accident investigator Leo Sheridan, 72, said he had received intelligence from sources close to the US government's marine fisheries service confirming dolphins had escaped.

'My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,' he said."
Which of the following do you feel generally POSITIVE or OPTIMISTIC about at the moment? (Please tick all that apply)

Your health
- No exercise, fatty food and an environs polluted with fumes and long-term untested electromagnetic emissions of all sorts, spent in an entirely sedentary manner. Doomed.

Your relationships with family
- tick, though was speaking to my stepmum this morning and sounds like her and my dad may be splitting up (why they ever got together, I don't know. Completely incompatible, both mild sociopaths. Hmm. Maybe that's why.)

Your relationships with friends
- tick; everyone in London, Bath and elsewhere is lovely, even if they don't contact me enough.

Your love life - let's not go there, forumites might be reading...

Your work or work prospects (if you work or are looking for work) - tick; though the magazine isn't what I would like it to be yet, I don't feel my own contribution's been terrible.

Your financial situation - tick strangely not bad, until the crash comes and people stop caring about games/magazines/ the service sector, my three potential sources of revenue.

The way things are going in your neighbourhood - tick; hah, the roads are a mess, the people are scary, there's more poundsavers than pounds. London's great!

The way things are going in this country - England's not going downhill, it's just never been uphill. Hideous idiots proliferate at every level of society, creating stupid rules and maintaining aoutrageously bigotted laws. But at least we're not the US, eh?

The way things are going in the world - can anyone be optimistic when half the world is starving, and the other half is on the brink of collapse due to overreliance on a single resource? Jeez. I'd better start hordeing beans.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Closely Observed Trains

On the window of my morning commuter can; Emergency Exit. If there’s an emergency that necessitates using the window to exit, then I won’t really need it to be labelled as such in said situation. I’ll be too busy climbing over people’s limbs to check what’s been officially deemed an emergency exit and what hasn’t, won’t I?

Moreover, the Guardian sign above it advertising “new opportunities” was also a misnomer – it advertised social work, teaching, human resources. If, in my life, I’m looking for something new, surely it should defy categorisation?

Hmph. Curmudgeoning, me. Must have been the weekend. I was at the most cardboard-f**king-cutout wedding at the weekend - grannies dancing on their zimmers, the bride was blushing, little kids caused a ruckus, someone's nephew was DJing, the band played hallelujah... And all the girls were born-again Christians. Not that I would have made a move otherwise, anyway. At least the bride and groom seemed happy, though I felt like my whole day (and hence the weekend) was wasted, as we felt completely redundant.     

Friday, September 23, 2005

So meejar.

Hi dan
Thanks for the offer, and I will of cpourse be buying a 360 as soon as they
turn up on import, but I try to avoid doing interviews with press or mags if
I can because I think I always come across as a bit of a cunt.


>> From: Dan Griliopoulos
>> Date: Thu, 22 Sep 2005 16:03:54 +0100
>> To: Jonathan Ross
>> Subject: Preemptive Apologies
>> ...for emailing you like this, but I'm writing from the Official Xbox
>> 360 magazine (we sell more than GQ, just less than Esquire); we'd like
>> to interview you because we know you're a big gamer (and, obviously, an
>> exemplary member of the human species.)
>> It would be a quick interview, we could do it over email or
>> face-to-face, it would be three pages in the magazine with photos, and
>> we'd incentivise you by giving you an Xbox 360. Would you be interested
>> in that?
>> Cheers,
>> Dan

I'm so meejar, darhlink.

Space Marine Cosplay

Space Marine Cosplay

Monday, September 19, 2005



An astounding little flash site, that links together all the directors of companies, their companies and several informative websites. Truly a work of genius. (Taken from Kottke.)

Color Code: A Color Portrait of the English Language

"The artwork is an interactive map of more than 33,000 words. Each word has been assigned a color based on the average color of images found by a search engine. The words are then grouped by meaning. The resulting patterns form an atlas of our lexicon."

And black is a muddy pink and white is beige and color is also a muddy green... and it's not just me being colour-blind!

Friday, September 16, 2005

CBBC Newsround | Sci/Tech | Tongue-eating bug found in fish

CBBC Newsround | Sci/Tech | Tongue-eating bug found in fish

(Don't ask why I'm reading newsround.)

BrUnO BoZzEttO - Neuro

BrUnO BoZzEttO - Neuro

Aw, sweet. A nice little flash animation for a friday afternoon. Gamers meanwhile should check out the Bone demo or this nice viral minigame...

Or if you just like Ninja Cats...

As chip speeds max out, where next?

"But if you're planning to send a computer on, say, a 10-year mission into deep space, then you need more staying power. The best option used to be to send lots of spare processors and cross your fingers. As your probe flew silently through the night, you would dream about chips that could fix themselves.

It's not crazy. A type of processor called a field programmable gate array really can recover on the fly. Invented in 1984, FPGAs don't have hardwired patterns of circuits. Instead, their wiring runs through programmable intersections called logic blocks. They're slower than ordinary chips, and until recently their high cost limited their application to rapid prototyping of chip layouts. But advances in fabrication are finally lowering the price."

The Voyager and Viking probes used a unique chip (RCA's 1802) consisting of silicon mounted on sapphire, to 'harden' it against the extremes of temperature, electrostatic discharge and radiation to be found in the vacuum. This chip has been running since the 1970s and will keep running until around 2020, when its power will fail. Why bother having self-repairing chips, when you can have ones that are reliable (rather than our weak, cheaply manufactured commercial products.)

Moreover, space, because of its inhospitality, is a place where we can try out all those strange techniques that won't work anywhere else. What are the chances of something shorting or air oxidising the parts? Small, with a vacuum when you've got a truly closed circuit. With a temperature approaching absolute zero, all those superconductive materials our scientists develop in the labs (but will work nowhere else) should work perfectly. All our computers should be in space!

Sorry, I don't know why I'm writing about this, but I find it fascinating. I'd also like to emphasise how much I want to visit Mars.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide!

Stolen straight from Fafblog.

Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.: "Fafblog Presents: The Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide!

If you're gettin worried that the government won't be there to help you out durin the next hurricane or earthquake or terrorist attack, don't panic! Fafblog is here with our Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide! Today we're gonna show you how to get through a major disaster just usin stuff you've got lyin around the home.

You will need:

# construction paper
# glue or glue sticks
# a can of baking soda
# some play-doh (optional)
# 200 gallons of distilled water and 100 pounds of canned food

Make-And-Bake Clay Levee!

Make flood prevention easy AND fun with this emergency arts and crafts project!

1. Mix some cornstarch, baking soda, and water in a large bowl. Make sure it's evenly mixed!
2. Cook over low heat, stirring for about 15 minutes
3. When your mixture starts to thicken, take it off the stove and let it cool
4. Mold into an 8 foot high 20 foot wide levee
5. Decorate with seashells and macaroni!

How to Make a Paper Helicopter

For a quick homemade evacuation you just can't beat a paper helicopter. Make one on your own with the ancient Japanese folding art of oragami! Instructional drawings below. Follow closely!

Ta-da! For best results crease edges sharply. Carries up to four passengers weighing half an ounce each or eight passengers weighing a quarter ounce each.

Do-It-Yourself National Guard!

First get some old socks. Sew on some buttons for the eyes. Use yarn for the hair but keep it trimmed short on accounta disipline! Add some felt uniforms for a touch a flair. The striped sock is the sergeant, he is gruff but loyal. The fancy dress sock is the general, he commands the others with his fabricky leadership skills! The white running sock is the medic, he doubles as a bandage when you get hit by falling rubble. Now you're all set to be escorted out of the disaster zone with your new puppet pals! Be careful, though: they're armed... with imagination."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Making Light: Folksongs Are Your Friends

Making Light: Folksongs Are Your Friends
Things I’ve learned from British folk ballads

Don’t ignore warnings. If someone tells you to beware of Long Lankin, friggin’ beware of him. If someone tells you not to go by Carterhaugh, stay away. Same goes for your mother asking you not to go out hunting on a particular day. Portents about weather, particularly when delivered by an old sailor who is not currently chatting up a country maid, are always worth heeding.

If someone says that he’s planning to kill you, believe him.

If someone says he’s going to die, believe him.

Avoid navigable waterways. Don’t let yourself be talked into going down by the wild rippling water, the wan water, the salt sea shore, the strand, the lowlands low, the Burning Thames, and any area where the grass grows green on the banks of some pool. Cliffs overlooking navigable waterways aren’t safe either.

Broom, as in the plant, should be given a wide berth.

Stay away from the greenwood side, too.

Avoid situations where the obvious rhyme-word is “maidenhead.”

If you look at the calendar and discover it’s May, stay home.

The flowing bowl is best quaffed at home. Don’t drink with strangers. Don’t drink alone. Don’t toss the cups or pass the jar about in bars where you haven’t arranged to keep a tab. Drinks of unusual or uncertain provenance should be viewed askance, especially if you’re offered them by charming members of the opposite sex. Finally, never get drunk and pass out in a bar called the “Cape Horn.”

Members of press gangs seldom tell the truth. Recruiting sergeants will fib to you shamelessly. They are not your friends, even if they’re buying the drinks. Especially when they’re buying the drinks.

If you’re drinking toasts, mention your One True Love early and often.

If you’re a young lady, dressing yourself in men’s array and joining the army or the navy has all sorts of comic possibilities, but you yourself aren’t going to find it too darned humorous at the time.

If you are an unmarried lady and have sex, you will get pregnant. No good will come of it."

And so on. Quality stuff.

Football Season Is Over - Hunter S. Thompson note reveals despair - Sep 8, 2005: "'No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt.'"

The note entitled "Football Season Is Over" that Hunter S. Thompson left his wife, shortly before he committed suicide. From Warren Elli's blog, as is

Thursday, September 08, 2005

All Hallow's Eve 2004

Kieron Gillen’s Workblog Halloween 2004

Cor I forgot about this; I went as "The Ghost of Harry Hill". I don't remember much beyond drunken stumbling and my friend Terence, my friend Emma and myself having to be woken up after his weed proved stronger than we could have possibly imagined.

First Post!

:: The First Post ::

Despite it's oddly l337 name, this is a definitive website offering multiple perspectives on politics, society and so on, just like but in readable chunks. Check out David Copperfield's contribution on policing in the UK for an example.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Warning For Today.

Groundbreaking Research Sheds Light on Ancient Mystery
"A researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology is unraveling a mystery surrounding Easter Island. William Basener, assistant professor of mathematics, has created the first mathematical formula to accurately model the island’s monumental societal collapse.

Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the small, remote island, 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, was inhabited by over 10,000 people and had a relatively sophisticated and technologically advanced society. During this time, inhabitants used large boats for fishing and navigation, constructed numerous buildings and built many of the large statues, known as Tiki Gods, for which the island is now best known. However, by the late 18th century, when European explorers first discovered the island, the population had dropped to 2,000 and islanders were living in near primitive conditions, with almost all elements of the previous society completely wiped out.

“The reasons behind the Easter Island population crash are complex but do stem from the fact that the inhabitants eventually ran out of finite resources, including food and building materials, causing a massive famine and the collapse of their society,” Basener says. “Unfortunately, none of the current mathematical models used to study population development predict this sort of growth and quick decay in human communities.”"

So Easter island ran out of wood and died. We also think that the Mayan civilisation ran out of clean drinking water and died of disease. Heavy reliance on single resources can lead to the extinction of thriving civilisations; our single resource is oil.

(EDIT) I've just remember that Larry Niven's Ringworld (which I read a couple of weeks ago) has a similar conclusion; the fantastic civilisation of the Ringworld becomes derelict after the people living there 'forget' (i.e. the systems become so automated no-one understands the complete process) how to manipulate atoms cheaply, meaning as soon as the vital component supplying power to the ringworld fails, everything collapses at once. A good metaphor for oil, if pure space-opera.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Uncyclopedia / Wikipaedia.


Uncyclopedia / Wikipedia definition flamewar! Who wins?

Uncyclopedia, which aims to be the "encyclopedia of politically incorrect non-information", is a parody of Wikipedia, although Uncyclopedia claims the reverse.

Wikipedia (also spelt "Wikipaedia" and sometimes they get all snooty and use one of these things, "æ" like this:"Wikipædia") is a dangerous parody of Uncyclopedia, the online encyclopedia written by Oscar Wilde.

Uncyclopedia entries often are nonsensical, with little or no resemblance to reality. For example, the Algorithm entry from Uncyclopedia claims that algorithm is a term for "Al Gore getting his groove on." The Al Gore entry states that it is currently unavailable, and suggests that Al Gore might need to re-invent the Internet.

In contrast to Uncyclopedia, which strives to be as fractious as possible, Wikipedia entries occasionally reach consensus, and range from nonsensical to biased to subversive, with little or no resemblance to the truth. However, because of its parodic nature, some people find it informative as it reveals at least something about how people think about certain topics, albeit in an ironic sense.

Uncyclopedia wins! It has better pictures!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Not enough time to say all that I've done in the last couple of weeks, without boring so... impressionistic summary coming up - realists duck n' cover!

New game in London town - trying to spot plainclothes officers. Personally, I tend to go for any largish man or chubby woman either walking in circles or standing still. Symbols of a burgeoning police state - how do you spot yours?
Meanwhile, the game called Planescape Torment has filled my life. I hunger for it, for the outlandish discoveries in it; the street that gives birth, the angel trapped in a seven-circled pit, the insane and immortals wandering through marketplaces. I keep seeing stuff in the big city that reminds me totally of it - hawkers on street corners screaming apocalyptic shite, weirdly attired groups of small people (Chinese, admittedly), and just a whole collection of seemingly innocuous outsiders - you want to grab the nearest plainclothes and shout "look, them, they're aliens, demons!" but they'd probably turn out to be a clinical health worker or something.
Despite Ealing's reputation as a nice place, I had cause to ring the police. Fighting in the street. Two middle-aged men, one fat, shaven-headed, black-clad like a snooker-player, trying to do kung-fu on a fleeing drunken offender. Like all of London, the streets here switch from posh to rundown at a metronome beat.
Met old childlike uni friend Priya et pals at Regent's park festival sponsored by expensive fruit mush. Was "token white guy". Lovely buncha people, terribly expensive overmarketed drink for kids.
Sometime's everythings new for me. I regard the world as a staring child, fascinated by all things, slow to grow, quick to communicate. Every book I read has emotional annotations - was reading Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story collection "Seance", and there's a character in there, a slovenly man (all Singer's characters are jewish, before you take note) whose only love is his pet parrot and who murders his wife when she lets it go; the blank-eyed equanimity with which he relays that reminds me of certain clinical psychopaths I know. I ring them, but they're out...
Went to Jeff Minter's place in Wales (Pengawr, near Camrthen I think). He keeps llamas, pygmy goats, mountain sheep and Jacob's sheep. There is no record of Jacob loaning him said sheep. He lives on vindaloo and said farm with Giles, his Italian partner (in work and love, I think) both of whom sport manly hair, beards. We played Neon, went for curry, played Robotron, I went home. I never mentioned my extreme allergy to hairy animals (not sure if Jeff and Giles included) so almost died of coughing, sneezing and wheezing on way back.

More to come...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Literary Baton

Books owned: Four bin bags and three man-sized trunks full. Which I guess probably comes to a good few hundred. Notably, I’ve read the great majority of them.
Last book purchased: The Séance by Isaac Bashevis Singer from the Oxfam book shop in my new home town of Ealing Broadway. Exceptionally good Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) literature, full of dybbuks and moyels, but also extending as far Ashkenazi in New York. Half my fiction comes from charity shops, the rest at full price from Amazon or Waterstones.
Book reading right now: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon. As described earlier in the blog.
Books that mean a lot to me:
A Cauldron of Spells by McEachren. Given me by my dad, this is a book of quotations great for reading out. Some of them are astounding pieces of classical poetry, some are just doggerel. I always remember “Come to our well-run desert, Where anguish arrives by cable, And the deadly sins, May be bought in tins, With instructions on the label”. Apparently, I’ve just found out it was by Auden; my respect for him increases daily. The first verse, which I’d never read before tonight is “Come to our bracing desert, Where eternity is eventful, For the weather-glass Is set at Alas, The thermometer at Resentful” from ‘For the Time Being, WH Auden’
Germinal by Emile Zola. A very slow, very clever book that looks at the horrors of capitalism through the prism of a mining community, its owners and the market, whilst interesting you in the characters as well. Nobody is outright evil, just constrained by their expectations of what the system should bring and the utter desolation and poverty for all concerned that any attempts to change the system result in. The film with Gerard Depardieu isn’t half bad either.
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. Fantastic, well-written piece of high-modern theatre that showed a generation how a person with a charisma and brain can get away with just about anything, and make some money on the side too. Or at least that’s one lesson you could learn from it. Mmm, I appear to love sociopaths and social hounds. Curiouser and Curiouser.
Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino. I could have picked any of Calvino’s books, I love nearly all of them. Mr Palomar is perfectly introverted, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler is perfectly intimate, Invisible Cities is a great flourish of his imagination… but Difficult Loves is dear to my heart because of the absolute empathy Calvino generates with spare, unflourished language for his protagonists, ranging from the short-sighted lover to the lady who loses her bikini bottoms while swimming. Touching mouthfuls of romanticism.

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton:
Lil Grill
No Longer Mad Iain.

Oh, and on a non-literary note: whoever’s got my copies of the following, could they please, pretty-please, return them?
A Confederacy of Dunces
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S.
A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M Miller Jr.
Labyrinths (Borges)
All of my Calvino.
All of those Sci-Fi masterworks – there’s big holes on my shelf.

Musical Baton

Total volume of music files on my computer: My computer tells me that I’ve got 34GB, which is about 13,000 files (including all the crap that Windows XP deposits on it.) The RIAA will be breaking down my door in the next couple of hours…

The last CD I bought: I can’t remember buying a CD for years… Possibly bought one from Fopp in Bath – oh, yes, we won a cover prize in HMV vouchers and I bought The Best of Ralph McTell – I listen to it over and over.

Song playing right now:
California uber Alles by the Dead Kennedys. At work, on my speakers, loud. Sometimes I forget how good this job is.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
The War of the Worlds / Jeff Wayne (Yes, the whole damn album – and if whoever’s ‘borrowed’ it could give it me back, I’d appreciate it…
Dirty Old Town / Euan McColl
Always look on the bright side of life – Monty Python’s Life of Brian Soundtrack. (Sad, but true.)
The Big Light - Elvis Costello. (It was my "wake-up-from-hangover" song at university.)
The Intro & The Outro - Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. (Fantastic tune, which I perversely remember kissing my first proper girlfriend in time to.)

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton:
Lil Grill
No Longer Mad Iain.
Ben Talbot

(Cos they all need the hits.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Useless factoid #11724,9925

Some of those dolls that didn’t quite make it:

The Fag dolls
The Raggie Dolls
The tail that Wags the Dolls
The Living Dolls

I actually met all the U.K. frag dolls (a promotional gaming clan formed by Ubisoft) at a Ubisoft preview event out in the sticks a couple of weeks ago, and they all seemed genuinely interested in games (the first surprise) as well as being mostly friendly, open people (the second surprise) and cute as hell (not at all surprising.) I think the tall one called Eleanor was the sweetest, though I was impressed intellectually by the bottle-redhead Kate's knowledge of obscure Sci-Fi authors...

(EDIT) This is my 600th post! How cool/lonely am I?!
Useless factoid #11724,9924

Hulk Hogan's Hulkomaniac is exactly the same length as William Shatner's stonking Common People (4:40)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Tea Cemetery

TeaCemetery.jpg (JPEG Image, 832x426 pixels)

Some tastefully herby pictures, all featuring the divine brew.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Onion | Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory:

"KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held 'theory of gravity' is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

'Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down,' said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University."

No reason to put this up, other than I love pictures of the universe. I've just finished reading Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker, a truly unique piece of fiction (I'm not going to class it as Sci-Fi, because he didn't.) It was written in 1937 and, much like his other masterpiece First and Last Men, it has a conception that's truly mind-boggling, mainly in terms of time frame. Stapledon explores the history of the universe, flicking from himself standing on a hill in England to inconceivable ("You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.") journeys through space and time, right up to heat-death of the cosmos and, curiously, beyond. Every paragraph contains the necessary components for a full novel, reduced down with Stapldeon's spare language to haiku-like formulations.

It's all driven by a pantheist belief, much like Spinoza's, that everything is, in some sense, capable of consciousness and it's this belief that provides the dynamic and the twists of what can loosely be termed the book's plot. (It's the only book to have inculcated in me a feeling of empathy for a nebula as it's torn apart by the tumescences that would become stars.) Indeed Stapledon's other writings are philosophical tracts - he was a philosophy student and teacher tutor at Oxford and Liverpool for most of his life. This tract expresses a philosophy about how the universe could work using the most up-to-date scientific knowledge of the time so sparingly and logically that it still holds up today, and could easily have been an inspirational religion-founding tome in itself, were it not for its unapproachableness and slow pedantry. (Kicks the crap out of the loathesome Johnathon Livingstone Seagull anyway...) Pick it up, sure, but be prepared to be very slowly astounded.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Walken 2008 - Official Website:
'Our great country is in a terrible downward spiral. We're outsourcing jobs, bankrupting social security, and losing lives at war. We need to focus on what's important-- paying attention to our children, our citizens, our future. We need to think about improving our failing educational system, making better use of our resources, and helping to promote a stable, safe, and tolerant global society. It's time to be smart about our politics. It's time to get America back on track.'

Christopher Walken announces his intention to run for President in 2008. Arnie's got serious competition then...

Monday, August 08, 2005

I *love* my Bunny. Thanks be to Chi-chi!
Opus Table Football

Want one! WANT ONE NOW! The best table football table in the world... they will cast the faces of your friends and family as the footballers, and paint them and everything. Must cost thousands...

we make money not art: Strawberry milk sausages: "When I was a kid and too young to complain, my mum cooked us one of her specialities, les peches au thon: peaches fresh from the tin and 'filled' with tuna mayonnaise. It doesn't mean I'm ready to eat these sausages:

In a bid to boost declining sales of fish-meat sausages, Nippon Suisan Kaisha has come up with a flavor designed specifically to attract children -- strawberry milk."



That said, flashback tells me that I used to make a recipe called "Fried Toast" when I was a kid, which was bread soaked in egg, honey, lemon curd, and molasses and then rolled in brown sugar, before being fried. Very messy, but gorgeous.

Friday, August 05, 2005

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Art prankster sprays Israeli wall: "Secretive 'guerrilla' artist Banksy has decorated Israel's controversial West Bank barrier with satirical images of life on the other side."

He must have been saving that one up since 1989 and the Berlin wall...

The BOOK Spoiler

I need never read another page (though, obviously, I'm going to anyway.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Got locked out again on Wednesday. I’ve spent less time in my flat than I would’ve liked over the last month, mainly through being locked out, late nights drinking and trying to move stuff around. Absolutely shattered all the time – just want to lie down in the sun and have the grass grow over me.

In other news, I went and did karaoke last night and kinda enjoyed it. It’s the mutual back-slapping adulation I think rather than the singing itself, which I’m sure I’m awful at (though was mildly enjoyable). I’ve got no stage presence whatsoever. (Eugh. I just shut my eyes and the inside of my eyelids are like kaleidoscopes, all shifting tessellating patterns moving in time, with zooming rough rings of light. Makes me feel quite queasy, but absolutely hypnotic.) I sang The Penis Song

The place was weird though; an unsigned basement with a bar and a maze-like series of closed chambers, waited on by black-clad girls. The rooms themselves are intimate and small; there were twelve of us in one of the larger rooms, and we were squeezed into the padded seats. Terrifying to see Will Porter doing a version of Linkin Park’s big sweary song and was surprised to hear Ben Talbot singing with a fine voice (but then he comes from Wales, that land of close harmony singing and Tom Jones).

Also, chiarina knitted me a bunny! When I get my review PC back into the office, I’ll put some pictures up here. Meanwhile I’ll have to revert to the classic Cheston.
BBC NEWS | UK | 'Different shades' of Judaism:

"What I'm most proud of is that I've managed to combine being a rabbi with being a father. I've seen all my three sons survive being a rabbi's son."

Weird, I think this is my old school friend (I think friend; he was a very lonely guy) Yossi's dad.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Go, see, my little friends. (Cackles evilly.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005



Monday, August 01, 2005

Dream of cars - blur. cars, roads = symbol of independence. I want to walk, that sygnifies freedom to me, but trapped by encircling tarmac. Dream of day when world so wired never need to worry about escape more about what's in the place we're escaping to. Return to adventure, end of mollycoddling.

So. My flatmate got me some keys cut, so I didn't have to hide in the bushes until he got home anymore. Whichh was nice. Until I got steaming drunk friday night and got home to find they weren't our keys. After trying a few local locks in the spirit of Lord Lytton, I ended up sleeping on the landing, where one of new neighbours found me at 3a.m. and offered me a bed (inflatable).

The messages on my flatmate's ansaphone must have been enjoyable though ranging from the initial "the keys don't work" to the drunken "I'm sleeping rough, do give me a call." to the desperate "I've been picked up for vagrancy, I'm getting hung in the morning." and the final "ten minutes left until they stretch my neck, and you're my only phone call. Tell mother my last breakfast was kosher."

Then, then, I got up at eight, wandered off to Bath, gave away sofas and bookshelves (got locked out again, at which point a monkey-man with a t-shirt on saying "world's best dad" appeared and scrambled over the precipitious gap to the open window, letting us), packed my dad's car so full we had to tie a chair and a welsh dresser to the roof (she wasn't happy), and at about 9 got back to my new address in West Ealing. At which point we unpacked and went out for a prohibitively expensive Nepalese meal (they must have brought it down the mountain especially) and then I went to sleep in a junk-filled room.
(Couple of weeks old, but my mobile blogging technology's proving difficult to get up and running...) Just finished Jon Ronson's book 'THEM'. It's about conspiracy nuts, their crazy theories about how there's a group of the most powerful people in the world who meet up regularly. The most malicious, nasty of the lot was certainly The Rev.d (spits) Iain Paisley, a raving power-hungry bigot but overall it had about as much impact on my life as Foucault's Pendulum.

Y'see, I'm sure that there are millionaire financiers running the world, and I'm sure they socialise. At these gatherings they reaffirm their shared beliefs like the Lords' shared belief in the supremacy of aristocracy back in the C19. They have the power to enforce their world view, if they remember and can be arsed. So what? Their world view is confused, incoherent and unplanned, which is fine; they're just big kids dressing up in the woods and worshipping a stone owl. More interesting is their accessibility, that Ronson got that close to them and they were complacent and unbothered; the idle rich are hard to enthuse, so there will be no great plan to save the world, neither positive from my viewpoint (e.g. an liberal green utopia) or negative (facist world state). Seeing the latter as worse than the former, I'm glad they're complacent.
God, I love trains. Not in the trainspotting sense, which is the same drive that impels numismatists to pinion stamps, entomologists to net our decllining butterflies or card sharps to buy one more pack of pokemon. No, my love's aesthetic and entirely prideful. I love these great bolts that shoot from one great interlaced quiver to another, in the way a termite might love the great progresion his race had made, were he ever to consider his hive. It's an entirely subjective love to do with organised complexity on multiple scales, from the pneumatic sibilance of the opening doors to the steel backbone s of Brunel's indestructible hangars.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Cor. Just had a flashback to a dream I had last night about a press trip to the moon. Really, really enjoyable. Had a faint onus to do well, but more a tremendous sense of excitement at the privilege; first thing I've been genuinely excited about for ages. Woke up at 5.30 (again) and refused to let the dream go. At which point, of course, it became really bizarre, though I can't remember why. Perhaps my brain was just testing out unused emotions...
Zap2it - TV news - Finding Wisdom in Steve Guttenberg's Bible: "Guttenberg on other reasons he may be been hidden from the public eye:
I don't not work because I'm rich. I don't work because I live In Czechoslovakia. It's just such a tough commute. It's the commute that kills you. To get here for a 6 a.m. call from Czechoslovakia, I have get up at around 3. I have to go to sleep at around 6. It's the traffic over the Bermuda Triangle that's really bad. Other than that it's pretty smooth. I take side streets."

Who'd have thunk that Officer Mahoney was such a wit? More gems in the link.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I Am A: Lawful Evil GnomeRanger Mage

Lawful Evil characters believe that a nice, orderly system of life is perfect for them to abuse for their own advancement. They will work within 'the system' to get the best that they can for themselves.

Gnomes are also short, like dwarves, but much skinnier. They have no beards, and are very inclined towards technology, although they have been known to dabble in magic, too. They tend to be fun-loving and fond of jokes and humor. Some gnomes live underground, and some live in cities and villages. They are very tolerant of other races, and are generally well-liked, though occasionally considered frivolous.

Primary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class:
Mages harness the magical energies for their own use. Spells, spell books, and long hours in the library are their loves. While often not physically strong, their mental talents can make up for this.

Urdlen is the Chaotic Evil gnomish god of greed, bloodlust, and hatred. It is also known as the Crawler Below. Urdlen is generally represented as a huge, furless mole with sharp claws. His followers have changed their love of pranks and jokes to a love of malicious schemes and general evildoing. Their favored weapon is the claw bracer.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan

Lawful Good ----- XXX (3)
Neutral Good ---- XX (2)
Chaotic Good ---- X (1)
Lawful Neutral -- XX (2)
True Neutral ---- (-3)
Chaotic Neutral - (-2)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXX (5)
Neutral Evil ---- X (1)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXX (4)

Human ---- XXXXX (5)
Half-Elf - (0)
Elf ------ X (1)
Halfling - (-1)
Dwarf ---- (-4)
Half-Orc - (0)
Gnome ---- XXXXXX (6)

Fighter - XXX (3)
Ranger -- XXXX (4)
Paladin - XX (2)
Cleric -- X (1)
Mage ---- XXXX (4)
Druid --- (0)
Thief --- XXX (3)
Bard ---- XXX (3)
Monk ---- (-1)

Courtesy of Iain (No Longer Mad)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

So Qui-Gonn Jinn gets to voice Aslan. Whoop-de-doo.

Look, world, let me put it like this. I read books. I read comics. I listen to radio plays. My mind interprets the words and pictures, and fills in the gaps in interesting ways; often it glosses over bits I’m not interested in or don’t like to think about. I end up with my own picture of the novel.

When you make a movie out of something from my childhood, it feels like you’re /raping/ my imagination. Lord of the Rings, a great movie yes, but now I can no longer imagine Gandalf as anybody but Sir Ian McKellan. Before, he was another character (this I know) my own personal Gandalf, a great bag of skin and bones wrapped up in dirty rags, indistinct like smoke, not defined in my mind. Now he’s an adorably ageing queen with a thing for hobbits, who I’ve seen in close-up a thousand times. He’s perfectly defined, I’ve seen him and his ash-grey cloak from every direction, and it irritates me.

I know I don’t have to go and see these pictures and TV shows. I know I don’t have to watch the series, hire the DVD, download the illegal rip. But cultural and peer pressure (as well as the demands of my job) mean that I must. And every time I do, I lose a little of what the original gave me. I'd rather filmmakers left novels alone and just made original content, appropriate to the medium and original, like City of God, which richly conveys an real enviroment it's hard to imagine appropriately.

That said, as C.S. Lewis’ books, while in part darker than , carry their veneer of Christianity well. As long as they don’t have fricking Jennifer Saunders doing the overly cutesy voice of Reepacheep (always a nasty little get in my reading of the book) I’ll be happy. They mostly have a strong plot and it’s only the figure of Aslan that’s a problem, simply because he’s unbelievable and boringly unfantasical. The only thing he does that’s fantastical is come back to life, and that’s completely inexplicable in the logic of the story up to that point; it makes everything /safe/, exactly what you don’t want in a series of children’s books. Give me the threatening, dark and sickly Children of Green Knowe any day.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

A very gothic, slightly horrendous site where people post in their secrets on the backs of postcards; most entries seem to be truly shameful things that you'd have difficulty admitting to your nearest and dearest, and all are presented in their own unique ways.

God, without the internet at home I'm getting really twitchy. It's really doing my noggin in. Perhaps it's associated with this; "According to Dr Judith Reisman, pornography affects the physical structure of your brain turning you into a porno-zombie. Porn, she says, is an "erototoxin", producing an addictive "drug cocktail" of testosterone, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin with a measurable organic effect on the brain." Perhaps I'm going cold turkey?

Or perhaps it's just the heat in here; I sit in the hottest spot in the office, with no fans or air-conditioning; perhaps I've just got a form of sunstroke? When I go and have a walk and a glass of water everything gets better; but the heat's so oppressive I just tend to sit here most of the time. Maybe I'm just hungry; someone's eating a cheesy croissant around here somewhere, and the smell's driving me crazy. Or perhaps it's the lack of sleep; I keep waking up in the night, maddened by heat or cold and have been waking up early all summer; it's the same endless insomnia I had as a kid. Or even it's this endless sniffling cold I seem to have picked up, which just seems to be exacerbated by everything else; my sense of smell seems to have increased in
sensitivity despite it (hence I can smell *everything* in this office.)

So maybe it's just heat, hunger, horniness, poor health, exhaustion, and the fear of being blown into bloody chunks at any point. Funny how, once you've identified a problem, it doesn't necessarily go away. And funny how, despite all that whingeing, I'm still enjoying myself and having a great time here…

Monday, July 25, 2005

Precrime Computer (Minus Precogs) Predicts Robbery: Science Fiction in the News: "Lt. James McLaughlin of the Yonkers, New York police department Technical Support unit used a computer to analyze patterns in robberies in southwest Yonkers. According to the computer's analysis, there would be a robbery between 8 p.m. and midnight on Wednesday on South Broadway.
'He predicted it and he was right,' Police Commissioner Robert Taggart said.
Anthony Jimenez, 17, of Gastonia, N.C., and Richard Pino, 20, of 108 Highland Ave., Yonkers, were arrested and two guns confiscated after a 25 year old woman was robbed of her cell phone at 8:44 p.m. Wednesday at South Broadway and Ludlow Street, police said. They were charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree criminal use of a firearm, both felonies.
In his 1956 short story Minority Report, Philip K. Dick wrote about the Precrime system. It used computers and precognitive human beings to predict murders before they happened:
"In the gloomy half-darkness the three idiots sat babbling. Every incoherent utterance, every random syllable, was analyzed, compared and reassembled in the form of visual symbols, transcribed on conventional punchcards, and ejected into various coded slots."
The Policeman's Blog

Fantastic! The Copper's Blog is the perfect balance between social comment, an insight into the bureacracy crippling our otherwise-promising police state and a good laugh too. (Proper blogging promised later, honest.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Boing Boing: Four unusual neurological syndromes:
"People with 'Kluver-Bucy Syndrome' try to put anything they can get their hands on into their mouths and will 'typically attempt to have sexual intercourse with it.'

People with 'Capgras' Syndrome' think everyone around them is an impostor. They feel like they are living in a real life version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

People with 'Cotard's Syndrome' believe they are dead -- walking corpses. 'The French physician Charles Bonnet described a lady who insisted of dressing in a death shroud and being put in a coffin. She demanded to be buried and when refused, remained in her coffin until she died several weeks later.'

People with 'Fregoli Syndrome' see everyone around them as the same person. It must be like seeing the Oompa Loompas in Burton's Willy Wonka Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which were all played by the same actor."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Google Moon - Lunar Landing Sites

Fan-bloody-tastic. See the lunar landing sites - possibly the furthest mankind will ever go from his planet?

EDIT - zoom right in for the best easter egg ever. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Smashing picture of the embattled Mr Brown on the Beeb.
Hobbit (Denham) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"'What a happiness this must have been seventy or eighty years ago and upwards, to those chosen few who had the good luck to be born on the eve of this festival of all festivals; when the whole earth was so overrun with ghosts, boggles, bloody-bones, spirits, demons, ignis fatui, brownies, bugbears, black dogs, specters, shellycoats, scarecrows, witches, wizards, barguests, Robin-Goodfellows, hags, night-bats, scrags, breaknecks, fantasms, hobgoblins, hobhoulards, boggy-boes, dobbies, hob-thrusts, fetches, kelpies, warlocks, mock-beggars, mum-pokers, Jemmy-burties, urchins, satyrs, pans, fauns, sirens, tritons, centaurs, calcars, nymphs, imps, incubuses, spoorns, men-in-the-oak, hell-wains, fire-drakes, kit-a-can-sticks, Tom-tumblers, melch-dicks, larrs, kitty-witches, hobby-lanthorns, Dick-a-Tuesdays, Elf-fires, Gyl-burnt-tales, knockers, elves, rawheads, Meg-with-the-wads, old-shocks, ouphs, pad-foots, pixies, pictrees, giants, dwarfs, Tom-pokers, tutgots, snapdragons, sprets, spunks, conjurers, thurses, spurns, tantarrabobs, swaithes, tints, tod-lowries, Jack-in-the-Wads, mormos, changelings, redcaps, yeth-hounds, colt-pixies, Tom-thumbs, black-bugs, boggarts, scar-bugs, shag-foals, hodge-pochers, hob-thrushes, bugs, bull-beggars, bygorns, bolls, caddies, bomen, brags, wraiths, waffs, flay-boggarts, fiends, gallytrots, imps, gytrashes, patches, hob-and-lanthorns, gringes, boguests, bonelesses, Peg-powlers, pucks, fays, kidnappers, gallybeggars, hudskins, nickers, madcaps, trolls, robinets, friars' lanthorns, silkies, cauld-lads, death-hearses, goblins, hob-headlesses, bugaboos, kows, or cowes, nickies, nacks [necks], waiths, miffies, buckies, ghouls, sylphs, guests, swarths, freiths, freits, gy-carlins [Gyre-carling], pigmies, chittifaces, nixies, Jinny-burnt-tails, dudmen, hell-hounds, dopple-gangers, boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies, dunnies, wirrikows, alholdes, mannikins, follets, korreds, lubberkins, cluricauns, kobolds, leprechauns, kors, mares, korreds, puckles korigans, sylvans, succubuses, blackmen, shadows, banshees, lian-hanshees, clabbernappers, Gabriel-hounds, mawkins, doubles, corpse lights or candles, scrats, mahounds, trows, gnomes, sprites, fates, fiends, sibyls, nicknevins, whitewomen, fairies, thrummy-caps, cutties, and nisses, and apparitions of every shape, make, form, fashion, kind and description, that there was not a village in England that had not its own peculiar ghost. Nay, every lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of any antiquity had its bogle, its specter, or its knocker. The churches, churchyards, and crossroads were all haunted. Every green lane had its boulder-stone on which an apparition kept watch at night. Every common had its circle of fairies belonging to it. And there was scarcely a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit!'"

Just a beautiful bit of English I came across while randoming Wikipedia. Tolkien fans (the deplorable cultus) apparently are avid that he invented the word 'Hobbit'. He wasn't sure, but thought he probably had, from the Olde Englishe root "hobbe-", as in "hobbe-hoss" (hobby-horse). However, it crops up a couple of times before, notably in this list of haunters by Denham.
we make money not art: "Fabian Seibert at Suelzkotlett designs rather dangerous accessories.

His Lugosi 20 Suicide Bracelet comes with a sharp blade and is easy to use: wear slit on pulse, break off blade, insert blade, cut wrist. Here you go: a stylish suicide for just 160 euros.

And if you did use it as prescribed, you might be happy to buy another of Suelzkotlett's items: Healer for the modern suicide addict."
RecordBrother: What Have You Been Tolkien