Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Miir shortages frustating gaymers

Jon Hicks from Bournemouth e-mailed the BBC News website to say he had failed to receive his ordered Miir.

Successful shoppers outside a Tokyo store

He said: "I pre-ordered the Nintendo Miir from Play.com on 15 September along with some software.

"I have been informed today that it is unlikely my order will be fulfilled before Christmas. Incredibly they have dispatched a large hairy scrotum with Alec's face tatooed on it."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Love Craft

Promoted from a sidebar link, this wonderful essay on the King Curdler, HP "Saucy" Lovecraft.

"He was also frightened of invertebrates, marine life in general, temperatures below freezing, fat people, people of other races, race-mixing, slums, percussion instruments, caves, cellars, old age, great expanses of time, monumental architecture, non-Euclidean geometry, deserts, oceans, rats, dogs, the New England countryside, New York City, fungi and molds, viscous substances, medical experiments, dreams, brittle textures, gelatinous textures, the color gray, plant life of diverse sorts, memory lapses, old books, heredity, mists, gases, whistling, whispering—the things that did not frighten him would probably make a shorter list."

Skip To The Next One...

Seeing that someone came up with a list of the most significant Sci-Fi and Fantasy books of the last Fifty Years, I thought I'd have a read over it and see which ones I'd absorbed... it turns out to be about 90% of them, as the following list shows - ones are in bold that I've read. I've also seen most of the Sci-Fi movies that Wired put in their top twenty. Perhaps I should cut down on the escapism... How's everyone else doing?

Books

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer, William Gibson

Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.

The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
Cities in Flight, James Blish
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison

Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Dune, Frank Herbert
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith

On the Beach, Nevil Shute
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester

Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

Films

1. Blade Runner
2. Gattaca
3. The Matrix
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. Brazil
6. A Clockwork Orange
7. Alien
8. The Boys From Brazil
9. Jurassic Park
10. Star Wars
11. The Road Warrior
12. Tron
13. The Terminator
14. Sleeper
15. Soylent Green
16. RoboCop
17. Planet Of The Apes
18. The Day The Earth Stood Still
19. Akira
20. Barbarella

Word Up


Who the frick decides what the page is for the keywords you type in to Google? Death pointing to the death clock is fine (mine’s Wednesday, July 30, 2053 BTW), but I tried “God” and got … The Interview with God, a slideshow of beautiful landscapes (by which we mean untouched by the hand of man – are you with me and the few who find industrial wastelands beautiful?), to cheesy piano music and with a scrolling, cutesy unthreatening chat with Mr God about his vision in making the World, etc.

I mean if I was interviewing God, I’d definitely do it the Jerry Springer way, bringing in Joesph partway through so they could have a fistfight about that fecking Jahweh sleeping with his woman, then question him to sh*t about his multiple personality disorder (“Yeah, you’re your own son, whatever.”) I’d ask questions a touch trickier than “How should your children behave?” more like “Whose god are you? I want a straight clear definition, that doesn’t smite me to death on the spot. And while we’re at it, where’ve you been, bitch? If we’re your kids, where’s the CSA payments? Oh, stuck in the system eh?”

I like the fact that “Christ on a bike” produces a 1995 game called Motor Cross 30 A.D. though. “For instance, on the washout course you can choose to go over the water rather than through it and so on. But watch out - use more than three miracles per lap and you get crucified!” Classic.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Future Defense

As the government gets more authoritarian, which it will barring some fundamental shift in the aggression of the self-satisfied individuals constituting the other major protective institutions, it’s likely that the data on your computer that today is just your de-facto-legal crap will rapidly become handy evidence for prosecution for the crimes of theft, sedition and whatever they reclassify an internet connection as. “First they came for the pederasts” and all that Martin Niemöller stuff, you know, the government changing fundamental rules of behaviour beneath your feet.

So what are liberty and free-shit loving individuals to do if they wish to keep circumventing the conservative laws that aim to keep us as economic slaves in the face of technological advance? What group of like-minded individuals can provide protection against the full force of the law and the wealthy apathy of your liberal-democratic neighbours?

You’ve come to the right place, clever you. Give yourself a pat on the back.

The G.I.T.S. ideas factory, in association with the Society for Libertarians against Aggressive Government, is proud to present its latest invention, the hard drive ejector seat. Replacing the normal cage on your incriminating datalump, the G.I.T.S. device is, to exterior examination, a normal frame for that pile of platters to sit upon. As the unquestioning arm of the unhappily-changed law is kicking your antichav-reinforced door in, a recessed button on the base of your computer will provide you access to the triggers for the explosive bolts fixed into the mounting’s side. A swift press and, as the inquiring Billy-clubs descend upon your receptive head, the hard drive will pass at a velocity not less than 100 KM/H out of the side of the computer, through a handily-situated fan vent and the hopefully-open study window to shatter storeys below on the Lord Richard Rogers-designed multi-million-pound concrete that will cover the whole fricking country by the time these retrograde calcified-mentalities have finished turning the world into a place fit only for the right-thinking to live.

The G.I.T.S. Anti-Authoritarian hard drive mounting is available for £150 + P&P from our online store (sadly currently offline, following accidents in testing.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Good day to bury crap news

Screw the Tony Blair story, P11 of the Metro is about the world's tallest non-giant man Bao Xishun (who hence has the world's longest arms) being used by doctors in China to remove pieces of plastic from dolphin's bellies by shoving his arm down their throat. That's a really crap story, more a gawping-freak show and not actually news. I suspect this is actually propaganda by the Chinese government to lull the West into a false sense of security by making us think that they're primitive numpties.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thoughts!

I love the little Jawas. All I want to do is run up to them and hug them and babble in that special birdsong language and hug them some more and maybe even trade them some wind-extracted lumps of raw material for out-of-date, obsolete astromech droids.

Then I remember there's no such as Jawas and to race after little Londoners in burqas would be wrong, also embarassing.

Finally on tonight's syllybus; the optical illuson of beard-chins. Beards allow persons the indlugence of others imagining their perfect chin underneath it, without letting reality intrude. Yay for beards!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lazy Blogging

They're just words...

David Griliopoulos: verboten anna:
hello
David:
guess what?
Gril:
what?
AHHHHHH

David:
the internet's working
Gril:
it's working?
POR... I mean, work!
Sigh.
That's great.
I found out today that (depressing fact removed to protect the innocent and the filthily guilty, cotton-wool fans!)
. But not me. It's laughably stereotypical.
I seem to be living a shitty office-based drama.

http://www.alessonislearned.com/index.php?comic=11
David:
i bought a chess set - it's a glass one though. don't know if it's quite 'classic' enough
Gril:
ooh, sounds good.
(Hey, I'm begging for empathy here and he talks chess?)
(All I fricking want is a verbal pat on the back to still the rough seas washing in my hollow chest.)

David:
i got ovaltine and jaffa cakes too 87)]
Gril:
(oh, cursed soliliqies! Must I forever talk to the unresponsive shadows, not knowing if the audience is still awake, still there?)
David:
isn't that the point of a solioquay?
Gril:
(Don't break the frame, fool brother!)
David:
i wasn't awaqre there was one
Gril:
(Get your own soliloquay!)
David:
i just et ten jaffa cakes burp
Gril:
/me pulls stilled heart from chestal cavity and contemplates its onceuponatime workings
David:
feeling blue, dan?
Gril:
Y'know, you're awfully sensitive. How'd you guess?
David:
i'm an empath

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nominally Interesting

My name only anagrams to one thing: DIURNAL OLIGOPOLIES. I wish it were more significant.

A Party Political Broadcast

If you buy a PS3 over a Wii, you're a Republican. That's all I have to say on this issue.

Buried Ships

Venice Biennale: the Austrian Pavilion

At the Venice Biennale, the exhibit on cities displayed a model of half-buried aircraft carrier, apparently after a collage of Hollein's called Aircraft Carrier City, which evoked for me the cover art from Iain Banks' Use of Weapons. In a typical fantastical stroke, pointing to his real position as a fantasy author not a hard science fiction author, the villain of the story is general of one army, whilst his childhood rival is the commander of the other. His navy and army mostly defeated, the villain sails his mammoth battleship up a river until it grounds and fortifies the land around it, turning it into a massive, half-buried fortress that reduces to dust any army that comes close.

Of course, turning boats into houses is common practice (One of our family friends lives on a immovable houseboat in Hampton Court, which would topple like a stack of cards were it allowed to drift) and, once they're fixed in place, partial or even total burial is just a matter of time. The final stage of burial, after this change of use, is the Viking
burial - not the mythic burial at sea, but the deliberate internment of
the chief's corpse, chattels and goods in an artificial hillock. In San Francisco, notably, developers have often dug up the remains of ships whilst tunneling for foundations; apparently the boats were used to bring immigrants to the area and then either abandoned, used as housing or broken up for parts. As the bay filled with sand from the hills, the ships, or at least their remains, were gradually buried and are being uncovered peripatically, though mostly destroyed when uncovered (Americans still not quite having got hold of the concepts of antiquarianism it seems).






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Monday, November 06, 2006

Example Note 1

Papercuts of Peter Callesen
From Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society.
A man who makes beautiful papercuts (and not those schoolyard ones, Log, naughty boy, no!) so that they leave a shadow and form that cohere beautifully. I've never seen anything quite like it, in that the complexity it must involve would strain any mentality so. Worth a look. (Images stolen straight from Athanasius, sorry!)





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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SAFE TOPIC #1: Triple Salt Licorice

Triple Salt Licorice

Hello! Apparently, I have lots of readers on here I didn’t know about including my beloved workmates (hi again guys!) so I'm being very safe and nice and clean and all BBC on here. God bless and keep her majesty, long may she burn, erm, rule!

SAFE TOPIC #1: Triple Salt Licorice
This stuff is teh horror. It looks like innocuous liquorice, normal in its safe foulness. We all know what it's going to taste like. But slip a sliver into your maw and you'll be initially pleasantly surprised. It's like a salt lick with, at the rear, the slightest hint of flavour. Your tongue tingles and you feel like any second it'll get used to the salt, go a little numb, and then you'll be able to taste the liquorice better. Yet it never does, and you keep striving to capture that flavour, raging against the dying of the light.

Then the gag reaction kicks in.

I've fed this to my workmates and I've not seen anybody manage to restrain it in their mouth for more than a minute. Even hardened salt-liquorice lovers end up more puckered than a civil servant's arsehole, while newbies shriek and choke before spewing it out into the nearest bin, where it sits, gently hissing as it burns through paper-shreds. Of course, the pain doesn't end there. The sting of salt has so overloaded your synapses that it doesn't wash away, but leaves you smacking your lips together, swilling your mouth with hot water and trying to drown it with other foods and drinks. Nothing quite removes it and, like all truly disgusting foodstuffs, you feel the need to try it again, just to see it as bad as you remember. After a while, you feel, you must get used to it. It's true that the first few seconds become a purgatorial bliss, like picking scabs or reading religious ranting, but the nausea always kicks in again.

This is available from specialist sweet shops round Britain and Scandinavia. Buy the minimum possible, but buy some. You must try it, you really must.

So You Want To Increase The Amount Of Needless Spam I Get From Illiterate Numpties?

So You Want To Increase The Amount Of Needless Spam I Get From Illiterate Numpties?

Write several self-serving screeds on How to be a Games Journalist!

My advice: grammar, spelling and wit are all I ask for. If you show the barest sign of literacy I'll be really surprised. However, due to the high quality of people we have working internally at Future (Hi there, all you delightful lads n lasses!) I don't have any freelance to give out, so you'd be wasting your time mailing me. Sorry!

NB: Only Log's and Affectionate Diary's are actually worth reading. Funny people, tee-hee.

Monday, October 16, 2006

All Apologies

I'd like to say sorry to anyone I've offended with my posts on here. I've been disrespectful and rude to my team members and unduly denigrated their talents. I've deleted the more offensive posts and I apologise wholeheartedly about any content that remains. I've made the mistake of treating a private blog as a private diary or board to discuss things with my friends, and it's something I won't do again. Sorry!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Respect & Imprecision II

Pentadact commented:
Would this be a bad time to note that "lets" in the context of "allows" doesn't have an apostrophe?

I've recently got to reading two magazines more closely, one very mainstream and in-your-face, the other more niche and intellectual. I'm finding the mainstream one wins dramatically in the precision stakes. Almost everything on the page is expertly judged to /specify/, not just intimate, what the game is and how it works, while the niche rag drowns in rambling blocks of longer but /less/ precise words. Simple, common language only becomes inadequate when the writer lapses into repeating a vocabulary of clichés, not because they're tired but because they're being used out of habit rather than their specific purpose. More elaborate and abstract writing has its own vocabulary of clichés too, though: they're less tired because fewer publications write in this style, but they're no less imprecise.

I don't think you have to like and respect other people who do your job to take pride in it yourself. In fact, I find the terrible attitude of a lot of journos on press trips actually spurs me to be more professional, attentive and respectful, and take my work there more seriously.


(Changed it, ta! Criticism always welcome.)

I don't really mind what intellectual depth a magazine writes to, though my prose will always tend to the purple. I just care that the words are being used to mean the ideas that they are commonly known to mean, so that the literature and science of today will keep meaning the same thing to suceeding generations. Yes, language changes with time; but there's no reason to let it and reasons to stop it (consistency of idea communication). I agree, however, that the worst offenders against language are those who deliberately confuse the meanings of their sentences through needless obscurantism (there I go), which is why I have a particular distaste for academia. There's a breed of academia, including philosophy and english literature, that maintains itself by spewing nonsense words out for every situation.

I'll quote Wikpedia on Logorrhoea then get back to the point.
In his anecdote collection Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, the physicist and raconteur Richard Feynman describes a time when he participated in a multi-disciplinary conference discussing the nebulous topic "the ethics of equality". Feynman was at first apprehensive, having read none of the books the conference organizers had recommended. A sociologist brought a paper he had written beforehand to the committee where Feynman served, asking everyone to read it. Feynman found it completely incomprehensible and feared that he was out of his depth—until he decided to pick one sentence at random and parse it until he understood. The sentence he chose (to the best of his recollection) was

The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels.

Feynman "translated" the sentence and discovered it meant "People read". The rest of the paper soon made sense in the same fashion.

Further examples are easy to create:

Doctors say that the best way to lose weight is to eat less.

The medical community indicates that downsizing average total daily intake is maximally efficacious in the field of proactive weight-reduction methodologies.'

He is the sort of person who will call a spade a spade.

This man is a member of the personality class exhibiting the tendency to term a pedally operated humus redistribution device a pedally operated humus redistribution device.


It's not other people I have trouble with, though I will admit that I'd rather be the lazy bottom of a class of intellectuals, than lazy and mediocre amongst similar mediocrities (all this is theoretical, note); it's the lack of respect for myself the job engenders that really causes problems. I find I can't appreciate what I do, when what attracts praise or at criticism is so random. There seems no standard that carries from magazine to magazine (or indeed in websites) and the feedback from our readers is so limited, negative and mostly illiterate. The other writers on my magazine have stopped reading our forum, out of fear I think.

So the readers don't respect us and the management don't respect us. Despite the approbation of our peers (or at least those, like yourself, who are respectable), it's hard to maintain self-respect in the face of that.

Anyway, I hope I've inspired you on a few press trips. ;-)

Respect & Imprecision

Alta L. Price on quibbles.
See, it’s a slippery slope. It could be argued that these aren’t matters of right and wrong, and are instead a question of imprecision. But they’re imprecisions I can’t deal with because, as I see it, these people approach their professions with imprecision, which implies that they neither respect nor love what they’re doing enough to care about getting it right.


Normally, I let things slide. I don't mind minor errors, I don't try to argue with the fanatics and I look upon friend's idiocies as endearing foibles. When I do argue, it doesn't bother me, it's just a laugh. Yet in the last few weeks, my prissiness has got the better of me and I've started correcting people, complaining when I felt complaints needed to be made. Price is right (no pun intended) that our society no longer prizes accuracy. There's almost a link between the lack of deference for linguistic standards and our society's emphasis that everything is acceptable, a link even to *gasp* multiculturalism. Sounds like I'm being a bad liberal here, going against freedom doesn't it? The claim is there is no standard, no norm but each individual has the right to do anything they want to; it lets people be sloppy, let's them claim that they're 'not wrong but just different.' In terms of language, I'm afraid there is right and wrong and it's a necessary moral system. Language is the essential tool for communicating ideas. If I mean something by a word and you mean something different by the same word, we find ourselves with an obstacle to communication.

Regarding his comments on "approaching professions with imprecision" I normally don't love my profession; the standards for entry are far too low and set too low by our employers and it has fundamentally discouraged me over the years, making me not work as hard at my job as I could have and not respect myself or others for doing it. Eurogamer, notably, is one site that sets its standards relatively high and I have more respect for the people it employs. Edge magazine, despite my concerns over its increasingly populist focus, also has a care for correct, clear and useful language. However, Future's magazines, particularly on the console side, seem to care little for talented writing and more for speed of copy production. If a job is advertised (which it often isn't) we tend to employ the best of the limited selection of passable candidates who apply, rather than looking actively for an ideal candidate. I look at the sub-editors I admire, the ones who can turn lacklustre and poorly written copy into sparkling reams of perfectly fitted prose (their names reveal them to be uniformly women: Katharine Davies, Liz Raderecht, Vanessa Hards and Clare Lydon), and I find their numbers in decline and the respect for them sadly lacking. Those who are good are often discouraged by the mediocrity around them; our art staff, for example, are all immensely qualified and talented but it's very rare that I see any of them doing original design or varying from templates. Notably our company pays its marketing and advertising personnel very well and promotes them to its top positions, seeing them as the key to larger profits. However, their profit is grounded in the editorial staff and if they're no good or dissatisfied, and hence imprecise, then the magazine is no good.

Edit: So let's trace that thought more clearly. I don't like imprecisions in language because (wide reason) clear communication is necessary for the maintenance of society (assertion to be justified elsewhere) and because (narrow reason) words are my life. Imprecisions in language are on the rise because laxity is in general on the rise. Laxity is on the rise because our society made a choice in the 1960s to be more permissive and that choice accorded with the needs of the economy; that people's history, knowledge and skills don't matter so long as they can do the job that is available. Ah, balls, I've lost the thread again.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sami Al Haj

I am so upset right now. I have just been listening to Letters from Guantanamo on Radio 4 and it has left me really, really distraught. It is a set of letters from Sami El Haj, a camera operator with Al Jazeera captured crossing the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1999. He had dual passports and visas; he had done this many times before in his coverage of the war. The border authorities accused him of filming Bin Laden then imprisoned him in Kandahar, before selling him to the Americans. Yes, selling him. As Musharraf admitted this week, the Pakistani government was a) threatened into joining the war and b) paid well to pass along captives. Notably, the Americans have admitted to paying bounties for Al Quaeda fighters but claimed to be surprised that the Pakistani government was involved. What terrifies me is that the Sudanese-born Sami is lucid, clever and an amazingly literate writer, whose letters are rich, stuffed with emotion and strength in the face of alleged horrors (the ones that make it through the censors). “The enormous statue cries out freedom and justice to all. But gradually the lights around Lady Liberty grow weaker and we see that she is either deceiving or deceived.” It is not clear whether Sami is an enemy combatant, a fanatical warrior who wants to see the west die. However, it seems unlikely and if this man, if any of these men are criminals, then let us try them and be done with it. If the allegations do not stand up in a court of law, then let them go free. Sure, follow them if you want, if you still suspect them. Nevertheless, for these individuals this horror should not continue, it is illegal, against the Geneva conventions, against the moral law that trickles even inside me. I am horrified and angry, convinced by the honest beauty of this man’s words. More Sami, as far as I can remember from the programme, “The light in the statue’s hand flickers and may go out. One day men may stand around this wreck and say one day ‘here stood a great thing, liberty.” God, if you exist, damn Guantanamo bay and those who uphold it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Daily Dahlia

Following James Elroy's wondeful study of a gruesome murder in 50s L.A., The Black Dahlia, crime hackette Lynda La Plante has written a money-spinning rip-off called The Red Dahlia, set fifty years after the first murder, timed to coincide with the release of the Scarlett Johansen movie and plagiarising large portions of its illustrious predecessor (I've not read the book, I'm just assuming this). However, La Plante has missed out a key part of Elroy's fiction, which is slight references to a recognisable and real popular character involved on the peripheries of the plot, and also a touch of corrupted authority. Which is why I present to you this day this exclusive excerpt from my forthcoming novellete / vpdodcast / mystery play "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dahlia";

Joseph enters the room. His shaggy knuckles are pulling together his shabby multicoloured coat of dreams and he's obviously drunk; stumbling, mumbling, filthy. He could even be a journalist.

Joseph: "A crash of drums, ugh, dum-de-dum, a flash of li-ur-hic, I need a shite, yarr, balls."
Joseph collapses in a corner, his brothers sell his sleeping body to slave traders, he travels to Egypt where he narrowly avoids being blown up by Arab extremists / Israeli pre-emptive surprise airstrikes / errant Western Cruise Missiles and becomes advisor to the democratically elected Pharoah Godking III The Shit, before being reconciled to his randy father and brothers in a touching scene (Warning: no touching). Whilst Joseph is dozing one day, his wife sells his magic hair to a passing salesperson/genie/disguised grand vizier, removing the gift of hard-drinking that has allowed him to charm/booze his way to success in the court of The Shit. After disgracing himself at a state banquet, he is expelled and narrowly avoids becoming a lion's dinner in the arena by showing off his excellent manicure skills, before wandering out onto the streets, drunken, where he is accosted in exactly the same manner as before by a passing flowerseller. She reaches out to the erstwhile bigwig's drunken figure, holding in her hand a bushy tuberous perennial which she hopes to exchange for goods or indeed services.

Passing Flower Salesperson "Excuse me sir, would you like a flower?"
Joseph proceeds to vomit copiously over the poor flowerseller's bloom, turning it a variety of shades depending on which course of his fantastic banquet he is regurgitating. It is hence technicolour and also amazing so our story can
End.

I expect this to sell millions.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Twice Weakly

Montage

A hop, a skip and a fortnight goes by, casting askance glances shoulderwise. Curious at glinting Fortnight’s eye, I call up my calendar and find that every day for the last month is heavily annotated, the little squares filled with digitals. Since the 14th Aout, I’ve been to Manchester once, to see the paternal side of the family, back to London, to somewhere in Wales, to see some Folk (they were green, by all accounts but brother’s and I’s), back to London, to Paris, to play poker it seemed, back to london (for a hour), to Buxton, to drink the county dry (not touched a sip of the mineral water in fifteen years, perry burns a hole in yer gut/tering that the water would just trickle through, like a human filtration system, stalgatites growing out of your ruptured ulcers into interintestinal interstices. Or is stalagmites? Mite is right, as Kissinger always said), lack to bondon, was pimped up at Saint’s Row party (those girls shave awfully close to the thong), to Oxford, to watch the first of my comrades in the League of Strident Singletons do the blood brethren thing with a GIRL (Benedict, how could you betray our sacred vows and do all that pledging stuff? How can you make a solemn vow on anything about the future, when you have very limited control over it? WRONG.), that is, marriage, tack do bonlon, went to the first christmas tat party (walked away with screaming monkey, disembodied eyeball, candy clothing, book of arse called Cheek, etc), danced with zombies (they do an excellent version of thriller, more surprising produce grand finger food, in retrospect too many fingers, yuk), to the Isle of Wight (where the barrows crawl with the disembodied souls of campers, doomed to eternally wear their Bestival costumes, because they can’t find the irritating little bra hook small fo the back that dismantles the whole flapping crepe paper and wire edifice), talonknobdoc antbloodconk backtolondon, games played bomberman, godfather, heroesannhiliatedempires, legostarwarsII, ninetyninenights, &c, went to Sega’s Kew offices today, sat by the river, walked in the rain, stared for hours at the lightning in the night, Fortnight’s certain lead foot is descending to complete her passage, must bid adieu and wish that the next of her sisters proves as entertaining even if little old brain up here (hello!) can’t hope to hold her.

LIFE UPDATE OVER.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

UGLY

I just went downstairs for yet another photoshoot, to provide comic characters for the magazine. As per usual, I supplied most of the outfits from my wardrobe (what does that say about my dress sense?) I was dressed up as a motty-style football commentator, with sheepskin and mike, glasses perched precariously on nose's end. As the photographer's shooting away, he says "you're really good, you know?". I'm kinda flattered but not sure what he means. "I mean, you're a natural in front of the camera." Soon he'll be telling me to loosen my top. "Have you ever thought of doing character work? You'd be really good!" I'm starting to get flattered and laugh nervously. "There's this agency, don't get me wrong, called Ugly, who could do with someone like you." My lifelong dreams about a life on the catwalk, on the catwalk, yeah, fall into shards of glittering angst. He's joking, isn't he? "Seriously. I've got loads of shots of you now, just drop me an email and I'll pass your name along." I get back to my desk and, guess what? He wasn't lying. So. Should I agree to this and go to work for a modelling agency called ugly? Or should I pep up my pride and pretend I don't fancy a bit of cash on the side?

I mean, don't I look pretty here:
Zombie Ad

Friday, September 01, 2006

Row your boat

Myself: Begob!
The Pissed People of England: What? Wherefore the irishisms?
Myself: Agh, I’ve just got back from the Saint’s Row launch event which was lavish in the uttermost.
The Pissed People of England: More so than the brothel-party in Paris? Than the Scarface binge in Madrid? Than the Wincle Beer, Cider and Spirits festival? (sotto voce) Lawks, I can still taste the turps in that perry.
Myself: More so indeed. Mainly due to the copious booze, gyrating pole dancers, and awesome break dancers. I am myself positively tented with the memory.
The Pissed People of England: That’s a nice image for no-one. So whyfore “begob” with such acid vim?
Myself: Ah, it was for this game, and we did the exclusive everything, yet they forgot to invite us, like we were but passing tools to be ground down and discarded. Yours truly only sneaked in on his wits (large as they are, I strapped myself under them so that the cyclopean doorman should find only Nemo in his fumblings), but the rest of my crew/gang/massif/posse/team/cabinet decided not to attend.
The Pissed People of England: By your state, twas a wise move on their part.
Myself: Indeed. Now, didn’t I have work to do..?

Saint's Row Montage

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gods balls Father

God’s balls, Father

oh, sod, I said GOD’S BALLS, FATHER.
Humph… sntft. What is it? What’s seized your piss-addled brain the night?
Oh, did I wake you? Apolo-
You did and deliberately, you inadequate pancreatic wretchery. For what craggled notions am I dragged from me som…sombre… somnabulances?
Oh, just… well, blast and blood, I was trying to decipher these here notes I’d left myself. Sweet nothings on a train ticket’s back, but they were important to me last night.
Grrmmm. Balls. Let’s have a gander.
Well, I think the scrawlings about the Cerulean giants, with hairs of flame, that might be about Brian Blessed. I remember him distinctly, ringed with marigolds.
Brian Blessed’s so short of arse he’s asked Pavarroti for a loan, closer to Lautrec than Finn MacCool. Can you not read your own hand?
I fear I may have been under several influences, hence the suppurative hieroglyphics and the pleasant drooling marks. My arm’s sodden too. You’ve known my talk since my early days – perhaps your gimlet will have more luck?
Well, there’s something there. An inkling – long ago, in a land resounding with silence, you -
Cut to the chase.
You were pissed on expensive cider, you were at the Green Man Festival, you only enjoyed the silent movies and the Bengali breakfasts.
Balls. Is that it?
Nah. Nah. You wanted driving lessons, a new hard drive, some presents, and to write a story about an engraver writing down a text no-one can read for the benefit of future generations. Pretenious twat.
Oh. Well, drunk or not, I had ambition then. Perhaps I should drink more.
If it would cease such prattling, what’s the harm? You also scrabbled here about renovated pubs and your love of fine chips. Definitely in your cups and no worse.
Ah, yes, I’ve found new bumps on my head. Must have crackled my pate somewhere as well.
Says nothing of that here. Though I remember the soft caps you used to wear against such eventualities… There’s a gap for drool…I think you must have rested your head here, as there’s a guard’s validatory stamp on your cheek and then there’s babble about us people never looking up any more, missing the moon and the crenellations of dead architectures appreciated only by pigeons. And something about why you’ve got John Cale’s 4’33 on yon leccy music device and, yes…! you talk of clumsiness. You were terrified that the swinging’s of the virgin pendolino would upset your excessive pizzle in the train’s toilet bowl, so you tried to flush quickly and stuck your arm under the tap.
Dampness explained, wonderful. My hangover’s cutting in, out with my final words if you please.
Wined in the Parisian Café Carmen by Nazis and whores, you won a five hour game of poker, for naught, and drowned your sorrows in rural beer festivals (Elton and Wincle) galore.
Hence the head.
So the noggin, yes.
I’ve heard enough. Budge up, I’m going to bed too.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Feck me, Bezoars worked!


"Modern examinations of the properties of bezoars by Gustaf Arrhenius and Andrew A. Benson of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have shown that they could, when immersed in an arsenic-laced solution, remove the poison. The toxic compounds in arsenic are arsenate and arsenite. Each is acted upon differently, but effectively, by bezoar stones. Arsenate is removed by being exchanged for phosphate in the mineral brushite, a crystalline structure found in the stones. Arsenite is found to bond to sulfur compounds in the protein of degraded hair, which is a key component in bezoars."


Bezoars (gall stones/pearls formed in the alimentary tracts of ruminants) being the alchymist's favoured tool against poisons, I'm surprised to find evidence they actually work!

There's Something Floral Here


websiteasgraphs
Originally uploaded by Hot Grill.
I really like the images produced by this little gizmo - www.aharef.info/static/htmlgraph/

In case you can't be arsed following the link, it turns websites into geometric representations, in a most charming manner.

Here’s the legend, if you care.

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
grey: all other tags

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

1929 Passport Photo


1929 Passport Photo
Originally uploaded by Dimitri Griliopoulos.
This is my grandad, back in the Greece of 1929. He was born in 1907 I believe, so he's four years younger than me here. I could make comments about ageing, decay, etc, but there's no point - anyone with a half-a-brain can extrapolate from my appearance and his the sort of comments I'd make.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Flickr Photo Download: Lego Star Wars II - naked Stormtrooper

I've forgotten how to say Lebanon. It reminds me too much of some Elvish word; Lebanen, I suspect. I keep getting into impassioned arguments about the bastardliness of the situation over there, and then am unable to pronounce the word. Anyway, I think the Israeli's had no choice but to bomb civilians, just like Bush had no choice but to assault Afghanistan and Iraq. If terrorists are based in a civilian location and the choice is between your people and theirs, you bomb them. Simple enough. That's the logic of the Death Star being used against Alderaan – those who harbour men of violence will suffer violence themselves. If you accept Bush and Olmert's position, you back Darth Vader, simply put. I'm firmly on Grand Moff Tarkin's side anyway.

Let's pause for a moment of thought and a picture of a naked Stormtrooper.

Lego Star Wars II - naked Stormtrooper

What's more scary is that Israeli soldiers are now saving their sperm so if they die their families or others can have children from them anyway. I believe that in the traditional hassidic family household, it can be seen as a blessing for a person to study all their lives and if a man is inclined that way, the family will often cope with it and support his (traditionally enormous) family. Hence these communities can live in great poverty because the men produce nothing and do nothing, beyond study. If the men didn't exist, they'd be more useful.

Perhaps the Israelis will go further and start saving ova as well, so there are are millions of useless potential human beings just sitting in these tanks, waiting to be born. And perhaps the government will take the final step, and cut out the parenting process all together, just breeding test tube kids by the hundred, so the people are free to indulge in more economically productive activities - the necessary artificial wombs are on the way. I can see the mentality of a warlike people surrounded on all sides by enemies in creating what is in effect a Clone Army - or rather an army of orphans - merely because it's more efficient in terms of manpower. Israel is one of the most extremist nations on the earth, committed to an exclusionary racial religion, pure capitalism and pure representative democracy; if anywhere could accept my nightmare, Israel could.

Anyway, what am I doing? I was in Cornwall, barbecuing on the beach and running into waves a couple of weekends ago. Me and Alec almost got drowned as we neglected to pay attention to the undercurrent and were forced to try and walk along the sea bed to get back in. Very fun. I need to go to the sea more often, thalatta, thalatta, or whatever it was the ancient Greeks would shout as they ran to the shore There's something deeply spiritual about having your semi-nekked body battered to shit by twenty-foot high waves.

And the magazine. It's been chocka with work this month, more games than we've ever had before but I think it's (so far) gone fairly well. I managed to write a ton myself and commission loads more out, so I feel fulfilled for a bit – I often feel like a spare wheel on magazines because my job is so limited and it seriously feels like, if I had to, I could do the whole thing myself – yet looking at this month's flatplan, I've written 28 pages and commissioned 29 pages (57 all told then) of the 116 editorial pages – and a lot that's left is filler our forumites complain regularly about. I could have done more, but I wouldn't have wanted to.

And life outside the office? I've reverted a little to my staid ways, not taking advantage as well as I should of what London has to offer – I even missed the whole Ealing festival, that was right on my doorstep. My penurious financial situation isn't helping – most of my wage is paid out at the beginning of a month to bills and savings, so I'm skint by the day after payday. I'm still seeing Jill and I think it's going well-ish – though I fear she reinforces my tendency to lie around the house all day, rather than the more outward-going person I would rather be. It's odd how you can have aspirations about yourself in the full knowledge you will never be motivated enough to achieve them. Sad, even. Perhaps I should clone myself and make him have fun...
The Amazing Screw-On Head

President Abraham Lincoln: "It disappeared from the Museum of Ancient Evil Texts, along with their foremost expert on untranslateable texts."
The Amazing Screw-On Head "Professor Fruen?!?"
"He was abducted by two old women and a monkey."
"It sounds like the work of Emperor Zombie."
"It sounds like you're right."

Absolutely awesome animated Mike Mignola (Hellboy) series coming to the Sci-Fi channel.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dave Gilbert ? The Shivah

Dave Gilbert: The Shivah


Glorious little rabinical mini-game I've been looking at. Will have to give it a go and report back. I'm also playing Kudos at the moment, a life-simulator by the maker of the excellent election/re-election sim Democracy where you start off as a 20 year-old and have to achieve success by your thirties. Though it keeps crashing on my machine, I like its elegance of design (you never really leave the main screen) and ease of communication (mostly everything you want to know is one click away). Once the glitches are ironed out, it'll be worth a pop.

Friday, July 28, 2006

ECT

Last night I had Sausages and Mash for dinner. Well, Sausages at 6 O'Clock and Mash at Midnight; does that count as Sausages and Mash for dinner?

Then I went dreamy-bye-bye, and thought about ambling barefoot over the paving stones of didsbury, aimlessly walking to work. Then I dreamt of games, and got so annoyed at myself for my addiction I tried to think of ways of forcing myself to stop. At university I used to give my power cables away every time I wanted to work; now I think a little dynamo powering off your body's movement would do the job. Every time the circuitry detects that the average input rate (over the course of a day) drops below a certain rate, the battery would start discharging, niggling at first but increasingly painful. Which would certainly make you jump up and do some exercise. If you were playing games for too long, sitting still, that would bring the average input rate down, shocking you into motion. Exercise would buy you lots of time playing games, so we could hope for a pavlovian reaction in the long run, where the gamer starts associating exercise with pleasure and games with pain. Yay!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

LucasArts!

ME:
...and Nintendo! I don't how to broach this but, as a gamer, I'm really excited to see what you're doing with the Wii controller, Digital MM and euphoria, especially for the Indy game!

Peter Hirschmann, Vice-President of LucasArts:
(Laughs) You want a Wii world exclusive?

ME
I'd have to hide it, I wouldn't be able to tell anyone, it would be terrible, a horrible secret I'd have to keep to myself.

Peter:
The burden of writing for a platform-specific magazine.

Me:
How am I going to keep this to myself?

Expurgated excerpt from an interview I did with the LucasArts head of games for the magazine! I'll link to the rest when it crops up.

Day in the life

Day in the life

Multiple alarms go off. I'm lying in dirty sheets with an Oblivion hangover and I should be getting up for work. Instead of which I've piled all the duvets and my too-many pillows and cushions up (incidentally crushing my plush Gonzo) and thrust my face in, feeling for the crisp coolness of unused linen. Eventually I get up, have a cold shower, and wonder if there's any fodder in the house I feel like eating. I pull on sandals, as it'll save on washing socks later and go down, through my flats.

Longfield house is a bipolar place, with the landlord promising all these improvements, none of which are thought through properly. So to stop tramps sleeping on the roof outside my window, he blocked off the fire escape. To improve the look of the concrete entrance ramp, he covered it in sheet metal that is lethal in ice or rain. The postboxes have been replaced three times, because they can't get the numbers right – and the flaps are so big, anyone wandering in from the street can nick the post. Anyone can wander in from the street because the security system has been deactivated. It's been deactivated because the intercom doesn't work and not enough keyfobs have been handed out to the other residents of the building. The building has a caretaker but he doesn't clean the building itself, merely sweeping up the leaves outside. Inside there's piled rubbish, holes in the wall and bird crap coating the stair-wells, presumably from when a pigeon got in when they were jerry-building the new flats in which we live. No-one I've met, apart from us, likes living there.

I walk through Longfield house quickly.

I walk ten minutes to Ealing Broadway, spend twelve minutes on the overland to Paddington, hop on the underground to Marylebone, walk to the office, and wait for the lift.

Then it's a long day of typing. Yesterday I made about fifteen phone-calls, sent thirty emails, wrote a two-page preview of a game, played squash with Jamie Sefton at lunchtime (having gashed my index finger with a big knife at the weekend, I can't hit straight or hard, and lost badly 5-0), interviewed the head of LucasArts game development over a crackly transatlantic line, stopped a copyright-infringing image going on our cover and took some time to browse the internet and catch up on news stories.

Somedays I even talk to people.

I then reversed my lengthy homeward journey, bought a cookie, stopped in and picked up some cheap canvasses for the painting I never get around to doing, bought some absolute cheap crap from Morrissons, went to a bar with my flatmate Jamie and ate some nachos, drank some white wine, went home, played Oblivion for four hours, had some dinner at midnight (ribs and rice), went into my room, cleared the crap off my bed, started my computer up, listened to radio 4, twiddled, brushed my teeth, installed a duplicate-file finder (because I seem to have at least two copies of most of my MP3s) and went to sleep.

Woke up. Repeat.
The Smiths on Charlie's Bus with Sandie Shaw (April 1984)

Wow. That's awesomely surreal. A very young group called The Smiths appear with Sandie Shaw on the kid's show "Charlie's Bus." Watch for the magic disappearing-reappearing child behind Sandie's shoulder.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Strandbeesten in Trafalgar square

Wandering beachcombers in trafalgar square, powered by the wind, the strandbeesten were awesome to behold. Me and Jill went down to see them a couple of weekends ago.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Warning! Game Related Blog - Prey Physics

This post is about the use of theoretical physics in the science fiction shooting game Prey. Don't get me wrong, Prey is not an ideal game; it's stupid, bloody and enormously derivative in everything it does, from combat, to weapon selection, to the plot. That said, it raises some questions about physics and biology that are quite interesting and worth exploring. I know I don't normally talk about games, mainly due to a desire to maintain the work-life separation but a conversation with Steve Hogarty of PC Zone intrigued me enough to write this.

Prey - upside

First off, its wall-walking technology is interesting. Simply put, there are powered ramps on the walls which, when you walk onto them, flip your perspective around so you're like a fly walking up the wall, and gravity is apparently always perpendicular to you. It's not possible that you're just stuck by your feet, as your legs wouldn't be able to cope with your entire body weight shifting from the vertical to the horizontal to the inverted vertical, whilst running and shooting; you'd fall over at the knees and just hang there.

So there must be a field covering the entire walkway to hold you in place. However, when a hunter is killed on an upside-down walkway he immediately falls off (likewise if you jump), indicating that the point of contact is only at the base of the foot, or that the field only maintains strength as long as you're in contact with it (like the giant Antaeus from the myth of Heracles only maintaining his tremendous strength so long as he was in contact with the ground.) Still, if you jump into the walkway, it doesn't grab you back by that part of your body, so it can't be a mere contact thing. Nor are you wearing special boots or anything of the sort.

Prey - portalfeet

The portals are extremely problematic. These consist of two linked holes, allowing you to move anywhere on the level. While wormholes are theoretically possible, there are multiple problems with these as they are expressed here. Firstly, they should cast shadows if they allow light to pass through their entrances - and they allow you to see people through the portal entrance, so light does pass through. However, if they don't allow light to pass through, they should be black circles on the side you can enter through, and be perfectly transparent from the back. These portals allow light to pass through the entrance side, so you can see into them, and are perfectly transparent from the back. This doubles light, effectively creating it. With this system, you could place one entrance to a portal behind the other, so the light passing through the back of one would be endlessly be recycled, growing in strength exponentially, creating limitless energy from nothing - which counteracts the first law of thermodynamics.

Secondly, there are problems with what is allowed to pass through the holes. Light and sound seemingly can, but gravity cannot. Whether other electromagnetic waves can isn't clear - your shots, which vary from pure energy to projectiles, can pass through. The other key forces to the universe (the nuclear forces, etc) seem to be unaffected. Perversely, the light from your lighter cannot pass through the portal either.

Thirdly, approaching the portal from the side or rear. If you walked into the back of the portal, then backed off, would the intruding piece of your body simply shear off? If not, how does the portal qualify what is a full entity and distinguish it? Approaching if from the side would surely shear the entity along the line of approach, like the finest nanowire. Unless, of course, the edges of the portal are robust and solid in themselves - which they're ostensibly not.

And what if someone walks through the back of a portal while someone else is exiting it? Would they appear on the same spot? Would they mingle? If you force that many atoms into the same space, surely they'd explode. What if you poked your finger into a mirrored portal - one that the surface for entrance and exit are the same? Surely you'd be able to touch yourself, much like you can in normal life, albeit in a mirrored form. In crude terms, you could give yourself a reach-around!

Finally, the portals seem to float above whatever surface they're fixed to. We have to assume they're held in place by magnetic fields or something like that, as if they weren't imagine the problems - dropping a portal onto the surface of a planet would result in it spewing out a tube of material at its other end, as gravity sucked it down, endlessly consuming until it hit the planet's centre.

There's a lot more problems with the physics of Prey and they simply haven't thought the issues through at all. They make for a fascinating physics test of the rigours of science fiction, which is more interesting that the game itself.

Prey - manpants

I can't justify this though.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Magnetic fields created using nanotechnology could make computers up to 500 times faster

Magnetic fields created using nanotechnology could make computers up to 500 times faster

Dream, dream, dream. " “We can only go so far in getting more power from silicon chips by shrinking their components – conventional technology is already reaching the physical limits of materials it uses, such as copper wiring, and its evolution will come to a halt.

“But if this research is successful, it could make computers with wireless semi-conductors a possibility within five or ten years of the end of the project. Then computers could be made anything from 200 to 500 times quicker and still be the same size."

Such a failure of imagination. When we've made transistors out of wireless signals, why not larger components? Why not a computer entirely made up of intersecting wireless signals, interacting and cancelling inside a magnetic containment field or something equally good at preventing their escape from their glass prison through refraction. Indeed, the image of a clear box using intense magnetism to trap light so it's just black appeals to me somewhy... though of course, it'd need to prevent light getting into it as well, so it would be essentially mirrored. Inside it the 3D interactions of the electromagnetic beams either projected and received by transmitters on the box walls or, further down the line, organised by the alterable interior shape...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

OXM Whore

Xbox 360 - The Official Magazine

I've never done this before, but I've just noticed that a load of my reviews and previews are up online, so I'd thought I'd link to that, like the egocentric b'stard that I am. Constructive criticism and deconstructive psychoanalysis welcome.

WARNING though; it's been creatively sub-edited to fit the website, so most of it won't make sense. :) Brace for impact...

Reviews
Table Tennis
Top Spin 2
Far Cry Instincts: Predator.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Still the best game of the last five years.)
Call of Duty 2


Previews
Star Trek Legacy
Battlestations: Midway
Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle Earth II
Crackdown
Stranglehold
Table Tennis
Bioshock (Utopian RPG horror - can't wait...)
Rainbow Six: Vegas
Far Cry Instincts: Predator
LMA Manager 2006
Fight Night Round Three
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Legend (attack of the colon...)
Final Fantasy XI Online (The review was also misattributed to me.)
Lost Planet
Splinter Cell: Double Agent
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
Mass Effect I'm off to see this in Alberta on Tuesday!
Test Drive: Unlimited
Kameo
Prey
Gears of War
Elder Scrolls IV (AGAIN!)


Phew. That's enough. There's more spread all over the intrawub, but it won't buy me immortality. Curses!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Boing Boing: Implanting a magnet in your fingertip adds a sixth sense

Boing Boing: Implanting a magnet in your fingertip adds a sixth sense

According to Huffman, the magnet works by moving very slightly, or with a noticeable oscillation, in response to EM fields. This stimulates the somatosensory receptors in the fingertip, the same nerves that are responsible for perceiving pressure, temperature and pain. Huffman and other recipients found they could locate electric stovetops and motors, and pick out live electrical cables. Appliance cords in the United States give off a 60-Hz field, a sensation with which Huffman has become intimately familiar. "It is a light, rapid buzz," he says.


Also, remind me never to follow a link to poetry.rotten.com ever again. It appears to be their extremely distasteful Faces of Death server which, while ghoulishly fascinating, is not exactly suitable for work.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bereavement in Judaism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bereavement in Judaism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When I went home, a few weeks ago, my mum reminded me that she wanted me to do Kaddish for her when she died. She revealed she also wants me to do Kaddish for my grandma. Kaddish is the Jewish mourning ritual, lasting a year. I knew little about it, beyond it being arduous, until I read this article. Through filial love and obligation I will be forced to do it.

To remind those of you who know me only partially, though I performed my barmitzvah at the wailing wall, though I was brought up Jewish, I protested against it from day one. When I was six or seven I was first sent to the Jewish sunday school at the Shul and declared myself an atheist to my mum on that day. She said, "you're too young to know. I'm just giving you the chance to make your own decision." I didn't believe in anything then and as I get older I get closer to a pragmatic nihilism. For eleven years I was bullied and excluded by almost everyone at the synagogue and I feel no affection for the religion and I do not forgive my mother, my apparently atheist mother, for sending me there for feelings of obligation to her mother and grandfather and those who died in the war. I felt that, by putting the wishes of the dead (gone) above my wishes, she betrayed me.

However, I need to learn this ritual as my grandmother is increasingly old and frail. The ritual consists of several stages, as far I can see. First I must tear my hair and clothes and do nothing until the body is buried (within 24 hours.) Second I must spend a week in the house "sitting shivah", praying with a minyan (ten Jewish men) every day, receiving visitors. Next the thirty-day shloshim. Any good deeds I do during shloshim go to the credit of the departed, meaning they get upgraded quarters in heaven. Apparently, I'm not allowed to shave and it's customary to coordinate a group of people in learning the mishnah (jewish oral law) completely during this time. Finally, the next eleven months I'll have to spend reciting the mourner's kaddish as part of services in a synagogue, until finally the gravestone is planted and unveiled. At that point, I'm not allowed to mourn anymore.

I am massively offended that my mother has asked me to do this. It's made me disproportionately angry, because this religion felt like such an abuse of my childhood. If she'd died, I probably wouldn't have done it, as I know her to be unreligious and she wouldn't have been around to see it. I would have mourned her in my own, non-institutionalised way. I believe that death is the end; I may be wrong, but I think it highly unlikely in the worlds of possiblities that the Jewish afterlife happens to be correct. However, now she says she wants me to do it for my grandmother, I'm obliged to learn this, as my mother will be there to see it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Watching the ghouls go by.

So... I was sitting on the tube bakc to Ealing Broadway, and a family sat next to me. The day was tall but massively corpulent, soma-eyed with a dark blue t-shirt/tent and tight shorts. As far as I could tell, he couldn't talk. His wife was pretty much normal looking, and the two girls, apart from the standardised slut gear that appears to be the norm amongst school kids, looked normal if a little foreign. Their slack-tracksuited son slumped on the seat next to me, so far that his shoulder-blades were next to my hips and his knees stuck right across the carriage. He writhed there, rubbing his head and talking in German. His mum responded in kind. Dad sat silently. Then the two girls started speaking fluent, slightly-accented english and, after about ten minutes of puzzling, I realised they weren't German, they were... scouse. No racism intended, just tired-I couldn't understand them and the nearest language I could approximate from the glottal stops and gutteral noises was German. However, the only thing that the son said after that, which I understood, was "Mum, agh, ugh, where's Brussels?" and Mum replied... "It's in Spain."

I told this to a room full of people, who mostly laughed or tutted. Yet the only liverpudlian took massive offence and called me racist. This isn't racism; I'd be astounded at such placid (flaccid, mark?) stupidity in anyone and this family just be happened to be from liverpool.

I got off the train at the other end to find Ealing Broadway disturbed, full of policemen and ambulance men and distraught mobile-phoners. A couple of kids had jumped off a packed platform onto the line, presumably to run down it for hi-jinks. One had stumbled and fell against the live line (which they presumably didn't know about) and been electrocuted in front of the massed commuters. (Electrocuted; a word invented just to describe the damage caused by one of man's inventions. We have a thousand words for man-made death, don't we? Eskimos eat your hearts out.) There's a lot of stupidity around, isn't there?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Red Pepper | Know your enemy | Clear Channel: End of Glastonbury? Fiona Osler

Red Pepper | Know your enemy | Clear Channel: End of Glastonbury? Fiona Osler

Little brother Dov pointed out in the comments that Clear Channel aren't the nicest of companies, so I thought I'd post the link. Turns out they are quite spectacularly nasty; I hope our new chief doesn't bring their morals with her - she'll find they don't quite fit Future...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Affectionate Diary: Industry Interview - Dan Griliopoulos

Affectionate Diary: Industry Interview - Dan Griliopoulos: "Let's talk about your feud with the wonderful, fair and just Jon Hicks for a moment, if we can. We all know about your famous public spats, but when did it actually all start? And did you *really* say you wanted to **** his *** with your big ****?"

Interviewed by Leo, I mean, by Suki for no discernible purpose with no focus on the work what I do or who I am. Utterly futile, but pleasant.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Action Philosophers!

Action Philosophers!

A bit like the excellent Freud comic in Kieron's Commercial Suicide anthology mixed with those cartoon books I remember from public libraries that explained key individuals through the medium of bad drawings, this is edutainment in its finest form. I still prefer Martin Rowson's reinterpretation of Tristam Shandy (better than that awful movie by a very long way.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Future slumps after H1 loss, CEO leaves

Future slumps after H1 loss, CEO leaves
"LONDON, June 6 (Reuters) - British magazine publisher Future Plc (FUTR.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said it swung to a first-half pretax loss on Tuesday, warned future profits would fall and said its chief executive had resigned, sending its shares tumbling 13 percent. Future, which publishes more than 150 consumer magazines such as Xbox, Total Film and Fast Car, said Chief Executive Greg Ingham was leaving with immediate effect. Ingham said he was leaving to do something different in business and 'to broaden my experience.' He will be succeeded by Stevie Spring from July 3.

The group said it was scaling back its rapid expansion plans and over the next 18 months would focus on organic growth and operational effectiveness.

'Together with lower expectations for 2006 this organic investment will depress reported profits in 2007 to a level below existing expectations,' Chairman Roger Parry said in a statement.

The group said pretax losses for the half-year to end-March were 12.1 million pounds ($22.7 million), compared with a profit of 11.1 million pounds the year before, due to a major profit shortfall in games titles.

'Future's interims for the six months ended March 2006 are actually worse than anticipated,' analysts at Bridgewell said, while maintaining an 'underweight' rating.

Spring was most recently chief executive of media company Clear Channel. Prior to that she spent sixteen years in national and international advertising company management.

Shares in Future, which have underperformed the UK media sector <.FTASX5550> by more than 50 percent in the last year, were down 13 percent at 38-1/4 pence by 0820 GMT, valuing the group at around 122 million pounds."

Yay! We're being led by someone from billboard advertising who doesn't understand or know magazines! Woo! A perfect replacement for our friendly and ebullient greg who's leaving to spend more time with the World Cup. Let's hope she's po-faced enough that the city types will think she's competent!

...

Anyone want some Future shares? Going cheap (and cheaper by the minute.) We're so ripe for a takeover, it's hilarious.

EDIT:
nei! [only five weeks left] says:
does it say HOLY CRAP
nei! [only five weeks left] says:
CAPTAIN JUMPS SHIP BEFORE RATS


Also it's 6/6/6 and this is my 777 post... creepy.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Consult Me


Consult Me
Originally uploaded by Hot Grill.
I've just started a new site, essentially plagiarising this amazing book from 1866 I found in Bakewell market "Consult Me For All You Want To Know." With information ranging from how to select meat, to cures for cancer, to explosive compounds, it's amazing. Have a read.

Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel

"Cage Finds Himself In Next"

Nicholas Cage is producing and appearing in "Next", yet another Philip K. Dick adaptation, this time from the short story "The Golden Man". The story is about the government hunting down and extinguishing mutants, because of the threat they generally pose to normal people, and how they come across a silent golden man who sees the future as an extension of the present. Like most of these adaptations, they're going to feck it up, but the question is how much? Well, they're making the silent, super-evolved golden beast (a metaphor for the aryan ideal, both Indian and facist) into a speaking Nicholas Cage, he of the Roger Moore eyebrows. Huzzah!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Future in the Eye

Future in the Eye

Sitting back at the farmstead near Buxton, I notice that this week’s Private Eye has it’s usual Stock Horror feature and it’s looking at Future’s share price. I’ll repeat it here for all the employee’s benefits:

Xbox Magazine Publisher Future – chaired by City bigwig Roger Parry – zaps its shareholders

Value of £100 invested a year ago in…
…Future PLC £49
…the rest of the stock market £118

Nuff said. Quite glad I’ve not signed up to the Sharesave scheme now.

Update

I'll write more about myself in a bit, but in the meantime I've updated the Blog; on the left now there's a set of links to my del.icio.us links with comments and I'm going to try and get some sort of flickr feed up there too. I may also shorten that blogroll as it's looking rather lengthy...

Monday, May 08, 2006

YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.

Meat II

THEY'RE MADE OUT OF MEAT

Fantastic little short story converted into a fantastic little short film; as always the story is better than the film, but only by an edge.

Pop-up Books - Sneak Peek!

Pop-up Books - Sneak Peek!: "For the past few years Matthew Reinhart has been working with legendary children's book creator Maurice Sendak on a pop-up labor of love! This hilarious book, titled Mommy? is Maurices's tribute to his love of the monsters of the 1930's."

One of my favourite kid's authors, along with the astounding Shaun Tan. Sendak really captures the macabre nature of being a small thing in a world of unpredictable giants, who can scream and howl or who can bend to your every whim. It's a rare thing to keep that childish mind, though I can think of friends who somehow have integrated it their real personality (instead of remaining children proper, or flipping into that psychotic construct we call adulthood.)

Gun-shaped teddy bear crackers ready to liven up wedding receptions

"A paint firm here is hoping to add color to wedding receptions in Japan with a new device it has jointly developed -- a gun-shaped party cracker that shoots out a teddy bear."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cthulhu & Bush

About the Film: "The Cthulhu itself, whose name is only an approximation of inhuman speech, has lain asleep on the ocean floor since the dawn of time and is being summoned by human and half-human followers to rise and claim the world. Like many others, we believe this agenda is being pursued by those who live among us innocuously, but whose actions promote sprawl, pollution, climate change and war.

We’re also into the gay stuff, so there’s some of that as well."

Cthulhu the movie. Looking awesomely pretentious. Though not as fun to watch as the excellent speech by Stephen Colbert at the Annual White House Correspondents (read - All The President's Men) Dinner. John Walker has a better summary on his site, but suffice to say Bush sits there with an expression on his face like a fox eating shit off a wire brush. I think it's meant to be a smile.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Books tagged "unread" | LibraryThing

Books tagged "unread" | LibraryThing
# Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (49)
# Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra (38)
# The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (49)
# Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi (28)
# One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (42)
# Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond (23)
# The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini (29)
# Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (38)
# War and peace by Leo Tolstoy (26)
# American gods : a novel by Neil Gaiman (30)
# A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson (28)
# The name of the rose by Umberto Eco (33)


Interesting to see which books even committed readers can't face to plough through. (I filtered out those which had only a few users.) Gabriel Garcia Marquez is up there for me, merely because the name's so off-putting. Not surprised to see Jonathan Strange up there - it's great but also an award winner (always hard to make yourself read) and thicker than a hillbilly's head.

eBay.co.uk: Alan Moore's League of Ext. Gents. STATUE (J1P charity) (item 6626507061 end time 11-May-06 23:00:23 BST)

eBay.co.uk: Alan Moore's League of Ext. Gents. STATUE

Oh. My. God.

Is donating £100 to charity (out of greed) when you don't have £100 a) still moral b) economically viable.

Also, for those who've not read Alan Moore's Victoriana-fest The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (not the film of the same name or the TV series of a similar name), do so. Moriaty, Gulliver, Nemo, Mina Harker, Mister Hyde, Moreau and the Red Weed, combining with every steampunk reference ever. But it. Immediately. Or borrow my copy, whichever's easier.

Then you'll be fit to share my statuary-droolfest.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Freedom to Tinker ? Blog Archive ? Making and Breaking HDCP Handshakes

Freedom to Tinker ? Blog Archive ? Making and Breaking HDCP Handshakes: "In the real system, where the secret vectors have forty entries, not four, it takes a conspiracy of about forty devices, with known private vectors, to break HDCP completely. But that is eminently doable, and it’s only a matter of time before someone does it"

The great white copy-protection hope of the Media industries destroyed by simple combination of equations - what I'd call GCSE level maths. I don't think Private Industry is more efficient than Public, I believe that private companies just make enough unfair profit and pay their employees, on average, unfairly less so that they can spend some of it on marketing. Hence I'm not at all surprised at this or Crapita's endless bollixing up of national databases.

NINTENDO

NINTENDO: "Introducing… Wee.

As in 'we.'

While the code-name 'Revolution' expressed our direction, Wee represents the answer.

Wee will break down that wall that separates video game players from everybody else.

Wee will put people more in touch with their games… and each other. But you’re probably asking: What does the name mean?

Wee sounds like 'we,' which emphasises this console is for everyone.

Wee can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wee.

Wee has a distinctive 'ii' spelling that symbolizes both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play.

And Wee, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of video games that sets it apart from the crowd.

So that’s Wee. But now Nintendo needs you.

Because, it’s really not about you or me.

It’s about Wee.

And together, Wee will change everything."

(The Nintendo revolution's real name has just been revealed to be "Wii".)
Here's a sample of the variety of colours it will come in.


Wee in England means micturate and causes hilarity.
Oui in France means yes sounds kinda cool.
Wee in Dutch means sickly and causes worry.
I couldn't find any more translations, but if you've got any, comment!

Also, Chris posted on the forum

I'm stuck

I'm stuck. Sometimes, when I'm feeling a bit ill and I've got lots of things to do, I can't do anything. My head's been like that all week. S'just stuck. It's not writer's block, it's just anything block – can barely get up and come into work, can't sleep, can't write or email, can't motivate myself to even drink a glass of water or go home at the end of the day. Very odd, but it's definitely a "number of things" problem.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

DevilDucky - The Atheist's Nightmare

DevilDucky - The Atheist's Nightmare

Because a banana fits perfectly in a human hand, because a banana looks yummy and because a banana fits perfectly in your mouth, Ray Comfort asserts (on this film) that this indicates it was intelligently designed. Never mind that bananas have been selectively bred by humans for ten thousand years (so selectively bred, the main clone cultivar "Cavendish" will soon be extinct due to its total susceptibility to Panama Disease), never mind the millions of edible things that don't fit perfectly or look good, never mind the initial horror and repugnance their appearance elicited in Victorian England, here's a feller who thinks that they're a sign of God's divine benevolence.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Taking the Nandollar

Taking the Nandollar

I wrote about Nando's chicken, incidentally, in a big review I did recently (the Elder Scrolls Oblivion – my quotes are all over London posters advertising it at the moment), mentioning that we'd been talking about the game over dinner at said Peri-peri bound establishment. I went on holiday, ahem, a Press Trip, and came back to find that Nandos (in the person of their friendly PR) have sent me several vouchers for free meals for two at their restaurants. Altogether, considering Nando's prices and my wage, it's a substantial sum of money – enough freebies that I need eat nothing else for a week. Woo, lucky me!

Howwwww…ever.

Obviously, this means I am now a whore, I've taken Nandos' shilling, I shall in my not-too-distant dotage be forced to don a chicken suit and stand outside the futuristic Nandos with its evanescent chicken steak and traditional reformed longpig patties, and entice passers-by in with cock noises...

I'd like to protest I intended none of this, but the Nandobots tracked me down and reeducated me into their poultry loveness. Who shall I reference next though? Chupa Chups? Barratt's homes? Pamela Anderson's wotsits? What do I want in life, and what am I willing to sell to get it?

Alcatraz #1

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bothered & Bewildered

"Couldn't sleep,
Wouldn't sleep,
Til lag came and told me I shouldn't sleep.
Bewitched, bothered n bewildered
Am I…"

Been to L.A. & San Fran for pre-E3 stuff again this year. Disappointingly, depressingly, there seem very few new games for the 360 over the next few months, let alone year. Never mind, I had a lovely time; went to Magic Mountain, got extremely sunburnt, went to bed, had delirium (again), ate lots of good food and hung around with persons of good humour. Spent last Wednesday in a $12 million mansion in the Hollywood hills, with a view right across L.A. to where the Sierra Nevada rises out of the smog, surrounded by geeks and models. Was in San Francisco on the 18th, the 100th anniversary of the earthquake there, but everything seemed very lo-key. I get the feeling that the city is one of those places that has much more under the surface. Got on a boat with the delightful Ben Richardson from Games Radar and sailed round Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate. Twas very welcome.

Get back and I'm jet-lagged, ill and feeling much-abused. Getting a little tired of this job now – I can see the magazine's not doing as well as it should be and the contents of the magazine aren't always as good as they should be (for which I take my share of the blame). I really should move to a different profession or just go freelance but I'm entirely too scared/lazy. Sigh. Give it three months, if there are no more games announced and no signs of promotion, I'll move on and go travelling or something.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Life without numbers in a unique Amazon tribe. Piraha apparently can't learn to count and have no distinct words for colors.

Life without numbers in a unique Amazon tribe. Piraha apparently can't learn to count and have no distinct words for colors.: "1 1=2. Mathematics doesn't get any more basic than this, but even 1 1 would stump the brightest minds among the Piraha tribe of the Amazon.

A study appearing today in the journal Science reports that the hunter-gatherers seem to be the only group of humans known to have no concept of numbering and counting.

Not only that, but adult Piraha apparently can't learn to count or understand the concept of numbers or numerals, even when they asked anthropologists to teach them and have been given basic math lessons for months at a time.

Their lack of enumeration skills is just one of the mental and cultural traits that has led scientists who have visited the 300 members of the tribe to describe the Piraha as 'something from Mars.'"

Machine Readable: The Cure for Information Overload

I may be bandwagonning a bit late, but the cure for information overload - Machine Readable: The Cure for Information Overload - is well worth a read.

Friday, March 31, 2006

SUPERREEFA

Reproduced entirely from the BLDGBLOG cos of its wonderfulnessness:
The reef's history, from New Scientist: "About 200 million years ago the sea level rose throughout the world. A huge ocean known as the Tethys Seaway expanded to reach almost around the globe at the Equator. Its warm, shallow waters enhanced the deposition of widespread lime muds and sands which made a stable foundation for the sponges and other inhabitants of the reef. The sponge reef began to grow in the Late Jurassic period, between 170 and 150 million years ago, and its several phases were dominated by siliceous sponges."
Rigid with glass "created by using silica dissolved in the water," this proto-reef "continued to expand across the seafloor for between 5 and 10 million years until it occupied most of the wide sea shelf that extended over central Europe."

Thus, today, in the foundations of European geography, you see the remains of a huge, living creature that, according to H.P. Lovecraft, is not yet dead.
What –
"We do not know," New Scientist says, "whether the demise of this fossil sponge reef was caused by an environmental change to shallower waters, or from the competition for growing space with corals. What we do know is that such a structure never appeared again in the history of the Earth." (You can read more here).
For whatever reasons, meanwhile, this story reminds me of a concert by Akio Suzuki that I attended back in London in 2002, at the School of Oriental and African Studies. That night, Suzuki – a Japanese musician and sound artist – played a variety of instruments, including the amazing "Analapos," which he'd constructed himself, and a number of small stone flutes, or iwabue.
The amazing thing about those flutes was that they were literally just rocks, hollowed out by natural erosion – and Suzuki had simply picked them up from the Japanese beach years before. If I remember right, one of them was even from Denmark.
In any case, Suzuki chose the stones because of their natural acoustic properties, their musical playability: he could attain the right resonance, hit the right notes, and so their music was really a factor of geology and landscape design. The accidents of natural erosion.
Rocks everywhere, hiding instruments.

But the idea that there might be a similar such stone flute – only the size and shape of a vast fossilized reef, stretching from Portugal to southern Russia – would suddenly seem like a real possibility. In other words, locked into the rocks of Europe is the largest musical instrument ever made: awaiting a million more years of wind and rain and even war to carve that reef into a flute, a buried saxophone, made of fossilized glass, pocketed with caves and indentations, reflecting the black light of uncountable eclipses until the earth gives out.
Weird European land animals, evolving fifty eons from now, will notice it first: a strange whistling on the edge of the wind whenever storms blow up from Africa. Mediterranean rains wash more dust and soil to the sea, exposing more reef, and the sounds get louder. The reef looms larger. Its structure like vertebrae, or hollow backbones, frames valleys, rims horizons, carries any and all sounds above silence through the reef's reverberating latticework of small wormholes and caves.

Equivalent to a hundred thousand flutes, embedded into bedrock, per square-mile.
Soon the reef generates its own weather, forming storms where there had only been breezes before; it echoes with the sound of itself from one end to the next. It wakes up animals, howling.
For the last two or three breeding groups of humans still around, there's an odd familiarity to some of the reef-flute's sounds, as if every two years a certain storm comes through, playing the reef to the tune of... something they can't quite remember.

It's rumored amidst these dying, malnourished tribes that if you whisper a secret into the reef it will echo there forever; that a man can be hundreds of miles away when the secret comes through, passing ridge to ridge on Saharan gales.
And then there's just the reef, half-buried by desert, whispering to itself on windless days – till it erodes into a fine black dust, lost beneath dunes, and its million years of musicalized weather go silent forever.