Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wired 13.11: My Bionic Quest for Bol?ro

Wired 13.11: My Bionic Quest for Bol?ro: "My hearing is no longer limited by the physical circumstances of my body. While my friends' ears will inevitably decline with age, mine will only get better." Michael Chorost is totally deaf and loves Ravel's Bolero. Having had a cochlear implant, he decided to see how far he could push its capabilities through software manipulation. If you've got five minutes, this is a really moving must-read.

Google Gulp

Google Gulp: "Think fruity. Think refreshing.
Think a DNA scanner embedded in the lip of your bottle reading all 3 gigabytes of your base pair genetic data in a fraction of a second, fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time using our patented Auto-Drink™ technology, and slamming a truckload of electrolytic neurotransmitter smart-drug stimulants past the blood-brain barrier to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex. Plus, it's low in carbs! And with flavors ranging from Beta Carroty to Glutamate Grape, you'll never run out of ways to quench your thirst for knowledge.
Beta Carroty Glutamate Grape Sugar-Free Radical Sero-Tonic Water

How to get Gulped?
You can pick up your own supply of this 'limited release' product simply by turning in a used Gulp Cap at your local grocery store. How to get a Gulp Cap? Well, if you know someone who's already been 'gulped,' they can give you one. And if you don't know anyone who can give you one, don't worry – that just means you aren't cool. But very, very (very!) soon, you will be."

A multi-billion dollar corporation satirising itself. (OLD, I know.) Google really is just taking the piss out of the stock market at every step.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Brad Pitt is a chameleon - The Superficial - www.thesuperficial.com

Brad Pitt is a chameleon - The Superficial - www.thesuperficial.com

'nuff said. This'll shoot round the blogs faster than a proton in CERN. Who am I to stand in its way?

The Man Who Couldn't Blog

The Man Who Couldn't Blog: "We said, '...hat covered entirely in fruit...' but the truth is that we don't know. Is there, really, underneath all of us—we fruit on this fruit hat—a hat? Or is the fruit on this fruit hat, in fact, all that constitutes this fruit hat? We are not sure. Are we attached to something? Is there a skeleton? A continuous piece of fabric or a scarf? Are we, the fruit of the fruit hat, holding the world together as both its citizens and its superstructure?

This is a mystery.

What we do know is that below us is Carmen Miranda, and she is our pillar/God. She holds us up. She, stalwart, stoic, steady, carries us all above the nothing. Her feet reach down to eternity, to the everlasting abyss underneath. She is as tall as the entire universe. She goes on forever."

Superb tosh, as good as the Fafblog at its best.

Land Ho!

Treehugger: IKEA BoKlok Flatpack houses spread Swedish gospel

Our landlord has seen fit to move back into our flat, leaving us homeless. It's my fifth move in two years and I'm getting ultra-tired of moving into another rented property. So I'm thinking of buying instead. Of course, that's nearly impossible for someone of my age on my wage, especially with property prices as high as they are and definitely on my own. I've been honestly considering moving into a housing association or commune as a way of actually making sure some of the £600+ I pour away each month comes back in my dotage.

Thankfully, Chiarina pointed me to a series of sites that help with self-build or cheap pre-fabs. The pre-fabs are fine, except it's hard to think of anywhere around London where there's cheap land. That said, there's plenty of abandoned homes waiting for reclamation, just that it's not clear how to go about claiming them. I suppose if it was, people would do it all the time. I've a feeling local authoritaries grab them all instead and use them to fund their enormous burgeoning debt. Perhaps I should go for the container city developments- it's so City of Heroes/Bladerunner slum.

Plan59 > Gallery of Demonic Tots and Deeply Disturbing Cuisine

Plan59 > Gallery of Demonic Tots and Deeply Disturbing Cuisine

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Camel Lights #3

Camel Lights #3
Originally uploaded by Hot Grill.
I've just been to Brussels. It's weird...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The SF Site: SF Masterworks Reviews Archive

The SF Site: SF Masterworks Reviews Archive

I seem to have bought all of these books. :S Yet currently missing are I Am Legend, The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Stand On Zanzibar, Star Maker, Flowers For Algernon, The First Men in the Moon, VALIS, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said and The Dancers at the End of Time, A Canticle For Leibowitz and a couple of others I couldn't care less about. I wouldn't mind except that these are, without exception, excellent so I must have leant them to peeps. I've got a spare copy of J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World, if anyone wants it, particularly in exchange for a hostage novel? Also: Walter Miller Jr has just published his sequel to a Canticle for Leibowitz (Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman) and then he died; has anyone read this, or am I the only living person who cares?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Busted Tees : Grills Grills Grills:
"Grills, grills, grills, grills.
Grills, I do adore."

Everywhere I look the world shouts my name, like, wotsit, the Lawnmower man, except with tacky fast food joints instead of the ringing of every phone in the world... solipsism? Well, who else could the sun revolve around, eh? It's got to revolve around something and my navel qualifies to be sure.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Here There Be Monsters / Pup

Here There Be Monsters



You must, must, must... MUST. read this. "Pup Ponders the Heat Death of the Universe." It's simply astonishing, if a bit slow to load.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Busy weeks, so no post for quite a while. Will rectify over the next couple of weeks of holiday I'm sure. What I have achieved in the last few weeks:

Turned an elderly fellow's racist rant about immigrants stealing our money/jobs/pies into a rant directed entirely at the French and disabled people. (He also claimed that they were getting rid of the Routemaster buses, not because they were inefficient, small and polluting but for the equally valid reason that they had no disabled access and couldn't be modified. My response was that we should modify the disabled people, which he agreed enthusiastically with.)

Persuaded my friends to change their names temporarily to various Russian hero names. (There was a fascinating trend in the Post-revolutionary USSR to name your children after acronyms of patriotic events, such as Vilen (V. I. Lenin). I am now Lorijerik (????????)which means " Lenin, October Revolution, industrialisation, electrification, radiofication and communism" Who says communism is dead?

Saw basketball for the first time in Guildford. Weird game, everyone looks normal-sized until you chat to them and get a crick in your neck. Also, as always, it went to a ridiculous tie-breaker and one team lost by a hair's breadth. Crazy game, odd entertainment in the innumerable intervals, but not actually that interesting. Ho-hum.

I've taken up Squash! By which I mean, I've bought a racket and played twice and now hurt all over. Hurrah!

Played various games. Shadow of the Colossus is one where you (a small horse-riding boy) have to fight tower-block sized giants (like basketballers) by climbing up them and stabbing them in the vitals. It's like a puzzle where the level is a moving landscape and you have to reach a certain point. Absolutely awe-inspiring, but eventually repetitive. I've also been playing Star Wars: Empire at War, a good solid RTS from Activision involving space and land combat. It feels like Medieval Total War (the dual level, resource-gathering element) and Command & Conquer (2D RTS planet-battles on fixed-path maps), but with Star Wars hero characters. I've played the overly-cutesy village-sim Animal Crossing (pictured) excessively with friends, but got fairly bored fairly quickly; limiting your level of social interaction but adding little rarely makes for a good game. I tried playing the vehicular MMO Auto Assault, but couldn't get even on the server.

The best of the lot though, I only got to play for a day. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a small world where you can wander the wilds, make your own adventures and so on. There's more to do in it than I can possibly convey in a couple of sentences, so I'll simply quote from my article from the mag (yes, I'm quoting myself, fol-de-rol) "The true beginning of Oblivion is when you step away from those tight training levels and out of the claustrophobic sewers at the base of Cyrodil. Your heart skips a beat. "Look", your brain gesticulates, "that's a big lake and on the far shore, there's some haunting ruins, and behind them some hills and trees", and then it gets tired, and melts a bit, and you just have to sit down and just look for fifty minutes as the day-night cycle runs and the stars go away and your face is dappled by sunlight and then a light drizzle starts and you still can't quite cope with the openness and variety of the world, nor with the oil painting styling of it, until a wolf starts gnawing on your leg and you have to run away."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Dreamt Of ABombs

I Dreamt Of A-Bombs

I'm sitting in a restaurant, atop a steep hill, eating and looking down on the town when the quality of the light changes and the diners gasp. I look up to see a mushroom cloud rising up over the hills, obscuring the sunset, spreading above the horizon. I/we feel horror and a quiet confused terror, not knowing if this, a backwater town, is likely to be targeted. As we all watch, still, gaping, more mushrooms spread out, stalks shooting up behind the hill-line in perfect synchronicity, at too regular intervals, designed for our viewing pleasure, until the sky is a series of rising columns supporting the godly cloud, like a banyan, or Yggdrasil displaced to Jormungand's circling place and we snakes at the world's centre, biting our own tails in astonishment at the world's end (having seen its beginning in Eden).

We pour out of the glass diner in a panic, some yelling, most spreading out to tell the news in the ruddy light. My dining companions and I run to an elegant red brick hotel at the bottom of the road. Going in, all is quiet and the bar staff are oblivious to our questions about the bombs; they know nothing. We sit down at a table. Whether we are tired, intending to enjoy the last peace of our lives, or simply about to order the last good meal we will ever have, I don't know.

(A dream…I think I may be worried about Bird Flu…)

Stalag Logged IV

With a belated fug in my ears, I was rolling through Paddington a good thirty minutes late, when a drip, a mean solitary drip, crawled through the girders and deposited itself on my head. I say deposited because looking down I saw an incipient stalagmite leering up at me. On my coat was the faintest, smear of limestone (where it comes from I don't know. Leeched from the stone, washed down from the seagull's guano on Brunel's arched iron roof, whatever.)

Each drip leaves only the most minute meniscus on me. How long would it take for a stalgmite to grow on me? It appears most stalagmites have less than 1mm growth every year, as this website indicates, and they're solid. I estimate I only catch 1 second of drip a day, so I'm going to calcify at the rate of (1mm/(60x60x24x365)) which is about 3.17 x 10 to the minus 8 (assuming immortality of course.) I've illustrated the level of calcification I'll suffer over the years of working in this job in the graph below.

Update: I got dripped on again today, at a different stalagmite location in the walkway. Doubling my estimations, this results in the graph below.

I'd like at this juncture to indicate that I am in no way bored. Oh, indeed, no.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

World of Lifecraft

World of Lifecraft

World of Lifecraft; giving yourself experience points for everyday actions and then rewarding yourself once you level up. By my estimation, I'm already on Level 1 which let's me eat some junk food! Hurrah for Tom!

Dammit. I've just reminded myself that I was playing The Elder Scrolls IV at a preview event yesterday and now I'm all twitchy to play it again. Need... RPGs...

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Fridge Door

Toller sez:

> regarding:
>> http://web.okaygo.co.uk/apps/letters/flashcom/
> goddammit, i just spent about 10mins (alright, 30) trying to write 'stroop effect' on a fridge and 'banksy' on a scratchboard - why is it everyone draws
> willies? I would've myself but it was willies everywhere. it's ridiculous.
> All theories about the purpose of art should take this on board since
> it is clear that, across the world, the most frequently-drawn thing
> by a factor of a shmolean is a tadger. either it's that art reflects
> life (i.e. the artist is trying to say 'i'm a cock') or it's for
> the emotional expression of a political view ('you're a cock) or else
> more of a visceral, expressionist, abstract communication ('lo, behold cockness'). But it should have its own section in art galleries, standing proudly (sorry) next to still lifes, self-portraits and landscapes: life seen through
> one eye.
> back to the fridge door.

Leonard Nimoy Photography

Star Trek's one-time Vulcan has taken to photography in his old age, and this is his personal website. The "Full Body Report" indicates he still has retained his sense of the absurd from the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

which is louder, a snowmobile or a tractor?

Toller sez:

which is louder, a snowmobile or a tractor?

a snowmobile, obviously.
did you know a walkman is louder than a power saw? Or a toaster is louder
than motorway traffic? no, me neither, and it's not very interesting for
that matter:


zooey crying, for instance, is as loud as a symphony orchestra in full
swing although slightly more tuneful i'll wager.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Arbeit ist Scheisse

Independent Online Edition > Europe: "Just as Germans were starting to feel bored by their election campaign, a little-known anarchist party has outraged television viewers with a no-holds-barred political broadcast featuring bare-breasted women, raucous partying and alcohol-fuelled vandalism.

The German Anarchist Pogo Party (APPD), whose defiant proclamation that 'Arbeit ist Scheisse' ('Work is shit') contrasts sharply with Angela Merkel's vows to reduce unemployment and Gerhard Schröder's labour market reform programme, launched its campaign video on Monday for the 18 September election."

Arbitrary assertion; people are tired of work. Seriously, we're sick of being told we're working longer and harder than ever before, and then feeling guilty because the poor around the world are working even harder for even less, and knowing most of this money slushes around the pockets of very few. I believe firmly that British wellbeing would be improved by a national four day week, and most industries would get exactly the same amount done in that time as they do now, especially as most non-manual industries do very little actual stuff at all (think of us filling out thousands of forms which bureaucrats can then put into non-working central computers for no-one to ever access... there's an obsession with collecting currently useless information, but I digress.)

I think talk of lottery winners going back to work at their old jobs indicates a lack of imagination/ambition on their part or perhaps just how far they've been institutionalised, if they're at all true. I shudder with horror when modern utopias have full employment as their aim (which always seemed more the dystopia of We or 1984 to me.) That's why I've just taken out a subscription to the Idler and why I'm thinking of new and innovative ways to avoid work. Suggestions?

Alcohol Ads Fuel Young Adults' Drinking - Forbes.com

Alcohol Ads Fuel Young Adults' Drinking: "The more ads young people see about alcohol, the more they drink. "

"Well, hurrah" sez marketing, advertising and boozing industry, supping aplenty.
"Well, boo" sez health gurus and Right-thinkers all over, supping aplenty.

John Walker Style BBC Rant

Quote from some radio 4 wildlife programme. “Predation is good for the herd because it weeds out the weaker members of the species.” Sounds like a justification for a psycho-killer movie to me.

Actually, I heard some dreadful shlock on Radio 4 last presented by Judith Hann, who stopped being a TV presenter because the stress got to her. The programme was about a new character profiling system that uses five categories to perfectly characterise anyone, just like astrology or other cons for the unfortunately gullible. Funnily enough it told Judith she was prone to stress and was extrovert and a hundred other things she knew already (and we all knew after five minutes of hearing her burble on about herself, her family, her teeth, etc). If you want to join me in feeling disgust at this piece of vapid nonsense and mourn the temporary death of a British institution, you can hear it here.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Some ballet shop in Marylebone has this special freak in the window.

Star Wars Kitsch

Nick sings the Star Wars theme in a lounge style

One of my regular reads, the website at the end of the universe, has done a fantastic update on Star Wars kitsch, including Bill Murray singing the Star Wars theme, lounge-lizard style, and citing the Chewbacca Defense (South Park's Eddie Cochran citing the fact that Chewbacca had nothing to do with the OJ case repeatedly, and hence clearing OJ, a red herring defense akin to the 'Idiot Defense' regularly used by CEOs who's companies collapse or are found to be corrupt. Apparently. More excitingly, eh reminds me of the existence of these excellent Star Wars transformers. Woo!