Friday, March 31, 2006


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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Whales Have Their Own Syntax That Uses Sound Units To Build Phrases That Can Be Combined

Whales Have Their Own Syntax That Uses Sound Units To Build Phrases That Can Be Combined: "The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours."

The Japanese don't have a syntax; the nearest they've got is a phonetic alphabet they nicked off Chinese (Japanophiles, correct me if I'm wrong); each word isn't comprised of alphabetic elements. Now it turns out whales have a syntactic language. This means their language, in terms of complexity and the usual standards of development, is more advanced than that of the Japanese. Who hunt whales for research = fodder = kicks. Welcome to Gilbert & Sullivan's Topsy-Turvidom.

Gizoogle - Fo all you beotches who wanna find shiznit

US debt clock running out of time, space - Yahoo! News

US debt clock running out of time, space - Yahoo! News: "So rapid is the rise of the US national debt, that the last four digits of a giant digital signboard counting the moving total near New York's Times Square move in seemingly random increments as they struggle to keep pace.

The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion -- or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 -- dollars ... and counting.

But it's not big enough."

Reminds me of that awesome fiscal responsibility platform game someone made, where you got to play as Mr T, Hulk Hogan and other heroes of the 80s battling through Bush's massively, rapidly increasing debt. Does anyone have a link for that?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Enjoying a Czech beer in London - 26-03-2003 - Radio Prague

Having received both Guitar Hero and an extra-special sooper-dooper copy of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on Friday, I went to Toby's for a house-warming. I staggered in smelling of meat, late and drunk, with the Guitar Hero fake Gibson Les Paul slung over my back. An excellent way to enter a party. The party was not dead when I got there, but definitely comatose with its grieving family standing round, weeping. I got out Guitar Hero.

...time passed...

At four in the morning, there were three men standing, banging away at the axe. I was begging them to stop. Literally begging, head slumped sideways on my shoulders, biting the sofa in frustration, just asking them to stop. I never want to hear Smoke On The Water or Ace of Spades or Ziggy Stardust again. EVER. Even though the game's awesome. I finally got it away from them, caught a few hours on the sofa AGAIN and wandered off for my traditional Deptford Pie N Mash breakfast.

Enjoying a Czech beer in London - 26-03-2003 - Radio Prague: "'It's not because it's undrinkable how they do it. They use the wrong gas. They serve the sort of pipe beer - what remains in the pipelines. It's basically lousy beer, it's an abomination (laughs) to proper Czech beer, because they don't really know...before you start you have to pour out three pints - they don't. Plus I've got only two kinds of beer so it's flowing constantly, they've got 25 so basically one man every three hour gets a Czech beer, or something like that. It's basically stale goods, and wrong gas and wrong taps...'"

Sleeping the day away, I woke and (after losing a few hours of my life to Oblivion - I have a haunted house now!) went to the afore-mentioned Gambrinus Czechslovak Community Centre for a few beers and some dinner. I can say, at this point, that I have never eaten so much fat in one sitting. I started with Tripe Soup, though my dinner companions had respectively brawn, a potato pancake dripping in lard and a big sausage. Main courses mainly consisted of small bits of meat soaked in cream (and some vegetables for colour), with dumplings (again, around 50% fat.) Yesterday I ate nothing but bananas until about midnight, where I balanced out the weekend with greens, garlic and pasta.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Most Scared Man Alive

I'm scared and confused. This comes naturally to me; I've been referred to in the past as "the most scared man alive". Opening post addressed to me fills me with horror, terror that someone's found something nasty about me out, even though I know I've done nothing wrong, or that a friend has died or something equally depressing. Today I got a copy of "If On A Winter's Night A Traveller" in the post, to my work address. It's come from a Wadham College, Oxford address – I don't think I know anyone there though so I'm all scarified. If you were the culprit and you wish to put me out of my self-induced misery (to be fair I'm both a bit ill and exhausted from moving house at the moment – had to lug twenty car-loads of stuff up to our fourth-story penthouse) just mail me or leave a comment – I'd appreciate it!

Monday, March 20, 2006 (video/quicktime Object)

(video/quicktime Object)

Excellent music video from the Super Furry Animals.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Ritting: "Calvinity

The long-faced ginger man opposite glances at my book title over his glasses.

I glance at his.

He's also reading Calvino.

We both glance up and glance hurriedly away."

Self-referential blogging of my own posts elsewhere. Go Ego ergo I go?

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Pentagon plans cyber-insect army

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Pentagon plans cyber-insect army: "The Pentagon's defence scientists want to create an army of cyber-insects that can be remotely controlled to check out explosives and send transmissions."

PC Plus - Customising Firefox

PC Plus - Customising Firefox: "While the PC Plus team entirely appreciate that the unifying power of Microsoft Internet Explorer is a fine and dandy thing for breaking Internet standards, we will admit that we’ve all hopped on the Firefox bandwagon with all the keenness of sharpened slates. The major advantages of Mozilla’s baby are its customisability; there are more extensions than a Rastafarian barber shop, and most are either useful or intriguing. We’ve gone through as many as we could, and present a handful of our favourites. We would recommend you don’t install all of these at once, however. Most haven’t gone through Firefox compatibility testing so there will be bugs if you bite off too many. "

A thing I wrote for PC Plus on Firefox Plug-ins, ages ago.

Association Of International Glaucoma Societies............AIGS............

Association Of International Glaucoma Societies

GO HERE. Listen to the Hymn. Reb Dovidul, I want you to sample this for your music!



A wonderful and handy little flash anatomy program. Worth a gander - saves us from the retrenching Von Hagens of this world, a little at least.

National Geographic Adventure Mag.: Caver Chris Nicola talks about uncovering a heroic tale of Holocaust survival.

National Geographic Adventure Mag.: Caver Chris Nicola talks about uncovering a heroic tale of Holocaust survival.: "Their first stop was Verteba, a well-known tourist cave where the families spent their first six months. There, the Jews struggled to find enough water and suffered from the toxic buildup of smoke from their cooking fire. Then on May 5, 1943, after narrowly avoiding capture at the hands of the Gestapo, the families relocated to a previously unexplored cave located beneath land owned by a local parish priest. It was called Popowa Yama, or Priest's Grotto, and it would be the Jews refuge from the Holocaust for the next 344 days... one of the survivors, only four years old at the time, said she remembers playing with a bright, shining crystal in the cave. One of the largest crystals in the world is close to their campsite inside Priest's Grotto, and chunks of it will sometimes fall to the ground. When we saw the crystal, we realized that that was where she used to play."

Just came back from a book club where we discussed Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev. A young Hassidic jew grows up with a gift and desire for drawing, which earns him only the oppobrium of his family, though the artistic world acclaims him. I enjoyed it immensely, probably because I recognised the characters a little from my childhood - the most amazing thing was that it convinced me for a few days that I was living in a winter wonderland - I'd leave tube stations and expect to be walking out into snow drifts, I'd rub and blow my hands inside my fingerless gloves before realising I was actually too hot, not cold. The book's ending is predictable, but it pulls no punches; I'd recommend it to anyone, though I'm too tired to describe why right now.

Thursday, March 09, 2006



Batshit movie trailer, taken from Do tell me if you've got any idea what the frick this is about...

Z machine exceeds two billion degrees Kelvin hotter than the interiors of stars

Z machine hotter than the interiors of stars: "Sandia’s Z machine has produced plasmas that exceed temperatures of 2 billion degrees Kelvin — hotter than the interiors of stars. The unexpectedly hot output, if its cause were understood and harnessed, could eventually mean that smaller, less costly nuclear fusion plants would produce the same amount of energy as larger plants.

“At first, we were disbelieving,” says Sandia project lead Chris Deeney. “We repeated the experiment many times to make sure we had a true result and not an ‘Ooops’!” (blah, blah - they verified the result. So...)

First, the radiated x-ray output was as much as four times the expected kinetic energy input. Ordinarily, in non-nuclear reactions, output energies are less — not greater — than the total input energies. More energy had to be getting in to balance the books, but from where?

Second, and more unusually, high ion temperatures were sustained after the plasma had stagnated — that is, after its ions had presumably lost motion and therefore energy and therefore heat — as though yet again some unknown agent was providing an additional energy source to the ions.

Sandia’s Z machine normally works like this: 20 million amps of electricity pass through a small core of vertical tungsten wires finer than human hairs. The core is about the size of a spool of thread. The wires dissolve instantly into a cloud of charged particles called a plasma.

The plasma, caught in the grip of the very strong magnetic field accompanying the electrical current, is compressed to the thickness of a pencil lead. This happens very rapidly, at a velocity that would fly a plane from New York to San Francisco in several seconds.

At that point, the ions and electrons have nowhere further to go. Like a speeding car hitting a brick wall, they stop suddenly, releasing energy in the form of X-rays that reach temperatures of several million degrees — the temperature of solar flares.

Haines theorized that the rapid conversion of magnetic energy to a very high ion plasma temperature was achieved by unexpected instabilities at the point of ordinary stagnation: that is, the point at which ions and electrons should have been unable to travel further. The plasma should have collapsed, its internal energy radiated away. But for approximately 10 nanoseconds, some unknown energy was still pushing back against the magnetic field."

Fuck me! Inexplicable in terms of normal science? An experiment offering a paradigm shift? Possibly, whatever that means. This offers the chance of small fusion reactors that actually work - saving nuclear power as a possible alternative energy source! Brilliant!

Cuisine Technology: Thermal Circulators & Baths

Cuisine Technology: Thermal Circulators & Baths

The anti-grill! My nemesis hath been born and it's a kitchen surface! I always knew those mock-granite countertops would do me down - damn you dolomite, damn yoooooouuu...!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A plant that glows when thirsty - Yahoo! News

A plant that glows when thirsty - Yahoo! News: "Some people like to talk to their plants. Now, students at Singapore Polytechnic say they have created a plant that can communicate with people -- by glowing when it needs water."

The Turning Point

The Turning Point

There's a choice I need to make in my life. I've always had a tendency to shoot my mouth off accidentally – I've shouted "Cunt" at co-workers across the office on numerous occasions, . Today I managed to insult two different people by not being senstitive to their particular needs and telling things like they were, eliciting laughter from everyone but also embarrassment and anger from the concerned party. The first one was a simple statement of the person's qualities, the second concerned Suzy, a lovely lass with an odd family who tend to get into unfortunate scrapes. She blared across the office, ostensibly talking to the person next to her, "balls, my sister's car got burnt out last night", then when we all burst out laughing she asked "how come you guys listen in to everything I say." My response "Could it be because you speak ten decibels louder than anyone else", got another laugh but made her very upset, so I apologised, and now feel terribly down and guilty.

My choice is this: I can continue caring, apologising and getting depressed every time I offend someone, or I can just become a self-righteous bastard, properly once and for all. My predilection for saying arsehole comments indicates to me that my life would be easier if I did the latter, and I'd end up hanging around people who could take my comments; my problem is that the latter group may end up being rather small and I'd  basically be a sociopathic character. I know people who've taken that route and they're self-confident, brash but mostly funny people because they're equally disparaging/damaging to everyone; I just don't know if I could pull it off. Perhaps the decision will be made for me.

Anyway, introspection aside (to some extent) I'm going to three festivals this summer! ATP, Bestival and The Green Man. Anyone else going?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Drawn! The Illustration Blog ? Blog Archive ? Staake’s Struwwelpeter

Drawn! The Illustration Blog ? Blog Archive ? Staake’s Struwwelpeter: "Bob Staake is releasing a version of the classic German children’s book Der Struwwelpeter in his familiar geometric style. Der Struwwelpeter is a series of short morality tales. Staake’s version “is intended to remain faithful to (Heinrich) Hoffmann’s original vision while giving the ten bizarre, “lesson-driven” stories a modernized viability.”"

When Shockheaded Peter was turned into a stage play, I couldn't stay away. I saw it at least twice, and could watch it over and over - gruesome, beautiful jaw-dropping humour, with the ghorish music of the falsetto & accordion misanthropes The Tiger Lilies tacked onto the play's living flesh. Anyone fancy buying this for me?

Another One Bites The Dust

Obituary: Linda Smith

One of the great unrecognised talents of British comedy just died, the... the... there's no adjective sufficient to describe Linda Smith. Little brother Dov pointed her death out to me and I had a little cry. She was 48, and she only really achieved any proper success in the three years she knew she had cancer. "She was recently voted The Wittiest Living Person by listeners to Radio 4's Word Of Mouth." Very sad. Listen to the tribute News Quiz on friday at 6.30 on Radio 4.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Choose Your Own Adventure

Excellent "Choose Your Own Adventure" photoshopping contest.