Hmm. The image in that last entry is, in fact, a link. Of course, it’s not very clear that it is.
Perversely, that gets me thinking about a blog that would consist only of images. No words. Each entry would just be an image that would link to something appropriate.
Is anyone out there doing that, I wonder? If not, and webserver space permitting, I might give one a go for a week, just to see if it’s workable.
Paul emails to remind me that I rashly promised to read Solaris by next Sunday. I can’t remember why it was important, but I guess I’ll have to do it now.
According to the Guardian, this is what London’s new evening freebie paper is going to look like.
Then again, pitching itself somewhere between Metro, OK! magazine and the Evening Standard. It was never going to be anything other than rubbish.
(I’m having a rather fully illustrated day today - apologies if this is clogging up bandwidth. No pics next week, I promise.)
I just got out of North London before the snow really hit yesterday afternoon, and made it to the South Bank for the early evening viewing of Metropolis.
This was the version compiled by the FW Murnau institute from all availalble prints and negatives. It’s still missing something like 40 minutes from the original cut made by Fritz Lang, sadly, but at least this version keeps the plot reasonably coherent through a judicious use of explanatory intertitles.
We all know key images from the film, like the obviously female ‘Man-Machine’ (above), but what struck me on this viewing were a couple of themes that I hadn’t really associated with this, the grandaddy of sci-fi films. One is the almost resigned expectation of a workers’ revolution, the feeling that the masses will turn at any second.
The other is the streak of real (by which I mean biblical) apocalypticism running throughout. Freder hears the Apocalypse of St John in the cathedral, and is later seen reading the book. When he sees an accident at the Heart Machine, he hallucinates the machine as a demon’s mouth swallowing the workers. Just in case he might miss the point, the intertitle blares:
I saw the film with veteran friend Paul, and had a proper night of it afterwards in Azzurro then in the NFT bar. Looking back, most of the conversation seemed centre on politics, religion and the end of the world. But I laughed pretty much all night.
I think that might be a definition of friendship.
The field of vision narrowed radically; each artifact was visually available in utmost clarity, but tightly framed in a pale and featureless fog, each visitor becoming “the blind librarian”.
That’s William Gibson describing the cunningly constructed display cases at the Borges and Buenos Aires exhibition in Barcelona; and making a decent stab at Borges’ style while he’s at it. Did you catch it, Andy?
BBC 2 showed a remarkable drama last night night based on, of all things, James VI’s book Daemonologie.
Witchcraze took a rather bullish attitude to James’ arrival back in Scotland from claiming his Danish bride and his growing belief in the presence of witches across the lowlands.
The inevitable torture scene was located in a white-tiled room, rather reminiscent of Ken Russell’s virtually unwatchable The Devils. But what really caught the eye was the decision to film the whole thing as a documentary, complete with voiceover introducing interviews and plenty of unsteadicam verité-style footage.
The previews I read were all excited by this new idea technique of treating history as current affairs. Well, that makes them only about 40 years late; not bad for TV reviewers, I suppose. It’s a shame because the film that really did invent this technique, Peter Watkins’ wonderful 1964 drama Culloden, is finally available on VHS and DVD this month.
Also just released is Watkins’ famous film about a nuclear attack on Kent, The War Game - so disturbing that the BBC refused to show it for 20 years. It’s nice to see the man getting some attention at last.
No, this isn’t my attempt at Diamond Geezer-style cryptics.
Last year I got up to the 10-or-more answers per day stage on the Guardian crossword, though I’m pretty rusty at the moment. As an attempt to kick some life into my miserable crosswording, I was browsing a guide to cryptic crosswords when I saw the clue above given as an example.
It mentioned, in passing, that the apostrophe-s here is the link word (i.e. the word that links the definition with the cryptic explanation). Apostrophe-s = “is”, in crossword-speak.
I never realised that. How bad at these things am I?
I wouldn’t have blogged this except for the fact that I can see a sort of theme developing today.
Q: Does this make sense?
A: Jon heads off, backtracking negatively (2)
Do you ever do this? I skim-read the following headline on ReseachBuzz:
New Online Robert Burns Exhibit
In my head, I was halfway through an exciting story about how some clever new internet-driven automaton had accidentally set fire to part of a museum before I realised, oh, Robert Burns.
With apologies to Scottish Nationalists, I still prefer my version.
Then again, when I was a kid, I thought that the local hospital’s ‘Burns Unit’ was named after the poet…
From the flyer for the East Dulwich Psychic Fair:
“Featuring Mary-as sen BBC TV”
As-you sen Mary BBC TV? I-asn’t.
(With apologies to Woody Guthrie)
I am, you know, trying to join the broadband revolution. I’d ideally like a people’s revolution, but I assumed that this one would be easier (even more apologies to Mr Guthrie, who I know would be disappointed).
So I’m trailing about sites like ADSLguide trying to find a service that is:
- Not going to give me tech support aggro for the rest of the year
…in that order. Does anyone have any recommendations? I’m currently looking at Freedom 2 Surf but there seem to be some horror stories there for the unwary.
Bis sends a sweet little Google game for our fractious, UN resolution-testing days.
Try “fragrant violation” in your Google search bar.
Told you the culture couldn’t last. Time to speak geek for a minute…
I’ve been meaning to fix the RSS feed for this site so that it outputs the full text of the article. I’ve also been getting increasingly fractious about the way my RSS feed completely ignored all formatting.
I was blaming it on Movable Type, but, as usual, the culprit was my own empty head. Both problems were instantly solved when I amended the RSS template to read the article Body tag rather than the Extract.
Dear me. At least the RSS output now looks rather elegant; in fact, looks about the same as the main page.
As the man would have said, deep joy.
We’re feeling particularly civilised today, I can tell you.
AB writes from the ancient university town of Aberdeen regarding the influence of J.G. Ballard on Martin Amis, while post-prandial Andy sends in some Spanish etymology direct from Barcelona.
Meanwhile, my Sunday afternoon kickaround ended with an impromptu book group when it turned out that several of us were just finishing last year’s unignorable book, The Corrections.*
What’s more, having spent yesterday evening listening to the legendary Ravi Shankar (and, I hope, watching a documentary on him tonight), I find that Steve has evidence of Inuit throat-singing, as well as news of the second volume of Alan Moore’s rather marvellous Victorian yarn, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
It can’t possibly last…
* Since the “reader’s guide to The Corrections” website mentioned on the first page of the book is currently down, I’ve instead pointed to the HarperCollins blurb page, which, some of you may be amused to see, misspells the name of an eminent academic journalist.
The single most jaw-droppingly mad thing I have ever seen is one of the top tourist attractions in the USA, but is virtually unknown outside the Midwest.
It’s The House on the Rock in Wisconsin.
I had the privilege of visiting this temple of madness in 1996, soon after being shown around the extraordinary Frank Lloyd Wright building of which it is a parody, Taliesin.
The story goes that Lloyd Wright dismissed one Alex Jordan Sr. from Taliesin with the words:
“I wouldn’t hire you to design a cheese crate or a chicken coop.”
Jordan built the fabulously barking House on the Rock as his revenge, including such architectural monstrosities as the Infinity Room (below), a parody of the Bird Walk at Taliesin:
But, since Jordan Jr. took over from his father in the 40s, the attraction has grown with the progressive addition of warehouses (yes) full of collections of…stuff. It’s difficult to describe what these are about, because there doesn’t seem to be any logic to it. The best I can do is offer a semi-annotated list:
- Calliopes - easily over 30 steam organs, all playing their watery music, all day long
- Streets of Yesterday - a faux 19th century street of shops filled with Victoriana
- The World’s Largest Carousel - all 35 tonnes of it illuminated, with nearly 300 carved figures
- More dolls than I ever want to see again in my life
- Tin toy circuses - dozens of them
- The Organ Room - suspended walkways meander above and among a bewildering collection of cinema-style organs, like some nightmare Ken Adams set for The Phantom of the Opera
- The Cannon Room - featuring, you guessed it, the world’s largest cannon
- My personal favourite, the Sea Room - a warehouse with a long walkway slowly spiralling up the external walls glass jam-packed with display cases of memorabilia and model ships. All of this surrounds the best diorama ever, an extremely toothy blue whale fighting a giant squid on a boiling seascape. Scale, by this stage on your weary tour, is impossible to judge, so you have to take it on trust that the ‘whale’ is larger than a real blue whale.
If you are ever in the Midwest of the USA, you must see this place.
Three final comments:
- There is much, much more than I have described, but at some point the poor human brain gives up and goes to lunch.
- If the place sounds disturbing, just wait ’til you see it.
- It is real. Really.
(That’s a decent pun headline, by the way. Show appreciation.)
Blogs are personal as well as public (I nearly said private as well as public, but that’s obviously wrong). Part of the use of this blog, for me, is as a kind of annotated bookmarks. After all, remember how, back in 1996, everyone’s first web page was just a list of links to their favourite websites, and a CV? Blogs really don’t seem so different, in a way.
Anyway, here I am bookmarking the requisite info on the FOAF (Friend-of-a-Friend) standard:
DG reports a yuppified version of that old favourite, Wink Murder. It seems that we have the young things of Princeton to blame for the rules and the development of an essentially simple parlour game into a rules-lawyer’s dream.
(Hmm. This must be what it’s like to be Kevan.)
The semantic web is supposed to involve clever things like agents dragging info from sellers all over the world and serving it up to your desktop. So, welcome Froogle from Google, which is supposed to do just that.
Granted, the very thin selection will presumably improve over time, but in typical Google fashion, “all over the world” still means “the USA”. I am very unlikely to want to order a flat-screen monitor from the US, although I would buy that elusive Quatre Cent Coups poster from just about anywhere.
Matt Webb rightly bemoans sloppy scientific journalism; on this occasion a report in New Scientist that Chemistry guides evolution.
“It’s part of a quiet paradigm revolution going on in biology, in which the radical randomness of Darwinism is being replaced by a much more scientific law-regulated emergence of life,” the report quotes Harold Morowitz, an expert on the thermodynamics of living systems at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as saying.
In fact, the proponents of the theory, if we can believe the article, are saying something rather different:
“According to Williams and da Silva, eukaryotes also had to evolve a way to communicate between their various organelles. The surrounding raw materials dictated how this could be done. Calcium ions would have routinely leaked into cells, precipitating DNA by binding to it. So cells responded by pumping the ions out again.”
Forget what eukaryotes and organelles are (or, as in my case, don’t bother finding out); look at the logic.
What’s happening here is that a contingent event is being taken as a necessary one (here are some definitions made with reference to possible worlds). At this point I sense the ghosts of my intolerant philosophy professors hovering in search of a good fight, so:
“eukaryotes also had to evolve a way to communicate between their various organelles” - No they didn’t. They did this, but to declare that they had to is to derive, in philosopher’s playground taunts, an ought from an is. Strictly, we have no idea what they might have done in other possible worlds. (And, strictly, this might be laxness on the part of the journalist rather than the theory).
“The surrounding raw materials dictated how this could be done” - If the composition of the surrounding materials, the environment, isn’t contingent, I don’t know what is. It is unarguable that environmental conditions that existed in the past did exist, and that they did result in the world as it is, but this, frankly, is useless information when deciding what had to happen.
You might as well say that giraffes had to evolve because there are tall trees with high branches. They did, but only in the trivial sense that everything that has happened in our world ‘had to’ happen for the world to be as it is. William the Conqueror ‘had to’ win the Battle of Hastings. Will Young ‘had to’ win Pop Idol. Liverpool ‘had to’ beat Sheffield United last night. There is only one possible path to our world as it is, but to declare that there are no other possible situations is a spectacular failure of the imagination.
The only logical necessity in this whole picture is, in fact, the differential survival rates of mutations over time - that is, better adapted organisms must prevail over time. In other words, Darwinian evolution.
Although I’m pretty certain what will happen when Robert Williams next meets Richard Dawkins at Oxford - and it won’t be pretty.
This, via Ben Hammersley, is just insanely right.
UpMyStreet Conversations enable web users to discuss issues and ask questions about matters local to them in the UK.
So, I can jump in here to discuss what next for Lordship Lane and Goose Green. Even better, there’s now an RSS feed.
Having been in academia for so long, now I’m in the ‘real world’ (i.e. business) I still get shivers of confusion and raw recognition when I see material from the hidden world of B2B. It feels like peering into the abyss (though I won’t deny that academia too has its own - very deep - abyss, into which I almost tumbled).
This afternoon I got a flash of vertigo as I attempted to track down an interesting-sounding conference on ‘Cross
Media Production For Publishers’, and found instead the marvellous ‘Active and Intelligent Pack News’. Sadly, it’s not a round-up on clever wolves, it’s about packaging.
This is the only newsletter in 100% focused on active and intelligent packaging.
Hard to disagree with that, even were it to make sense.
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