Can you refrain from giggling at this? Because I can't.
Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above
Can you refrain from giggling at this? Because I can't.
After weeks of checking every day and thinking "When is the next chapter coming?"... here it is.
Channel Five had a very interesting programme tonight (The Real Rain Man: Extraordinary People) about Kim Peek, the 54-year-old autistic savant who inspired the character of Raymond in Rain Man. It was fascinating to see the things he can and can't do, and to get an idea of the underlying neurology of his condition (basically the main link between his brain's two hemispheres never developed; instead, the neurons grew in other direction forging connections most of us don't have the potential for). The connection between his limitations (his total inability to handle metaphor, for example) and his astounding memory was neatly demonstrated by an experiment where he was read a list of words connected with the concept "sweet" (pie, heart, bitter, dear, chocolate) which did not include the word "sweet" itself. After a pause, Kim was tested on whether particular words had been in the list. He scored 100%, and in particular he realised that "sweet" had not been in there. Most "normal" people would conceptualised the list and expected "sweet" to appear. Kim doesn't do that, treating the list totally literally and thus making no mistake.
Ken Livingstone was suspended as Mayor of London.
This last weekend was busy with two concerts: the same programme in two venues (Edinburgh and Haddington). It was Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra, and we were doing
I was reading my library book a little while ago and came upon a passage which reminded me of one of Clare's posts. Here it is:
The most sagacious men of Hind
Have spoken to the point on wind:
'If you should feel a fart come on,
To hold it in is very wrong.
Fling wide the gates and let it loose -
Its breeze to ease will sure conduce!
We class as not nice habits these:
To blow one's nose, to cough, to sneeze;
The oral fart, or belch, is worse -
It smells far sweeter in reverse.
(Tim Mackintosh-Smith, 2005)
Hilary and I actually met Tim once on our sole visit to Yemen in 1987. He was teaching at the British Council, as were Hilary's cousin Susan and her husband Mike. Mike took us to visit Tim, a Cambridge Arabic graduate who had already gone native in a big way and was living in an amazing house in the old part of San'a. Something like this:
I remember its front door key was just like one in Arthur Mee's Book Of Ten Thousand Things (my favourite book as a child), in the section on "Pictures from Bible Lands". That is, it resembled an oversized wooden toothbrush with pegs where the bristles should be, which displaced similar pegs in the enormous lock.
Tim took us out for lunch to a restaurant which was visually unprepossessing even by Yemeni standards, but where we ate splendidly, up on the roof which we shared with a cat or three. He then took us to the suk where he spent some time choosing qat which we retired to his living-room to chew. A memorable afternoon in a thoroughly memorable city.
Off you go. Over to Petite's site this minute, to see:
For years I thought of Neil Gaiman as just Terry Pratchett's collaborator on the splendid Good Omens. Then came the wonderful television adaptation of Neverwhere, which in turn caused me to read the book. Then nothing, for many years. Since I started blogging I have become aware that he has a blog which keeps being nominated for awards. and has indeed just picked up Best Weblog in the AFOE European Weblog Awards.
Another gem found while tidying out my files at work....
While tidying out old files at work I found these, which I can relate to. Even my daughter liked the second one.
Thinking of Clare's "404 Not Found" reminded me of this. (Look closely.)
Clare has finally posted on the blogmeet here. She comments"not one of the buggers who stayed at Sudbery Towers has even mentioned how utterly gorgeous it is". And, you know, I didn't. Too wowed by Clare, Ally, Felix and Dipsy, to say nothing of Mystery Guest (well of course we say nothing), Lisa and Neil. What are bricks and mortar to that? Though I think we made nice noises about the cellar IIRC.
Thanks to Joe for this link. I haven't laughed so much for ages. And as I reached the bit about "Discovery of the Lost Cubit" just after the references to orgonomics I couldn't help imagining Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Cubit": "Seated one day at the orgone..."
I like the sound of this guy.
Also from Friday's Guardian: this report.
In last Friday's Guardian, this article caught my attention. I quote:
OK. We went up to Ballater on Friday, the weather was lovely, so we decided to climb the Coyles of Muick (the three hills which dominate the view south from Ballater, or to be more specific the Easternmost - and highest - one). And we did: me, my wife Hilary, and my 13-yr-old son Ruairidh (Vanessa was back in Edinburgh, pouring cappuccinos in Starbucks and attempting not to crash my car....).
That's Hilary and Ruairidh at the summit. Here is the view towards Lochnagar:
Finally, here are Ruairidh and I, striding purposefully towards lunch:
Although the hill was a fantastic viewpoint when you got up there, the actual climb was a bit of a non-event, so if you're thinking of doing it, don't bother unless the weather is good.
Well, I haven't blogged for a few days, mostly because I've been watching the Winter Olympics instead.
As it turned out, The Darkness were great. Last time they were up here was at the end of 2004, when they did all the tracks from the first album, plus "Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)". As they would, having very litle else to do at that time. They did it all with great style though, and I'd hoped that this time round would be similar.
Anna had directed me over to A Fistful of Euros which is hosting the European weblog awards. And there I found a link to this story. I'd heard about it before, but the piece in Der Speigel is worth reading anyway. To quote from the post with the link:
This sounds entertaining. I used to play Bezique at school and college, whose rules blew the minds of casual onlookers ("How did you just beat a King with a ten????" "Why did you just get 10 points for playing the seven of clubs???") and then graduated to Tarocco, where some suits have ace high and some have ace low, and where of course you have to sort out what to do with Death, The Star, The Hanged Man etc. Tichu sounds a promising addition to the Weird Card Games archive.
Riverbend may not post very often (much less often and I'd have to take her off my "Premier League" blogroll. But when she does, it's always worth reading. As here.
I was born in Manchester in 1955. My parents came from Dorset, so I had the only accent in my primary school from further south than Gorton. I blame the repeated playtime experience of being herded into a corner and told to "say something" for my general weirdness. (Like Lucky in Waiting For Godot when instructed to "think". And I was born on the day Godot had its British - hence its English language - premiere.)
The advantage of being a late entrant in the blogmeet description handicap is that all the really good bloggers have got there first, done all the work, and all I have to do is link.
OK. I've just made two (2) attempts to post a report on the Manchester blogmeet. And both of them have vanished into sod-all.html. Life, and the Internet, are clearly trying to tell me something here.
OK, after the Manchester blogmeet I had to travel all the way from Manchester to Edinburgh, three changes including a bus from Carstairs to Edinburgh. Then I had to take my son to see The Darkness in Glasgow (I'd have gone even without him, mind). Then on Monday I was on a 1600-2300 shift, before which I was sorting out the photos. And I can't blog from work any more. So there.
Well, Mike may not be doing Post of the Week any more, but he still has a good eye for a great post. For example:
What a great idea: showing the links between different musical genres by means of the London Underground map (via).
Partners in peace: (l-r) Menachem Begin, Moshe Dayan, South African Prime Minister John Vorster and Yitzhak Rabin finding plenty in common on Vorster's 1976 visit to Israel.
Like any analogy, though, it should be used with caution. Just because it really is true doesn't mean that it isn't being pushed further than is appropriate.
And the analogy also gives cause for hope. The apartheid regime eventually collapsed because it was too much trouble to sustain it. There are plenty of Israelis who think that their government's policies are close to that point now. We can only hope so.
One final point. I have never had any sympathy whatsoever with those who wish to see Israel dismantled, destroyed, or dumped on in any way beyond withdrawal to its internationally-recognised 1967 border. However, if the Knesset really does approve the bill which it is considering (and which has government support) for declaration of a national memorial day for Rehavam Ze'evi, I truly shall begin to wonder whether I've been wrong all along to stick up for Israel against those who would like to see Iran use it as a nuclear test site. If anyone more evil has attained a position of influence in the region since Israel's foundation, I don't know who it would be. (It is pleasing to note, though, that the acting Prime Minister of Israel was Ze'evi's bitterest political foe, so maybe the whole Let's-Glorify-A-Genocidal-Nutter business won't happen.) Perhaps the most fitting response if such an outrage did occur would be for other countries to declare national holidays for Abu Ali Mustafa. 27th August would be good.
Life's like that, isn't it? Connections crop up in the oddest of ways. One day I do a post on censorship. The next, the operating system in my work PC is upgraded. And as part of the upgrade, the list of blocked sites is greatly extended. The main way this affects me is that Blogger is one of the sites I can no longer access. This is a bummer because while I can read my blog from work, I can no longer post. Nor can I read any of the comments. Other blogs fare even worse: there are many whose comments I can no longer read (Joe in Vegas appears to have disabled comments altogether, though I'm glad to see that's just the way it looks from work) while the block stops me reading some altogether. I thought it would be interesting to run down my blogroll and see which ones were deemed wholly unsuitable. I know there is a block on drink, drugs and weapon-related sites, as well as porn and hate sites. OK, pause for a moment to look at my blogroll and predict which ones will be disallowed. Ready?
Well, so much of what I would like to have said has already been bettered, not least in Mike's Post of the Week. Thanks also to the Guardian Unlimited site for linking to the original images here. I'm a sucker for source material.
Regulars here will know that I have become rather fond of Latigo Crane's blog, on account of its surreal humour. However, while this post isn't particularly funny, I find myself in almost total agreement with it. I remember reading The High Frontier many years ago and thinking that while O'Neill was ahead of his time, that time would, eventually, come round. Still true.
So farewell then London Planetarium. I hadn't been there for a long time but I remember its show as being rather good. No better, probably, than the one at the smaller planetarium in Manchester I went to with my school once (I believe a new one is about to open there). I also remember that when I first moved to London two new laser light shows had just opened. This was when laser light shows were state-of-the-art stuff, before the rock bands got hold of them (first band I saw with one - a rather basic green one with minimal scanning - was Yes in 1978 so they weren't too far behind). One of these was Lovelight at whatever the theatre opposite Victoria Station was called then. Lovelight had a composed soundtrack, and the lasers drew little (OK, big) squiggly cartoons on a screen set up over the stage. Not bad, and technically very advanced, I believe, but not a hugely memorable aesthetic experience. Meanwhile, at the Planetarium (you knew there was a point to this, didn't you?) we had Laserium. This unfolded to a mix of classical music (including a couple of bits of The Planets - duh!) and rock (Pink Floyd, ELP, etc.) and was wholly abstract. Also wholly fascinating, and of I close my eyes I can still recall some of the patterns being traced out. I saw it three times, with different people (including my parents).
I've been reading Richard Branson's autobiography "Losing My Virginity", which is very entertaining. For people of my age, Virgin is first and foremost about music. We remember Tubular Bells being the soundtrack to our student days, we remember the wacky ads in Melody Maker or wherever, we even remember Hatfield and the North. Every other album seemed to be recorded at the Manor or on the Manor Mobile; virgin artists included some very cool names indeed (they had Beefheart for a bit, they had Robert Wyatt, Ivor Cutler.....) But my over-riding memory of Virgin from my student days (even eclipsing discovering their shop in Newcastle one day and buying all the Stackridge albums) relates to their mail order business. Remember, before they had shops, let alone a record label, Virgin were a mail order record seller with a catalogue to die for. Well, I got the catalogue and found in the imports an album I hadn't known of, entitled The American Metaphysical Circus by Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies. Joe Byrd I knew: he'd had a group called The United States of America whose self-titled album had been a favourite for some years.
"But come on, admit it, you are a bit full of yourselves sometimes, aren't you? And you do go on at great length about the most mundane of things." Male bloggers, that is, according to Clare (who's been having a bit of a week, so let's not be too judgmental here).
... I went up to Ballater again. Just me this time, as Vanessa was working and Ruairidh didn't greatly relish the prospect of spending the weekend effectively by himself, so one of the grown-ups had to stay. Last weekend was my turn to go. Hilary gets a shot this weekend, though, when I'm on call and therefore tied to Edinburgh.