31 August 2005

Trip Away

I'm going to be unable to post for a while from tomorrow as I shall be away - apologies in advance for the lack of updates. If I can get to an internet cafe I will but it may be a while before there is some new material on here. I promise, however, that more photos will be arriving soon.

30 August 2005

Libraries are getting better

at least in Holland where you can now borrow a person for an hour or so, chat to them, ply them with coffee then return them for someone else to take out. I love this idea. You rock up to the library, have a look at the photos and biogs and then choose someone to take to the library cafe where you can have a conversation with them. Apparently the Dutch borrowed the idea from the Swedes. I can't wait til we get this in West London. Mind you, we'd need someone like Mr Kol, the chief librarian, whose motivation is to help social understanding and integration - no racism or abuse is tolerated:

Mr Krol said he was especially keen to find members of Holland's small Roma gipsy community after a recent attack on two gipsy families in the city of Enschede.

Under the scheme, photographs and short biographies of the volunteers will appear in the library, and on its website. Library users who wish to take a person out can apply for an appointment. Mr Krol said he had not cleared the scheme with his municipal bosses.

"Oh, I never ask the council before I do anything," he said.

There aren't many Mr Krol's in the UK I suspect, more's the pity.


Here's a positive story about how things are getting better, at least in a little corner of Spain. Ecofriendly little cars "shaped like Apple Macs" or something, you rent them out for a couple of ours and trawl round Cordoba as if you were on a golf course. GPS (or is it WiFi?) helps give you information about the monument you are passing ("you see here the statue of the founder of Holidayautos - note the disinterested eyes" might be an example for the future) and you don't work up a sweat. Of course, you come home from your holiday even heavier than you would have done anyway, but that isn't the point - you've experienced a little bit of tomorrow and it feels good. Get them in London immediately.... on second thoughts, better wait until global warming has given us a summer we can rely on.

Room 101: 29

29: Holidayautos: Here's the deal: they put up some stuff on their website with Hans Christian Anderson having written in the prices, you fall for it, email them, they never get back to you. You phone them, they tell you they emailed you telling you that the car wasn't available but, as you are on the phone, how about ....? You tell them what you think and hang up, once again marvelling at the delights of modern capitalism.

28 August 2005


to anyone whose comments I have accidently deleted - I've been having trouble with comment spam and had a bit of clearout today. Word Verification on Comments is now switched On so hopefully problems should lessen from here on in. Who makes these evil bots anyway?

Microbiology Never Sounded So Exciting

Over here Reuters is telling us that crocodiles' immune systems are like no others - for example:

"The crocodile's immune system is much more powerful than that of humans, preventing life-threatening infections after savage territorial fights which often leave the animals with gaping wounds and missing limbs.

"They tear limbs off each other and despite the fact that they live in this environment with all these microbes, they heal up very rapidly and normally almost always without infection," said U.S. scientist Mark Merchant, who has been taking crocodile blood samples in the Northern Territory."

The statement "taking crocodile blood samples" begs a few questions does it not?

If you read the rest of the story you won't get too excited - it doesn't look like they'll be selling phials of croc serum down at Boots next week, but one day you might just be grateful for these amazing creatures.

27 August 2005

Moby's on a Rant

and it feels gooooood:

"the right wing in america are nuts, but that unfortunately comes as no surprise.
they believe that the world was created in 6 days and that teletubbies are evil and that bare breasts on tv are more offensive than dead iraqi's and that kids reading 'harry potter' will end up as witches and that good christians support war and guns and assasinations and that pregnancies resulting from rapes should be rejoiced over."

More here. Fabulous stuff and I agree with virtually every word. Of course, we have right and left wing nuts here in the UK but it is good to see them getting it in the neck elsewhere.

26 August 2005

Kindly Mr Hugh

Just a quick hello and thanks to Hugh at Gaping Void for being understanding about my difficulties with his wine promotion (you remember - the Stormhoek offer?). Having failed to adapt to the demands of DHL I shall nonetheless try and find a bottle next time I am out and about.

Hamster Power

So this young man, Peter Ash, invents a hamster-powered phone charger for a school project....and he only got a C and a D?????!

Fugging Up

If you haven't yet, you must go over here to find out how Trinny and Susannah should really do things:

"I hope this battle with hair bleach isn't a slow, subtle, self-destructive way of lashing out at her life; that never seems to end well. I don't want her to end up knocked up by a bearded greasepole, living out her days as a puffy, vaguely dirty, walking grisly train wreck we can't stop staring at in case we spot something that we will then wish we'd never seen. Sound familiar?"

Marvellous stuff. Thank you Jessica and Heather, on certain days you make life worth living.
26th August 2005 Laughing cyclists accompanied by police (Critical Mass I think).  Posted by Picasa

24 August 2005

Fore Vs Back Ground

Here is an interesting story about how Americans see the world differently to Asians (and, one wonders, differently to Europeans, Africans and everyone else? Maybe not Australians of course, or white South Africans - I suspect it is a New World thing). What the article seems to be saying (I'm basing this on a skim read I'm afraid - I can't concentrate as I want to get back to checking out my new Google Sidebar and Google talk function - no one I know will have this functionality for a million years but still, it's nice to know it is there even if one's friends are living in the steam age), as I was saying, what the article seems to be saying is that Americans see the elephant while the rest of us ponder the sky and clouds in the background. Thus they will deal with the elephant in the best way they see fit (run away, towards or around it, shoot it, give it food, photograph it, whatever), while the rest of the world will look around at the surroundings and then go "oh yeah, and there's an elephant". What does this tell us? Well, how about:
1. In the New World what you see is what you get.
2. In the Old, Overcrowded World, what you get is sometimes the stuff that is hidden.
3. Or something.

20 August 2005

Music Playlists

Just a thought: Playlists. You're creating a playlist for an event (party, funeral, wedding reception, bar mitzvah, whatever). You want a column where you enter the start time of the playlist at the top and, as the tunes are played, you want the time they will start or finish next to them as the list progresses, thereby enabling you to time "Everybody's Free" to coincide with Uncle Brian's fifth vodka and tonic or the lowering of your granny's coffin with the beginning of "Lark Ascending". Or whatever. Why isn't this a feature on iTunes / Real[has encountered a problem]player or whatever? Again, if anyone creates a hack for this, let me know and I'll pop over and download it pronto.

101: 28

28: Searching the Web for a Hotel: This is where you know that Google et al have some way to go yet. Type in, for example, "del gianicolo hotel" +rome +site:it +whatever the hell else you like and I guarantee you will get a slew of sites that are of absolutely zero interest (for example, this). No, I don't want to visit a site that tells me all about how many hotels in Rome they have on their books. I want the website for this particular hotel. And, should I be stupid enough to enter "euro hotels megasite", I will be told that the room has a hairdryer and telephone - of course it does, it is a hotel in a city in Europe in 2005, if it didn't I'd have entered a time warp / country in another part of the world. This is the time you realise that Google is missing a trick by not having a button to click that says "never, and I mean for eternity, show me this site or anything related to it, ever again. Period."
In fact, writing this post, if anyone out there wants to create a site which simply links to the homepages of hotels throughout the world and for which you pay a small subscription, let me know when you are up and running and I'll be your first customer.
c. 11th August 2005. Gerbera.  Posted by Picasa
c.10th August 2005. UK tanning.  Posted by Picasa

Free Photos

Just a thought (and I should have mentioned this before) - all the photos on this site are free to anyone who wants to use them - all I would ask is that you put a link on your site to mine. Admittedly pics have been a bit thin on the ground of late but many are soon to follow - all I need is a little time....
Now, as you were.

16 August 2005

Room 101 revisited

27: Prototype cars: There is something profoundly dispiriting about these. Wherever you see them you think "like that is ever going to happen" and wonder why, in fact, cars aren't made that way. But they aren't, they never will be, and there is no point wishing that they could. Look around you - they never get beyond the design stage. So please Mr Manufacturer, shut up already with your prototypes - just build us the slowly evolving vehicles that are only minutely different from all your other models and don't pretend you are risk-taking visionaries.

15 August 2005

White? Men? Middle England? We're All Right Jack?

I don't know why, but this information about an anti-piracy golf tournament makes me almost insanely keen to go out and buy a rack of DVD copiers. Where do they get the figure of £11 billion lost to pirates do you think?

"Another G&T Andy?"
"Don't mind if I do Bob."
"How much did we lose to pirates last year Andy?"
"How the s***e should I know Bob, but I bet it wasn't shy of £11,000,000,000 when I write the publicity for the Anti-Piracy event next weekend. You still driving that Audi....?"

Listen here Bob, and listen good Andy - we've seen you fursuiting - you can't hide!

13 August 2005

Business Opportunity

I received this email a while ago and thought perhaps one
of my more business savvy readers might advise - shall I
send Mr Peter my bank details? I thought perhaps I might
also pass him my credit card number in case he needs it.
In truth, though, I feel kind of sorry for Mr Peter.....

> I plead for your indulgiance if this messive of mine
>comes to you as a surprise. I am Mr. Peter the
>Managing Director Of Crossword Continentals SARL.
>We are into major contacts with the government of
>republic of TOGO. On the 21th of December 2003 ending
>of last year, my president(a Japanese citizen) was
>involved in a ghastly motor accident in Accra Ghana
>while going to Ghana international airport to travel
>to Japan for Christmas holidays and he died.
> As the managing director, all the company banking
>documents was in my perusal. Couple of weeks ago,
>relatives of my president obtained a court order
>restraining any of his workers from making any
>withdrawals from our companies account.
>Meanwhile, I thank God enough that I removed the
>contract file worth eight million three hundred
>thousand united states million(US$8,300.000.00)
>executed with the CIMTOGO which is owned by the
>Togolaise government. As the second in command to my
>president in his company before his death, the
>government invited me last week to endorse the payment
>voucher for the said amount.
> As it stands now, all is set to release this money to
>Crossword Continentals account. Though I have
>instructed the paying bank to stay action on the
>release of the money into the Crossword Continentals
>account pending till when I will produce another
>account where the money will be transferred into.
> Now my good friend, i would like you to provide an
>account where the amount will be transferred into.
> I don't want to keep this money in my private account
>because it will raise some questions that will lead me
>to jail, that is the most reason why a foreign account
>is needed to receiving the money. More, I intend to
>resign and proceed to your country where I will use my
>share of the money to establish any viable and
>benefiting business you may introduce me into . Please
>note that after the successful transfer of the money
>you will part away with 30% of the total money.
> You should urgently respond to this business proposal
>through this email I am writing you with, or you reply
>through this my alternative email:=

>Expecting to receiving your impressive response as
>soon as possible.
>Best Regards,
>Mr. Peter.

12 August 2005

Numbers Game

Do you think if I greased it up a bit I'd get more hits? You know, peppered the site with fursuiters at it like bears and so forth? Or perhaps went for the straighter p0rn0 hunter, added some rudeness along body bits lines? "Hypogonadism" might not ratchet the numbers but t!ts and the like probably would. However, this seems to me a bit of a high price to pay given that this isn't the name of the game here. As previously, all suggestions welcome. Maybe I'll have to study the Google algorithyms more closely. Or just work harder to make the site stickier. Whatever, something will have to give. Better photos would help of course, as would an ability to write about my work - I'm thinking about this last one so watch this space both of you.

11 August 2005


Just when the interweb starts to pale, or so you think, along comes something else you'd never thought of.... Of course, a website devoted to death and, inter alia, death-related photography. How have I got by until now?


It really is extraordinary. I haven't come across anything as unexpected since the last time I dressed up as a gorilla. And how great a word is "fursuiting" anyway? Better, even, than "fursona" (for the persona you don with the suit of course - but what the furk happened to the real fox - fur removed for a suit maybe?). Check the wikipedia entries in full - most awsome.

Barbara and Jenna Bush

and all the little Blairs - how many of them are serving in Iraq? I think we can imagine the answer can't we... The "noble cause" as Mr Bush has apparently started to call it, how many lives have been lost to protect this project, also known as the Access to Oil farrago? I try not to think about it too much because it makes me too angry. Just as dwelling on Islamofacism does. So, what we need is more access to this sort of thing, or this - kittens to calm us.

8 August 2005

Poor Numbers

I'm not very happy with the stream of "0 comments" that I get and feel something should be done. Looking at the language stats from the hits on this blog I see that 1% of my visitors speak Korean. Perhaps I'll have to start an intermittent subject series just for you - all suggestions welcome.I'm assuming you are from the South? I used to have a bookmark for the website of the North Korean leader (darkly hilarious) but sadly have mislaid it - anyone who knows of the whereabouts of this site, complete with hours of horrible martial music, let me know as I'd like to post it here.
In the meantime, have you seen this? Quite interesting but Mr Lawson labours the point about Tim Berners-Lee being somehow "responsible" (which of course he isn't) for pr0n on the interweb. I like the idea that something is evolving the future shape of which we can have no conception of, if that isn't to mangle my grammar too badly.

7 August 2005

Faith Schools

Wahey, Boris Johnson gets it - faith schools should be scrapped. Fab. Only the Labour party to convince now...
7th August 2005 Also at Kew, Dale Chihuly's glassworks - beautiful. You can see more of his work here.
7th August 2005 At Kew. Posted by Picasa

Room 101: 24, 25 and 26.

24: Iraq.
25: Iran.
26: Saudi Arabia.

The Future for Iraq?

Following the death of Steven Vincent, the freelance journalist writing a book about Basra, murdered on 2nd August, the Times has an interesting story here about how Vincent had "written his own epitaph" on a blog entry about Iraqi police involvement in some of the "hundreds" of murders that take place in Basra every month. Perhaps the most disturbing element in what is a terrible story is the following:

Based on what he saw, he wrote that the British Army had trained the local police to shoot straight but not to pledge their loyalty to the State instead of Islamic religious or tribal leaders. In conversation he would accuse the British of having turned a blind eye to the rule of the radical Islamists.

“The British stand above the growing turmoil, refusing to challenge the Islamists’ claim on the hearts and minds of police officers,” his last weblog ran. “This detachment angers many Basrans. ‘The British know what’s happening but they are asleep, pretending they can simply establish security and leave behind democracy,’ said the police lieutenant who had told me of the assassinations.”

If this perception is true, it bodes terribly ill for the future of Iraq as the mad mullahs inevitably strengthen their sour hold on the country. (What) were the neocons (Blair / Bush et al) thinking? Had they no post-war plans at all?

And what of faith schools in the UK - is our beloved leader still in favour of these? Even if he is too dumb to understand the connection between them and the above story, you would have assumed he'd heard of a little place called Northern Ireland that has had a few local difficulties in the past. They may get quite a bit wrong, but the French government at least have a basic grasp of the need to separate church and state - maybe Tone should take a cue from them.

6 August 2005

Marketing Dilemma

I feel as if I am biting the hand that feeds and being rather churlish so apologies to Hugh at Gaping Void in advance. I think, though I may be wrong, that he has kindly (though also as a result of the new business meme he is promoting) sent me a bottle of Stormhoek wine via DHL. Free. This is in order that I can taste and blog about the wine with a view to creating a buzz amongst a desirable demographic. But here's the rub. DHL have left one of those cards through my door saying "we came, you weren't in, ring us...".
OK, so far, so understandable. Except. Except that they came sometime during working hours. And they will only come during working hours. 9 to 1 Monday to Friday. Or 2 to 5. I could arrange an alternative address, they said. Great, except my work has banned such deliveries owing to the huge demand (I know, I know, not very worker friendly but that is the way it is). So, do I ask someone else to stay in for 3 or 4 hours so that DHL can deliver? Who won't do so without two forms of ID from me for the person who is waiting in... Perhaps I should take a morning off.... but for a bottle of wine?
I feel cheap even mentioning these difficulties given the fact that the wine is free. Except that the internet and the new meme being propounded are meant to be about something different, a more flexible approach...
4th August 2005 The Choice, South Bank.  Posted by Picasa

2 August 2005

Dour Victorians #1

2nd August 2005
Charlie round the corner from work.
I am glad I didn't live in the Victorian era - the beards, the dark satanic mills, the repression.
Give me the future any time.
Actually, rereading that, do the beards, references to satan and repression remind you of anyone? Hint: think Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia.....
That said, though we in the West are more free than we used to be, do you think that with freedom comes an unwillingness to do the dirty work of actually producing goods? Sure, we can "value add", but what do we actually make?

1 August 2005

Lottery Happiness

So the Irish lady who won my lottery money has gone into hiding. Apparently happiness lurks around the corner but some time must pass before the shock wears off. I really would like to wish her a happy future - it sounds as if a worthy winner has won - all those kids and years of working. Have a good time Dolores!