31 July 2005

Think Twice

25th July 2005 Not very welcoming at Waterloo, though hardly surprising given the tensions in the air at the moment. Posted by Picasa

25th July 2005 On the way home #12 Posted by Picasa
27th July 2005 Britain. Summer. Outdoor event. What a combination.  Posted by Picasa

Room 101:23

23: The Country Pub on the A road. "You're not from around here are you?"
Some rules of the Country Pub on the A road(CPotAr):
1. If it can't be fried, we won't serve it.
2. We're open for food from 12 to 2. Arrive at 2.00.01 and you can feck off.
3. The customer is always a nuisance.
4. Overweight children with tattooed parents welcome.
5. 4X4s obligatory.
6. CPotAr Time = GMT -20 years.
7. Hideous plastic children's play area must be visible a minimum of four miles away.
8. Nasty banner badly hung across front of pub proclaiming "Roast Beef and Three Veg £7.99" mandatory.
9. Though the banner says "Roast", it means "fried".
10. The wine might be surprisingly ok.

29 July 2005


In case you needed another reason to despise the Iranian regime, look here.

28 July 2005

Apologies to N.

I must give this a go, having had a £6.00 per month account hanging around for years owing to someone who shall remain nameless not wanting to give up an email address - from Lifehacker:

An AOL dialup account has always been notoriously easy to sign up for and hard to cancel. Tech expert Dave Taylor says it took 50 minutes (!) in total to cancel his account after signing up with one of those ubiquitous free CDs for fun. A Lifehacker reader had more success and writes in with tips and details of the experience:

I just cancelled my AOL account in ten minutes. You should be proud of me.

Call 800 827-6364. Say: “Cancellation.” You’ll need answer to your security question. Voice recognition not bad.

Then a live attendant. They ask why you’re cancelling the service. Just repeat: I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. Don’t be any more specific, or they’ll go off into a tree.

Then they’ll ask, are you planning to go on highspeed? Do you want high-speed?

No. No. No. No thank you. No thank you. Just repeat. You’ll have to do this about five times. Amazing. Like talking to an automated attendant who can’t understand what you’re saying.

Don’t explain anything, or it just takes longer

Brain Tumour? No thanks.

If you've ever wanted to know what it was like to have a brain tumour removed, you could do worse than visit this Flickr set.

27 July 2005

101s: 21 and 22

21: Travelling to Work. I mean, what is that all about? Sure, I have to meet with people and talk to them and attend meetings but the other stuff, the 68% of my time that I am at my desk, I could be sat here, at home, tapping away, using my own electricity supply and furniture, not needing a health and safety inspection / two-in-for-safe-working protocol / fire alarm system / staff canteen.... Give me a break - I'll work at home for 3 days, pay for my own electricity and cycle in for the other stuff.
22: Supermarket Fruit. Cold and mostly green, supermarket fruit sits at home for four days, inedible, and then, as we all know, turns soft, brown and treacherous on day five. And what is it with those orange nylon-netted bags of oranges? We all know that when we rip the bag open (hurting our office-dainty hands as we do so) they will be yellow and green and dry as a Sirocco wind.

25 July 2005

Fat Man Walking

Beautiful site here about Steve who is getting his life back from under layers of fat. Go man, go. This is from the journal of his endeavour kept by his wife:

5/11/05 - Steve tried to get some rest today. He made a couple of phone calls and caught up on what's happening with the kids. He may have overdone it or caught a virus, because he didn't get any sleep. He was nauseous with hot and cold flashes.

I should mention here that I received several nasty emails about the website. Apparently Steve and I owe the media and the public an apology for not updating the website in a timely manner and allowing it to exceed bandwidth. Well, I do apologize about the website. As I mentioned my brother was in a car accident. He was ejected from a vehicle during the accident and landed on the highway median. I didn't have access to the internet until we arrived at his house. It took us two days to get here. So sorry to inconvenience anyone who was planning their day around the journal page. Also, I am sorry about exceeding the bandwidth for the site. Truly, I had no expectation that so many people would be interested enough in Steve's story to require more than what we had. As soon as I found out, I asked about increasing the bandwidth and will try to keep a closer eye on it in the future.

24 July 2005

The Earl of Rochester

Writing over 300 years ago, John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, set out the following, a verse both timely and prescient:

A Fragment of Seneca Translated...

After Death nothing is, and nothing, death,
The utmost limit of a gasp of breath.
Let the ambitious zealot lay aside
His hopes of heaven, whose faith is but his pride;
Let slavish souls lay by their fear
Nor be concerned which way nor where
After this life they shall be hurled.
Dead, we become the lumber of the world,
And to that mass of matter shall be swept
Where things destroyed with things unborn are kept.
Devouring time swallows us whole.
Impartial death confounds body and soul.
For Hell and the foul fiend that rules
God's everlasting fiery jails
(Devised by rogues, dreaded by fools),
With his grim, grisly dog that keeps the door,
Are senseless stories, idle tales,
Dreams, whimseys, and no more.

More Companies Helping Chinese Censorship

An interesting post here by Anne Applebaum about corporate America and it's role in helping China suffocate its people (and I don't suppose for a moment that corporate Europe has clean hands when it comes to this issue). She says, inter alia:

Without question, China's Internet filtering regime is "the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world," in the words of a recent report by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The system involves the censorship of Web logs, search engines, chat rooms and e-mail by "thousands of public and private personnel." It also involves Microsoft Inc., as Chinese bloggers discovered last month. Since early June, Chinese bloggers who post messages containing a forbidden word -- "Dalai Lama," for example, or "democracy" -- receive a warning: "This message contains a banned expression, please delete." It seems Microsoft has altered the Chinese version of its blog tool, MSN Spaces, at the behest of Chinese government. Bill Gates, so eloquent on the subject of African poverty, is less worried about Chinese free speech.

But he isn't alone: Because Yahoo Inc. is one of several companies that have signed a "public pledge on self-discipline," a Yahoo search in China doesn't turn up all of the (politically sensitive) results. Cisco Systems Inc., another U.S. company, has also sold hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment to China, including technology that blocks traffic not only to banned Web sites, but even to particular pages within an otherwise accessible site.

19 July 2005

Bomb Paradox

Strangely, or perhaps understandably, the recent bombs have left me feeling more alive than ever as I negotiate the post-work rush hour traffic and commuters on my way back to Waterloo. Tonight was no exception - loud music on my headphones, (Walk into the Sun - Dirty Vegas - on repeat), I nonetheless jumped, along with dozens of others, when there was a loud bang outside Bank restaurant at the bottom of Kingsway. I don't know what it was, but coming at a time when the street had only recently been reopened by the police after another false alarm and when there were fire engines, ambulances and police cars everywhere, it gave pause to many.
19th July 2005. Russell Square, lunchtime. I thought about taking a picture of some of the floral tributes to the dead, killed by the recent bus bomb, but part of me thought it would be wrong.  Posted by Picasa
19th July 2005 None of London's flying rats are quite the same but even so this one seems particularly russet, having gone almost chameleon in its attempts to blend in.  Posted by Picasa

Some More 101s

19. Habitat: They don't actually carry any stock and therefore it's not a shop, it's a showroom. Here's the drill: Enter shop, find item you like, find shop assistant, find out item is not available though it can be ordered. Decline four to six week wait for small lamp or whatever (they obviously make every bloody item to order) and go back to look at alternative items. Find less desireable item, repeat process as before. Have final look around and either (a) leave (the most popular course of action) or (b) realise that need for version of item is insurmountable so buy ugly version that is available. Return home vowing never to go again and explain all of above to partner who looks in disbelief at shabby bit of tat in brown bag and shakes head. Return item as soon as you have the chance.
20. Sainsbury's: A similar process to that outlined above, but without the fact of being able to view items. Sainsbury's supply and distribution logistics are now so poor going shopping there is like visiting a Russian shop in 1974.

18 July 2005

15th July 2005 My (overcrowded) home for the next two nights. Also, the graveyard for a pair of union jack shorts. Individuals have been blurred to protect their identities.  Posted by Picasa
17th July 2005 Approaching the mile-long tunnel, some of us get off to walk.  Posted by Picasa
Update: 6/6/12: Lordy look at that chromatic aberration top left.

14 July 2005

Leaving the Rat Race

I'd strongly recommend that you visit here to see why you should, for everyone's sake, give up work tomorrow. San Francisco columnist Mark Morford writes:

Call it "the cafe question." Any given weekday you can stroll by any given coffee shop in the city and see dozens of people milling about, casually sipping and eating and reading and it's freakin' noon on a Tuesday and you're like, wait, don't these people work? Don't they have jobs? They can't all be students and trust-fund babies and cocktail waitresses and drummers in struggling rock bands who live at home with their moms.

Of course, they're not. Not all of them, anyway. Some are creative types. Some are corporate rejects. Some are recovering cube slaves now dedicated full time to working on their paintings. Some are world travelers who left their well-paying gigs months ago to cruise around Vietnam on a motorcycle before returning to start an import-export business in rare hookahs. And we look at them and go, What is wrong with these people?

8 July 2005

Bombing 2

So much has been said elsewhere that I won't go on at length. Worth noting here is that where I work we were preparing to receive not just casualties (we took about 22 in the end I think, 5 critical, 8 serious and the rest "walking wounded") but also bodies, being told that we might get anything up to 50 or 60. Clearly, this information turned out to be wrong but for a while there we were looking at a significant number of dead and their living, distressed, relatives who would need support and, above all, information.
On top of the above, two members of staff are said to be amongst the missing. I don't know if there are any others seriously injured, but I heard of one member of staff who had a minor injury who wasn't in today and who will presumably have some trouble dealing with the tube in the future.
The planning for the emergency was, as elsewhere, well executed, though of course there are things that could be improved on and are in any case context dependent (for example, would need to be altered in the event of their being a chemical or biological component to any future attacks). I must say I didn't see any panic and it was an honour to be amongst such a level-headed workforce. The terrorists may not realise it, but they have helped cement resolve and have created a unified opposition to the perversion of their methods.
In addition to the above, of course, there were the phone calls / texts / emails to loved ones and the anxieties associated with any delays in responses. Journeys home were a bit of a chore but nothing that couldn't be coped with. The eerie calm everywhere was unusual, but the respect, patience and small kindnesses (smiles, longer than usual greetings and goodbyes) were all signs of the good that comes out of evil.
I could, in fact, go on but I won't. One last thing though: bombs won't change anything other than harden our resolve to defeat fundamentalism in all its cretinous forms.

6 July 2005

Goodbye EMI

And so it begins - the BBC have a story here about one member of Groove Armada deciding to forgo the "help" of a record company to market some of his (DRM-free) music, admittedly by signing up with another large company, in this case O2. Hallelujah, may the floodgates now open. There's going to be a lot more music around and listeners, not marketing execs, will be able to decide what's hot and what's not.

5 July 2005

China's Therapy for Internet "Addicts"

Sad story from Wired News about China treating internet "addicts". I'm sure this has nothing to do with trying to stop people from breaking free from Microsoft-censored web content....

Back once more to 101

17. British Summers: Nuff said.
18. Clintons Cards: How do they keep going?

4 July 2005

4th July 2005 From Waterloo Bridge, 6ish.  Posted by Picasa
1st July 2005 Lillies from Home Base - they kind of look like it too don't they? Still, they add a splash of much needed va va voom to an otherwise approaching-monochrome jardin.  Posted by Picasa

3 July 2005

2nd July 2005 Neil's trousers, Sarah's party. Quite warm apparently.  Posted by Picasa
3rd July 2005 There is something heartening about people running races in animal outfits.  Posted by Picasa


Mmm. It is difficult isn't it? Clearly one can't argue with the objective of Mr Geldof, nor with his passion. And part of his agenda has been fulfilled in that poverty is being talked about more intelligently and more intensely than it has been for some time. And it is a disgrace and a scandal that people are dying of preventable diseases by the thousand every day - no one could argue with the fact that something should be done. And yet... and yet we have the G8 leaders we deserve - we won't give up our cars, our cheap food, the variety of our food, our cheap clothes and shoes, our holidays, in short, our way of life - but isn't that what is required? We can't be rich without other people being poor because that is the nature of capitalism. Overthrow it? Well, OK, but replace it with what?
Maybe what we should do is keep tinkering with it, refine it slowly over years - get rid of the most immediately disgusting practices in the short term (EU farm subsidies, selling censorship-endorsing computer systems to dictatorships, weapons to whoever the hell wants them and so forth), and amend, refine and flatten income distribution gradually. Really though, what is needed are more people who say "I have enough material wealth now - I'm going to stop accruing more". Sure, we can't have everyone doing that or innovation and advancement would halt, but a bit more "no, I don't need an effing 4x4" definitely wouldn't go amiss right now.