Interconnected email down again. Apologies if you've tried to reach me; firstname.lastname@example.org is my beta alias.
Stewart has a great rant anti rose tinted specs.
It's an evolutionary thing (that's my answer for everything) that we baseline against the first thing we see. If we didn't we wouldn't be able to cope. It'd be "Television! Wow!" and "Fuck me, aren't lorries brilliant?" but actually I take for granted what amazes my mother. So: I'm upset because a bunch of whales got killed; people were just as upset that a third of Europe died in the plague (more or less). And we look back and see that yeah people were unhappy about something but that something was so much worse than what's going on today so actually our ancestors must have a lot happier to begin with.
It's false of course. Context is everything. (But isn't sliced bread simply the best thing ever?)
I love the word phildickian.
I've been waiting for this day for a while: This Thursday is my Upsideclown.
I can't hear the cultural phenomenon as it happens but I see it while I'm watching the two girls on the bridge over the motorway, and just as a gust of wind unfortunately does not lift their skirts they wave at the drivers of the cars passing below them -- or the cars themselves, it's difficult to be sure.
It's a good one; I'm really pleased with what I've written. To me, this is what Upsideclown is all about. Mind the gap, the doors are closing, this train will soon depart: There's Heavy traffic on the road to Utopia, but don't let that stop you. Enjoy.
And in every constituency, in every part of this country, we will force every Tory candidate to say where the cuts will fall.
Yes! If this is true -- local emphasis, promoting the MP rather than the central government. This is new, innovative.
I want to be the first prime minister in 40 years to stand up and say; Britain is back at full employment.
Can you imagine? Can you imagine? And it feels possible, it really does. But don't say this thing unless you mean it, unless it comes from the core. Does it? And that's what scares me.
Realism and idealism at last in harmony.
And fighting! Taking the agenda! And it's true. Isn't it? Isn't it?
Our journey's end: a Britain where any child born in this millennium, whatever their background, race or creed, wherever they live, whoever their parents, is able to make the most of the God-given ability they bring into this world.
And that's what it's all about, really, isn't it? We aren't all born equal, not even slightly, and for that reason you can't let people sink or swim. To win on the flip of a coin, and then to not share with the loser. How can that make sense? But that's what 20th century politics was about. We can see further now. And that's what Tony means.
Incidentally, there were last minute changes to the speech which don't show up in any online texts I can find. I'd like to read them though.
All the major players are covering the Labour Party Conference. It should be a good one -- they're behind in the polls for the first time in 8 years and all the problems they're facing are media-contrived rather than throw-money-at-it ones. And Blair's speeches can be absolutely inspired, when he tries.
The Guardian's Special Report is likely to have the best analysis, but it's always good to see the other side of the coin: The Times' conference coverage will do just that. The Times has been up for a bit of Blair + New Labour + Europe bashing recently. BBC Conference News tends to have things you can't find elsewhere - they've got the tele interviews to draw on - and the articles are short.
Oh, and of course there's the official Labour Annual Conference site, complete with webcast. We'll see how well that works on Wednesday [or Tuesday, even. As it actually is.], when Our Lord Tone addresses to the nation.
New Upsideclown! Yeah, so there's a new article every Monday (and every Thursday too, let's not forget) but I still can't help getting excited.
Today, for your reading pleasure, we present George getting into a little property speculation: Built on an Indian burial ground.
Premise: Tea would be easier to carry if it wasn't so runny. So: What we need is something that you put in your drink that sort of floats on top and makes it go all gloopy, then dissolves in a couple of minutes (by which time you've got back to your desk) in the heat of the tea. (Or maybe a lid, I suppose, at a push.)
Yeah baby, the flawed dictionary is back! Because we missed it too.
If I'm not as coherant over the next few weeks, I'd like you to know why:
I sleep about eight hours a night, more or less. Closer to seven recently, but that's still too much. Imagine: I go to bed at 11 (yeah, and read for a bit), wake at 7 (listen to the news). I could head down and sleep at 1, wake and up immediately at 7.30. That is 2.5 extra hours of life a day. That's 17.5 a week -- 37.9 days every year. Over a month extra a year!
So there's the motive. The method? I have a fixed getting up time, then I stabilise my time asleep at, say, eight hours. I never, but never, go to bed before the time at which I'd have eight hours sleep. I might go to bed later, but never before.
Now I reduce this time by five minutes a night (week nights only) and the rate is low enough such that my body keeps up, reducing my non-REM sleep and my half-sleep time. I start today: I get up at 7am, so I will not go to bed before 10.30pm, and I'll keep this steady till Monday. Then I start. At 25 minutes a week, I'll be on on just under 7 hours sleep by this time next month. A fortnight of extra life, every single year. Already! Wow.
I know this works because I did it before, five years ago. I got down from nine to only six and a half hours a night. Then I got ill for about two weeks, hallucinated really badly and had to sleep fourteen hours a day. No connection, I'm sure.
It absolutely stuns me what can be found on the www: Songs that contain the word "monkey", in what appears to be alphabetical order.
A little meta info you never really needed|wanted to know...
Then next I hear that Lance Arthur when interviewed at waferbaby mentioned Dirk when asked where he spent his online hours. And glassdog.net being some of Dirk's earliest publicity when I was but a www virgin (practically).
These kind of people inspired me, and I still feel new here. I try not to think about what people would[n't] like to read or take part in weblog conversations or even make posts like this. And I wouldn't, usually. But then today I got a piece of fanmail and I'm touched -- that someone likes what I write. Wow. Thanks. My #1 fan.
Is that my biggest fan, or my first fan?
I went to see a talk presented by the Upstart Network at university, and from time to time they send me junk mail. Including, today, the most biased questionnaire in the world (you'll be impressed). The last question:
If you had to choose between them, which of the following two employers would you work for?
I can state without much explanation that the London Underground map is a remarkable invention. But divorcing the map from the geography of the overground leads to misconceptions (like thinking it's a good idea to go two stops and change once to get to a station you could have walked to in two minutes).
So, my flatmates and I were talking on the way into work (God, we're so young professional) about how to encode additional information in the map. Is it possible to indicate by, say, the colour intensity of the station the (overground) proximity to other stations? Hm. Well.
Consider a true map of London. Now consider crumpling this map so that it's all scrunched up, but a top down view is the same as the tube map, but on a different scale. Leaving aside whether this transform is possible, this yields what we're after. As long as the crumpled true map only bends on a station (ie no peaks or trough on a line between nearest stations), then we could say 0% colour intensity was at the lowest point of the crumpled map and 100% was at the top, and show this on the tube map. Task achieved.
["But how would you read it?" I hear you cry. The greater the colour intensity difference the further apart the stations. You also take the distance on the tube map into account: the closer the colour intensities the closer the true distance is to that of the tube map. I've a feeling it would actually be quite intuitive.]
But is this possible? I can think about it like this: Imagine the tube map as a mesh of triangles (each vertex being a station), and the same for the true map (essentially we're joining each station to its six nearest). As long as each station does not cross a line between two other closest stations then we can transform this mesh into whatever we like. So it is.
Maybe. I'm not sure about the last step -- but shifting questions onto other questions. I like this.
So many things to say, but -- so -- tired --
The most addictive game in the world is currently installed on my spanking new Palm. I can't find the game homepage, but I can find a Java applet of SFCave. Prepare to have your time sapped away.
I want eShades. But they need a cooler name -- something with the whole VDU kind of vibe.
Well designed and so very tempting: Britart to buy online.
Another search engine: Ixquick is a metasearch engine, with the idea of which for some reason I'm a little uncomfortable but it does return good results. New to me.
Erm. Reasonably good results. The best motherfucking search engine on the net.
From: Bomis which is a directory of webrings. Hey, worth exploring so stop giving me grief. Okay?
10 Out Of 10 is the young person's guide to Downing Street and politics. It's pretty well drawn, and is actually quite well written, but they make one or two really disappointing mistakes.
The whole site is in asp from a database. 10 Out Of 10 can be found at /default.asp?pageid=8. Right -- how is that ever going to be found by a search engine? What's the point of going to all that effort to put all that content up that and virtually ensuring that it'll never be found? All it needs is an internal url redirect. The navigation, too, is a little erratic: The main navigation bar has constantly changing links with a design format that implies they belong to the 10 Out Of 10 section (they don't). Again, disappointing. To come so far and to stop just short; it's a shame.
And then there are the 'Click here...' links scattered over the site, but we won't even go into that.
Roll up, roll up, for the new Upsideclown:
Constipation. As opening words to an article go, not the most promising of overtures, but one that seems particularly pertinent at the present time, when I appear to be having trouble forcing out anything of note. Two hours sat in one small, enclosed space with nothing to show for it but the threat of piles.
Please extend your sympathies to Jamie, who's caught up in some Scatological Warfare.
The priority petrol stations to be filled can be found on the DTI web site.
I'm in two minds: One one hand I believe that high petrol prices are good news given the current road building programme (I would prefer road narrowing and traffic causing measures, but lower petrol prices. Time is more valuable than money to the people who need to be targetted). On the other hand - important bit - we cannot allow this kind of ransom of the transport infrastructure. But then the fact that the situation has come to this means that there is a lack of mechanism for filtering public opinion to the Government.
This doesn't really affect me because I'm in London. Which is probably the same reason the Government has been caught so far out of touch.
Hm. Stream music via your phonelines with the Rio Digital Audio Receiver. I'd prefer a low power FM transmitter I plugged into my speaker jack though.
This is my first post via Eamon Daly's AvantGo client for Blogger.
Guides to what are generally (at a certain level, anyway) formal processes I find very interesting -- from various Linux howtos to the Anarchist's Handbook. Writing and listing generally implies some kind of thought, and the very act of authorship automatically selects a person who knows what they are talking about. Open documents are more interesting because of the commenting and revision process. (The reascent of micro-publication - the first time being pamphlets - has allowed us to codify much smaller processes. Weblogs are very good at this, but I'd like to see more posts being expanded into full documents.)
With this in mind, as a good example of what I mean and interesting reading in its own right, here's how to respond to planning applications. That is, ones you don't like.
I love, and I mean I love the gravity screensaver. I could watch it for hours (and have, from time to time).
Current reading: The PHP manual is easy to read and has a (useful, actually) open commenting system.
Good reading: Distributed XML discusses rdf and soap.
On teletext, but not the web this morning:
Whale means weighty problem for welsh
A four-tonne dead whale is causing an unusual waste disposal headache in south Wales.
The carcass of the 27ft mammal was washed-up and became stuck on rocks at Oxwich Bay in the Gower penisula.
The huge animal has either to be cut up on the beach or towed back out to sea and disposed of there.
The National Truth and Swansea Council environmental health department are meeting to decide what to do.
They should blow it up.
Monday is new Upsideclown:
Please write on one side of the paper only. Questions are either multiple choice or require written response. Answer written questions on the separate sheets provided.
Dan sets the exam today; once again excellent. Don't forget to study for Testing Times. Enjoy. I'm sure you'll do fine.
Oh, and also: I bought two pieces of art in tiny plastic containers from a vending machine for 50p each. It's part of project Sweetime, from Hayvend [info]. You can find vending machines across London. Absolutely bloody brilliant. A big pat on the back.
A couple of updates on that list of urls I posted earlier:
Apparently Dan was talking about a much tamer photo of Mayam Bialik (at Thing's Celebrity Indiscretions) which is a shame, but more likely to be genuine. We then have the question: Why did I write "Blossom crotch shot" on the reminder paper in the pub?
Dan also says that the thing about iamhappyblue is that it links to meenk, which is [and I quote] hysterical. Archetypal screwed up lil' webchick, with terrible website. Having read some stuff there, I'd have to agree. Hilarious.
How do you kill a circus?
Go for the juggler.
The following urls come from last night's conversation. With some of them, it's really best just not to ask what we were talking about. Whatever you think, you're probably right. (It's in chronological order, too.)
Unfortunately I can't link to the banjo that came later, but suffice to say it was as excellent as it sounds. Yes.
Last night in 37 words | Beer, balti, lost hat (twice). More beer, balconies, 15ft walls, climbing, Thames, mud, falling over, running, too much running, Tower Bridge, sunrise, "I own London. I fucking own this city". Not losing my hat afterall (good good).
Sony will unite the world in electronic harmony. Long-term views are brilliant. Imagine: you stock your house with Sony goods, and then one day they announce you can use your camcorder with your PDA with your TV and the net using your Playstation as the heart. And then they take over the world, making us all their zombie slaves. So-ooooo-hg-nnnn-y. Drool.
What an utterly awesome banner ad. When ads are like this, I click. Wow. And again, wow.
Actually, the guys responsible for this ad have a whole load of Java-based banners. I'm glad there are people around doing this.
Funny article at protein. About kids' TV. Good good. Go read. Very clown.
flyswat underlines words it recognises in yellow which can then be clicked on for further information. First thoughts: Fast and surprisingly usable. Second thoughts: The reason it's fast is because it worms its way inside Internet Explorer (it's an app, not an applet). Alas, I can't use it because I don't use Windows.
Okay, so I can't sleep. Let me tell you about Upsideclown instead.
Thursday means new clown: You can tell the clowners are off on holiday. Victor continues our slide into travelogue with Ice-cream in Offworld, a tour of, oh, nowhere you've been anyway. Enjoy.
But let me delve backwards into clowns gone (glossing rather rudely over George's European adventures in This Way to concentrate on my own).
It's been almost two years since I wrote something I was actually proud of. A long time since I finished a piece of writing to feel that it was at least touching what I'd write in an ideal world. But now: with last Monday's Upsideclown, Sixty worlds a minute, I feel I've regained my form. I'm genuinely so pleased with what is there that it doesn't matter if other people don't quite understand what I mean, or don't like it, or are just completely indifferent to it (writing comprehensibly and interestingly can come later) -- I just feel that the picture I've painted for myself, with these words, is so vivid and beautiful - and so rare - that I don't mind.
Of course, I'd like you to like it. But really, if you don't get the clowning, please just enjoy the pictures.
Back. Back. Back.
Feeling rather torn into little pieces at the moment, and not terribly able to cope. Hopefully I'll care more in the morning after a good night's sleep. See you then.