"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Was Placed On This Earth To Put Off Doing Something Extraordinary

I know how he feels.


I discovered alloftv.net recently. It's really just a directory, linked to video hosted on other sites, so the quality's variable and some of the links have gone dead. But I've watched a few episodes of Mighty Boosh, the Simpsons and American Dad and it worked pretty well. I would much prefer to consume telly on a video-on-demand basis, but it's bound to take broadcasters ages to come up with a cheap enough model for mainstream use. The BBC should make all their shows available on this basis to license payers.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rave videos

From back in the day via Metafilter. I just tried to watch the video to Stakker's Humanoid but couldn't handle the strobing for more than 10 seconds...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Future's bright

In a similar vein to the New Scientist stuff below, I went to an interesting talk last week about future forecasting. One presentation was by a New York company called Sputnik, whose background seems to have been as one of those specialist marketing companies that interpret street/youth trends for the benefit of global multinational corporations so that they can sell lots of crap to the kids, but who now appear to go around interviewing leading academic scientists about their work, joining the dots, and trying to extrapolate future trends for society, the economy etc. Whatever their motives, their video clips of scientists threw up some interesting ideas, such as:
* GM plants will be the most efficient way of converting solar energy to stored energy - could be 10 times more efficient/productive than now, and will absorb CO2 (Freeman Dyson).
* Make plastics out of cheap, plentiful CO2, thereby removing it from the atmosphere (Janine Benyus).
* Use algae to absorb pollution and greenhouse gases. They tried this on a power plant exhaust, and the algae absorbed 40% of CO2, 86% of Nitrous Oxide, and they were able to convert the bi-products into ethanol (Issac Berzin, MIT rocket scientist).
* 'Sustainability' is a poor goal - that implys maintaining the status quo, when in fact we could do a lot better. (Mitchell Joachim, transology project.)
* Studying 'metabolisms' will become more important that genetics.
* There is a concept of 'urban metabolism' - how do cities/buildings consume?
* There may be 'environmental heresies' (Stewart Brand) that the environmental movement will come to accept around population growth, urbanisation, genetically engineered organisms, and nuclear power.
* That DuPont has imposed stringent sustainability goals on itself that it intends to reach by 2015, and which seem genuinely impressive.

Friday, November 17, 2006

New Scientist 50th Anniversary

I bought the 50th Anniversary edition of the New Scientist on the way to work this morning, thinking it would provide some light reading for the Tube. Opened it up to be confronted by the following articles: 'What is Reality?', 'Do We Have Free Will?', 'What is Life?', 'Is the Universe Deterministic?', 'What is Consciousness?', 'Will We Ever Have a Theory of Everything?', 'What Happens After You Die?', and 'What Comes After Humans?'. I read Metro instead. Looking forward to tackling the 'the biggest questions ever asked', but need to wait until I'm feeling a bit more alert and a bit less dim!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Today's front pages from 562 newspapers in 54 countries (mostly US). John Lanchester mentioned this in LRB prior to US mid-terms.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006


For the last 4 years I've seen that man on the TV at least twice a week and felt sick with rage and helplessness. And now it's come to an end. For that alone, God Bless America.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Borat = Mahir

Remember Mahir, with the unintentionally comic website - 'I kiss you!' etc. He reckons that Sacha Baron Cohen has ripped him off. He might have a point.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Neo Culpa

Sorry to go back on my word about not posting about Iraq, but this is quite an extraordinary volte face - Richard Perle now publicly saying that Iraq was a terrible idea: vanityfair.com.

And in other news - Bush's favourite Christian evangelical caught buying crystal meth from a gay prostitue! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Brilliant.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Secret Policeman's Ball

Amnesty's Secret Policeman's Ball was on recently. One of the acts was David Armand, doing the Torn mime act that you've no doubt seen on the net. Well worth having a look at this version though: link

Any other acts you know of that were particularly good?

[Fixed the name; the one I got from youtube was wrong. He's actually English.]

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Gray - a Fitz thinker?

Read this book of essays the other week. I'd always been suspicious of John Gray, since his philosophy is largely based around attacking liberalism and the enlightenment. It's actually one of the most provocative (in a good way) things I've read for ages. It genuinely troubled me, and one has to acknowledge that his essays from the late 90s have, so far, proved to be far far better predictors of the 21st century than any of the new economy/end of history guff that was so fashionable at the time.

As promised...

A website designed so that you never have to click your mouse: www.dontclick.it.

(Iraq and climate change not mentioned.)


This lot reckon that the CO2 emitted as a result of planting palms and sugar cane to produce bio fuels will exceed that saved by Kyoto.

I promise only to post frivolous and light-hearted stuff from now on!