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

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Mouse hits 40

Interesting that the Mouse is now 40. I don't think I saw one until the early 1990s, which shows I guess how long even the most brilliant of inventions can take to be widely adopted.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rainy Edinburgh morning from the No. 30 bus

From Fitzrovian Tuesdays

Playing around with Picasa web albums in accordance with my adoption of all things google. There's no "blog this" option, oddly...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Google Artist Themes

These are really good. I'm moving over to Google for all my internet "stuff" as my Yahoo account is overflowing with junk and Google are now completely winning on style...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On the McCain campaign trail..

Ok, I promise this will be my only post on the subject of the US election. I haven't got anything to add really other than what we've known since 2000 - that half the American electorate are completely bonkers. This piece on the sober, highly conventional CNN website it home to me once again. It seems that as crazy as Mccain is, many of his supporters are another couple of steps even further removed from reality.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Iain Banks on climate change

I was a bit surprised when I read Iain Banks's book on whisky to discover that he's a complete petrol-head, with a string of sports cars, land rovers etc. The book was more about cars than whisky.

However, he's now got rid of them all for environmental reasons and owns a solitary Toyota Yaris instead. Here's a short  interview he's done with Friends of the Earth.

If only there were more like him and fewer Clarksons.

Although I do sometimes regret that by the time I was old enough and earned enough to think about being into cars, the environmental evidence discouraged me from doing so.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The dark side of David Foster Wallace

Sad to hear that David Foster Wallace has commited suicide. I have to admit I never made it to the end of Infinite Jest, but I did enjoy a book of his essays that I once read.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Rorschach Test

This actually looks like it might be quite good: http://watchmenmovie.warnerbros.com/

Visually faithful to the graphic novel, anyway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


On at the Royal Academy. It's only till 7 Sep though so I don't imagine I'll make it down, which is a shame as I'd really like to see this. And the Hadrian one.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Best Documentary Ever Made

YouTube is amazing - I'm so glad I've found this documentary about a Japanese professor trying to track down Einstein's Brain. Apparently they removed it in Princeton medical school during his autopsy, and kept it for research - but it went missing when the guy in charge of the project moved on. The Japanese prof just keeps approaching random hospital staff (or doctors with the same name who he's found in the phone book) and saying 'I rooking for Einstein brain', to their complete bafflement.

For years I've had a hazy memory of it, but it seemed so bizarre that I wondered whether I'd dreamed it or imagined it or something. Now I know that the doc exists as I remember it - although whether it's genuine, or a clever pastiche, or a profound art film, I'm still not certain. (Sketchy details on IMDB.)

Where it gets questionable is when he tracks down the guy who did the research to some town in Kansas, but doesn't know where he lives. He asks a local resident if he knows where to find him - and it turns out to be William Burroughs (see part 5 - 2:45)! Then when he does find the old researcher, he has the brain in a jar - and cuts him a slice on his chopping board to take home. You have to take a look.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Christian the Lion

Must admit to being delighted by the latest Youtube hit. It IS genuine, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

13 in a Volvo

Don't mean to racially stereotype, but no surprise to me that this chap seems to be an orthodox Jew from Tottenham. I've seen plenty such huge families crammed into Volvos around Stamford Hill. Although what was he doing in Wales?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Leaving New York

What a song, and what a video. Manhattan Island almost as much a spiritual home as Fitzrovia and Kinross Services I think.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What credit crunch?

City bankers receive £13bn bonuses this year - only1% down on last year.  Why I oughtta... [waves clenched fist in the air impotently]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The best way to find meaning at work? Don't look for it

Some sensible points here, although it does conclude by saying you're lucky to have a job in the current climate and that should be enough - which isn't that encouraging.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cheney's Toy

*Bit* of a good track, was on Radio 2 earlier this evening. Never heard of James McMurtry before, initially thought it might have been Lou Reed singing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Global Recession - what do we think?

Are we heading for a global economic slump? Are any of us worried about it if we are? The Ecologist magazine is claiming that we need one to save the planet. Whatever we think about the subject, paul Krugman's columns are quite enlightening..

Monday, March 17, 2008

Eskimo Disco

This is on the official Pingu website. I particularly like the Emo penguins...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day

Or Pi approximation day. March 14 you see, 3.14... Although July 22 is also Pi day (22/7 = 3.14...). You're supposed to eat pies. I like it.

No great surprise that the guy who thought it up looks like this, though:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The drugs don't work

All across the news today that Prozac and some other SSRI's aren't any better than a placebo - I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on this.

My experiences with these things haven't been particularly good - a feeling of speediness for the first few days followed by same old same old only with increased mental muzziness and anxiety. I *really* didn't like Prozac...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ideas worth spreading

According to the Daily Torygraph business section , which I found on the tube today, the TED conference is like 'a creative Davos on steroids'. Whether or not that's a good thing is debatable, but you can watch videos of presentations by lots of clever people on it's website. In a similar vein, Google also hosts internal seminars by boffins and gurus and hosts films of their presentations online. In keeping with my normal Fitz posting habits, I haven't actually tried to watch any of these yet, but I'm sure there's some interesting stuff in there. Although it could all be a bit Wired magazine - you know, we're going to solve all the world's problems with nifty technological solutions and get rich in the process, but in a good way.

On a completely unrelated tangent (although I'm sure Wired will appear on here at some point), I happened across this questionable blog while googling stuff about fixed wheel bikes. Not entirely sure where it's coming from - it seems to have satirical intent, but it's not entirely clear who's satirising whom. But some of the entries are pretty funny, although a lot of the commenters don't seem to be in on the joke.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Poor old Gazza, another low. Self-medicating all the way.

Hopefully this time he'll get some decent help and somehow turn things around.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

pliny the elder

Have been reading selected extracts from Natural History by pliny the elder, as part of an attempt this year to read the classics. It's actually well worth looking at - a fascinating and often quite charming mixture of well-grounded and factually informative observations described with typical Roman rationalism and confidence (for instance, there is a section which mocks the credulity of the Greeks for believing in werewolves) coupled with the most ludicrous accounts of unicorns, giant sea monsters, talking horses and much else besides.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


As ever, a great article by John Lanchester in the LRB. I never really understood how things like derivatives and hedge funds worked until I read this.

In fact, I didn't wholly appreciate how banks worked either:

"Imagine a country with only one bank. A customer goes into the bank and deposits £200. Now the bank has £200 to invest, so it goes out and buys some shares with the money: not the full £200, but the amount minus the percentage which it deems prudent to keep in cash, just in case any depositors come and make a withdrawal. That amount, called the 'cash ratio', is set by government: in this example let's say it's 20 per cent. So our bank goes out and buys £160 of shares from, say, LRB Ltd. Then LRB goes and deposits its £160 in the bank; the bank now has £360 of deposits, of which it needs to keep only 20 per cent – £72 – in cash. So now it can go out and buy another £128 of shares in LRB, raising its total holding in LRB Ltd to £288. Once again, LRB Ltd goes and deposits the money in the bank, which goes out again and buys more shares, and so on the process goes. The only thing imposing a limit is the need to keep 20 per cent in cash, so the depositing-and-buying cycle ends when the bank has £200 in cash – all the cash there is – and £800 in LRB shares; it also has £1000 of customer deposits, the initial £200 plus all the money from the share transactions. The initial £200 has generated a balance sheet of £1000 in assets and £1000 in liabilities. Magic! In real life, it's even better: the UK cash ratio is 0.15 per cent, so that initial £200 would generate £133,333 on both sides of the balance sheet."