Posts from August 2005

30
Aug 05

FOOD SCIENCE DAY: An Introduction and Dedication

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 979 views

Over the next week a varied bunch of reprobates will be posting on the Publog, Proven By Science, TMFD and even The Brown Wedge, the results of the 1st Liz Daplyn Food Science Day. Please be patient with these results, remember the writing up is half of the science, and we should never rush science (or bad puns). Also photos will need to be collated, and hosted for your reading pleasure. But you will find out what fruit can be thrown the furthest.

It was a wonderful day, and out host Tim was a genial and pleasant as a man can be: only banning one piece of science on the grounds that dropping cheese off of his balcony would be a anti-social thing to do to his neighbours. The sun was shining, and whilst the large selection of food could have possibly been to to greater use, what we learnt will be passed down from generation to generation, hopefully aiding our understanding of the mysteries of food and bouze. In a war where the only ballistic missiles are the fruit aisle of Tesco’s, you want us on your side. Special note of thanks to Sarah for photos, Mark C for his throwing arm, Sinkah for comprehensive (if illegible) notes and Robster for complex notes on the fruit – and not dropping the cheese of the balcony BECAUSE WE DID NOT DO THAT.

In particular it was nice to have Rob there because, as mentioned before, the genesis of Food Science Day was a drunken conversation with Liz two months ago. Perhaps it is a strange way to remember someone, exploding eggs and making food just because its name is a silly pun, but I hope this event will become a regular one and will help us commemorate her life. I think we all felt her loss on Sunday; this was exactly the kind of inquisitive, silly yet serious event she would have loved and I hope that in doing this again we can continue to celebrate some of the passions of our friend. We certainly have more that enough experiments to do next year, including the Instant Atomic Buckminster Fuller Egg/Cheeseo-desic Dome.

So let the science begin.

Statistics of iTunes party shuffle

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 397 views

Graphs and everything courtesy of a slashdotted article. Regular shuffle IS INDEED RANDOM and without duplicates – like shuffling a pack of cards and dealing them out. But the difference with party shuffle is that you get “with replacements”, i.e. each track in the list is chosen randomly from the selected playlist, like drawing a card from a full pack and putting it back again. Duplicates happen, and more often than our tiny un-stats friendly BRANES give credit for.

Just Some Bad Old Boys

Do You SeePost a comment • 348 views

What was most interesting about the big screen Dukes Of Hazzard was exactly how unambitious it was. Granted they had more money than the TV show ever did, so there were a couple (and only a couple) of big stunts. But the humour, the plot and the characterization, was not a step up from the series. And the series got to build the relationships between the cousins, Uncle Jesse, the bad guys.

Actually, thinking about it, what exactly WAS the Dukes Of Hazzard, the TV series, about? Yes there was a moonshine operation (is alcohol illegal in Georgia still?), yes there was dastardly Boss Hogg on the make. But beyond that was there really enough to hang four series on, and really enough reason for those endless car chases. That a motivation free, plotless TV series becomes an equally lackluster film is not the issue (good car chases are still fun, and the enjoyment is just in ticking the boxes of the recreation). But then if any more ambition had been crammed into the film, it would have stopped being The Dukes Of Hazzard. Caught short by its own premise.

And they still haven’t caught Richard Marx I see.

it is NATURE’S CHLOROFORM

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 602 views

on the whole i sleep lightly – waking at the slightest hackney gunshot or police helicopter flyover – and, esp. if too hot, find it v.hard to drift off in the first place

for a long time – ie when i wz in my twenties – this is possibly bcz i drank 8-10 cups of coffee a day and SCOFFED at the idea it had powers over me!! possibly caffeine affects you puny earth-worlder mortals but i am IMMUNE! i sleep as twitichingly alert as a CAT and as a child was kept awake by BATS SQUEAKING* ect ect!!

anyway one day i got laryngitis and a side-effect of the antibiotics was i stopped liking or wanting coffee and after three weeks cold turkey i discovered SLUMBER AS DEEP AS I HAD NEVER KNOWN (and now rarely have coffee after mid-day)

however i continued inwardly to scoff at the unscientific notion that a HOT MILK DRINK would send me off quicker — until this last 18 months or so, when various real-life stresses really were keeping me awake… now i have taught myself, if i am still wide-eyed and hotly grumpy at 3, to get up, make a pan of milk, froth it up w.my little ELECTRIC WHISK, drink it not so quickly i burn my tongue, and mmmm WHUPFF** zzzzzzz!

*this bit is true
**sound of head hitting pillow

29
Aug 05

Cricketmania!

TMFDPost a comment • 871 views

Sitting watching the Ashes yesterday I turned to Tim and admitted it. “You know those people the newspapers talk about who are suddenly interested in cricket? I’m one of them.” “Me too” he replied. Out of respect for the frayed nerves and fingernails of the real fans I have kept my questions mum, especially as most of them are “So how come that wasn’t out and that was?”. I don’t have to understand all of it to appreciate it – the tension, the ebbs and flows of advantage, the tactical acumen (because it’s slow-moving tactical decisions are easier to grasp for the newcomer than they are in football, I think).

I guess the thing I’ve liked most about this series is the way that so much turns out to hinge on how well the tail perform – the Australian tail in the second and third tests, the England one yesterday. Like most sports, cricket requires a range of specialised skills: unlike most sports, cricket is set up so that people whose specialised skill isn’t batting have to go and bat. Watching football you get this occasionally, when a goalkeeper desperately heads up the pitch for a last corner, or takes a penalty in a shoot-out. But it isn’t written into the everyday experience of the game. It means that the outcomes of great sporting events can turn on the unusual and joyful heroism of people who aren’t especially good at something* gritting their teeth and doing it anyway.

*relative to specialists, not to the rest of us.

26
Aug 05

Dumber & Dumbest

Do You SeePost a comment • 692 views

Just a quick note that Freakytriggers favouritest of Five television programmes is returning soon. How? After all, the irrepressibly gravel voiced Tommy Vance has gone to the great razor blade gargling parlour in the sky. Who could replace Tommy Vance in admiring the abject stupidity of his fellow men?

Word is: Brian Blessed.

“Gordons alive!!! But only just: surely only te stupidest of idiots would go up again Ming the Merciless with only ripped T-Shirt on…”

When You Ask Me If I Liked The Movie, The Answer Can Only Be

Do You SeePost a comment • 185 views

Yes.

Sometimes you go and see a film just to dislike it. I think there was a bit of this about me when I went to see Sally Potter’s Yes, a film which proclaimed itself happily as being entirely in verse. And the opening soliloquy from Shirley Henderson seems very, very odd. It was as if someone who had found a bit of Shakespeare about cleaning. It was exactly like that: which is when the penny dropped. We allow Shakespeare to be performed like this, but never anything else.

Well it might just be the rhythm, or the care taken over the words, or it might be the second-hand Shakespeare connotations. But I really liked Yes. I wanted to dislike it, but actually the veneer of artifice made the performances more accessible. The verse allowed characters to talk about feelings in an unrealistic way, because all of the dialogue was unrealistic. This is just a relationship drama, Joan Allen’s American Irish woman embarking on an affair with a Lebanese chef. There is the East vs West culture clash but nothing that would have stood out if it was not for the verse. Sam Neill is wonderfully controlled, but this is Allen’s film, and it helps that she is captivatingly watchable.

But the real star is the language. I don’t really care how good the verse is: though in parts, especially Sheila Hancock’s death speech, it was excellent. The fact it is being done makes you listen in a different way. The question Yes asks me back is, why did I want to dislike it before I went in? Potter herself suggests a nascent anti-intellectualism in the UK (whilst affirming that she is no intellectual). Perhaps. This is not a difficult film to get your head around, but it is different. And I liked it.

South Central, London

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 1,051 views

An addendum to yesterdays NLA post. If you go to the website (or indeed the exhibition) , click on the Changing Face Of London exhibit. Enter, then follow the link to list projects, and finally click on South Central. You get this frank nonsense:

“London South Central is the new ‘brand’ for the South Bank area designed to encourage investment south side of the River Thames from Vauxhall Bridge to Tower Bridge.”

And in what way is renaming a clearly named and well defined area like the South Bank with a new name which has connotation of the LA riots going to help bring in investment. It might be a good exhibit, but its good to see that stupidity still reigns supreme.

Food Science Day Warm Up: Beer Science

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 408 views

An experiment to see what a “Grey Beer” would taste like.

Reagents: 50% Budvar Dark (a traditional Czech Black Beer with strong molasses taste and equally strong alcohol content)
50% Kronenberg Blanc (a remarkably citrusy White beer which is also remarkably strong)

Place: The Lord John Russell (it being the only place in Britain you can get Budvar Dark on tap).

Results: After the white beer was added to the black beer, a swift slosh to mix took place. The beer got slightly cloudier but remained on the black side of grey. The aroma was described to be that of Turkish toilets. It was however pointed out that this aroma is not uncommon for many ales. On first tasting much of the bitterness of the burnt molasses tasting Dark beer had been removed and the citrus notes remained strong. After a few moments the taste coalesced into something which tasted surprisingly of a Seville orange.

Conclusion: “Grey beer” is

  1. not actually grey
  2. palatable, if smelly
  3. tastes of Seville oranges.

25
Aug 05

My Mutha Was A Hairdressa

Blog 7Post a comment • 374 views

Actually she did six months sweeping the floor in a salon when she turned sixteen. As soon as it looked like she might have to be taken on as an apprentice rather than just be paid a thrupenny bob bit a week (her words) she was sent packing. Nevertheless this did not stop her believing she was a hairdresser. Which meant that either
a) she cut my hair, brutally
b) she was too bolshy at the barbers.

I hated the barbers as a kid, partially because my Mum talked to Aldo as if she was a fellow pro. “Thinning scissors”, she would say when he started using the thinning scissors. “You’ll have to watch his crown,” stuff like that. She also made me wait for Aldo, rather than let the chain-smoking older barbers touch my hair, as that way I got the best cut. The first time I went in by myself I let a chainsmoker do it. It was much better than fancypants Aldo (I think there was a flirt going on).

Anyway, I hated the tugging, the preening and the way my neck would itch for about five days. But that was generally better than Mum cutting. While she did have a basic idea what she was doing, she was prone to going in to the head at a funny angle and stabbing the back of my bonce with the scissors. All this changed when she got a special hair cutting comb. Unfortunately not for the better. The special comb supposedly had razor blades at angles safely behind the tines. This was fine until they went blunt (one use). After which the way it cut was basically ripping the hair from your scalp. And sometimes, some of the scalp too.

So if I ever have crap hair, blame my Mum, Aldo and that comb. And if the barbers had head hoovers like in Cut when I was a kid, I would have gone all the time.