Posts from April 2006

Apr 06

Day 63: My Vietnam

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 363 views

The problem with hitch-hiking with a bloke that you don’t share a language with is that you often have little idea where you are going. I’d pointed west to him and he smiled with a gappy grinned that reminded me of Elton John after I had smashed all his teeth out (not that I have ever done it, but I have certainly imagined it enough for it to stick in my brain). And they did not seem to have any rules about how long a truck driver could drive for, so as I fell asleep in the cab I did not expect to be four hundred miles away when I woke up the next morning. I was also surprised to see a roman script on all the signs.

“Where are we” I asked him.
He made some signs to me to suggest he did not understand. Oh how I wish I had his lack of faculty with the English language when I had first heard a Manic Street Preachers record.
“Where, stop.”
“No stop,” he said – which I found hard to believe. “Hanoi.”

It seemed a little bit out of my way, but that was not what worried me most. Hanoi was half of the name of Hanoi Rocks – a Swedish band so poor it made Abba look kind of okay. So at the next junction I jumped out of the cab to try and find myself a different way west through My Vietnam

P!NK – My Vietnam

She’s a funny cove is that Pink. When she isn’t going around without Pink hair thus completely negating the point of her name she’s making songs criticising what she sees as stupid pop stars. Which strikes me to be considerably stupid when you do it in the form of POP SONG.

So let’s look at another form of stupidity from Miss NK. Why let’s look at exhibit A (and we only need one exhibit). Her song “My Vietnam”. In which she describes how her Dad was a soldier and went to Vietnam. One assumes that that is supposed to be “his Vietnam” something bolstered by the fact of it actually being Vietnam.

However P!nk herself has her own personal Vietnam. Life keeps dropping bombs on her. Its unclear what kind of bombs, though one would assume not the kind that do any physical damage (worse luck)as she still seems to be able to continue the song. Instead she suggests that not really being any good at School and her relationship with her mother might be her Vietnam.

Let’s review. On the one side we have bombs, people dying and senseless slaughter. On the other side we have a few arguments and a the odd Grade F. JUST LIKE VIETNAM. I’ll be dropping bombs on her, which will probably leave her hair anything but Pink. That’ll put the ! in her name.

As Shimura Curves say…

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 267 views


The Sultan’s Elephant, free wide ranging localised Central London theatre. I shall express no prior judgment except to hope that I am not trampled by an elephant on my perambulations around town.

Noel Edmond’s & Quantum Theory

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 426 views

Schroedinger’s Deal Or No Deal.

Noel Edmonds was the perfect choice as host for this game show, as he is also in a simultaneous state of death and life. We all remember him as the failed DJ turned family entertainer who killed people. But yet he’s on a £3 million contract with Endemol and nominated for a BAFTA. At the same time.

Entertaining if not all that educational.

Apr 06

I Love You Lindsay

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 420 views

I know I am always banging on about how good Lindsay Bareham’s cookbooks are – but yet again tonight she has come up trumps. From her book A Wolf In The Kitchen, which I was a bit sniffy about cos its a student cookbook really*, comes broccoli with chilli.

Chop up a head of broccoli – boil for about five minutes until tender. In the meantime smash a clove of garlic with some salt. Add four chopped anchovies and a slug of lemon juice. A dessertspoon of the broccoli water with another slug of olive oil (can be from the broccoli can) and a sliced red chilli or some chilli flakes. Turn the latter into a lumpy vinaigrette and dress the broccoli with it. I cannot describe how great this is. Just do it. Ten minutes and you are in heaven. Especially if you use too many chillis.

*Of course the fact I work with students and still live a student lifestyle is neither here nor their.

Wrong Answer?

Blog 7Post a comment • 381 views

I like entering competitions on the web. It strikes me that I am unlikely to win them, but you’ve got to be innit to winnit innit. I have won competitions before, including tickets to Glastonbury, Reading and some free flights to Scotland. Indeed a recent new years resolution was to enter a competition every day (on average). None of those have come to fruition, but it doesn’t stop me wasting thirty seconds of my work day to do so.

The Guardian (indeed all the newspapers) is a good place to start. Which is why I am a touch concerned about this one for Gulf Air for a trip to Bahrain. Good prize and the two questions are easy enough .Who won the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix? (Alonso) And do I want e-mails from Gulf Air? (No)

Only after I submitted my answer did I think that maybe I got the answer to question two wrong…

Building Escher’s Waterfall

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 556 views

Video of a working model with spoilers. (Digg:ProvBScie as BBC News:FT generally, obv)

Apr 06

Johnny Foreigner, Branes, and the Limits of Fun

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 336 views

I’m just about to finish “The Way We Think” by Fauconnier/Turner and i can’t avoid the feeling that it feels like a composite of books by continental philosophers that i have read but this time CORRECTLY TRANSLATED. In common with many from the scientific/british/analytic culture I find the writing of Foucault and pals a little wordy and frustrating. It seems like they are getting at things i can agree with, but go round the houses to “say what they mean”. The fun of writing – they even have a word for it for heavens sake! – gets in the way of getting to the point, and the gut feeling is that this “inefficiency” is intended to piss you off. (I’m specifically thinking of a section in one of Foucault’s books where he’s making some obscure point by talking about Velasquez’s painting of that princess which seems to go on for pages for little reward.)

Anyway this book is a popular account of a fundamental principle to influential programmes of cognitive science – that of “conceptual blending”. I can’t do it much justice right now (I’m going to finish AND re-read) but it outlines the format of these blendings, and then explores/surveys increasingly complex types, including both predicate-logic style relations and metaphors along the way. It’s very interesting stuff, relating to creativity, causal thinking, language, “meaning” and belief in general – putting metaphor, and metaphor-like processes at the core – and suggesting an ignition-point at which human language becomes possible. smashing.

Strangely, though i can understand what they are trying to explain, cos they do so clearly, they also go into so many odd/funny/obscure examples (and then model those examples) that it does pick up that elliptical “get on with it” feel from time to time. But this time I GET IT. I particularly liked the (near stand up comedy material) bit where they point out that a double edged sword is actually better for fighting than a single-edged sword, and in fact had someone invented a double-edged sword where one edge consistently hurt the user, it would be discarded in favour of the single-edged sword. (Presumably used facing the right way)

Right, well I don’t know where I’m going with this. But when I finally DO get this, I can go back and finish Ricoeur’s “Rule of Metaphor” and maybe this time I can see what he’s trying to say but without getting dragged down so much.

I know the problem is really with me, not those johnny-foreigner writers, (apols to the likes of byebyepride obv) but a book you can’t get through cos it’s like reading treacle, is intellectually humiliating.

FOOTBALL (will that do?)

BA In Lack Of Nutrition And Tightfistedness

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 283 views

It isn’t easy being a student these days, with fees and financial pressures from all angles. Therefore the mind boggles at the story from Wetherspoon’s News: Students Prove Square Meal Value: in which two students eat out three times a day in one week for under £45. Clearly this is quite cheap and it therefore follows that the food quality would be absolutely top notch. However further examination of the piece showed much to be concerned about. Not least the following:
“The pair dreamed the idea up for a course project.”

What course??* And more interestingly, the item does not say what mark they got for it…

*Actually it does say the course. They were postgraduate advertising students. Or as we call them in the know, tossers!

Here’s A Proposition For You

Do You SeePost a comment • 361 views

“If you don’t go kill your (nasty rapist, murdering though cooly philosophical) elder brother I will kill your (dimwitted, good hearted, if also potentially a rapist and murdering) younger brother”. The Proposition is not a film which deals in Manichean morality. Let’s be fair, if the film contains moral shades of grey, they are very dark indeed. The that two characters in the film who could be said to me the most moral themselves are pretty purgitous. Guy Pearce’s middle brother, happy to shoot and murder who only seems to come to a revelation at how bad this might be late in life. And Emily Watson’s stab at a pure lady in this dark land is still sullied by her begging for a young chap to be flogged to death. So violence and nastiness sis the order of the day.

In such a cost dark film there has to be some light, and as is usually the case in outback set films, the scenery does most of the talking. It may be a cliche that all outback set films seem to have a dreamlike/dreaming quality but The Proposition does not seem to able to sidestep it. Shockingly pretty, shockingly violent, perhaps a bit boring in places, with music and a script by Nick Cave which compliment each other with their sparsity. (For the first half of the film Cave seems to have earned his fee for writing about 100 words). Put it like this: imagine a film written by Nick Cave. You’ve just imagined the bloody, murderous, cynical The Proposition.

Apr 06

THE TREMELOES – “Silence Is Golden”

Popular45 comments • 8,047 views

#233, 20th May 1967

A song about wimpiness and non-intervention, whose subject seems to infect its delivery: close harmony as a coccoon, a kind of pretty disengagement from the beastly world. It’s a cover version of a record that’s only three years old but it sounds further out of time than that. And ahead of time too – ear-squint and this is in the same bandstand as Westlife, maybe. A discussion flowered briefly on ILM yesterday about why male harmony singing fails to get the hip recognition the (generalised) ‘girl group sound’ does – perhaps this sense that the voices are covering up for one another is part of the reason?