bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • Think defamation law is boring? You won’t if you find yourself in court
    So, now we can get on to why it all matters. If you use social media or blog online, you are now a publisher just the same as any journalist.
    Yikes *scours ALL blog posts*

  • Google Memory Loss
    I think Google has stopped in­dex­ing the old­er parts of the We­b. I think I can prove it. Google’s com­pe­ti­tion is do­ing bet­ter. Ev­i­dence · This isn’t just a proof, it’s a rock-n-roll proof.
    Duck Duck Go (a better search engine). Do it people!

  • The hidden beauty spots within driving distance of Glasgow you have to visit
    Now the snow is beginning to thaw we can go back to spending our weekends exploring the great outdoors. With Glasgow aptly named the Dear Green Place the city is not short of beautiful parks and view points offering stunning scenery.
    Mostly bookmarked for myself but a nice way to show how lucky I am to live in this wonderful area of the world.

  • Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up
    Are you hydrated? When did you last glut your thirst with a handful of spring? languishing on your butter shelf? Are you dressed? If so, does your skirt strike matches alight as you walk by? Can you melt it a little around your waist and ribcage?
    Because sometimes just getting out of bed is the achievement.

  • Will There Ever Be an Anglerfish Emoji?
    Consider the anglerfish. It’s a type of bony fish that has been around since the early Cretaceous. It is best known for the fleshy protrusion on its head, which it uses to entice prey, and which sometimes is inhabited by glowing bacteria, for extra luring power.
    If you like this, listen to this episode from 99% Invisible.

  • A comparison of the visual similarities between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049
    Blade Runner 2049 takes place in the same location 30 years after the events in the original Blade Runner film, so it’s natural that the two movies share a visual style.

  • Sandi Toksvig and Humanists UK launch a free massive open online course on humanism aimed at UK’s non-religious majority
    Writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig is the face of a new introductory ‘massive open online course’ (MOOC) on humanism from Humanists UK, the national charity representing the non-religious in the UK.
    Because we didn’t love Sandi enough already?

  • Own Your Content
    “We are in the “Internet Two” phase as Steven Johnson called it. Internet One was an open network, open protocols, open systems. Internet Two is closed platforms that increasingly dominate the market and own and control our content and us.
    Welcome to blogging y’all, it’s great! I remember when it were nowt but fields round here….

  • A Fateful Hunt for a Buried Stash of the Greatest LSD Ever Made
    Two months ago I was standing in a pub in south London on a Saturday afternoon, having a conversation with a photographer. While desperately dredging my mind for a half-decent anecdote, I decided to re-tell a story I’d read on the internet the day before.
    It’s good to talk. Those pink elephants on parade… not so much…

  • Mary Lee Berners-Lee obituary
    The computer scientist Mary Lee Berners-Lee, who has died aged 93, was on the programming team for the computer that in 1951 became the first in the world to be sold commercially: the Ferranti Mark I.
    You would not be reading this without this amazing person.

  • Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People?
    Humanity has 30 years to find out. All parents remember the moment when they first held their children—the tiny crumpled face, an entire new person, emerging from the hospital blanket. I extended my hands and took my daughter in my arms. I was so overwhelmed that I could hardly think.
    Yikes. STOCKPILE!! ohhh wait no, the opposite of that

  • When Your Eyes Move, So Do Your Eardrums
    Without moving your head, look to your left. Now look to your right. Keep flicking your eyes back and forth, left and right. Even if you managed to keep the rest of your body completely still, your eyeballs were not the only parts of your head that just moved. Your ears did, too.
    What the… like an article on fleas I’m pretty sure I’m now aware of this happening… *looks left* *looks right*

  • Learn How to Do Nothing With the Dutch Concept of Niksen
    Between hygge, the Danish concept of coziness, and Sweden’s lagom, which encourages living a balanced life, there are plenty of buzzy Nordic lifestyle methods that proponents claim will make you a better person.
    Finally a trend I can get with.

  • The NSA’s voice-recognition system raises hard questions for Echo and Google Home
    Suppose you’re looking for a single person, somewhere in the world. (We’ll call him Waldo.) You know who he is, nearly everything about him, but you don’t know where he’s hiding. How do you find him? The scale is just too great for anything but a computerized scan.
    Articles like this make the (expensive but secure) Apple HomePod more appealing.

  • “Eggcorns” Are Language Mistakes That Somehow Still …
    Not to get nitpicky and accusatory, but you’ve probably used a whole bunch of words incorrectly throughout your life.
    Ain’t the English language great.

  • Why Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is my style – and everything – icon
    Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of the 30th Circuit Court for Ingham County.
    Not had much coverage in the UK but throughout this brutal trial, this Judge has been inspirationally uncompromising.

  • Germany was once the witch-burning capital of the world. Here’s why
    In 1572, the killings began. That year, authorities in the tiny settlement of St Maximin, in present-day Germany, charged a woman named Eva with using witchcraft to murder a child. Eva confessed under torture; she, along with two women she implicated, were burned at the stake.
    Wow. Humanity really is a shit show.

  • A Review of the Delirious New Diet Coke Flavors
    Caity Weaver taste tests the newest flavors in the pantheon of diet cola.
    Not yet coming to the UK but…

  • Watch Animated Scores to Music by Radiohead, Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Photek & Other Electronic/Post-Punk/Avant-Garde Musicians
    A few weeks ago, we told you about Stephen Malinowski and the Music Animation Machine, a popular and pretty expansive YouTube channel that features scrolling, color-coordinated animated “scores” for classical works from Debussy to Bach and Stravinsky.
    No comment needed.

  • All Good Magazines Go to Heaven
    When James Hyman was a scriptwriter at MTV Europe, in the 1990s, before the rise of the internet, there was a practical — as well as compulsive — reason he amassed an enormous collection of magazines.
    Read for the first paragraph mention of Bowie, stay for the fascinating geekdom on display.

  • Robert Burns: was the beloved poet a ‘Weinsteinian sex pest’?
    Ahead of this year’s Burns Night, the 18th-century bard has come under harsh scrutiny from Liz Lochhead over his treatment of women.
    Ugh. I knew some of this yet still ‘celebrated’ (I posted an Instagram pic, that was about it) our ‘beloved Bard’. Such a part of Scottish culture but a lot of this is true. Ugh. MEN!

  • The female price of male pleasure
    The world is disturbingly comfortable with the fact that women sometimes leave a sexual encounter in tears.
    (Unfortunately) Eye opening article.

  • Why Did Two-Thirds of These Weird Antelope Suddenly Drop Dead?
    The mass death of 200,000 saiga provides a dark omen for what might happen to wildlife in a changing world. It took just three weeks for two-thirds of all the world’s saiga to die. It took much longer to work out why.
    FAKE NEWS! Climate Change isn’t real! They all actually had a pact and… nope I can’t do this conspiracy stuff.. this is terrible.

  • Jennifer Tilly: The gay interview
    Queer-film icon dishes on Chucky’s LGBT identity, the franchise’s groundbreaking trans doll and her legendary lesbian neo-noir ‘Bound’ Chucky, with his fiery red hair and frighteningly loyal pledge to be “your friend till the end,” was never gay by design.
    Because who doesn’t love Jennifer Tilly, right?

bookmark_borderPodcast: The Adam Buxton Pod Cast

A man that has been on the periphery of my media consumption for 20 years or so, and I admit I didn’t really ‘get’ the Adam & Joe thing at first and as none of my friends were bothered I missed that boat, but after catching some of their show on 6Music a while ago, it’s been nice to revisit Mr. Buxton (on the recommendation of a friend who is a big fan*).

Not only is he both affable and quirkly entertaining, his range of guests constantly surprises. I downloaded a few older episodes and have enjoyed every minute of them; Josh Homme and Matt Berry a favourite so far, purely because I just couldn’t place them as being mates (which they are!).

Similarly to Beautiful Anonymous, the format and content varies, but Adam is both sympathetic, positive, engaging and funny when needed.

A couple of recent highlights for you.

You can subscribe to future episodes using this RSS Link (link corrected!)

* also recommended was BUG, his live show where Adam takes you through some of the comments found under music videos posted on YouTube, utterly hilarious. More about BUG.

bookmark_borderPodcast: Beautiful Anonymous

Human beings are fascinating and the Beautiful Anonymous podcast is a fascinating sight into the life of that weeks caller. Some people come on and talk about how they can’t visual memories, one told of her escape from a violent abusive relationship, and a recent favourite was a German caller who was picking cherries in Australia and handed the phone to a ‘bushman’.

1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard. Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!

I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve finished listening feeling angry, and I’ve finished listening and felt uplifted and determined! But most of all I’ve enjoyed being invited into the life of an anonymous stranger for an hour or so. Chris is a naturally friendly outgoing guy but knows when to shut up. Not always an easy listen, and there is a voyeuristic aspect to it at times which feels a little odd but it’s never NOT engaging in some form or another.

A couple of recent highlights:

You can subscribe to future episodes using this RSS Link.

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • Fluid Dynamics: How a Wall of Lava Lamps Helps Encrypt 10% of the Internet
    Computers have a real problem when it comes generating truly random numbers, which has led one web-critical cybersecurity firm to reference an array of lava lamps to create unique and unpredictable code.
    Clever and pretty. Nothing like me then!

  • Attitude of Optimism
    “In 2018, how about cultivating an attitude of optimism? Not as a judgement, or a reaction to the world around you, but as a choice, by which you navigate and affect the world around you.”
    Much needed in the wake of 2017.

  • Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories
    A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive.
    It’s almost enough to make me go back to using a pencil… almost.

  • Apple and the Alexa Ecosystem
    I recently read two interesting takes on the ever-growing Alexa ecosystem as it relates to Apple that made me think about the future of Siri and HomeKit.
    The future is not connected. It never will be.

  • Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark
    In May 2015 about 10 investigators for the Quebec tax authority burst into Uber Technologies Inc.’s office in Montreal. The authorities believed Uber had violated tax laws and had a warrant to collect evidence. Managers on-site knew what to do, say people with knowledge of the event.
    ANOTHER reason not to use Uber.

  • Salar de Uyuni is the World’s Largest Natural Mirror
    When you think about the most beautiful places in the world, you probably think of mountains or forests.
    Gorgeous (nothing like m… etc etc)

  • An Open Letter to the Box of Loose Cables in My Closet
    I know you’re hurting. The distance is killing me too. Last night, I woke up in a cold sweat to the thought of not having immediate access to you.
    Funny cos true.

  • ‘Why Am I So Lazy?’
    Why am I so lazy? As long as I can remember, I’ve always done as little as possible to still get the job done, to still get the A, to get the extra credit and be the teacher’s pet.
    This is the view I have of myself. It’s not the reality but persists. I am lazy.

  • The mystery of Jesus, the naked hippie dancer
    For decades, William Jellett danced at gigs and festivals, and told people he was the Son of God. Then, it seemed, he disappeared. It was a Saturday evening, St Valentine’s Day 1970, when William Jellett first thought he might be Jesus.
    Fascinating, if long, story of a legend I knew nothing about.

  • British tourist missing in Israel may have Jerusalem syndrome
    Israeli authorities are searching for a British man who is missing in the Negev desert amid fears that he could be suffering from Jerusalem syndrome, a psychiatric condition whose sufferers believe they are prophets or other biblical figures.
    See previous link. Baader Meinhof at play?

  • John Humphrys’ attitude to equal pay highlights the BBC’s impartiality problem
    Of the many things I have learned life is too short for – making your own puff pastry, monogamy, trying to have a proper drink in the interval at the theatre – top of my list is getting in a mobile-broadcast van outside my house in my nightie to be hooked up to the Today programme studio.
    So much wrong with this. First things first though, why is that twat still employed by the BBC?

  • Kaveh Akbar Is Poetry’s Biggest Cheerleader
    Ever eavesdropped on two poets having a conversation at a coffee shop? Iranian-American poet Kaveh Akbar has created an online space that lets you do that without leaving your bed. How?
    Not sure about the name, but this is pretty great.

  • Bad design in action: the false Hawaiian ballistic missile alert
    The Honolulu Civil Beat has tweeted a screenshot of the interface that was used to send an real alert for a nonexistent incoming ballistic missile on Saturday morning.
    Good. Grief.

  • Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble
    The sequence of words is meaningless: a random array strung together by an algorithm let loose in an English dictionary. What makes them valuable is that they’ve been generated exclusively for me, by a software tool called MetaMask. In the lingo of cryptography, they’re known as my seed phrase.
    Finally a bitcoin article that helps me understand (some of) what it is all about.

  • David Byrne Launches the “Reasons to Be Cheerful” Web Site: A Compendium of News Meant to Remind Us That the World Isn’t Actually Falling Apart
    Whatever your ideological persuasion, our time has no doubt given you more than a few reasons to fear for the future of civilization, not least because bad news sells.

  • The Psychological & Neurological Disorders Experienced by Characters in Alice in Wonderland: A Neuroscience Reading of Lewis Carroll’s Classic Tale
    Most reputable doctors tend to refrain from diagnosing people they’ve never met or examined. Unfortunately, this circumspection doesn’t obtain as often among lay folk. When we lob uninformed diagnoses at other people, we may do those with genuine mental health issues a serious disservice.
    Might re-read the book now, will put a different spin on things.

  • The men and women who brought curry to Birmingham
    Curry has become as much a staple of British cuisine as fish and chips or the roast dinner. An exhibition is celebrating some of the earliest curry houses in Birmingham, a city synonymous with the cuisine.
    Who doesn’t love a curry?

bookmark_borderEn Pointe

It’s always good to try something new and so I kicked off this year with a first; my first ever live ballet performance (watching, not performing) of Swan Lake.

Having spotted it on Facebook late last year, I posted to see if anyone else was interested and one of my awesome gym buddies Martha said yes, and so it was that Martha and I found ourselves taking our seats, both a little unsure of quite what to expect but excited nonetheless.

I’d figured that Swan Lake was a reasonably safe bet for a ballet virgin (no doubt those in the know will correct this assumption) if for no other reason than I know the music. I’ve not been to many dance performances; a flamenco show in Spain many many years ago still reverberates for despite having seen flamenco on TV, seeing it live in the flesh was an entirely different experience that was as sensuous as it was slick. As I had seen ballet on TV before, I wondered if a live performance would translate the same way.

My only preconception was that ballet was loud due to the blocks in the shoes, so as the lights dimmed and the orchestra breathed into life I could feel my pulse quicken.

The story of Swan Lake is a bit on the dark side, all sorcery and death but isn’t all that complex, or long, and of course the story is just the vehicle to bring the performances to life. One thing that was quickly apparent was that there is a lot of applause during a ballet.

It’s quite an experience, not just the fact you have a small orchestra playing mere feet from you – we were three rows back from the front – but the physical prowess of some of the dancers was startling. It took me a while to fully get to grips with what I was watching because the dancers all made it look almost effortless, whether one of the main troupe or one of the leads. At one point, the prima ballerina spends a few minutes spinning en pointe, on one foot, it was utterly mesmerising to watch the control, poise, and elegance on display.

A few little surprises though, not only how much the dancers talk to each other on stage (you can’t hear them of course, so I was wondering if it was on-stage direction or asking what was for dinner that evening), and with many of the ensemble dancers on stage during performances, there was a lot of regal hand waving as one of the leads had the rest of the stage to themselves, but maybe that’s just a Swan Lake thing?

I did enjoy it on the whole. The opening two Acts were a little slow, but throughout the performance I found myself in that wonderfully ‘lost’ place, utterly focussed on the stage and unaware of my surroundings. Whilst I wouldn’t say I was a convert, I’m glad I went and maybe I’ll look to a few more dance acts at this years Fringe Festival… maybe…

bookmark_borderHappy 2nd Birthday

Dear Lucy,

You are two. TWO!

How this has happened so quickly is beyond me (heaven knows what your parents must think!), but there you have it. You are now two years old and as your character and personality has started to show, I think, if possible, I’ve become even more smitten with my gorgeous little niece than ever.

So, what’s new now that you are two. Well you are now a proper little person, with your own sense of humour, your own quiet inquisitive nature, and you are turning into such a beautiful little person. And no this isn’t biased Uncle G talking, all you need to do is look at the comments on social media, and listen to my colleagues on whom I regularly foist your latest antics (blame your Mum for sending me the videos!), EVERYONE thinks you are utterly adorable, and they aren’t wrong.

It’s been a fun year for sure. You’ve done some properly amazing things, things you will take for granted but which are absolutely incredible!! First up the small matter of walking, which soon turned into a bobbling uncoordinated run and then all of a sudden we are chasing you up and down hallways whilst you scream in delight.

And then you only went and started talking and learning how to communicate, stringing words together in what turns out to be mostly commands to get what you want. I will admit though, I was a little disappointed that your first word wasn’t aardvark but hey, it was a long shot…

Now that you are walking and talking you’ve fast become my favourite little drunk dictator; stoating about on slightly wobbly legs, yelling HIYA at anyone who passes, or TA TA as you run off somewhere else, or MUM UP, or MUM JOUSS, and so on.

You also developed a cheeky smile. A wonderful toothy grin that transforms you from big eyed angelic beauty to mischievous troublemaker in a split second. The latter is usually accompanied by the throwing or touching of something you kinda-maybe-sorta knew you shouldn’t do but suggests that you are gonna do it anyway just to find out what happens.

Alas with mischievousness comes consequence and you are also learning that sometimes grown ups will say no and stop you doing something. The thing in question doesn’t seem to matter, and the first moments of quiet rage can spring from anywhere. I won’t lie, I am sincerely hoping to get a good temper tantrum captured on video for future embarrassment opportunities (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).

Naturally, I have in no way encouraged you to explore the boundaries of your naughtiness and any claims by your mother that I did are complete fabrications (just as I will continue to deny any future allegations of encouraging your naughty behaviour… it’s my Uncle G perogative).

What’s even more fun is the most recent development; you are now copying words that people say, yes even the naughty ones. However it’s fair to say that between them, your Mum and Dad are more than capable of teaching you all the really bad ones, so I will settle for getting you to shout words like JOBBIE (which is important as it’s your Grandma McLean’s most favourite word ever!!).

Yet despite all these new found skills you are still prone to stopping and quietly observing your surroundings. One minute you are hauling me around a playpark – and I do mean hauling, you are suprisingly strong for a two year old – the next you are stock still and wide-eyed as you watch another kid tackle the slide.

One of my favourite photos I took of you last year was of you just sitting staring out the window at the world. I’d love to have know what you were thinking, and I so dearly hope that that sense of curiosity remains with you as you grow. The world is wonderful if you look at it the right way and I’ll do my very best to remind of you that whenever I can.

My gorgeous niece, you continue to amaze and delight; every moment with you, every photo I see of you, fills my heart with joy and love. Every moment I spend with you I see a wonderful little person emerging who is curious to learn more about the world around her, who watches peoples faces to see how they react, who can be shy at times, boisterous at others, and is so very deeply loved by her parents, her grandparents and her ‘Unc Gee’ (which, for the record, was THE best Christmas present I got last year when you uttered that on Christmas Day!).

I cannot wait to see what this year has in store for you, although if I’m being honest I’m mostly interested in seeing just how far you can push your Mum and Dad before they crack… the terrible twos beckon!

Happy Birthday Lucypops!

Uncle G

P.S. For the tantrum video I want a full on, throw yourself to the floor, flailing limbs, screaming performance. None of this sulking off in the huff (save that for when you are an angsty teenager).