Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm Spiderman (and 75% catwoman


Just took an online test to find out which superhero I must resemble! Here’s the result:

You are Spider-Man

Spider-Man


85%

Catwoman


75%

Robin


70%

The Flash


65%

Superman


65%

Hulk


65%

Green Lantern


55%

Supergirl


50%

Batman


45%

Wonder Woman


30%

Iron Man


30%

You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

The day is overcast, misty, very Irish Christmas day feel to it. Everywhere round here as quiet as a bell, apart from the actual Christchurch bells that rang out for mass a few hours ago. Listened to a few tracks from an album by a young singer songwriter called Fionn Regan. He has a great way with words. Full of that honest intensity that comes with youth. It can sometimes be misguided but it’s also sometimes full of shards of wisdom. As it is in this case. Spend last night watching a Fanny Craddock night on BBC 4! Old footage of her 1970s Christmas cookery shows and an interesting drama in which she was played by Julia Davis. I wallowed in its strangeness and campiness and thought about how far away the 1970s seem. The young Polish people who are renting the apartment next door had a Christmas Eve meal late into the night. In town yesterday I was struck by the variety of nationalities , Chinese, African, Indian, East European – all buying presents and wrapping paper. It was a wonderful sight. Below my window, I watched men walking home with Christmas wrapping paper sticking out of plastic bags. Something tender about it all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

moving hearts


Putting old records onto my ipod. Strange to listen to them again. Wasn’t sure I wanted “Moving Hearts”, as my own heart (or mind) would be far removed from it now. But as I listen to it , I’m transported back to the 1980s in Dublin. To youth, naivety and all of the longings of one’s twenties and thirties. (Though I never did agree with any of that "irish ways and irish laws" stuff even when I was young.) Still, safe in itunes now, some of the the music is still very moving.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dublin Fog


A cold foggy day in Dublin. Took this picture with my phone. Didn’t really capture what I saw. The 2mp camera of my Sony 990 phone didn’t really capture enough low light detail. Still, it reminds me of those smoggy Dublin 1950s photos. Very Christmassy day in town, fog a good second best to snow.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Radio Times



I bought the Christmas edition of the Radio Times yesterday. I’ve been buying it for years along with the RTE Guide , though in recent years I’ve dropped the Guide realizing at last that I now make little use of either magazine. So I have an important question for you this dark wet morning. What’s the future for “bumper TV guides to your holiday viewing” in the age of utube? They sell in great numbers , but are they now more decoration than practical? Part of that dream that you will batten down the hatches while the snow falls outside and you settle down to watch a “feast of Christmas movies” Movies that you most probably own on DVD anyway. Still, it’s very hard not to pick up the Radio Times with its Christmas cover all aglow with promises. (there is by the way a web site showing all the Christmas covers going back to 1923! http://www.tvradiobits.co.uk/radiotimes/christmas.htm

Most TV Guides will probably survive for a good while yet , continuing along the route they have taken, becoming lifestyle magazines. It’s difficult though to see any long term future for the listing function unless they find some way to make it wider and more active, something that is hard to do on the printed page. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing printed web links and not being able to click on them. Anyway, for those of us who came of age in the 1970s and 80s, the glory days of “bumper TV”guides, we will I think continue to buy the Christmas Radio Times , if we haven’t gone abroad for the holiday. But it’s now probably more like a Christmas card from a relative who you feel is getting on a bit now , but who you hope will live for many years yet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

what came out of the fallout shelter


A very good piece by Bruce Sterling on Wired site about the Web, and the future. I've always been an optimist, and the older I get the more optimistic I get. Which is why I like pieces like this. I especially liked this sentence:
"The Internet, for instance, crawled out of a dank atomic fallout shelter to become the Mardi Gras parade of my generation. It was not a bolt of destructive lightning; it was the sun breaking through the clouds."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Alone this Christmas?




So here's an interesting news item from All HeadlineNews

Dutch Company To Bring Guests To Your Christmas Dinner With DVD

Joanna Wypior - All Headline News Staff

London, England (AHN) - For those that worry they might eat their Christmas dinner alone this year, they now have reason to fear no more. Courtesy of a Dutch art company, a new DVD will allow a lonesome dinner to become one full of holiday fun and good cheer with dinner companions eating, drinking, and engaging in conversation.

The DVD will feature actors reading out different scripts in other for people to pick out which type of people they would want best.

According to Ananova, the producers, the Tilburgs CowBoys and Theater NWE Vorst, said they hoped it would ease the loneliness of single people without families at Christmas.

Producer Chris Gribling says: "The client can watch the DVD while sitting and eating in front of the television."

"The actors can offer him or her a romantic evening or even a good discussion. We have a good variety in the choice of our table companions."

Monday, December 11, 2006

a book is not just for Christmas....


AA Gill’s ramblings and musings are usually the best bits of his Sunday Times restaurant reviews. Yesterday he was writing about the real reason we like to give books as Christmas presents.

“This is the time of year when, traditionally, we indulge in things bookly and literish. We fret the bookmonger’s groaning board like word-starved waifs confronted by a logoscrumptious buffet. And we give books nilly-willy. Books are papery gifts that say lots and lots — much of it stuff that the author never wrote. We give them to people we’re obliged to and secretly hate.



A book says: “I’m cleverer than you.” It says: “You need to read this because you have no conversation and your thoughts are wan, halt things. I’m giving it to you with the thin smile of pitying patronage. And it will be a personal and private recrimination for years to come, because I know you’re cancerous with guilt about all the unconsumed words left on your bedside table.” A book says: “I loved this when I was 13. Now you’re in your late forties, you might be able to appreciate it.” Never for one single, naive moment imagine that a book at Christmas is well meant. Read between the lines, dummy — it’s an ode to snobbery and loathing. " (more here)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Moon Base

Yesterday, it was reported that “The space agency Nasa unveiled plans to build a permanent base on the moon within 20 years that will allow humans to live there. The base will be used as a launching site for missions to Mars, as well as for analysis of the Earth from space.” That’s the most positive public statement I have heard so far this century. Make it so. On more mundane technological matters, my new Sony P990i is giving me a lot of grief, crashing and generally not doing what it should do. Its fine if I just use it for calls and text – but that’s not the point of it! I bought it for the extra functions. I’ll stick with it another few days before thinking of returning it. What kind of phones will they have on the first moon base in twenty years time?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Phone


Not much got done today. Got my new phone, the Sony Ericsson P990i. Bleary eyed reading reviews about it for the past week, a lot of them negative. But it’s the only phone that has everything I need at the moment and doesn’t look like a brick. The problems people are having with it seem to be almost all to do with the software. SE are supposed to be releasing a new software upgrade soon – so I’m banking on that. The look and built of the phone is great and so far I have had no problems with it. Then again, I’ve only had a few hours! The new UiQ software looks very promising, very clean in an OSX sort of way.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

that was then


As part of its ten year on air celebrations, TG4 is running a poll to get people to nominate favourite ads from the past decade. This one gets my vote. Strange to look at it now from this perspective knowing what happened to our Eircom shares. Still, for those of us still hanging in there, Vodafone might come through one of the days – if they ever come up with some forward looking 21st century ideas. What a wonderful ad that was though, evocative meaningless and sexy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

a plea from afar.......

Most junk e-mail doesn’t linger in the mind. Cheap Viagra, magical penis enlargement and surprise lotto winnings are trashy hard sell that most spam filters pick up easily. Letters from distraught relatives of a former African princes or presidents is also pretty common but far more colourful. In broken English full of promises and desperation, some of them are like a snippet from some unknown Arabian or African night tale. Here’s one I got the other day:

Compliments of the day to you! : I am Alhaji abacha muhammed, son of the late General Sani Abacha, former Nigerian Military President who died on active Government service on june 8,1998. I got your contact from the Internet in my search to secure a partner unknown to me because of the nature and I do believe you can help me. I am contacting you due to the present situation as regards the Undemocratic manner the present Administration in my country (Nigeria) is taking all that belongs to us. You may be aware that this is the usual attitude of leaders especially in Africa when there is a change of Government. The present Government of General Olusegun Obasanjo is currently in a face off with my family in his bid to recover all our money because of Victimisation and Political Vendatta. They have brought up charges of corrupt enrichmemnt against us. The law they made is yet another smear campaign aimed mainly to frustrate, humiliate, dismember and widen the scope of hatred for my family. A personal vendetta by President Obasanjo who was jailed by my father's Regime for plotting a coup d 'etat against his Government in 1995. This highly calculated attempt by this administration plus some Western Banks through bi-lateral relationship has taken away from us a whopping amount in Switzerland and Bank accounts around the World. This rampaging of our Bank accounts abroad have yielded to the barbaric pressure and sometime ago we were squized out of family possessions and money running into multimillion of USDollar because the accounts bear our names. These assertions can be ascertained independently if you wish to confirm this from a leading newspaper in Nigeria (This Day Newspapers) from their website at www.thisdayonline.com from the archives section in the March 10, 2001, January 26, 2002 and March 18, 2002 editions. This pressure is taking a great toll on my family and all we ever own. Please i wish to solicit your cooperation as a foreigner to help me receive some Money Deposited with a Securities and finacial company in Europe which is my only hope / source of livelihood for now. This is a call for you to help receive this money and put the money into good investments since i am barred from leaving the Country for now. Please know that the money is US$52M in cash with a Security Finance Firm in Europe that i intend to put in your care by getting a trusted foreigner to handle money for the purpose of investment and safekeeping abroad. Please Note that you will be expected to deal directly with the security Finance Firm with the information and LEGAL POWER i shall give you to handle the entire transaction. Please know that the Cash Deposit of US$52M is deposited in Trunk Boxes and presently in Europe I use this opportunity to offer you 20% of this money($52M), if you can handle this transaction absolute well for me.This is however subject to our negotiation and agreement. You can contact me ONLY via my email: mualab2@aim.com for now and for security reason. Endeavor to keep this highly confidential. In your response include your private telephone / fax numbers for easy communications with me. My kind regards, Alhaji Abacha Muhammed.nt style="color: rgb(51, 51, 153);">

Monday, September 25, 2006

Golf


Never in my wildest dreams thought I’d write a single word about golf. The Ryder Cup was held in the K club in County Kildare over the past weekend and the hype made me look in. And I stayed to look a lot longer than I thought I would. I was struck by the artificial beauty of the K Club golf course. It kept reminding me of the set for the toddler TV show “Tellytubbies” that was popular some years ago. I’m not really into any sport much but at times over the weekend I could see the attraction of golf. Yes, there’s the county club thing, the strange gear they wear – even when it’s jazzed up it’s still so stridently heterosexual in a 1950s sort of way. And yet, there is something decent about it all. Something comforting and middle aged, even though a few of the players were only in their 20s. In town today I almost bought a book about the history of the Ryder Cup!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

end of story?


A thoughtful, if depressing, interview with Michael Tolkin in today's New York Times. He thinks the best days of Hollywood (and American screen stories) are behind us. I hope he's wrong.

"I don’t think America’s had a good movie made since Abu Ghraib,” Mr. Tolkin said, before clarifying that he’s talking about big movies, not the minuscule ones that have met the industry’s quotas for unembarrassing award nominees. “I think it showed that a generation that had been raised on those heroic movies was torturing. National myths die, I don’t think they return. And our national myth is finished, except in a kind of belligerent way.

Glenn Ford died yesterday. RIP.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

the new Bewleys?


Upstairs in Easons O Connell Street Dublin is now a very comfortable place to have a cup of something and a read of the paper. Reminds me a bit of what we used Bewleys for all those years ago. On a corner wall there is a large LCD screen showing a silent SKY NEWS with the text button on. It’s strangely calming despite the alarming images it often shows.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Phones


I’ve been waiting patiently for Vodaphone Ireland to release the Nokia e70. It was due last June but was delayed because of problems “testing the software” Now, they finally say it will be released on contract by the end of August – or maybe September. I check out the Vodaphone UK site and see that the E70 is up there for a good while, you can even get it free with some of the higher tariffs. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the mobile operaters overcharging for calls, but less talk about how they are screwing us with their selection (and prices) of handsets. I’d love to know, for example, how Vodaphone UK could release the E70 without any “software problems” in the UK but failed to do this in Ireland. What exactly were the “software problems” that made it unsuitable for the Irish market but ok for the UK?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Page 69


In the “Guardian” today, John Sutherland gives advice on “how to read a novel” His most interesting tip is borrowed from Marshall McLuhan who recommended “ that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book.” According to Sutherland, this works. Must try it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

restlessness


Does anyone else feel a sense of restlessness in the air? I feel this in Dublin at the moment. People in transit. I wonder how many of the people who have arrived here in the past few years will settle and stay? So many of them talk about “home”, and that home isn’t here. Then again, we were the same in Britain and America, always talking and singing about home but staying where we sailed to. I hope the majority of our immigrants stay. We need their energy as much they need whatever “home” and shelter this land can offer. We are still at the start of an uncertain new century. Too often, lately, I think about the beginning of the last century . I used to read a lot about that strange period between 1900 and 1914. In my heart, I don’t really believe that history repeats itself. It’s just this sense of restlessness , leading .....someplace.

Monday, July 17, 2006

JPod

  • JPod: A Novel
Reading this at the moment. When I say reading I mostly nowadays mean "listening". I'm a member of Audible.com and for the past few years I've listened to more books than I've read. It was a bit strange at first and demanded a different type of concentration. Some books are more suited than others to it. You would have thought that "JPod" would be ideal. Strangely enough I think it would benefit more from being "read" in the old fashioned way. The more traditional the novel the better suited it is to the audio book format. Apart from "Ulysses", which is totally suited to audio. Anyway, "JPod" is good but a bit unsatisfying, sometimes it takes off but too often it doesn't. I've always liked Douglas Coupland, loved his "Microsefts" which I read years ago.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

midsummer eve

John Caple b.1966
Dancing in Moonlight, Midsummer's Eve Somerset













dark and gloomy midsummer eve here in Dublin, more like November at the moment. Please don't say we've had our Summer and that from now on the days start getting shorter!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

moonrise


Still bright at 10 clock. A few evenings ago I took a picture of the moon rising over Dublin. It remained me of the Ansel Adams photo “Moonrise Over Hernandez, New Mexico 1941. Years ago, I bought a copy of it when I lived for a time in New Mexico. I had it on my wall for a very long time. Then I began to realize that it was a bit of a cliché to have it on your wall. So when I moved house about 8 years ago I put it into storage. Oh the tyranny of fashion and what to have on your walls. I still love it, cliché or not. With respect, remembrance and apologies, I grey scaled my photo of moonrise over Dublin. I've always been meaning to read "The Wisdom of Crowds"

Thursday, June 08, 2006

United 93



It’s the end of a fine hot day in Dublin. I went to see “United 93”, the Paul Greengrass movie about 9/11. It was very hard to watch, although it was extremely well done. I kept looking at the people sitting around me. There we were, a coincidental group gathered together by chance and by the fact that we all decided independently to go see this movie on a hot June evening. I’ve always been intrigued by pictures of people thrown together by chance. They are in the background of all our holiday snaps. Other people, there in that spot that you travelled to. Your companions for a moment in real time. Your eternal companions in the photo frame. It’s only when disparate groups are caught in some disaster that we look closely at them and see them merge in one big Munch like terror scream. As it was for the group who travelled on flight 93 that fine September morning in 2001. I was interested to see how the director would show Mark Bingham, a gay man who was one of people who tried to regain control of the plane that morning. His sexuality wasn’t mentioned, but I have read that the director did film a scene where he kissed his boyfriend goodbye in the airport before getting on the plane. Apparently, they dropped all the airport scenes because the weather in Newark airport was very bad the day they filmed there, in contrast to the reality of that fine September morning. Anyway, it’s a very strong and terrifying piece of work.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Surprise


Listening a lot at the moment to the new CD from Paul Simon. It's very good. Something great about the fact that someone older than me can still come up with the goods! Makes me feel things are still possible. Brings me back and forward too.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

macho greens

There was something a little bit creepy about Green Party TD John Gormley’s jeering about Bertie’s Ahern’s make up in the Dail today. His “queen of Drumcondra” jibe wasn’t one bit funny. He sounded like some sort of green macho boot boy, especially when he started on about DeValera turning in his grave at the thought of all this. For all their talk about equality there always was this ugly streak of machismo in the left. Their God is Castro. No make up there. I never really trusted anyone with a beard. Strangely, make up can be very revealing and truthful.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Good Advice

came across this list on Hugh Mcleod's site:

So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.

24. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Better dead than............?


the arresting Damien Hirst designed front page of today's London Independent newspaper. Edited by Bono.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

the minister for snow


Michael O Leary, former Irish government minister is dead at 70. “drowned in a swimming pool yesterday evening, and is to be buried in France says the reports. Its strange , or maybe it isn’t, how certain politicians bring to mind stages in our lives. For me, Micheal O Leary is the early 1980s when I was a young man just about to move to Dublin. He is the “minister for snow” in the first months of 1982. Ireland had a rare prolonged snowfall and of course we were totally unprepared for it. A sort of a state of emergency was declared with Michael O Leary as the unofficial “minister for snow” I can still his face on the nine o clock news declaring that things were under control as the snow fell deep and crisp and even. He was a handsome man who obviously cared about his appearance in a time when most other Irish politicians looked like they fell into their clothes every morning.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

to blog or not to blog

in my continuing search for a reason for blogging I have come across another "anti" piece in the FT today. Not sure if I agree with a lot of it but I do love the images created in this last paragraph:

"And that, in the end, is the dismal fate of blogging: it renders the word even more evanescent than journalism; yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence. No Modern Library edition of the great polemicists of the blogosphere to yellow on the shelf; nothing but a virtual tomb for a billion posts - a choric song of the word-weary bloggers, forlorn mariners forever posting on the slumberless seas of news."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

After the fall


NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Bulldozers rumbled into a giant pit on Thursday to begin building a new skyscraper to replace the World Trade Center in an act New York's governor said symbolized the city's comeback from the September 11 attacks."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

and another one bites the dust!

And here’s another person who is giving up blogging! Sarah Helpola writing in Salon says :

One morning last month, I woke early, finished a book I'd been reading, and shut down my blog. I had kept the blog for nearly five years, using it as a repository for personal anecdotes, travelogues, and the occasional flight of fiction—all of which I hoped, eventually, might lead to a novel. And then, somewhere between the bedsheets and 6 a.m., I realized something: Blogging wasn't helping me write; it was keeping me from it.

In my other life I work as a writer, so this gives me pause for thought. God knows, the small amount of bogging I do doesn’t interfere too much with my work. In fact, I justify it to myself by thinking of it as a mental warm up exercise some mornings. There is a far more serious time waster for writers. Computers. And the internet. Much as I love them both I would not like to see the hours I spent sitting in front of my monitor added up. My first computer in the mid 1990s was an Amstrad PCW. I know that it barely qualifies for the term computer but to me it was a wonder. No more Tippex , no more cutting and pasting with scissors and sellotape. Think of all the saved hours! But the saved hours disappeared down the worm hole of cyberspace. Not that I’m complaining. I would never go back to harsh clicks of an electric typewriter. Images of smoke and the metal sounds of the industrial revolution came into my head there. We are in a transition period. Of a generation that knew the old ways, fascinated by the new but not yet able to make full use of it. I keep trying to use voice dictating programs but don’t stick with them, the mind to keyboard line is too ingrained. That’s just one example of not making the leap. There’s still time.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

end of a blog

Russell Beattie whose blog I used to read, posted this today :



Well, I think it's time to put this weblog to bed.

Yep, after four years and almost 3,000 posts I've decided to close up the Notebook. There's lots of reasons, but generally this is a continuation of the full-reset I started back in January. At first I was actually thinking about just transitioning to a more of a weekly blog where I write less frequently and was sort of cleaning everything up with that in mind. But then I just decided that I really needed a break, and that I'd really much rather start from scratch at another URL some other time when I'm ready to write again. Lot less pressure that way to do something new later on, and a lot easier to get out of the habit of posting daily now.

This blog started out as a personal wiki, actually... Back in 2001 I decided to finally organize my personal web server into sections - so I had the Notebook, Scrapbook and Guestbook. I had stumbled onto Ward Cunningham's original WikiWiki earlier that year and thought, "Wow! That's a much easier way to maintain my site," and so I whipped up a wiki of my own using JSP and used it for the Notebook section. But within a few months, I discovered blogs, and realized that was a much better way to do it. It took a while to really get into it - after trying a few other systems including Radio and Blogger, I finally converted my wiki software into my own personal blog system in May 2002 and started posting pretty much daily from that point on. Four years! It'll be weird to *not* be a blogger any more, I have to admit, but despite how good blogging has been for my life, it's time to move on.

If you've just stumbled onto this post in the months and years ahead, and are reading this now wondering who the hell I am and what I am talking about, feel free to roam through the archives and discover for yourself. For the rest of my readers, thanks for subscribing it's been great having you there to write for! Now please *unsubscribe* and give my poor server a break. :-)

Thanks!

-Russ

I'll miss reading his blog which was always good clear and thoughtful.


Monday, April 17, 2006

don't bring the boys into town....



I took this picture on the LUAS on my way to Easter Sunday dinner at my sister's house yesterday. A poster of the 1916 proclamation advertising an exhibition in the national museum. I watched part of the 1916 commemoration ceremony on the TV in the kitchen while the dinner was cooking. And here’s the weird thing, I found something moving about the lines of tanks and soldiers walking up O Connell Street! And this is me who really believes that it would have been better if 1916 never happened, that we really gained nothing only turning inwards and away from the world for a long time. I was very against reviving this parade. But watching it yesterday, I have to admit that the feeling that came across was one of safety, stability and security. Much better than the recent "riots" anyway. The “rememberance” tone of the thing made what happened seem a very long time ago, much longer than 90 years. Giving it the harmless status of a founding myth? I wonder how it looked to one of the foreign nationals now settling down in Ireland, with no memory or experience of living through the grey years that the rising made? Just soldiers marching and bands playing I guess, something that most people would have seen in their homelands. A solemn commemoration of, something. On RTE radio over the weekend the broadcaster Henry Kelly told a story about a member of his family who used to talk about 1916. I don’t remember the details of it but a line stuck in my mind. A relative of his talking to another member of his family on Easter Monday 1916 and saying “don’t bring the boys into town, there’s something happening at the post office.” Good line, and still good advice.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

food for thought

I found this piece in today's New York Times strange, mildly disturbing and I have to admit full of wonder in the way that a good sci-fi plot fills me with wonder :

The Long-Distance Journey of a Fast-Food Order

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Like many American teenagers, Julissa Vargas, 17, has a minimum-wage job in the fast-food industry — but hers has an unusual geographic reach.

"Would you like your Coke and orange juice medium or large?" Ms. Vargas said into her headset to an unseen woman who was ordering breakfast from a drive-through line. She did not neglect the small details —"You Must Ask for Condiments," a sign next to her computer terminal instructs — and wished the woman a wonderful day.

What made the $12.08 transaction remarkable was that the customer was not just outside Ms. Vargas's workplace here on California's central coast. She was at a McDonalds in Honolulu. And within a two-minute span Ms. Vargas had also taken orders from drive-through windows in Gulfport, Miss., and Gillette, Wyo.

Ms. Vargas works not in a restaurant but in a busy call center in this town, 150 miles from Los Angeles. She and as many as 35 others take orders remotely from 40 McDonald's outlets around the country. The orders are then sent back to the restaurants by Internet, to be filled a few yards from where they were placed. Read more here

Saturday, April 08, 2006

interesting thought....

interesting line on Dave's Wordpress Blog:
"You need a village to raise a child, and you need an Internet to fully develop an idea."
not sure if either idea is fully true?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

New York Times


Great redesign job on the New York Times web site

Thursday, March 30, 2006

John McGahern


Sad to hear that the Irish writer John McGahern has just died.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Transamerica


Went to see the film “Transamerica” yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. A lot more than I thought I would to be honest. Listened a bit too much to the people who talked about the movie in terms of its calculated storyline. This film had humor and heart - and yes it has to be said a good dollop of Hollywood story archery. But it did its job and told its story well, made you feel it. Interesting too that its soundtrack is American country music something it shares with “Brokeback Mountain”. Another interesting feature of “Transamerica” is that it uses the type of song and lyric one would usually associate with the Christian right. It gives another whole new meaning to the term “born again” and this was probably the intention. A movie that’s braver and more original than might at first appear.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

life on earth

just read this item, which puts us , our worries and our short little time spans in perspective:

KOLKATA, India -- A giant aldabra tortoise thought to be around 250 years old has died in the Kolkata zoo of liver failure, authorities said on Thursday.

The tortoise had been the pet of Robert Clive, the famous British military officer in colonial India around the middle of the 18th century, a local minister in West Bengal state said.

Local authorities say the tortoise, named "Addwaitya," meaning the "The One and Only" in Bengali, was the oldest tortoise in the world but they have not presented scientific proof to back up their claim.

"Historical records show he was a pet of British general Robert Clive of the East India Company and had spent several years in his sprawling estate before he was brought to the zoo about 130 years ago," West Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Barman said.

"We have documents to prove that he was more than 150 years old, but we have pieced together other evidence like statements from authentic sources and it seems that he is more than 250 years old," he said.

The minister said details about Addwaitya's early life showed that British sailors had brought him from the Seychelles islands and presented him to Clive, who was rising fast in the East India Company's military hierarchy.

On Thursday, the tortoise's enclosure wore a deserted look.

"This is a sad day for us. We will miss him very much," a zoo keeper said.

Wild Aldabra tortoises are found in the Aldabra island in the Indian Ocean Seychelles islands. They average about 120 kg. It is believed that tortoises are the longest lived of all animals, with life spans often surpassing 100 years.

Can we be too Green?

Can we be too Green? interesting line of thought here about how "....humans should take off their hair shirts, and enjoy the lifestyles which progress has created.

Monday, March 20, 2006

i grew up in europe....

funny quote of the day from Eddie Izzard

"I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from."
- Eddie Izzard

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hope in TIME

this article, from this week's TIME magazine is one of the most hopeful and inspring pieces I have read in a long time. In the spirit of what it is about , I hope they don't mind me pasting it in full here :

The Next Big Thing Is Us

Big, bold ideas used to come from small groups of experts. Now they come from you as well. Here's our annual look at what's new and innovative--from politics to movies, medicine to fashion, sports to tech

It goes against everybody's inner cynic to read (or for that matter to write) a sentence like the following: We are on the verge of the greatest age of creativity and innovation the world has ever known. It smacks of treacly dotcomism. It smacks of I Love the '90s. My inner cynic is a tiny bit queasy right now. But lately it's a conclusion I've had a hard time avoiding. Consider the following idea. Things, broadly speaking, used to be invented by a small, shadowy élite. This mysterious group might be called the People Who Happened to Be in the Room at the Time. These people might have been engineers, or sitcom writers, or chefs. They were probably very nice and might have even been very, very smart. But however smart they were, they're almost certainly no match for a less élite but much, much larger group: All the People Outside the Room.

Historically, that latter group hasn't had much to do with innovation. These people buy and consume whatever gets invented inside the room, but that's it. The arrow points just the one way. Until now it's been kind of awkward getting them involved in the innovation process at all, because they're not getting paid; plus it's a pain to set up the conference call.

But that's changing. The authorship of innovation is shifting from the Few to the Many. Take as an example something called the open-source movement. The basic idea is that while most software is produced by the aforementioned People in the Room, open-source software is offered to the entire world as a collaborative project. Somebody posts a piece of software on the Internet and then throws the joint wide open. It's like American Idol for software. In the open-source model, innovation comes from hundreds of thousands of people, not just a handful of engineers and a six-pack of Code Red. One open-source program, the truly excellent Web browser Firefox, has been downloaded 150 million times. SourceForge.net a website that coordinates open-source work, is currently host to almost 15,000 projects. Internet behemoth AOL, which shares a corporate parent with this magazine, open-sourced its instant-messaging service just last week.

The idea that lots of people, potentially everybody, can be involved in the process of innovation is both obvious and utterly transformative, and once you look for examples you start seeing them everywhere. When Apple launched iTunes and the iPod it had no idea that podcasting would be a big deal. It took the rest of us to tell Apple what its product was for. Companies as diverse as Lego, Ikea and BMW are getting in on this action. And it exists in the cultural realm too. Look at websites like YouTube, or Google Video. Anybody anywhere can upload his or her little three-minute movies, and the best ones bubble to the top. Who knows what unheralded, unagented Soderbergh will come crawling out of that primordial tide pool? Granted, some of the movies are of people falling off jungle gyms. But some of them are brilliant. Some of them are both.

Two things make this kind of innovation possible, one obvious and one not. The obvious one is--say it with me--the Internet. The other one, the surprising one, is a curious phenomenon you could call intellectual altruism. It turns out that given the opportunity, people will donate their time and brainpower to make the world better. There's an online encyclopedia called Wikipedia written entirely by anonymous experts donating their expertise. It has the unevenness you'd expect from anything that's user-created and user-edited, but it's still the most useful reference resource anywhere on- or off-line; earlier this month Wikipedia posted its 1 millionth article.

You would think corporations would be falling all over themselves to make money off this new resource: a cheap R&D lab the approximate size of the earth's online population. In fact, they have been slow to embrace it. Admittedly, it's counterintuitive: until now the value of a piece of intellectual property has been defined by how few people possess it. In the future the value will be defined by how many people possess it. You could even imagine a future in which companies scrapped their R&D departments entirely and simply proposed questions for the global collective intelligence to mull. All that creative types like myself would have to do is sit back and harvest free, brilliant ideas from the brains of billions. Now that's an idea my inner cynic can get behind.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Great Men

Nancy Banks-Smith reviewing the Kenneth Williams biopic which was on BBC 4 television last night says : “Fantabulosa! was a drama about his (Williams) undramatic private life. It was based on Williams' lacerating diaries. He is one of the great diarists. Great diarists are never great men.” Is this true? And does this make me a great man? (since my diary is fairly pedestrian) Very annoyed with myself that I forgot to watch “Fantabulosa”, but I’m sure it will be repeated as everything is on BBC 4

Sunday, March 12, 2006





Oh to be in America tonight where the last season of "The Sopranos" starts on HBO!

Voltaire on Blogging?

quote of the day comes from Voltaire:

"The multitude of books is making us ignorant."
-
Voltaire

wonder what he'd make of the fact that a new blog is created every second?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Future Me

I’ve always liked the idea of FUTURE ME. It’s one of those very simple ideas that goes deep. You write an e-mail to yourself to be delivered at some date in the future. This could delve as deep as Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” or simple as a “to do” note yourself. It’s great fun to read the public entries. Here’s a random entry:

Dear FutureMe,
Are you out celebrating with your friends or are you stuck at home watching tv while sitting on the couch wishing you were out with your friends? So, it's 2009, the year you're going to graduate from high school and finally go to college! YAY! Well, I hope you are having a good New Years Day. You'll probably get this on the 1st, rather than the 31st because it doesn't set the particular time to send it. And plus, what the hell would I be doing at 12AM on the internet on New Year's Day. So, have you sent in your applications for colleges and scholarships? Are you on your way to being valedictorian? Are you still popular because I bet by now, people have seen your competitive side and knows you act like a bitch when you do stuff like that. Hopefully, not because I'm working on that attitude now. Are the parents still on your case and vice versa? Any boyfriends? Are you still friends with the Melissa, Kalyn, and Denise? If so, are ya'll crazy as ever since it's senior year? What about a job? Please tell me I got one and got some new clothes!!! God... how about the SAT and ACT? High scores or average? Did I find the college I wanted to go to. Well, anyways, I just wanted to say have a fun (not boring) New Year's Day!

(written Tue Dec 27, 2005, to be delivered Thu Jan 1, 2009)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

secret of life

Good Quote of the day today:

"The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well."
- Horace Walpole

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck


So I finally got to see “Good Night and Good Luck” yesterday afternoon. While I enjoyed it I wasn’t as fond of it as I thought I would be. I agreed with its view point and purpose but I thought it lacked feeling somehow. It was made in black and white which looked great, I just wish the screenplay itself had a bit more colour in it. Like the Johnny Cash movie, I was fascinated once again by 1950s America. Add McCarthy to that weird soup. There was so much hysteria around, good and bad. The word Atomic kept coming into my mind. Everyone (apart from the George Clooney character?) smoked in the movie. There was a fog of it all around. Cigarettes definitely worked better in black and white. I loved the interview with Liberace. Saying he would “settle down” when the right woman came along! Yes, we do live in better times. And yet, there was definitely something happening way back then…..

Rebel Rebel.


Predictably, the social commentators have jumped aboard the Dublin riot bandwagon. I think its utterly disgusting how this shower of “analysers” are always waiting to pounce and pronounce any sign of unrest as proof that society isn’t working. It’s like they spent their lives praying for a revolution.

There is something adolescent about it all. And many of these guys (most of them are guys) are no adolescents. Many of them are probably deluded enough to believe what they preach. A fantasy where the mob tears down the rotten state and starts again. In this fantasy, the mob , having destroyed the status quo will suddenly be transformed into a peace loving group living in harmony and sharing in the just society they have helped to establish. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cabana


During yesterday's Apple launch of the new apple boom box, Steve Jobs talked about it as being portable enough to take .".. out the cabana or the pool..” Lovely word , Cabana. Very pleasant word associations. Definitely designed in California. The boom box itself is , unfortunately, no new Apple icon design wise. The bigger you stretch white plastic the cheaper it begins to look?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

after the deluge


Interesting piece on “Aaron’s” blog (http://icedcoffeeandabagel.blogspot.com/2006/02/digital-grandma.html) claiming that New Orleans may be fast becoming “…one of the most technologically advanced cities in the U.S.” Because the infrastructure was banjaxed it seems that everyone his gone wireless. Every cloud?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

yesterday's kerfuffle


in relation to yesterday's kerfuffle, I though this photo caught it well :
(photo by : http://www.flickr.com/photos/o6scura/)

Ads by Google


Ads by Google can get it so wrong! Yesterday I wrote a piece about the riots in Dublin city center , placing the blame at the door of republican followers. Today, my “ads by Google” include a number of links to this murky world which I have spent my whole life steering clear of! How wrong can you be, dear word analyzing computer. So I guess the thing to do is put in some words that might steer you in the right direction? Shopping, entertainment, beaches, sunny days, music, good books, computers, sexuality, philosophy, evolution, the future. These are a few of my favourite things.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Riot

There was a riot in Dublin City Center today, where it not for the fact that I got a text from my sister I’d probably be in the middle of it as I was thinking of going in to see the movie “Good Night and Good Luck” The Unionists had come down to hold a protest march and republican supporters had organised a protest. It soon got out of control and the eager and angry young men who are always plentiful at such events started burning looting and robbing. Days like this, you’d just wish the whole lot of them would melt away back into the past, where they live in their heads anyway. It’s such a rotten cauldron, that Northern mix of fascist republicanism and Unionist bigots. And the Irish government is talking about holding an Easter rising military commemoration in April, God when will they get into their heads that this is the last thing we need? It’s no coincidence that our fortunes started to change for the better when the Irish soccer team (led by an Englishman) where paraded down O Connell Street in mid 1990s. There was something new and forward looking about that. Guns at Easter, even if they are state guns, should be kept far away from O Connell Street. Are you listening Bertie, get a grip will you and cancel this parade back into the damp and dismal days.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

ONENOTE


There is a piece of software made by Microsoft called ONENOTE that I have been using for some years. Apart from Photoshop, I think its my favourite application. I think that it was originally invented for the Tablet PC and I imagine it works very well on that platform – in fact I often considered buying a tablet PC just to use ONENOTE. I use it on a desktop PC and also on a Sony Vaio laptop. Beautiful, intuitive and practical aren’t words usually associated with Microsoft but beautiful, intuitive and practical is what ONENOTE is. And no, I have no connections whatsoever with Microsoft. It just occurred to me, that once in a while, we should speak up in praise of our favourite tools!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Walk the Line


Went to see the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line” this afternoon. I saw the movie described somewhere as “sweet” and this describes it well – “sweet” in the best sense of that word. Complexities are ironed out leaving a clear well constructed plot line that is very enjoyable to watch. It’s only on reflection that one misses the complexities and the jagged edges of a real life. Joaquin Phoenix gives a great performance as does Reese Witherspoon. One thing that struck me watching it was the vitality of mid 1950s America. There was definitely something in the water over there at that time! To think of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and many more touring the country, playing blazing music in sleepy small towns – sounds that had not been heard in mainstreets or in mainstream before. And at the same time, Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac – the beat generation were all howling away in the big cities. No wonder the era is still a touchstone that can still be raw and dazzling.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dubai


There’s an article in today’s Guardian about the city of Dubai. It’s really worth reading for a view of a possible and unforeseen future.
(
http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1708395,00.html) The biggest city ever constructed is rising out the sands of the middle east. With a strange web of influences as its bone structure, its skin is pure Disneyland with Pharaoh and Aztec pigmentation . Something about the project also reminds me of the online world “Second Life” A world based on history and the human imagination, nothing startlingly new about it but using borrowed ideas and images to make a gigantic mirror of the way we were as a civilisation. But a mirror where hundreds of thousands of people can live. The muslim culture of the middle east is a strange anchor for such a venture, especially in the times we live in. With much of Islam obsessed with the medieval it’s a shock to see a part of that world engaged in this venture. The article made me want to visit Dubai. The article’s closing paragraph asks whether “…Dubai, (is) in fact, the fulcrum of the future global trading and financial system? Is it, in embryo, what London was to the 19th century and Manhattan to the 20th? Not the modern centre of the Arab world but, more than that, the Arab centre of the modern world.” The continuing story of the new world?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

light evening


Every year around this time there comes an evening that startles you with its brightness and allows you to eat dinner in daylight again. That was today, my empty dinner plate on the table at 5.23pm, still daylight outside.

Monday, February 06, 2006

THE ABBASID CALIPHS



this was one of the best radio programmes I have listened to in a long while. Really worth the download! What tangled webs we weave to make sense of our place in the cosmos.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime.shtml

Sunday, February 05, 2006

2001 comes around at last...


I just read this report in the Moscow Times :

A spacesuit tossed out of the international space station was supposed to float through space, talking to radio operators around the globe.

The suit, stuffed with old clothes and a radio transmitter, orbited Earth twice on Friday, giving off faint signals to Japan. But then the suit, called Ivan Ivanovich, apparently went silent.

"It may have ceased operating very shortly after its deployment," said NASA spokesman Rob Navias.

Navias speculated that the suit's batteries might have become too cold.

The Russian Orlan spacesuit, stuffed with rags and other trash, was released early Saturday Moscow time.

It looked like an astronaut tumbling helplessly 350 kilometers above the central Pacific Ocean, beginning a gentle downward spiral that will end in four to seven months when it incinerates in Earth's atmosphere.

Its transmitter was to broadcast a limited lineup: First an announcement via voice synthesizer that said, "This is SuitSat-1, RSORS," followed by greetings in English, French, Japanese, Russian, German and Spanish with "special words" for students to decode.

Then SuitSat was to relay its vital signs in English -- temperature, available battery power, the elapsed time of the mission.

The whole thing was to take 30 seconds, after which SuitSat was to rest 30 seconds and broadcast again.

SuitSat arose in late 2004 as the brainchild of the Russian space station team and the Space Radio Amateur Satellite Corp., a nonprofit that promotes education and amateur radio satellites.

Unlike the United States, which recycles its spacesuits, the Russians use Orlans for about two years and then discard them.

The Russians suggested a variation on this theme: Why not hook up radio gear to an old suit, toss it into space and make a satellite out of it?

International space station commander William McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev began the second spacewalk of their six-month stay aboard the space station at 1:44 a.m. on Saturday.

Its primary purpose was to secure a cable cutter on the mobile transporter that moves the station's robot crane.

But first they had to get rid of SuitSat. The old spacesuit, weighing several hundred kilograms, had last been used by NASA astronaut Michael Foale during an August 2004 spacewalk.

On Friday, a radio antenna poked out the top of the backpack.

The idea of a quick departure was apparently a good one, for SuitSat first got in the way of closing the airlock door, then balked at being wrestled into position.

Finally, with video cameras recording the event, it was gone.

"Wonderful picture, Valery," mission control said. "Thank you very much."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The New World


Went to see Terrance Mallick’s film “The New World” this afternoon. Enjoyed it a lot. There’s something kinetic about his style of movie making that appeals to my brain. Something in the way that he uses cuts, fades and music that adds up. It makes sense and is almost mildly hallucinogenic, for me anyway. I loved the scene where the Pocahontas character arrives in London towards the end of the film. You experience the sensation of what she sees, the buildings, the strange shapes that the human mind have made. This is for her “the new world”. And maybe at its core this is what the film is about. That our quest for change is unstoppable. That whatever order lies at the heart of things depends on this flux. . It’s a good love story too, not in the Brokeback Mountain league, but then I don’t expect anything will for a while. A fine movie though.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dublin Skyline


The snow that has been falling over most of Northern Europe hasn’t reached Ireland yet. It’s getting colder though. I took this picture of the skyline from my window this morning. Portentous?