Thursday, 29 November 2007

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

But Seriously...

I should check in with the Vinyl Word more often, but, somehow, remembering it after a few weeks away isn't too bad. There's plenty of content built up for one.

If any doubt remained it has evaporated now, but Joe Queenan really, really, really hates Phil Collins.


Christ on a Bike!

Via Making Light.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

More About Me

So the pics from the gig at the Gallery section of Doherty's Pub are a little blurry, but I do like this one from the gallery for the next day:

Monday, 26 November 2007

The BluesBerries Gig

It went really well. I'd expected about 20-30 to turn up and, all told, probably somewhere over fifty made it.

The first set was pretty controlled and I was in fine voice. We finished the set with Dead, Drunk & Naked to great applause, I was genuinely touched. The crowd was good to us all night. With the possible exception that a few of my jokes were only appreciated by those whose English could stretch to them, ah well...

Second set was a bit more raucous, I think. We had a guest harmonica player for the encore, Hoochie Coochie Man, which went down a storm. We also had a request to reprise Crazy About Automobiles, which we did. It's a good number and the band have a lot of fun playing it, so to get asked to do it again was an honour.

All in all, I had a great time and I hope we won some new fans.

Roll on the Weyer gig!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Anika's Odyssey

If, like me, you're in need of a little cheering up today and McClaren being sacked just seems too little too late then you could to worse than give Anika's Odyssey try.

It's a simple point and click game in the Samarost vein. It's a little easier than that game, but it's a whole lot cuter. The artwork in it and the animations are positivly lovely. Blushing mountains have never been so artfully rendered.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Filler: Beat It

Jermaine Dupri, an R&B producer, struggles to pinpoint what's wrong with downloading music:
We let the consumer have too much of what they want, too soon, and we hurt ourselves. Back in the day when people were excited about a record coming out we'd put out a single to get the ball going and if we sold a lot of singles that was an indication we'd sell a lot of albums. But we'd cut the single off a few weeks before the album came out to get people to wait and let the excitement build.

Now, I'm still a little old school when it comes to music. I like buying CDs. I like going to music stores and just browsing. Then again, I like my albums to have as little filler as possible, none at all being the platonic ideal.

Dupri, on the other hand, seems to suggest that filler is somehow a right and that allowing fans, consumers if you must, to cherry pick the good stuff off the albums means he's missing out on some royalties. He doesn't see this as a message to up his game, no, he sees it as a reason to go whining to the press.

I have some sympathy. Giving the consumer just what they what does seem to be a way of stifling creativity, but, then, bands who innovate tend to have fans who'll buy the whole album because of that, I doubt that the non-single Kriss Kross album tracks are anything other than bland R&B filler. Like any other consumer I've bought plenty of albums that have the single and a bunch of other stuff on (I sometimes refer to this as the 4 Non-blondes 1 Decent Track phenomenon not that I've held any bitterness for this length of time), thanks to iTunes and so on we don't have to put up with that anymore if we don't want to and, really, it's about time.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Cheap Beer and Exploding Bladders

I may have mentioned once or twice before the British media's problem with binge drinking. Well, it seems that "Beer sales plunge as Britons stay at home". That's right, pubs are selling 14m fewer pints a day than in 1979. This is because more people are drinking wine and that whole, vile alchopop thing, but guess what the proposed solution to help Britain's brewing industry is?

Yep, make beer cheaper to make it more attractive to those who've forsaken it...

Of course, binge drinking gets a mention:

"It is no coincidence that Britain has the highest level of excise duty in the EU and sales in the on-trade are falling, and yet binge-drinking is on the increase as supermarkets cynically exploit the consumer by offering cut-price booze to drink at home," he said.

When I'm back in England I often feel cynically exploited by the fact I can get three bottles of Black Sheep for four quid. It's a damaging destructive relationship but I can't help going back for more.

But not too much more, as a new report says binge drinking has increased to such an extent that cases of 'exploding bladders' are on the rise in the UK. Well, actually "we don't know the exact numbers, it's important to remember that ruptured bladders are rare - these are the first documented cases in women in the world." So that's a rise of infinity per cent then...

Myths Misfire

John Allen Paulos, author of A Mathematician Read The Newspaper among many other fine maths related books, has a column at ABC News. This month he looks at how cognitive biases colour our view of the issues and can affect policy choices. It makes you question your assumptions, which is always a good thing. He brings up a scary study by University of Michigan psychologist Norbert Schwarz:

Schwarz copied a flier put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intended to combat various myths about the flu vaccine. It listed a number of common beliefs about the vaccine and indicated whether they were true or false. He then asked volunteers to read the flier. Some of them were old, some young, but shortly thereafter he found that many of the older people mistakenly remembered almost of a third of the false statements as being true, and after a few days young and old alike misclassified 40 percent of the myths as factual.

Even worse was that people now attributed these false beliefs to the CDC itself! In an effort to dispel misconceptions about the vaccine, the CDC had inadvertently lent its prestige to them. In many cases, truth and elucidation can actually strengthen misconceptions and make them more psychologically available.

You know, actually, that explains a lot.

Via 3QD.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Judging Book Covers

My Favorite Book Covers of 2007 from The Book Design Review. I went to mock, but there's some really good covers there, even if the cover for The Little Girl and the Cigarette is astonishingly literal. I voted for Words Without Borders.

This is also very literal, but I thought that it also managed to show a lot of information in a witty and eye-catching way.

I'm not sure if I ever bought a book solely for its cover, but I do know I once used to prefer Picador because the spines were always white and they looked good together on a shelf. This was also a benefit with the Penguin classics range all having silver spines. As always, I'm sure this says something very bad about me...

Friday, 16 November 2007

Massed Memories Of Media Manipulation

Photography lost its innocence many years ago. In as early as the 1930s, shortly after the first commercially available camera was introduced, Stalin had his enemies "air-brushed" out of photographs. With the advent of high-resolution digital cameras, powerful personal computers and sophisticated photo-editing software, the manipulation of digital images is becoming more common. Here, I have collected some examples of digital tampering in the media, politics, and the law.

Digital Tampering in the Media, Politics and Law. Just because Photoshop makes it easy doesn't mean photo-tampering doesn't have a long and rich history. From Lincoln through Stalin all the way to Brad and Angelina.

Via Boing Boing.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Lego and The Architect

Via Snark Market.
Architects from China, Japan and Thailand amongst others were given kits of white LEGO building blocks and told to have just fun. The results, from Asiatic temples to futuristic towers to sustainable old-and-new city plans are currently touring Asia.

There's some really interesting ideas here. It's hard to pick one that stands out, they are all great. The image below, though, I liked because it has a touch of Star Trek about it along with something oddly organic and, well, it's just fun.

The Cruelty of Co-workers

Coding Horror lists a number of pranks to play on your co-workers with their computer, including this classic:
Replacing the desktop with a screenshot of the desktop, and hiding all the visible items on it.

I think the message is to lock your computer any time that you are away from your desk, but, as is the way of these things, seems to be more like a list of things you can to to annoy your fellow workers.

Much fun.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

BluesBerries Update

So, Doherty's Irish Pub is opening up a downstairs section, Doherty's Downunder no less. Being one of the last bands to play at the old place, it's an honour to be the first to play there. It'll be on Friday 23, November and will probably start around 8. I whipped up this poster to promote the gig:

We should also be doing 2 gigs in Decemeber. One is in Weyer at the Café Adabei and that will be on the 15th. The other should be a New Years Eve concert in Losenstein. I'm excited about all of these.

To mark the occasion, I've updated all the songs on our Myspace page to the most recent mix and I've swapped in Diddy Wah Diddy for Sugar Babe. Making some new song goodness.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Son of The Return of Short Shorts

I managed a main post today, but there was loads of other stuff. Obviously I found a lot of these at places listed on my sidebar (and in the Feeds I Read post). You don't have to check those out, but there's plenty there.

Dogs Must Be Carried

I suppose it takes a special kind of literalist to misunderstand the title of this post, presumably the sort who gets all het up about "8 items or less", but over at the Language Log they have some fun examples of autantonyms, a class of chants and signs that can mean two opposite things, along with a little analysis.

My favourite is probably "We put the fast in breakfast!", which I hope was intentional, but suspect wasn't.

Via The Morning News.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Overweight Feeling Great

So, the research is in. Being a little "overweight" is better for you, in the long run, than being thin.

A startling new study by medical researchers in the United States has caused consternation among public health professionals by suggesting that, contrary to conventional wisdom, being overweight might actually be beneficial for health.

The study, published yesterday in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association, runs counter to almost all other advice to consumers by saying that carrying a little extra flab – though not too much – might help people to live longer.

I'm sure dietitian's and others with vested interests will be rushing to the media to explain why this report should be taken with a pinch of salt (be careful of your blood pressure however), and nebulous reasons why losing that extra few pounds will make you happier. They, of course, have just been pulling numbers out of thin air for quite some time now, which is why it's good to finally have some hard facts to look at.

It is worth pointing out that the obese are still buggered.

But, surely, the point is this: We've been sold an unhealthy body image by people claiming authority where their authority seems to built on nothing but speculation. Science suggests that, well, they've been wrong all this time.

So, thin people, go, eat a sandwich. It's officially good for you...

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

I've simply got to, that's the whole thing.

If I would get the chance to ask Hollywood producers why they have this urge to remake almost every movie made within the last sixty years that ever made a profit, that (slightly altered) quote from "High Noon" could very well be the reply, as Hollywood's unwillingness to produce anything new and original hits another dubious milestone with announcing the plans to remake the aforementioned classic western "High Noon".

Most examples of the latest Hollywood remake-craze range from the utterly pointless ("The Omen", "Psycho", "Flight of the Phoenix", "Poseidon") to the self-destructively bad ("The Haunting", "Alfie", "The Pink Panther", "Last Holiday"), yet the powers residing in Tinseltown can't seem to get enough of butchering yet another piece of their own past.

The announcement to give "High Noon" the remake-treatment does not bode well for movie classics at all and the writer of this blog entry shudders at the thought of some Hollywood producer looking for profit having a go at such classics like "Citizen Kane", "Casablanca" or "Gone with the Wind".

I am not entirely sure what the motivations behind the current wave of remakes are, but I suspect it is a mixture of laziness, lack of ideas and the cost/risk factor that comes with big-budget productions.

Maybe the time has come for us, the audience, to collectively shun these remakes and by doing so sending the message out to the suits working in Hollywood, that it is about time for them to tighten their slack attitudes, rid themselves of their pot-bellies and get their lazy arses out of their comfortable chairs and do something original and new again. This movie fan would certainly appreciate a little less remaking and a little more originality.

Free Sam & Max

For those who like it old school. Sam & Max: Season 1: Abe Lincoln Must Die is now available for free.

It's part 4, which is a bit odd, but it's allegedly the best bit so if you miss point & click adventures at all, then go and check it out... I've not had chance to play it yet, but I did finally get the Culture Shock demo working (moving to XP may have slowed down my computer for most things, but there was exactly one benefit), and if this keeps up the promise of that, then fun will be had by all.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Timothy Taylor's Personal Trainer

In a refreshing change from the norm there's been a report, via The Telegraph of all places, that a quick beer after sport is good for you.
Spanish researchers say beer can help someone who is dehydrated retain liquid better than water.

Prof Manuel Garzon, of Granada University, also claimed the bubbles in beer help to quench the thirst and that its carbohydrate content can help to replace lost calories.

So, those three pints I had after walking up to Eccles Pike (not to mention Shining Tor) were actually the right thing to have. Possibly.

Back! Regular Posting To Resume Soon

So I've walked all over Whaley Bridge parish and environs in the last week and now I'm refreshed and ready to contiune whatever it was I was getting on with before I left. You know blogging, blues and bowling.

Soon, anyway. A bit busy catching up on work things at the moment...

For those who are not so busy and have the energy there's a new version of Dwarf Fortress out. I know that of all the people I spoke to personally about the early versions I was probably the only one that gave it any time. This version looks set to be even more complicated, but I would urge people to give it a second look and, also, look around the wiki devoted to it to get you started.