The Blog


22 Apr 2014

Downing College-Cambridge, 1978. Special Consumers Association. Where are you now?  There was a white Cortina Mk1 automatic with Jamaica flag roundels round the headlights driven by a guy who worked in the record biz. It expired just short of Harston. There was a vague connection with Regents University and very temporary digs behind Bond St station. Later there was a flat in West Hampstead. There was also a couple who lived in a flat in a big block on Steel's Rd (??? and Carrie). Some of you came to a post-wedding party in 1984 in Downshire Hill. There's a possible connection with Nigel Sharpe. I also kind of think you knew people from Queens and Cranbrook, Kent

Then there's Alex the guitar player who had a flat above Trinity St and played God Save out the window in the style of the Hendrix Star-Spangled. Later had a Guzzi Le Mans, lived in Crouch End before moving into a self build in Docklands. Alex's mate (who played Bass) and was into BASE jumping.

Mentioning Cranbrook. What happened to Ant? And the guy we always thought got recruited by the security services due to his fluent German, frequent trips to "Switzerland" and slightly dodgy dad. The others in that house on Chaucer Road. And what about Sue from Birmingham who went to Goa.

The three Dumont brothers, Max Bell and one or two others from Trinity. Especially the guy who looked after a flat in the posh bit between Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith and a penchant for Tootsie's burgers. There were a lot of people I kind of knew at that afternoon garden party in Trinity Gardens '78. Bring white wine and we'll empty it into a dustbin and add fruit, mixers and spirits.

Did you have a house in Manchester and came to Rivington Pyke in '78 in a VW camper van with a dodgy gearbox? They wouldn't let us up the hill, so we ended up in a field. There was a guy there well known for making hot air balloons. He walked round with one on the end of a string above his head. The student house had a circular "door" hole into the sitting room and was mostly painted in purple.

Did you run a record and buttons stall in Camden Market, lived in a basement flat in Camden and briefly had a record shop in Hampstead? What about the artist who had a flat in S Villas at the back and was in the ambulance to Rivington and later to LA.

Annie, Sue, Droid, John Mac, Peter Walsh, Pete, Tim Palmer, Nick Froome, Dave Harris, Kevin Metcalfe and Steve Angel in the cutting room, and all the others hanging round Utopia studios.

Does any of this ring a bell? Get in touch.
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21 Apr 2014

What a curious character. Worth investigating.
http://www.paulkingsnorth.net/
 Paul Kingsnorth »
Welcome to my website. In these dusty e-stacks I store essays, books, poetry, strange maps, scrappy jottings, diaries and other yellowing papers. Enjoy rummaging.

[from: Google+ Posts]

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20 Apr 2014

Proper, full on rant about the evil that is pet cats and dogs.
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/nature-up/2013/dec/09/1

I approve of this message. Not only do they need daily emptying which leads to the poo-fairy and cat shit in the garden, but they kill song birds, and the pet food industry causes untold havoc. Have you any idea how hard it is to get organic, free range, cat food? Even in Waitrose? Never mind the happiness of your cat, what about the happiness of the animals that were bred to feed it? Eh?
 Greenish kitty plague spreads through US websites »
A blight of mindless cat and dog stories has infected US enviro news sites. Who's to blame?

[from: Google+ Posts]

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Here's a thought experiment for futurists and especially the Californian Long Now enthusiasts.

Imagine for a moment that Spartacus had won, Roman slaves had been freed and a mercantilist middle class had grown up. The Roman Empire hadn't collapsed under the weight of decadence and the Goths. And so a Roman Empire version of the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment had happened around AD500-600. A Newton and/or Leibniz would have appeared around AD700 (notwithstanding the problems of trying to do Principia Mathematica in Roman numerals!) The industrial revolution would have followed in AD800 and computers, electronic and computer revolutions would have appeared in AD970. Peak oil would have happened around AD1020.

So now in 2014, we'd be about 1000 years into a post industrial, post global-warming, post unlimited-resource world.

What would it look like?

This post was inspired by http://blog.longnow.org/02014/04/19/the-knowledge/ I'm really quite conflicted by the Long Now foundation and the idea of getting futurist darlings like Eno to produce lists of books for a "Manual for Civilisation" or rather a "Library to reboot civilisation". Somewhat in the style of A Canticle for Leibowitz, because this civilisation is doomed and it would be a shame if the last 200 years of growth were lost when it inevitably collapses. See http://blog.longnow.org/category/manual-for-civilization/ It feels like this has changed from a thought experiment to try and get people to think about what we're doing to ourselves into a business selling books and seminars, feeding vampirically on a very western insecurity.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of a Clock for 10,000 years ( http://longnow.org/projects/ ) or the Long Player song that doesn't repeat for 1000 years.  ( http://longplayer.org/ ) I just wonder about the way Doom (with a capital D) is becoming an industry in the same way as Self Help, Lifestyle Coaches and all the other WooWoo. There's VC, donations from unbelievably rich tech people, celebrity endorsement, TED talks and so on and on.

Remember the words of Philip Dick; The Roman Empire never ended.
 The Knowledge »
One of the early inspirations for creating the Manual for Civilization was an email I received from Lewis Dartnell in London asking me for information...

[from: Google+ Posts]

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"Because Darwin" is NOT the answer to everything. If the Social Darwinists weren't bad enough here's the Cosmological Darwinists. Apparently the universe is just the black hole's method of producing more black holes.

http://io9.com/whats-the-purpose-of-the-universe-heres-one-possible-a-1564636270
 What's The Purpose Of The Universe? Here's One Possible Answer »
It's tempting to think of the universe as a meaningless repository for celestial objects like planets and stars. But an intriguing theory suggests there's much more to the cosmos than meets the eye — and that black holes play an integral role in what our universe is actually trying to achieve.

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16 Apr 2014

What a most excellent collection of images.
http://datacide.c8.com/what-is-this-future/
 What Is This Future? | Datacide »
 In late 2012 HSBC, a large international bank, executed an advertising campaign dubbed “In the future...”. These ads, appearing in business magazines and inte

[from: Google+ Posts]

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Next time somebody tries to tell you that big pharma is hiding medical cures, or the illuminati, sorry, the 1%, are manipulating world society, or big oil invaded Iraq, or similar conspiratorial bullshit, just say:- 

"That's all a bit 'lizard people', isn't it?"
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After the Big Bang is it Space-Time that expands or the distances between the things in it?

Something I continue to have trouble getting my head round is the idea that there are bits of the universe that are so far apart (and accelerating away from each other) that there hasn't been enough time since the Big Bang for light to travel between them. So there's a kind of quantum foam of light cones that can't interact. But if nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, then how did these bits of stuff get further apart than light could travel in the available time?  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_expansion tries to explain this and I think I'm beginning to get it. It also helpfully points out that lots of highly qualified physicist have trouble with understanding this as well so it's not just me! There are bits of it that still feel like handwavium. In particular it feels a bit like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_interpretation in that it's only difficult to think about because you're treating the equations as objective reality. It's all very well to say that it's space-time that's expanding not the stuff in it but, but, 
 Metric expansion of space - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia »
Basic concepts and overview[edit]. Overview of metrics[edit]. Main article: Metric (mathematics). To understand the metric expansion of the universe, it is helpful to discuss briefly what a metric is, and how metric expansion works.

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15 Apr 2014

What do we want?
Evidence based medicine.

When do we want it?
After full, transparent publication of all trial results both future and historical, peer review and without being encumbered by long term patents.

And we want our governments to subsidise this for the good of society as a whole and to properly enforce the rules with realistic penalties. And without the market being hopelessly skewed by mandated oligopolies bought with high priced lobbying. And without government money being wasted on high priced stockpiles that do nothing. (like Tamiflu: here's looking at you, Roche).

As the article points out, EU regulations pushing for greater transparency on clinical trials are a good thing, but not if they ignore historical results and are never enforced.

https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/party-magazine/clinical-trials-and-tribulations-role-europe
 Clinical trials and tribulations: a role for Europe | The Pirate Party »
It's hard to imagine a better fairy-tale villain than a big pharma company. There's something undeniably sinister about these vast, faceless titans with their unfathomable methods and international reach; so much so that it's sometimes an effort to remember that, actually, they're the ones who ...

[from: Google+ Posts]

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13 Apr 2014

Global Warming won't be as bad as the IPCC predict and will peak at the low end of their predictions.

Because society will have collapsed by then.

So that's all good then!

http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/04/11/oil-limits-and-climate-change-how-they-fit-together/

ps. Have you noticed how 2030 is no longer the far future? The doomsayers are predicting major disruption by 2030 which is now only ~15 years away.
 Oil Limits and Climate Change - How They Fit Together »
We hear a lot about climate change, especially now that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently published another report. At the same time, oil is reaching limits, and thi...

[from: Google+ Posts]

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09 Apr 2014


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07 Apr 2014

The best thing about the end of life of Win XP is that Microsoft will stop:-
- forcing a monthly reboot
- popping up messages about updates being available
- filling up the hard disk with update roll back files
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04 Apr 2014

The #FridayNightCocktail

This one has no name yet; feel free to suggest one. It's the martini glass version of a variation on a Boulevardier.

- 60ml Bourbon
- 15ml Aperol
- 15ml Carpano Antica (Probably the best red Vermouth)
- Dash of orange bitters
- Stirred, martini glass, orange twist.

Somewhat like a Manhatten, somewhat like a Boulevardier. Somewhat like a Valentino. Softer than any of them but still a manly drink!
[from: Google+ Posts]

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One of the social problems of having no job or no conventional job is finding answers to that awkward question, "What do you do?". These days, it's couched slightly differently, just before the rant about unemployed, suntanned men on benefits shirking in the pub, "So have you retired?".

One solution is simply to lie. "Well I'm mostly resting, but I'm also doing a PHD in PsychoGeography". But then Charles Stross came up with this in the comments to his article comparing Osbourne's call for full employment to the return of slavery.

"I have found that answering the 'what do you do' question with 'I tell lies for money' really weeds out the sheep from the goats."

Oh yes. 'I tell lies for money' is exactly what an awful lot of us do and did in our normal white collar jobs. Or is that too cynical even for moi?

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/04/a-nation-of-slaves.html#comment-1951978
 A nation of slaves - Charlie's Diary »
The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by ...

[from: Google+ Posts]

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01 Apr 2014

So farewell then. Frankie Knuckles has left this thing we call House Music. And the piano looped over and over.

Frankie Knuckles Boiler Room NYC DJ Set


[from: Google+ Posts]

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27 Mar 2014

So farewell then, last.fm radio. I used to be a big fan and contributed code to make it possible to stream the radio into winamp. But using the radio though the API was dropped a few years ago and I always disliked the official player so I haven't used it in quite a while. I even had a subscription once making last.fm one of the very, very few things on the internet I've ever paid for. And way back when they operated out of a loft above a Whitechapel sweat shop and lived in tents on the roof, I even went for an interview for CTO. I've now got 112492 plays since I joined in 4 Apr 2004 (just coming up on 10 years). So I take last.fm's life and future a bit personally.

I'm sure I'll go on using the unofficial scrobbler for winamp and will still use last.fm for music discovery but even there, discogs is generally more useful these days. There is huge value in the audience generated wiki-style tags, artist descriptions, scrobbling, events and so on, but other people now do each piece of the puzzle better. 

CBS doesn't appear to know what to do with the property. Perhaps like AOL and Winamp they should put it up for sale. I kind of wish CBS would sell last.fm to Google but they would probably kill it. If there is some kind of future, then last.fm should go out of it's way to link to and partner with other services like Google Play, Discogs, Songkick and so on. But I suspect that just like AOL, Apple and a few others, corporate pride means they're unable to work with others. Google play especially really should have an official scrobbler for all the different platforms where Google Play Music is available.

http://www.last.fm/forum/21717/_/2226535/1
http://www.last.fm/user/jbond
 Changes to Subscriptions 26 March 2014 – Feedback and Ideas – Last.fm »
The world’s largest online music catalogue, powered by your scrobbles. Free listening, videos, photos, stats, charts, biographies and concerts.

[from: Google+ Posts]

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24 Mar 2014

Nice little round trip on the bicycle in the sunshine today. I've now checked off the River Ching so only a couple of minor Lea Tributaries left to do. Enfield Lock, High Beech to the source of the Ching. Connaught Water, Woodford, Highams Park. Then just North of Banbury Reservoir to the Old River Lea, And then the Lee navigation towpath home. Almost all of that is off road with some good mountain bike trails following most of the Ching's course.

None of it's that hard to follow given a map, though I did get a bit lost in Epping Forest. Which way is South?

I can recommend the Lea Side Cafe, just here 
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.610429,-0.041019,3a,37.5y,93.83h,86.94t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sgBZtj7pFlhrLw067rf1PcA!2e0
by the towpath. One of the best bacon sarnies and coffees I've had in ages. Not entirely sure what nationality they and they're customers are but I'd guess Turkish.

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20 Mar 2014

So farewell then, Lucius Shepard. RIP.
http://boingboing.net/2014/03/20/rip-lucius-shepard-gone-too.html

Huge fan of his all the way back to The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter. Life During Wartime and Kalimantan also stick in the head in the same kind of way as Samuel Delayney's Dhalgren. There were lots of short stories too, Delta Sly Honey for one and the collection, Eternity and Other Stories for another.
 RIP, Lucius Shepard, gone too soon »
Lucius Shepard, one of science fiction's great writers, has died. He was 66. I had met Lucius on several occasions and found him to be just as you'd hope from his novels: smart and witty (but lots of writers are smart and wit...

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The Aeropress. Not only better coffee and just as easy as single shot systems like the Nespresso, but more environmentally friendly as well. Do you recycle your coffee pods? Even if you do, there's the oil used to produce disposable polymers, using a finite resource to create garbage because it's convenient. Coffee pods are not exactly the worst use of oil but they're symptomatic of the first world approach to resources. 
http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/03/coffee-k-cups-green-mountain-polystyrene-plastic

Meanwhile, the Aeropress needs a small redesign to make it a travelling companion. It needs a stainless steel re-usable filter (already available from 3rd parties[1]) and the plunger turned into a sealed compartment for coffee grounds (also already available[1]). And finally, a way of protecting the rubber bung without fully fitting the filter cap.
[1] http://ablebrewing.com/collections/products/
 Your coffee pods' dirty secret »
100 percent convenient. 5 percent recyclable.

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Happy Equinox day!

March Equinox: March 20, 2014, 16:57 UTC (GMT)

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/march-equinox.html

And no, it's not the last day of Northern Hemisphere winter or first day of spring. That was Feb 28-Mar 1. Take a look around the UK and Spring is clearly in full flow already with loads of Blackthorn, Cherry and Magnolia blossom and the first green leaves on the early trees.
 March Equinox: March 20, 2014, 16:57 UTC »
The March equinox, which marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, will be on March 20 in 2014.

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