Monthly Archives: May 2011

New ideas. Like ’em or loathe ’em?

Here are four new ways of doing things – how hide electricity pylons, how to pay for medicare, how to get building materials up to roof level and – most importantly – how to store beer.

1. Hiding those ugly pylons. Dominic Wilcox at the Variations on Normal  blog has come up with an answer to two difficult questions at once – what to do with landfill? And how to beautify electricity pylons?

His cheaper alternative is to simply rename pylons, Mini Eiffel Towers and the public will adore them, maybe even pay to go up them Continue reading

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Is this the best job in the world?

Is this the best job in the world?

No – I’m not talking about looking after that island off the Queensland coast. According to the bloke who won the competition to do it, it wasn’t as much fun as he’d expected. It tired him out. Too much blogging too.

And it’s not this massage man either.  As he says himself, he doesn’t even get to belong to a trade union and he has to work all hours.  (Question: Should I have embedded the video in this post? Or is it too saucy? Or just funny? Let me know. Really.  I have to keep tabs on my Charlotte Rampling rating.)

He longs for his own little desk. And no wonder. He must have heard of this person. The person I met last week. The person who really does have the best job in the world.

He – or she – works in a British government department of diminishing importance with nobody you’ve ever heard of in charge. Best not say exactly which one. It’s somewhere round Continue reading

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Some of it is just psychotic

Is it art or is it just psychotic? That’s the judgement call the organisers of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition are making again and again in the run up to opening day next month.

A previous year's selection panel. I think they're saying: "Not quite psychotic enough." Of course, now it's gone the other way. Be careful what you wish for, huh?

Just thought that Padmum  might like to be forewarned Continue reading

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China: Is it the future of world politics – or not?

Colonel Sanders is looking young - and Chinese - at the opening of a new KFC outlet in Beijing.

It’s well past time that people woke up to China’s role in the world and I don’t just mean noticing “Made in China” on the base of that thing you’ve just bought. (It’s probably from Vietnam or the Philippines these days anyway – or perhaps Madagascar if it’s clothing.) And eating Chinese doesn’t count either.

It’s crazy how tightly schools cling to European languages to the exclusion of Chinese. Sure, Spanish can be number one – it’s on the doorstep, good weather, world language, beautiful songs. But why should Chinese be relegated below French, German, Russian (!), Italian, Latin, Greek, etc?

Then again, there are some people who are in a constant tizzy about the spread of Chinese influence – soft power, economic investment, military infiltration. The panic has reached such intensity in parts of the blogosphere that it reminds me of that old cartoon (anyone know it?) that had Americans imagining that it was Vietnam bordering Texas instead of Mexico. (Though with the low intensity warfare going on in Mexico these days…)

So is China really the future? Is western democracy tired and doomed to go down with the listing economic ship? Have the Chinese actually got it right in terms of development and never mind the niceties of freedom?

Two Continue reading

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New proof the Rapture really DID happen

So we’re all laughing at those gullible fools who believed the Rapture was coming at the weekend. We’re all chuckling snootily and snidely down our noses. Ho ho, aren’t we so enlightened, not like those sad losers.

Well the laugh is on you.

No, not because Harold Camping has come up with a new date.

Just because neither you nor any of your mates got taken up into heaven – doesn’t mean nobody else did. Quietly. Without a fuss. While you were all (er, and me, ‘cos I’m still here too) wallowing in your complacency, the “elect” could have been boarding  SpaceShipOne for a one way trip to the celestial heights.

But that’s not it either.

The thing is, the Rapture did happen. But no men with beards were involved – not even Richard Branson. Harold Camping simply got one significant detail wrong. And here’s the proof. Continue reading

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What do you listen to when you write?

The Siren by John William Waterhouse. She's saying: "Ah come on, have a break, have a wee cup of tea. And would you like a biscuit to dip in it too?"

In an effort to keep myself in my seat, at my keyboard and editing the latest draft of Blackwatertown, I put on some music.

It’s been one of those days. The outside world was calling – fresh air, sunshine, forest. In other words – that four letter word distraction was singing its siren song. So I needed to drown it out.

I’m all for getting outside. But with the paying job on hold today, it was an opportunity to do some necessary book editing. Hence the music to keep me tapping along.

But is music a good idea? If I cast my mind back through the mists of time to the prehistoric age when I was revising for school exams, I doubt the late great John Peel‘s contribution helped at all. (Helped me be more human perhaps, but not to remember chemical formulae.)

And does a desire for musical accompaniment suggest that my book is insufficient in itself to hold my attention? Anyone’s attention? Aargh, I’m doomed. Though, to be fair, I have read it a few times. And I tend to multitask anyway – lots going on at once.

But if music be the food of editing – what tunes? Continue reading

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True romance

Gallant Sir Walter - famous for doing things he didn't - like laying his cloak over a puddle in front of Queen Elizabeth (and infamous for doing things he did - the odd forgotten massacre in Ireland - but that's off the subject).

Forget Walter Raleigh.

Forget that pathetic bit at the end of  Four Weddings and a Funeral – “Is it raining? I hadn’t noticed.” Pass the sickbag, quick.

This is what I call romantic.

True, it could have gone terribly wrong Continue reading

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The internet – NSFW?

Step away from the computer...

This is why the internet is NSFW.

Research from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia has found that the average worker will spend up to an hour a day browsing the web for personal reasons – but says employers shouldn’t be worried.

It’s not the employers I’m worried about. Continue reading

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Forget paperbacks or ebooks – the next books are on T-shirts

Hardbacks, paperbacks and now ebooks too. What do they have in common? They’re old news.

You could be reading – or publishing – your next book on a T-shirt. Continue reading

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Filed under art, media

Bin Laden, the barking seal and the royal lookalikes

New takes on recent events.

1. The Royal Wedding.

Remember how you were saying to yourself as you watched the royal wedding, how some of the main players looked looked naturally – but also strangely – familiar? This is why.

Continue reading

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