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June 2005
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August 2005

Nora at last week's barbeque

Whilst being quite sweet about it, Nora of course loves to be the centre of attention. Claire and Tim's kids were round, and although they are both older than her, she was desperate to be around them, and to check out what they were doing.

A lot of grinning, and holding of hands for reassurance, then the discovery of the amp, from which music was appearing. Aha! Dancing! Aha! Buttons and knobs for twiddling! Why is Mummy making me turn down the volume when I'm standing directly in front of the speaker?

She loved the barbeque and was absolutely shattered the next day, but again, as usual, no grizzling.


Freaky news item

Straight from the link blog of Mr Grahame, the possibility of growing meat in labs.

What the hell is my moral position on this!!!

I would support it obviously since it means less animal death. However, there is a massive danger of disease in the stock. If you've got a reduced animal product thing going on which is basically either subsistence local needs or Euro based organic farms for rick people, with all the chisken nuggets and beefburgers in the world served from 1 or 2 specific genetic strains of animal, what happens if / when some massive virus basically spreads through, destroying all stocks of werdo-in-vitro-meat?

Well. In fact, not alot, I would guess. People would be forced to eat cereals instead.

It only makes sense if the drive came at the same time as an increased environmental impact awareness drive led for example, to those massive beef farms in South & central America being re-planted with trees, etc - rather than simply industrialising and (further) screwing up the no-longer-needed arable land, actually change them in to something good.

I, fish eating (Still! It's pathetic) hypocrite that I am, still couldn't eat this stuff given that it was animal derived but in fact that argument becomes pretty weak. I mean you could *operate* on a cow, them then wake up and 6 months later, Daisy, munching away in a field in Dorset, has in fact been eaten by half the population of England and Wales ten times over.

That. Is. Strange.

"The paper even suggests that meat makers may one day sit next to bread makers on the kitchen counter."

Aaaaargh! Too much future! Make it go away!


A day and a bit later

I got off the train at Farringdon - and in one direction, Liverpool Street had already happened. In the other direction, people were dead and dying in a collapsed tunnel in Kings Cross, merely... half a mile away? Less, I'm presuming.

And yet, there I was, going in search of fresh orange juice on the way to work.

It was astoundingly weird being at work. we were asked not to leave the offices, so had pizza for lunch, brought in by a couple of people (heartburn today). A girl at work (she's alive and non-critical, btw) was on the bus. I didn't really know her but that was a bit of a shock, so all subsequent news reports, of people who have or haven't been in touch since unconcerned phone calls saying "Oh, I'm on a bux, there've been some problems ofn the tubes, i'll be a few minutes late" have been very resonant.

It will feel very strange going in to work on Monday morning. The thing I keep rememberiing is that groups associated with this media invention which is Al Quaida tend to bomb somewhere only once. I don't think we're facing years of IRA style uncertainty here.

i remembered the Kings cross fire today. 31 people died in that. for some reason I'd remembered it as being much more. I didn't live in town at the time, but I passed through it often, going to gigs and the like. I had to come up the escalator on one occasion soon after they'd repaired it. there were still serious scorch marks on the roof, all the way up. the only sound you could hear was the 'Chink, chink' from the change bucket at the top, for the families' appeal fund. No one spoke. and I mean no one. And at the top of the escalator, people literally emptied their pockets of all available money.

It had something to do with being in the same physical spaces as the people who lost their lives. as if, by occupying the same body mass shape as them, the ghosts of that terrible event drenched you.

...and it's going to be the same for anyone taking those tube routes when they open up again.

Now. I can't help but speculate, also, and I suspect that the meaning behind the bombs was not the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, per se - I think they wanted to cause maximum disruption to the commercial and plotical centre of the UK, and the number of people who died was a shrugged shoulders inevitability.

Anyway. I may be wrong in terms of their motivation. It's not really relevant in any case, now is it.


Dishwasher fear

The dishwasher was blocked.

I put on the rubber gloves and unblocked it - apparently.

Put on one empty load to get good, fresh hot water through the system...

-Phut!

We are upstairs watching a terrible DVD.

-Phut! Phut!

What are those bloody cats doing...

-Phut!

Hold on a second, I can smell something. I go downstairs, to find smoke pouring out from behind the dishwasher, and it goes 'Phut!' at me.

Blue flashes and smoke were coming out of the back. If we had left the dishwasher on and gone out, we would not now have a home. Or much of anything, really.


Sitting at a desk in Clerkenwell

Knowing that in parts of town outside the door there is utter chaos and destruction.

It's now 2.20, and it feels like 9.30, when the news about Aldgate started to trickle through, was only half an hour ago.

There's nothing really to say here that isn't being said over and over elsewhere, except to state the surreal and fearful nature of the thing. Everyone has been talking about where to go and give blood, and when to - not wanting to overload the emergency services.

One thing seems to be clear. The British media are underreporting casualties and deaths so far. Notably, Italian media has reported 70 and even 150 deaths. The BBC were saying 2, and have now revised to to a more realistic "We don't know".

Flickr photos are a mix of people not knowing what information needs spreading, so are taking photos of their TV screens (which is actually interesting in terms of foreign news stations), and re-posting photos from web news channels.

I don't *think* anyone I know is caught up in it. My one worry, our friend Simon, is now accounted for.

If you expect me to give an opinion on events, you've come to the wrong place. It's just too freaked out round here to think of anything much past single syllable words.


Jimmy Corrigan on a rainy day

A near deadly combination.

McK has taken to occasionally buying me graphic novels he knows I haven't got. Which is a lovely gesture. The last one was "Epileptic" by David B. It is beautifully drawn and openly and articulately told. Jason Lutes kindly provided a very good quote for the back cover, in which he used the phrase "narrative art", which although it sounds a bit ponsey, is surely the best description of the kind of graphic "comic books" that I love so much. I always wince inwardly at the stupidity of having to call them "comics". How can "From Hell" be a comic? Whereas of course there are others, like "Eightball" which use the form so wryly that for some reason the term "comic" doesn't seem quiet so stupid.

My brother is epileptic, it came out when he was about 6 or 7. Poor little kid. How can a child be expected to cope with something as shocking as that to the system? I can't say that I can empathise directly with David B's story as the brother of someone with severe epilepsy, given that Steve's fits were always controlled (more or less). I had none of the anger - more practical sympathy. But I also had my own illness to contend with, which can make one very selfish.

One curious aspect to David B's brother's life is how passive and non-adult he became as he got older. There is something in that which I recognise in my own life. I'm not really that sure, any more, just how ill I was as a child. Eight operations between 10 and 18, and alot of time at home, my A levels blitzed first time round by ME like symptoms (but I always wondered at the time, just how much of that was psychosomatic? We'll never know). The knock on effect of that though was not only comfortable confidence in and around hospitals but a constant fight against passivity, and the desire to crawl under a duvet, feign weakness. Be brought cups of tea. Avoid difficult things (like bank statements). Do most people have this feeling?

It's not a very comfortable state of mind, and one I fight (generally speaking). I think I'm going to stop reading Jimmy Corrigan, exquisitely produced as it is. The brief snapshots of hollow misery that came in the beautiful, strange and elaborate pages of "Acme" didn't quite hammer home the message in the way all the strips collected in book form do. It gives me the same sense of hollow-loneliness-of-the-soul that I remember "Nausea" doing when I was 16. I was depressed for weeks after reading that bloody thing, and in the end, got around the existential alienation by forcing myself to pretend that I'd never read it. I had picked it up, read the back cover and put it down again!

But my God, Chris Ware is one hell of a good narrative artist.


Jackanory revival

the BBC are going to occasionally revive Jackanory.

jackanory was a *fantastic* Tv programme. It was probably my favourite, as a kid. Such a simple formula - get a well known and very animated storyteller to read, and show illustrations - normally by someone like Quentin Blake. So cheap, but so magical.

Can you imagine the current crop of storytellers? You have to get people who have kids, who "get" how to tell stories to kids. Ewan Macgregor, ha - Johnny Depp, now he would be bloody marvellous. Now, something tells me that Kate Moss wouldn't be quite up to the job. Lee Evans. He would be magnificent. Eddie Izzard, Jo Brand. Al Murray! Heh.

did you like Jackanory? Or did you think it was a bit too "BBC"?

And can we please start a campaign to get the best of the old ones put out on DVD for kids (or just put them all on the creative archive? weren't they short - I seem to remember them being about fifteen minutes long?).


iTunes podcasting support

Only today have I dug around adn reviewed it from a user's perspective. The review so far, from both a "publishing" (ie: send us your links) and searching perspective is:

Bloody hell!

So easy, so simple... and then they go and mess it up, by getting a geek to write the description of what the hell they're actually on about:
"The word Podcasting is a concatenation of the words iPod and broadcasting".

Yes, I regularly use the word "concatenate" when I'm writing text for regular everyday folk. Nice to see the odd bit of geekiness slipping through the veneer.

But really. Bloody hell!


One more thing - Live8 hypocrisy

Posting a lot today given that I'm currently on hiatus from my usual brain sapping social club.

Gordon Brown, who my regular reader will know is someone I generally speaking have respect for, said on Saturday with regard to Live8, "people can have power if they make their views felt".

Right. So that would be why the govt ignored the 2 million + people who marched through London (and other towns) and said that they did not want this Govt to enter the Iraq war. I can't remember the exact excuse for completely ignoring that protest, but I believe it went somewhere along the lines of: the march represented such a small propotion of the population, it could be happily assumed the majority were pro-war!

So er, 200k people go a free gig featuring Madonna and Paul McCartney, and 200k people march and go through Edinburgh (ie: the real point of the day).

Surely, that's a *pitiful* percentage of the UK's population? I would have thought that that gives a clear mandate for the G8 to carry on screwing 3rd World countries for as much as they can get?

Let's not forget that Mr Brown, the acceptable face of the slightly left of centre Labour Party (with a small n), voted for the war along with the rest of those cabinet weaklings (nod to Robin Cook).


Also note that my friend Claire went to Edinburgh. Yay for Claire!