The improvised card game.
The Foldover Game
Blind communal prose.
Back on the Orion Express
Still coming soon.
The Insult
Rupert Thomson
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Haruki Murakami
Worldwar: In The Balance
Harry Turtledove
Incidental Music
Eric the Gardener (acoustic)
The Divine Comedy
Gubba Lookalikes
Half Man Half Biscuit
Other Blogs
AngryBlog Blast! Blue Ruin Digital Trickery Found HumanLint Interconnected Life as it Happens MomBlog UK Off-Topic Venusberg Wherever You Are Yao's DOT.Home [UK Blogs]
Supporting Cast
Alice Chrissy Dan Dave Dunx Eperdu John Lori Nik Paul Raven Riana Sandy Simes Tracy Yao
As Above at Stormloader
Banner-advert-ridden drivel.
Weeks Beginning
20.11 27.11 04.12 11.12 18.12 25.12 01.01 08.01 15.01 22.01 29.01 05.02
Being ill has given me a chance to plough through some books, though; I finished off Matt Ridley's The Origins of Virtue over the weekend - nicely-written insight into how human society can exist as it does, in spite of the selfish nature of all of its inhabitants. Explaining the evolution of trust and reciprocity, through war, trade, gift-giving, ecology and religion, it gives a nicely-written history of all these aspects of our species, constantly littering the chapters with memorable examples and explanations (including impressive demolition of the "noble savage" myth), and drawing or destroying parallels with other members of the animal kingdom.

The other was Rupert Thomson's Soft, a tale of fizzy-drink advertising taken too far, of a particularly dangerously piece of memetic marketing. Told from the perspectives of three very different protagonists, their hefty chunks of narrative overlap and converge towards some very unsettling plot turns. Besides the superb plot, the book's quite thoroughly readable for its style alone - although Thomson goes rather over the top with descriptive similes, at times, they're all quite beautiful, giving a very real and varying London backdrop to the majority of the book's events. Must read his other stuff.

Unnerving how physical illness can emphasise the connection and disconnection between mind and body so heavily. I've been lolling around nauseously for most of today and the weekend, thoroughly aware of the superfluousness of my consciousness - my mind feeling listless and detached, and constantly being told that it might as well just go to sleep and let the body get on with sorting things out. Diversion of physiological resources, and all that. Strange how automated and unconscious it all is. And depressing how much of a metaphor it can seem, for myself in relation to the rest of life. Tch.
I haven't seen this for years; the Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus is quite a nice piece of Java that lets you wander around a huge network of floating words, interconnected in (actually quite meaningless) three dimensions. Hypnotic, though. And impressive how it often throws up quirky, tenuous synonyms; it's quite reminiscent of the Hipbone Games in that respect...
"Crike" - coined accidentally when the relevant part of my brain fell between my frivolous mainstay "Crikey" and occasional bold-markup "Christ", I think this may have some potential as a middle-ground exclamation. Although it possibly sounds a bit too much like a mediaeval farming implement or cruel Victorian landlord. Hmm. The Foldover Game has been polished a bit and is producing some sterling nonsense, incidentally.
Blogger crumples, which seemed a bit inevitable, really - blog-creation software can be simple enough for any half-decent programmer to produce, and if one of them feels they have to start charging people to use it, enough users will migrate elsewhere for the pay-per-whatevers to falter. As Matt says, good thing.

The downside to a proliferation of home-grown blogging tools, though, is that people aren't going to be overly keen to put time into writing design and content (and, indeed, handing out FTP access) for blog-tools that might be brick walls by morning, or treacle-slow bug-ridden monsters once their memberships increase. But I suppose it's all just natural selection. I'll be watching with interest, albeit from outside.

Personally, I suspect the next big wave of Weblogs are going to be via the likes of Yahoo Geocities; built-in blogging pages that already know where to FTP things to, and which can be set up and maintained with no difficult questions whatsoever. If any quality self-hosting free-of-charge blog sites should spring up elsewhere and get a good following, I imagine Yahoo will be quick to attempt assimilation, banner-advertising at the ready.

I've been rather enjoying BBC2's series of ten-minute programmes about the solar system - a refreshingly eclectic soundtrack between the vox sci snippets, and there's something particularly nice about the CGI shots of a receding Voyager, music fading tinnily away as if they've strapped a radio to it.
I've wondered this for some time - why does Marmite label itself as 100% vegetarian? Are there people who base the meat content of their diet on such percentages? Should pork pies be marked as 23% vegetarian? Etc.
Some distracting little Java games of the "Okay, that's enough, I'm bored now" variety at - most notably Seven Seas, an elegant implementation of Daleks, and Psychobabble, an amusing fridge-magnet-poetry competition where players throw together sentences and then vote for the best. A few lazily hypnotic symbol-matching puzzle games to be had, as well. Hm, this should be interesting - WikiNomic merges the WikiWiki system of having a load of Web pages which absolutely anyone can modify and add to, with the Nomic concept of having a game whose rules you're allowed (nay, encouraged) to change as you go along. Play in WikiNomic hasn't yet started; I suppose we'll have to see who's interested and then decide what sort of an initial ruleset we think it needs (the traditional Suber ruleset always seems a shade too concrete and fearsome, to me).
(Mm, I can't get to Yahoo either; presumably some central giblet has failed and all of its tentacles - including the assimilated remnants of eGroups, hosters of my favourite mailing lists - have gone limp. One of many irksome things about a single entity taking control of others that were working perfectly well beforehand.)
Finished The Inheritors last night; an impressively strange book. Telling the story of a group of neanderthals having their territory invaded by cro-magnons, it's written from the point of view of one of the former, which makes for quite a challenge in deciphering what's actually happening, often complicated events being described in uncomprehending terms.

An ultimately rewarding effort, though, the simplistic, slightly puzzled narrative giving an effective window into a less developed brain, and making for some particularly striking "camera pulling back" shifts of perspective towards the end. Memorable insight into a piece of pre-history, however fictionalised, and a sobering portrait of mankind.

News coverage of the Alder Hey business has all seemed a bit alarmist and exaggerated, to me - not once has anyone pointed out that the organs removed without consent were used to save people's lives, or that the money received from drug companies was presumably used to fund worthwhile hospital things. Yes, it's shameful that nobody thought to ask the children's parents, but it's not as if - as the general feeling of the coverage seems to imply - doctors have been sacrificing body parts to elder gods and blowing all the pharmaceutical funding on cocaine and prostitutes.

But having said that, the following bit of mad science was rather disturbing, although probably complete nonsense:-

"One detail expected to be revealed is that Professor Dick van Velzen, the pathologist at the centre of the Alder Hey controversy, kept a child's head preserved in a jar."
Buy online access to three of someone's favourite death spells, for a mere $13.95. "You can print them off your computer, or, just bookmark them!"
Water 'can reduce brain power' says a report - the conclusion seems to be that the body needs to divert 'physiological resources' away from the brain to bring hot or cold ingested liquid to body temperature. Which seems reasonable enough, and is a vaguely unsettling reminder of our minds' reliance on the rest of the body. I wonder how it compares to the resources needed to digest food or breath cold air, though. And what office watercooler people make of all this. If you have no loose change and are unable to make decisions, you can always flip a virtual coin.
Hm, a tentatively larger font for As Above, as well as some minor CSS gubbins, which I've been meaning to start playing around with. Better? Worse? Say something.
More or less everything by Kevan Davis.
As Above is part of the Uncertain Organisation.