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Struggling to tell a joke properly (I usually just summarise them with apologetic disinterest):-
"There's a particularly nasty throat infection going around at the moment, which causes people's tongues to retract and fold up at the back of their mouth. Doctors say it's the worst epidemic of Futon Mouth they've seen in years."
Memetic mutation of a rather poor "Futon Mouse disease" joke a nameless entity told me yesterday. Although I wonder how many jokes are so irresistably obvious that they must evolve convergently all over the place.
"Finally, when the notion of the static ichnograph proves limited, she begins to understand the Cube in terms of a procedure, a movement governed by the tension Massumi calls 'paradox with precision', an idea that refers one back to the thesis on the machine's ability to re-order transgression as pseudo-transgression, the use of the desiring body as battery."
Horrific pseuds-corner philosopher-dropping over-analysis of the vaguely irritating but thought-provoking-afterwards psychological sci-fi film Cube.
Hm, after far too much starting of new books on long journeys (why bother taking along something half-read that you'll have finished by the time you change at Victoria?), I've finally shed bookmarks from a couple. Harry Thompson's biography of Peter Cook made for witty, insightful and ultimately tragic reading; although I already knew a good bit about the man and his work, I never really appreciated how it all fitted together, how much of his great material was written so early, and how so many of his career's later optimistic upswings fell miserably away. Thompson's fairly flat writing style keeps everything in perspective, whilst making the frequent quotations and anecdotes all the more striking and brilliant, and it paints a memorable picture of the greatness and sheer boredom that genius can bring.

As well as that, I wrapped up Iain Banks' The Business with rather too little interest. His habit of assuming the reader knows as much about the setting as he does is alright if you live in the right universe, but it was still a rather irritating book. Countless samey "meeting up with an eccentric person for plot-advancement conversation" segments, an odd, rather bad choice of main character, and an ominously interesting sub-plot that fizzled out in favour of the painfully-obvious other one. The atmosphere of the made-up Himalayan country of Thuhn was great, and Ferrindonald had some good material, but the rest of the book was a bit too grating for my brain. Passable journey fodder, but I wouldn't recommend it that highly.

"People of Earth, this will not take long. We only want to fribble your tweems." Feh; Catherine posts a link to UFO in Kushiro, a Murakami short story seemingly written specifically for New Yorker magazine, but the page in question was replaced first thing Monday, new content for a new week. Has anyone still got the previous in their cache?
Mo Morgan's quid-from-his-employers-to-charity-per-hit counter "breaks" after being on a couple of hundred, earlier. Fair play to him all the same. And you can donate cash directly to Comic Relief via their Web site, of course, unless you genuinely believe you've got something better to be doing with your money. "Michael Owen sounds suspiciously like William Hague." says Dan, whoever Michael Owen might be. And William Hague was sounding suspiciously like a cross between Jimmy Savile and Chris Morris's odd-inflection interviewer, on the Today programme the other morning, before I turned it off. All very confusing.
As posters litter every roadside offering very vague criticism of the Labour government, or warning how the Tories will muck the country up (both presumably giving the Lib Dems a healthy boost), the dear old ASA says that election posters are outside of their remit because, unlike other advertisers, political parties are "not obliged to prove their claims". The old "New Labour, New Danger" ones were apparently a bit unfair for using Mr Blair's face without his permission, but that's about it.

I wonder if Mark Thomas knows about this.

Apropos the tongue thing, Quin mentions an article about synaesthesia, a condition I've only read bits and pieces about, over the years. The overlap of senses; of perceiving a sound to have a colour, a movement to have a sound, a taste to have a feeling, and - I suppose - every other possible combination. An intriguing thing, yet presumably not of particular benefit to perception, otherwise we'd all have evolved it by now. Hm.

The rather unupdated Internation Synaesthesia Association pages record some interesting experimental investigations of the subject, with some rigorous if baffled testing to see if people were just making it all up.

The Divine Comedy's Regeneration was out on Monday, and has been my background music all week. Sterlingly good stuff - strong, infectious music, clever, perfect lyrics and a particularly striking amount of emotion-stirring. Genuine joyousness as our hero finds all his mislaid things in "Lost Property", uplifting reassurance (despite the obviousness of the sentiment) in "Mastermind", straight enthusiasm injection from "Love What You Do", sheer joy of shared existence in the quite-rightly titled "Perfect Lovesong", and - well - it's all solidly good stuff. Probably their best album yet, at least if you ask me today. Nicely relaxed and thoughtful and open.

And you can listen to half of the tracks from their Web site, which is rather good of them.

Hm, reminded of this by the chap doing the voiceover for the Techno Games; Big Train's Mornington-Crescent-esque World Stare-Out Tournament has its own Web site, and apparently a couple of books.
I don't suppose anyone taped Attention Scum on Sunday, did they? I was out for the night, and my video chose to record half an hour of purposeful blankness, on a whim. Glittering prizes to anyone who can copy or lend the thing.

We saw the League at the Komedia on Friday, actually. Rather an odd and brief-seeming set, with Mr Munnery far less in character than usual, and appearing rather half-hearted about it. An impressive amount of new material and some fine asides on the strangely restless audience, though. Keep an eye, if he's touring.

Sensory rearrangement always intrigues me - this new tongue display unit for the blind, particularly, apparently converting a digital camera image to an array of electrodes on the tongue. Which seems rather limited, unless there's some clever processing gubbins going on - the world pixelised to a two-or-three colour 12x12 display would only be useful in highly specific environments, I'd have thought. Hm. Witness some pictures and vague technical specs for the device, anyway. The bizarre hotornot variant Rate My Profile has, instead of just a photo, a brief list of dull age/location statistics, with an inane questionnaire and picture being optional extras. And quite a few people seem only to bother to fill in the mandatory. The idea of giving someone marks out of ten for having brown eyes and being a Piscean seems quite thoroughly insane. [via Interconnected]
WikiNomic shed its restrictive Suber ruleset the other day, and is now speedily evolving into a strange flag-and-ball game called Wikit, played out on a roguelike ASCII display. With every player still able to change any rule at any time, it's all very Calvinball. Fun.
A glimpse of the plasticity of youthful brains, the other night; my five-year-old friend Jack earnestly saying "cbc dot uk forward-slash" during a fake phone conversation, with no idea what it meant. It's unsettling how much information is automatically absorbed when you're that young, even if you don't understand it - I occasionally realise, even this far into life, that something I've long taken for granted as being a common expression or an amusing pun actually has a level of meaning I'd never noticed, or doesn't really make any sense. The "nervous rex" joke being somehow-amusing playground fodder before I even knew what a "nervous wreck" was, and all that. Strange.
Trying to escape from a shopping centre yesterday, one half of an up/down escalator pair wasn't working. And had, mysteriously, been fenced off. I half expected to see people stranded halfway down it, tapping their watches. "Which for him he is only one. I must control the Arsenal or The Way of Holloway." - playing Mornington Crescent through that "Lost in Translation" language mangler makes it sound like some polite and mysterious Eastern boardgame.
Mutant Fungus from Outer Space - apparently the soon-to-crash Mir space station is riddled with toxic fungus that's been quietly evolving up there for the past fifteen years, mutations fuelled by the copious cosmic radiation. This article from last year talks of the precautions taken to keep Mir's fungi in check, which aren't 100% effective. Will the burning up in atmosphere be enough to clean things, will the bed of the Pacific be a dramatic enough environment shift to scupper any world domination plans, or is this going to be another Caulerpa taxifolia?

There's also a horribly unsettling comment in the decontamination article about the possibility of us contaminating Mars and Europa through grubby probes - that by the time we actually land on Mars, it could be teeming with bizarre fungi, the great-grandchildren of microscopic muck from the treads of Sojourner. Irony.

I've never really thought about this, but it's quite amazing how skywriters do their thing. The "dot-matrix" approach (reminiscent of the ingenious GraffitiWriter robot) seems rather a cop-out in comparison to the old way of putting words on the sky.
New rumblings on the Nomic horizon, and something I was quite unable to resist; Nomopoly III, a dice-rolling boardgame with the rules being made up as and when. French rap duo Priorité à Gauche were dans la maison at the Brighton Komedia last night, with some French-English rapping, a fine bit of "débranché" guitar stuff, and miscellaneous poor-English conversation. Superbly performed comedy from Ben 'n' Arn (their nacton, not mine), the latter sniggering and insulting the audience while the former translated with embarrassment and diplomacy. The superb schoolboy-French Tricolor 3A is online as a Flash animation, with typically odd Andy Watt illustrations.
More or less everything by Kevan Davis.
As Above is part of the Uncertain Organisation.