Friday, 28 December 2007


I find it hard to feel the sense of tragedy and injustice at Benazir Bhutto's death that newsreaders and world leaders are asking us to feel. I feel sad for Pakistan, because this can only lead to more trouble. But Bhutto was a terrible leader of the country both times she was in power, presiding over corrupt and nepotistic governments, and I think that she was more likely to be a barrier to democracy than a spur; if a leader pays lip service to democracy while making billions out of fraudulent deals with companies in France, Switzerland and Poland and populating the judiciary with sympathetic judges, it only serves to give the whole concept a bad name. But bad habits die hard and our leaders still persist in supporting such people, as they did for years during the cold war and the decolonisation process: countless lunatic African leaders made a pretense at democracy, but they only served to make matters worse. You would think we would have learned by now.

The answer of course lies in the people of Pakistan as a whole. Do they want democracy or don't they? It's their choice, and we should treat them like the grownups that they are in letting them make it for themselves.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Festive Song

I'm offline for the next two weeks more or less, and any posts I make will be from my phone, so just the odd random thoughts that occur to me (not that different to the regular posts then).

So then, all I want to do today is share the following video with you, and in case I don't post before Christmas I hope that you have a great time with friends and family, and wish you a very Happy Christmas, however you celebrate it.

Be back soon.

Another Quote

No great insights today (as if there ever are!); just, on the subject of favourite quotes, I recently came across this one, from the former UN Secretary General, Dag Hammerskjold:

I don't know Who - or What - put the question. I don't even know when it was put. I don't remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone - or Something - and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.

I like that. It strikes me as an extremely elegant description of a 'calling'. I sometimes wish that I had a calling; but then again part of me also likes the idea that I can do whatever I want with my life. I suppose if I did have a calling, I wouldn't regret that loss of freedom - but I'll never really know. Anyway, like I said, no great insights!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Little Black Books

According to the Telegraph, and facebook are to unite in creating a 'Little Black Book' application, whereby users of the madly popular social networking site can search for dates. (I always suspected that the main motivation behind the social networking phenomenon is sex, and I feel that this confims my suspicions.) Apparently internet dating websites are terrified by facebook, because it threatens to be able to do what they do, better, and for free; this is their first move to fight back.

I'm in two minds about internet dating. My initial reaction is always to think, "Get a life." People managed perfectly well to get dates before the internet came along, and at least part of me sees the whole thing as yet another means by which we are coming to rely on technology far too much. I also worry that the whole thing is so deeply alienating and childish: I don't like the idea of being able to refine parameters and perform advanced searches for an 'ideal' partner - for me the whole point of dating is the element of surprise and adventure, and it kind of spoils things to be able to know all about a prospective partner from the get go (and even to be able to dismiss potential dates on the basis of their not meeting some pre-defined conditions when they might in fact be perfect for you). I suppose I see it as yet another example of how 'convenience' and technology just take so much of the fun and magic out of life. I also know that I would never have ended up engaged to Mamiko if I'd left it to internet dating. She's hardly the 'type' of woman I'd search for actively - our interests are completely different, she's four years older than me, and she's a total sadist. (Then again all women are, I suppose.) But we just happened to meet by chance and, hey presto, for some reason we're perfect for each other. By resorting to the internet, aren't people ruining their chances of that sort of meeting?

However, there is something churlish about criticising something that does apparently work for some people. Obviously internet dating has made some men and women really happy, so I shouldn't have such uncharitable thoughts. And I'm lucky enough never to have really been in a position where I've been desparate for a relationship but unable for whatever reason to get one - so who am I to judge?

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Why So Serious?

Life Goes On

Is it really 3 years since the Indian Ocean tsunami? I suppose it is. I mention it because at the moment the cricket world is discussing the test match currently being played between Sri Lanka and England at Galle, a city which was devastated during the disaster and where thousands of people died. This is the first time that the stadium has been used since that day in late 2004 - it has taken that long to make it serviceable again - and it almost didn't happen, because some in the cricketing fraternity thought the pitch might not hold up for the full five days. I'm happy to say that the England cricket team have acknowledged the importance of the event for the people of Galle by refusing to even entertain the notion of postponing or moving the game. This match isn't about winning or losing or even the quality of cricket; it's about bringing back normality to a place that sorely needs it.

It seems like an utterly banal point to make, when you think about it: life goes on. What isn't banal is that it shows an important characteristic of human beings (and indeed life itself) - the refusal to lay down and die, to be a victim. The show must go on. Three years on and ordinary Sri Lankans are still dealing with the aftermath of the tsunami, but they're getting there, slowly but surely. Here's to them. I hope Sri Lanka win the test.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Austrian Writer Says Something Wise

One of my favourite quotes is by Peter Handke, the Austrian writer, who once said: An advertisement tells me that life is beautiful - a personal insult.

I think that what he was getting at was that we shouldn't need advertisements to tell us that life is beautiful. We shouldn't, in fact, need advertisements to tell us anything other than that a certain product is available and it's good. But for some awful reason, advertisements (certainly in Britain, which for some reason I've never understood has the best and most artistic advertising in the world) have begun to take on a greater meaning than just "please buy this". These days the whole industry is about co-opting even the most fundamental emotions - parenthood, love, friendship - and using them to not only sell but also, horribly, to associate. The perfect example is Mastercard, whose advertisements have the brilliant, but terrifying once you think about it, tagline "There are some things in life that money can't buy: for everything else, there's Mastercard." Terrifying because the tagline usually comes at the end of a beautiful thirty-second film about parental love and affection for a child - and how sweet it is to be able to buy that love through fishing trips, new computers, and bigger toys than the other kids in class.

Anyway, I agree with Handke. Life is beautiful, at least most of the time, but to have that explained to me by an ad-man, who is really just hawking something no matter how artistically, is like a slap in the face to my very humanity.

This is part of the reason why I don't buy McDonald's food, and have been to a McDonald's restaurant maybe once in the last five years: it's because of that awful "I'm loving it" ad campaign, which sought to somehow associate hamburgers and fries with being in love, for Christ's sake. That's an even bigger personal insult than an ad man telling me that life is beautiful: an ad man telling me what it is to be in love, and by the way, isn't being in love rather like eating a hamburger with a side order of fries?

It's also the reason why I won't be buying a Playstation 3. (Well, apart from the reason that I can't afford it.) I mean, their latest ad campaign, in the name of all that's holy, has the hook: This is Living. This is Living! It's almost like a sick joke. I mean, I like playing computer games as much as the next man. But I've never once convinced myself that the hours I've spent doing it have been anything other than a grotesque waste of the short time available to me on this earth. And I don't think I'd be able to live with myself if I could convince myself of that. Yet here's Sony, telling me that, by buying a Playstation 3 and having a computer sprite under my control beat another computer sprite to death, I will be really living.

They must think we were born yesterday. What an insult. Now do you see what Handke was getting at?

Today's Thoughts

So what have I been thinking about today? (apart from the fact that I have got nothing in the way of work done, save for reading through my introductory thesis chapter and thinking about the unknotting number of knots)

Firstly, I'm quite amazed by Radio 1's decision to censor "Fairytale of New York", the famous Christmas song by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. I accept that there are a couple of lines with pretty insulting language in it - but surely, if it is insulting it was always insulting? Why, today, 2007, is it suddenly MORE insulting for a woman to call a man a "faggot" - or for a man to call a woman "an old slut on junk"? Twenty years have passed since the song was first released, and only now does Radio 1 think that it is offensive - but Radio 2 thinks that it doesn't need censoring! I really, really don't know what to make of this... Having had a look through some of the comments on the story I think this is the one that I liked the best:

"It is just an inspired song. The most intelligent and real of any Christmas pop song. Sad and romantic. Full of lost dreams and lost love. Without that line the Female voice is blameless unless you believe the man's words. With it you see that she too is to blame for the sad situation they are in."

Warren Ellis puts another thought out there on communicating ideas to people. There is such a great simplicity and elegance to it, I'm surprised that I've never seen mention of it anywhere else before. I know that at several points in the past noisms and I had talked about doing some kind of e-zine, but the "broadside" could well be used as a global one-sheet daily newspaper, something like that. Like Ellis says, the overheads are so low as to be almost non-existent. As simple but effective ideas go, it's a winner.

Empire has the new trailer for WALL-E, next year's joint best film (along with The Dark Knight), and it is just lovely. Everything that I have heard about WALL-E has made me want to go and see it, and this trailer is no exception. Funny, sweet, utterly beautiful animation and such a fantastic idea for a film - I hope that there is not a huge gap between the US and UK release dates as there seem to have been with so many Pixar films.

I finished reading A Short History of Nearly Everything on the bus this morning, and if you haven't read it I heartily recommend that you do. It just covers so much about science and the world, and the history of both - it's by no means a short book, but I'm amazed that Bill Bryson was able to get in as much as he did. It was exactly what I needed to read, as lately I've been thinking a lot about things like extinction and so on, and while it did make me sad for all of the creatures that we have destroyed I am now extremely hopeful for the continuation of life itself no matter how badly humans abuse the world around them.

Wow. That's quite maudlin. Umm.

On a positive note, I think I have found my next challenge, or rather a challenge of challenges: 101 things in 1001 days. The nature of the challenges I set myself are obviously undecided at the moment, as I only came across this today, but a sudden flash of inspiration gave me my start date - Tuesday April 22nd 2008 - 1001 days before my 30th birthday.

Any suggestions?

Monday, 17 December 2007

Unofficial Hiatus Over

I have no real idea why neither of us posted last week, it just sort of happened. Ho hum...

The undergrads have all broken up for Christmas. I think this will be a quiet sort of week. At least I'm hoping it will be! Played squash this morning (got thrashed) and am playing again tomorrow afternoon (which should be an interesting match, as for the first time I am playing against another beginner). Hoping to try and finish a chapter of my thesis by the end of the week, and put in some work on another one, but there always seem to be so many other things to do.

Not least of which is trying to figure out if I want to go into some kind of job after all this is done, or go off and travel for a bit...

Still, it's not all hard work and heartache: the first trailer for The Dark Knight came out today, and can be seen online here.

More tomorrow.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Scrabble Game #5 and more

slave, (vends, easy), waive, (tonnes, heirs), tarts, knolls, fibre, foxy, train, (ewe, te), jot, panic, hurled, (not, te)

vend, boon, heir, (em, gum), wing, burden, heap, hurl, (fe, ge), (caged, dog), yid, oar, (me, ma), pi, evict, ye, doge

Final Score:
zero_zero_one, 239
noisms, 210

It was a low scoring game last night, and though there were some interesting words that came up we both felt that the letters were being quite unkind. I think that we're both wondering whether or not "te" and "fe" really do class as two letter words, despite the fact that we have used them in a few games now. I keep meaning to find the list somewhere online for that, along with the allowed three letter words (of which there are 972 according to a funny little section in jPod - which is apparently being made into a TV series, not sure how I feel about that), but there always seem like so many things to do each day anyway...

I've felt a bit run down this week: as time has gone on I've just felt more and more tired, waking up each day just as tired as when I went to sleep the night before. Some friends have just suggested that I should try to get more sleep - but it's not like I've been purposefully trying to sleep less!

Over the last couple of days I've been thinking about starting to keep a regular diary again. I started keeping one on the day I started my Masters back in 2002, and kept it almost daily for a couple of years, filling nearly twenty A5 spiral bound books... One day I guess I just woke up and realised that I had been doing it less and less, and then just stopped completely. I don't know why, but that was just the way it was.

Anyway, over the last few days I've realised that I want to write or record my more personal thoughts in some way, in a way that a blog just doesn't seem right. For one thing, I want the anonymity for myself (and for others), but at the same time, just recently I've kind of liked the way that I'm regularly writing something that other people are reading; this has lead me to the idea of slightly fictionalising it, treating my diary as an exercise in creative writing (or even like a journal-webcomic). Keeping a diary was always a cathartic exercise, maybe this would be good for me.

All I need to do now is figure it all out. And maybe learn how to draw.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Desert Island Discs

My favourite radio show is without doubt desert island discs. (It's been on Radio 4 for about three hundred years, but it never gets old.) The premise is, of course, its genius: a 45 minute interview in which the interviewee has to choose eight songs or pieces of music to take with them to a desert island. It can't really fail, and having a sexy presenter right now is just the icing on the cake. Anyway, for no reason other than that I can, here are my current choices:

1. Promised Land by Bruce Springsteen. I love Bruce; I think he's one of the few genuinely honest performers around in that he's quite happy to go in and out of fashion and has no care for being thought of as 'cool'. This is him at his best - angsty, energetic, desperate, passionate, and optimistic, and it would be great to put on in the morning to get me up and ready to go.

2. Jupiter: The Bringer of Joy - Holst, from The Planets. Just because it does exactly that - brings joy. Even though the famous march has been reduced almost to cliche by endless reproduction, in its original context it's still enough to make the hairs stand up on my neck and make me want to stand up and say, "Yes! I'm glad I'm alive!"

3. Cherub Rock - The Smashing Pumpkins. Probably my favourite band, so it's hard to choose just one song by them. I think this is them at their best, and a sort of microcosm of their ouevre. Rocky, proggy, grungy, and you can hear all the elements of what made them the most musically accomplished outfit of their era - Billy Corgan's genius for composition, James Iha's crazy guitar, and Jimmy Chamberlain's brilliance on the drums: so brilliant he makes all other drummers seem like guys just hitting things with sticks.

4. The Rite of Spring - Stravinsky. I've written about this one before. I think it's at the absolute zenith of Western art - the very point at which beauty stopped being the ultimate purpose and it started to become fundamentally about navel-gazing, politics and grandstanding instead. This ballet was just on the right side of that divide.

5. The Hook - Steven Malkmus. Any song that begins with the line at age 19 I was kidnapped by Turkish pirates is a fair bet to be a success with me. I think Steven Malkmus is vastly under-rated. His music manages to be both funny and touching, and his lyrics would stand on their own just as poems. Ever since Pavement split up he's gone from strength to strength.

6. Superunknown - Soundgarden. This just reminds me of being a teenager. I used to listen to songs like this and think, yes, there is more to life than growing up, getting a job, living in suburban boredom, and growing old. Some people out there are trying to create something, and are passionate about it. Of course in this case partly they were being passionate about taking heroin. But mostly it was about good rock music.

7. Flamingo Sketches - Miles Davis. I couldn't overlook Miles Davis. What can you say about music like this? Nothing.

8. Slip Slidin' Away - Paul Simon. Just a great song about what it is to be alive, and I love the ambition of that aim. To try and say something with meaning, a sort of elegy for life.

Even looking back over the list I find myself thinking what an idiot I am. No Marvin Gaye? No Leonard Cohen? No Smiths? No Beatles? No Bob Dylan? No Supremes? No Temptations? No Ben Folds Five? Some of my absolute favourites are missing, dammit.

I could rewrite it all over again tomorrow, and every day for the rest of my life, probably.

Naughty Americans

British people really do love to have a good whinge about America. I was thinking about this today while listening to a radio debate between Shami Chakrabarti, leader of the pro-civil-liberties lobby group Liberty, and an American legal expert, over the question of rendition of suspects. Apparently in a recent case before the Supreme Court, it has been ruled that even if a criminal suspect has been brought to the US illegally from another country (i. e., outside the ordinary extradition procedures), then setting aside the question of the legality of the seizure or otherwise, they can be tried before a US court.

Needless to say, Chakrabarti was vigorously opposed to this decision. She used the hoary old liberal chestnut that, in a democratic society, the rule of law is vitally important and if compromised by the government for any reason in any small manner, then tyranny and dictatorship follow. Most of the people who phoned in afterwards agreed with her. They saw it as yet another example of America riding roughshod over freedom and liberty, bullying the rest of the world, and ignoring international law. (They also mostly completely misinterpreted the whole thing to mean, 'George Bush is now going to go around kidnapping whoever he likes and having them stand trial!' as you would expect.)

As is often the case, I always want to ask Chakrabarti-ist liberals what they would have liked the alternative to have been in a case like that of Eichmann, who as you probably know was kidnapped by Mossad agents in Buenos Aires in 1960 and taken to Israel to face trial. In that case, Israel technically violated a long-established customary rule of international law - that of State sovereignty - but very few people would argue that it wasn't justified. Eichmann was not the type of man the world could continue to allow to escape justice, and even if Israel should technically not have kidnapped him, the fact remained that he ought to have been tried - and would not if he had been allowed to remain in Argentina.

I would submit that 'the rule of law' is often bandied about by liberals as the cornerstone of society, but that the law is in the end only a means by which justice is served. In Eichmann's case justice demanded that a certain law be broken, and if on occasion the US judiciary is faced with the decision of whether or not to try a dangerous criminal based on a possible illegality in his or her seizure, I would applaud its decision to go ahead with a trial.

British readers will remember Ronny Biggs, a man involved in one of the most famous crimes in post-war Britain - The Great Train Robbery. Biggs was responsible for the theft of a huge amount of money and was at the very least an accomplice to murder, but because he managed to flee to Brazil he never faced the punishment that he should have. He lived free to a ripe old age. I call that madness - but what is madder still is that, if Ms. Chakrabarti had her way, if Biggs had somehow ended up back in the UK circa 1970 without being properly extradited, it would have been wrong to try him. That is liberty at the expense of common sense.

In any case, I sincerely doubt that any court in any country in the world would act in a different way to the US Supreme Court in this matter, so the rest of us can hardly point the finger at Washington. People do, though - because nothing beats a good Thursday lunchtime grip about evil old Uncle Sam.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Ghosts and Ghoulies

I had a conversation about ghosts with my sister the other night. She has this idea, you see, that she has a bit of a sixth sense; she's somehow more attuned to the supernatural than most.

I never know what to say about this topic, because I'm totally conflicted about it: it's the place where, for me, reason and experience collide. That is to say, I'm sure that there are rational explanations for just about every ghost sighting that there has ever been; tricks of the light, flaws of memory, hoaxes and hallucinations can do amazing things to people's credulity. The fact that most supernatural activity seems to happen at night without witnesses always stands it in bad stead. I know all that.

And yet, twice in my life I've been convinced that I've seen, if not ghosts, then things that can't be completely rationally accounted for.

The first time was when Mamiko had this old apartment in Tokyo, which I used to visit every Tuesday night because Wednesday was her only day off. It was a tiny place in a rickety old building, with a long street of dodgy bars, strip clubs and 'hostess' pubs outside, so I always had trouble sleeping in it until the day I started buying 99 yen ear plugs. One night I was lying in bed tossing and turning, listening to drunks singing outside and trying to chat up the hostesses, and sleep was coming even later than usual. It got to 2am, then 3am, then 4am, and every half an hour I'd get up and move about, sometimes trying to sleep on the sofa, sometimes getting a glass of milk, while listening to my girlfriend happily slumbering away. (Can there be any stranger feeling, by the way, than the mixture of emotions you get when you can't sleep but your SO can? Half of you is desparate not to make any movement at all lest it wake them up, but the other half of you is consumed with jealousy that they can be so contented while you're so miserable.)

Anyway, at about 4.30am I was lying on my side facing away from the door, when I felt a hand touch my shoulder. It lay there for a second, then seemed to grab and shake my upper arm. I vividly remember looking up and seeing a grey figure standing next to the bed, looking down at me and lowering its head as if peering into my face. I immediately lashed out with my arm and sat up, and felt a brief flash of coldness in my hand before the figure disappeared - not by vanishing but by dashing out of the room and into the kitchen.

I got up and went into the kitchen and there was nobody there. I then spent the rest of the night checking all the windows and the front door, and waiting for dawn.

The second time was when I had recently arrived in Japan, and was sort-of seeing a girl we'll call T. Together with her friends we went to a large cemetery in Aoyama, a posh part of central Tokyo, to drink under cherry blossom trees. (That isn't as weird as it sounds - Aoyama cemetery is one of the best places in Tokyo for cherry blossoms, and in spring the place fills up with drunken picknickers from noon till midnight.) We stayed there for most of the night, and at one stage T and I sneaked off to fool around a little. We found a place behind a large family grave, but we weren't there for longer than five seconds before we simultaneously noticed that there was something else there with us.

It was a green globe of light, about the size of a football, floating perhaps three metres off the ground above the grave. We watched it for ten minutes, moving this way and that, before T saw others in the distance over other graves, hovering in the moonlight. It was indescribably eerie.

Now, I know that both of these incidents are suspect. In the first, I hadn't slept well and might have been drinking the night before (I can't remember exactly) and that could well have caused my mind to play tricks on me. In the second, T and I were both drunk, it was at night, and there might even be some scientific explanation for what we saw - St Elmo's Fire or Will 'O the Wisps or some such.

I know all that. But still. I know what sleeplessness is, and what hallucinations it can cause, but that grey figure is still so vivid in my mind that it's hard to explain away as a brain fart. And we might have been drinking, but both T and I saw exactly the same things in Aoyama cemetery that night, and T even has some photos she took and which show we weren't hallucinating. So what was it?

As I said, I'm conflicted. My head tells me one thing, but I'm unsure whether to believe it. I suppose sometimes you just can't square experience with logic.

Scrabble and TV

Played two games of Scrabble with noisms last night whilst watching the amazing Monday night line up on BBC2. I might say more on that later, but first the games!

Game #3
jap, dig, kith, cub, via, vale, cubic, web, (sole, go), hex, reef, (four, no), zed, (don, do), (alp, pa), (ho, no), (do, tot)

parish, (jape, rouge), aide, area, aviary, (boss, go, japes), jib, meow, (tuna, am), feint, gift, hexed, minuet, trysts, qi, (news, as), (li, in)

Final score:
noisms, 262
zero_zero_one, 273

Woohoo! I managed to pick up a small lead about a third of the way through the game (playing 'boss' whilst allowing 'go' and 'japes' at the same time), and just held on to it all the way. Sadly, my Scrabble prowess did not last...

Game #4
fez, dewy, (yobs, sow), jet, lines, axle, (our, um, re), (omit, me), aide, lash, any, fie, (poof, to, if), pub, (gas, scart), oak, si

fever, yob, (jilted, ed), solved, melt, (cost, smelt), pie, cart, laden, nand, dirge, (crag, are, rum), tonne, bane, (ta, aura), (phi, gi), ow

Final score:
noisms, 273
zero_zero_one, 232

noisms had the lead for the whole game here, right from the first word. Sigh... Next time, noisms, next time!

I very rarely watch TV any more, there are a select few programmes that I always try to watch (usually just Heroes and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares), but yesterday we watched the Monday evening line up on BBC2, which is a mix of quiz shows like Mastermind and University Challenge, comedy and current affairs from Have I Got News For You, business and reality TV (kind of) in Dragon's Den and a wildlife show on the cane toad narrated by David Attenborough. Something for everyone really.

The highlight for me, and the programme that made us laugh more than any other, was Nigella Express, in which Nigella Lawson gives recipes and tips for hosting a party. It was absolutely outrageous. Nigella Lawson, for those not in the know, is a British woman who, after various careers in media, has settled on cookery programmes. What is most incredible about her shows is her presentation style: she blatantly flirts with the camera and quite literally everything she says has a coy, flirtatious undertone. It makes for pretty funny television, and while I'm sure her three million books have been sold to mostly women, I imagine that her show is watched by mostly men...

Monday, 3 December 2007

This Is The News

Bit of a scattershot post today; have just decided to down tools for the day, having written more than the three pages that I had told myself I had to do today. So far this goal-setting approach is reaping rewards: I'm hoping that by the end of the week I will have a first draft of my background material chapter for my thesis. I'll then compare it to the background material chapters of my supervisors last couple of students and make some changes from that I think. All of the results I'm quoting are necessary for what I'm doing, but perhaps there are better ways of doing it than how I am. Still, I want to put my own stamp on my thesis, and even in this introductory chapter I want to show my way of thinking as well as showing some cool results that others have obtained.

I have some news stories and other tidbits to give you today. The first is truly astonishing: apparently I inspired somebody (one of our commenters matt) to spend the month writing a haiku a day (click here and look in the journal box - you can't see any of the other journal entries unless you are a member of RvB)! I'm not sure that anyone has ever acknowledged me as an inspiration before, but let me tell you it's long overdue after all the cool things I've said and done over the years.

[/lack of humility]

Good luck matt, I'll be watching your progress with interest.

A news story that has caught my eye this afternoon has been about the memory of chimps. Apparently young chimpanzees have an astonishing photographic memory, better than university students apparently (although the article does not go into the details of the students' background or academic ability). The speeds with which the chimps in the study were grasping this information was truly astonishing:

"The shortest time duration, 210 milliseconds, did not leave enough time for the subjects to explore the screen by eye movement - something we do all the time when we read. This is evidence, the researchers believe, that young chimps have a photographic memory which allows them to memorise a complex scene or pattern at a glance. This is sometimes present in human children but declines with age, they say. 'Young chimpanzees have a better memory than human adults,' Dr Matsuzawa told BBC News." (my emphasis)

Ah, to be a chimp...

Another interesting news story (also from BBC News) was that of a dinosaur whose tissues had also been fossilised along with its skeleton. I got very excited when I read this, and instantly thought "Jurassic Park!" before I was brought back to reality with a bump. If I understand the article correctly, the tissues themselves hadn't been preserved but had turned to stone. This is all quite interesting, but still means that I won't be able to take my kids out riding on a hadrosaur...

Not much else in the way of news today. I finally started my Christmas shopping at the weekend. Quite a few international parcels to send, so need to try and get those sorted out this week. Hoping to write three pages for my thesis every day this week...

More soon.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Scrabble Game #2

teeny, grope, glute, sauce, hike, warm, denim, undo, jig, quiver, dozy, yon, mead, {vie, er}, {ore, er}

epoxy, target, head, car, ollied, panic, {win, gluten}, {scar, swarm}, {tax, te, an}, solar, trial, habit, beams, buffs, rite

Final score:
noisms, 291
zero_zero_one, 238

Once again, I am defeated by noisms... We were pretty even for the first half of the game. The turning point was the play of "quiver" followed by "dozy" that noisms made. "Quiver" had the "q" on a triple letter score, and "dozy" was on a double word score. I never really recovered after that... Sigh.