Thursday, August 31, 2006

Teenage dreams shattered...

Everyone has at least one crush on a singer when they are a teenager. One of mine was Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles. I still get a shiver down my spine when I hear the bit in Walk like an Egyptian when she takes over the vocals.

So anyway, I recently got the new album by Susanna Hoffs (with Matthew Sweet) - Under the covers, Vol. 1. An album of 60s cover versions - and very good it is too. But there are some photos in the CD inlay, and I was shocked to discover that Susanna Hoffs has bad knees! I mean, really unattractive ones, not that she's unable to stand on them or anything.

There's a documentary about girl groups on the telly at the moment, and there's just been a clip of the Bangles performing Walk like an Egyptian in the late 80s, and she had bad knees then... how come I never noticed this at the time?

A teenage idol knocked off her pedestal. Sigh.

I still love her voice though.

The teleporter problem

I'm assuming you've seen Star Trek. How do you think the teleporters are supposed to work?

Science fiction writers and some scientists seem to think that there is no reason to assume that technology will advance to the point where some form of 'teleporter' will be possible. The theory goes that it will be possible for the receiver equipment at one end to completely analyse every particle of a body, including its state and its relation to every other particle in the body, convey this information to the (distant) transmitter, where an exact copy of the original object will be created while the original object will be disassembled into its component parts.

I have no problem with this theory, scientifically. It might just work someday. It will be great technology for transferring objects, but I wouldn't ever be brave enough to use it - even if it could be demonstrated to work perfectly. And here's why.

The thing is, if I was to use a teleporter, the machine would produce an exact replica of me at the transmitter end - a person with all my memories, my exact personality, my tastes and preferences, my beliefs - someone that, as far as the rest of the world would be concerned, would be exactly me. But it wouldn't be me as I would have been disolved at the receiver end. Although someone looking like me, with a conciousness idential to mine, would emerge from the transmitter, my conciousness would have been destroyed in the reciever.

What about you? Do you think that a teleporter could work, someday?

Friday, August 25, 2006

The best thing about the Edinburgh festival... simply watching the people on the high street. Not the ones performing, but the ones who are dressed in all sorts of ridiculous clothes, or silly T-shirts advertising shows, just milling about or walking with a purpose towards wherever the show they are in is happening.

I haven't made it to any shows at any of the festivals this year, but I do pass the high street every day, so get to soak up a little of the atmosphere.

The worst thing about the Edinburgh festival...

... is sitting in an overcrowded cafe, trying to get service from the overworked staff, while some over-loud, posh, pretentious woman at the next table is trying to sound intelligent by comparing the artistic merit of all the shows she has seen that day...

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Last year I read a lot of great reviews of the film 'Sideways'. The Word magazine even went as far as to say that it was the best film of 2005 in their end of year review. So I finally got around to watching it the other day.

Its not exactly gripping viewing is it? After about 50 minutes my wife got bored and gave up. I persevered until the end and would say that it was OK, but certainly no better than that.

Most of the reviews said things like it was full of wonderfully realised characters and perfectly observed character interations, etc. But it wasn't. We never scratch more than the surface of Jack, the second character. Why is he getting married? Why, after the week shown in the film, is he still getting married? All we know is that he's an actor and puts on an act for the whole film. The only time we see through that is when his world has come crashing down and he sobs that he has to get married to Christine - but why?

Also, why are these two men still friends? OK, so they were room-mates at college, but no real explanation is given for their continuing friendship.

All the wine stuff was interesting, but not interesting enough to lift the film up to the level I had been expecting.

Using my usual film ratings system, this film only scores 5/10.


Climate change...

I was reading an article about 'global warming' and 'climate change' earlier.

Why is climate change perceived as a bad thing?

The climate of this planet has always been changing. Look back into the geological records and ice samples etc. and you find that there have been periods much hotter than today and periods much colder than today. Sometimes the periods of hot or cold have lasted a long time, sometimes the switch from one to another (and back) has been very swift. Sometimes the changes have been brought about by events such as meteor strikes or volcanic activity, sometimes it has been due to the world's animals consuming too many of the trees, etc.

It is likely that any change will benefit some people and harm others. But that doesn't make change a bad thing - it possibly makes it only a neutral thing.

And by changing the way we (as a society) live and consume the planetary resources, we can only speed up or slow down the process of change, I don't think we can halt it altogether. So what's the point?

Why not just accept change and learn to adapt?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not ferry good

There are three negative aspects to having a holiday on the West coast of Scotland. The first is the weather - we can't do much about that, and last week it was only bad for one day. The second is the midges - and with the advent of midgeater machines, we can reduce the midge population in localised areas, so this is getting better. The third is the ferries - they are just horrible. I would rather spend time in purgatory than in the 'lounge' of a CalMac ferry! How is it that a ferry can journey across some of the cleanest water in the UK, through the cleanest air in the UK and still have the most foul, non-fresh air in its passenger lounges? Even on the calmest days I feel ill in the passenger lounge of a CalMac ferry.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I don't know much about art...

Its one of those old cliches isn't it: "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like..."

Well yesterday, on a business trip to London, my colleague Pedro and I found ourselves on the south bank of the Thames with a couple of hours to kill, so we went to the Tate Modern. Pedro really wanted to see the 'Kandinsky: The Path to Abstraction' exhibition.

I really don't know much about art, but I find wandering round art galleries to be a reasonably pleasant and relaxing passtime so, despite the entrance fee, I went to the exhibition too.

I'd never heard of Kandinsky before - I'm not very cultured, y'know - but apparently he was a famous painter of abstract paintings. The exhibition, as you might guess from the title, more or less followed the evolution of Kandinsy's art from his early 'naturalistic' paintings, which are mostly landscapes, through the various styles he experimented with whilst trying to be more abstract.

Obviously Kandinsky is most famous for his abstract stuff but, to be honest, I was far more impressed by his earlier stuff - the paintings that actually looked like things and places. Having said that, one of my favourite paintings in the exhibition was "Dipinto con punte" (1919), which is below. I don't know if it actually is a picture of lots of animals, but I see animals everywhere in it. And I like animals.

One of the things that turned me off much of the art in the exhibition was the amount of white, light pink and light grey that Kandinski seemed to use. I don't know why, but I am drawn to darker art and find too much white quite off-putting, anyone care to psyco-analyse that? Another of my favourites was "Moscow, Red Square" which is above.