Wednesday 30 May 2012

Breakfast of Champions

Or Goodbye Blue Monday
Kurt Vonnegut, 1973
(April 2012)

              So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.

Monday 28 May 2012

Britain's War Machine

David Edgerton, 2011
(April 2012)

The idiosyncrasies of the English education system mean that I’ve not been formally taught History since I was 14 years old. I’ve tried to make up for lost time since then, but I can’t recall that much from school. The Norman Invasion, The Spanish Armada, and The Somme were pretty much it. No WWII, though.

Friday 25 May 2012

Finger Lickin' Good

The daily commute. It’s a war-zone; a battle-ground where only the fittest survive and the weak, the aged, and the infirm are winnowed from the healthy core of society, dispassionately and mercilessly. You know this.

I assume that by now I don’t need to go to any great lengths describing the particular conditions for foreigners using public transport in Japan. The gaijin zone, the Empty Seat, the amazing invisible force-field we seem to generate, along with the opprobrium we attract for acts which would be disregarded if perpetrated by Japanese people.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Epistemologically Unsound Conclusions Concerning Japan and the Japanese, Based on Japanese Television

Number seven in a series of some

“Japanese people suffer from a uniquely severe form
of Stress Incontinence”

To ‘piss yourself laughing’ is a common enough expression. On occasion it’s literally true, a simultaneous loosening of the urethral sphincter and tightening of the abdominal muscles results in unfortunate humour-instigated excretion.

It’s even worse in Japan, as a regrettable genetic trait means laughter causes not just abdominal tightness, but the entire lower half of the body to contract. If the sufferer is sitting, this will propel them bodily out of their chair while simultaneously propelling other fluids out of those self-same bodies. Look at this. And this. Also this.

If something’s worth laughing at, it’s worth standing and pointing at as well. I’d hate to see their dry cleaning bills.

Monday 14 May 2012

Perseverance, or, The Impossibility of Perfection

On my more confident days I tell myself that these posts are all part of one congruous whole. Each one is a single shining facet of an individual diamond – the diamond of a unified world view, the most precious stone of all. 

More Art

On the other days I tell myself to stop spouting fanciful horseshit and overblown metaphors (‘unified diamond of my worldview’. Jesus wept) and accept the less lofty fact that these are merely individual steps on an endless imperfectable journey towards the unattainable goal of better understanding. Then I remind myself of the ‘fanciful horseshit’ thing again and just get on with it. Because it’s the journey, not the destination, y’know? No human endeavour is ever truly perfect, which means the manner in which you achieve imperfection is important. And that, apparently, is an oxymoron.

Friday 11 May 2012

A Storm of Swords

George R R Martin, 2000
(April 2012)

I started reading the Song of Ice and Fire books last year, in all the excitement surrounding the TV series. They’re very good, but catching up on all the published ones in a dash meant they fell prey to Box-set Syndrome a touch. More than that though, I actually started then stopped reading this book last August, before picking it up again recently (TV hype once more). The reason for that hiatus has less to do with reading them all at once and more to do with girls in bikinis and Kim Bauer.

You should be aware than in the course of explaining that, I’ll be pissing spoilers everywhere. Pissing them like a nervous toddler taking his first swimming lesson.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

That's Not Suitable

Being a parent is a wonderful, joyous thing. Sometimes. Other times it’s definitely not. And while there are massive emotional highs, the likes of which I’ve really never experienced before, it is perhaps not the most intellectually stimulating thing I’ve ever done. Recite ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ twenty times in as many minutes and your mind would start to wander as well.

Monday 7 May 2012

Hull Zero Three

(April 2012)

It’s been a while since I’ve read any straight-up hard sci-fi. Generation starships, bio-engineering, off-world colonists, it’s all here.

Friday 4 May 2012

Offensive Things - Number One

This is another occasional series in the annals of this is how she fight start. Part of my continuing mission: to impose some sort of coherent structure on my thoughts, to rationalize and focus the conversations in my head, to boldly yadda yadda split infinitive rousing finale.

Let’s start with a biggie, shall we?

1. Bottled Water

Water from Canadian glaciers = Import to Japan = Burn carbon
= More melting Canadian glaciers = Foolproof business plan