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And While London Burns: it's an opera about climate change. And an audio tour of London. And the most depressing guided walk in history. And (for all I know) a floor wax and a dessert topping. If you're in London, why not download it to your MP3 player and go for a walk? There are some emotionally powerful moments, though I could have done with a bit more story and a bit less preaching. One tiny thing: to completely follow the walk, you'll need to do it during working hours.

Or you could stay indoors where it's warm, and go to London: A Life in Maps, at the British Library. Described by Time Out, correctly, as "guaranteed to get a certain kind of Londoner quivering in anticipation". Plan to spend several hours in there, and to buy the book afterwards, and to go back a week or two later for another look. Top tip: they've hidden the free guide/brochures by the till, rather than putting them at the entrance to the exhibition -- it's worth getting one, because it folds out to an A1-sized reproduction of Newcourt's map from 1658. But you'll be buying the book anyway. Trust me.

On, and there's a new edition of Smoke. Because you can never know too much about London...
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Microsoft have sent me some certificates. Apparently I am now a Technical Specialist in, among other things, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2003. Now, I know nothing about the former, and the latter doesn't even exist, so I felt the need to complain. After an exchange of emails, corrected certificates are on their way. In the process, though, I've discovered a new Freudian slip: my mind insists on typing "Microsoft Cretification". Am I trying to tell myself something?

Meanwhile, this week's course was plagued by problems with the mouse behaviour in Virtual PC: the mouse pointer kept jumping round the screen at random. After a while, we tracked it down to the effect of the company's old shiny starburst-design mousemats on the new optical mice. And so I had to go and tell our facilities people that our mousemats were incompatible and needed replacing...
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Verity Stob has been channelling Dylan Thomas and Russell T Davies...
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[livejournal.com profile] olivepixel has been posting some fabulous photos from Tokyo over the last few days. Of course, I'm going to link to one of the least artistic photos he's posted; you can check out the rest for yourself. Anyway, CAMRA members on my flist should avert their eyes from this monstrosity.
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So, Ping has been clearing out. We now have a big pile of books and CDs to be got rid of, and most of them are in Chinese. The general desirability level is not high, at least if the English parts are anything to go by (Ace of Base? Roxette?). Your advice is sought. This would be a poll, if I knew how to do polls (they may be a paid-member-only feature, I suppose).

Anyhow, tell us what to do. We should:

1. bin the lot
2. give the English-language stuff to Oxfam and bin the rest
3. give it all to Oxfam and let them deal with it

Ping was going for 1; I've got us as far as 2. Anyone who can authoritatively push us to 3, please do. Alternatively, if you yourself want a carrier-bag full, just say the word...
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The US State Department would like you to know:

Reverend George Bush did write a book titled Life of Mohammed in 1830. Reverend Bush was NOT the grandfather or a direct ancestor of the current president.

Word searches find no instances of the words "insect, insects, rat, rats, or snake," although in one section Reverend Bush does compare Muslims to locusts...
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Popular Mechanics, 1950:


"Because everything in her home is waterproof, the housewife of 2000 can do her daily cleaning with a hose".

Heads up!

Aug. 30th, 2006 06:34 pm
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Space Soon: Art and Human Spaceflight takes place at the Camden Roundhouse in a couple of weeks' time.

There's quite a few intriguing events scheduled, though the two-day seminar, which is decidedly Not Cheap, looks to be the most interesting part... (Was the Apollo programme, its origins in Cold War posturing, ultimately the most successful art project in history? What do we really gain from human space exploration, culturally and scientifically? How do we design long-term space missions, such as the mooted trip to Mars, so that astronauts are able to have a humanising experience? In an unstable world, who should be the decision makers in the quest for space?).
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3-D Virtual London in Google Earth is coming soon. (Minimal information via a blog here.)

Wales!

Aug. 19th, 2006 07:03 pm
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...where men are men, sheep are sheep, and cyclists are baffled.

(You expected a post about our group holiday to Snowdonia? I'll put some pictures up on Flickr eventually...)
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Given my flist, I can't believe nobody has linked to this yet. Maybe I missed it...

World Wind

Jun. 1st, 2006 12:00 am
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I just noticed NASA's World Wind. It's like Google Earth for geeks -- animations and overlays for Earth at night, earthquakes, hurricanes, temperatures, pressures, all sorts of stuff. Plus it has maps for Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the Moon. Plus the Sloan Digital Sky Server, if you'd rather look at a celestial globe instead. Plus it's free...
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This weekend at the Tate Modern: a Thai market -- everything £1, apparently it's a critique of consumer culture -- and a puppet show based on the blobby shapes drawn by Joan Miró: .

Meanwhile, in Tower Hamlets, it's been a fortnight since the last party, so it must be time for another one. They may be the poorest borough in London, but they know how to have fun (I can't remember the last fun event arranged by the lemon-suckers on Islington council). So there's bands and exotic food stalls and beer and a village-fete-ish thing and a proper steam-powered fairground and a brilliant maze that I couldn't take photographs of because it's all in darkness but it was absolutely worth the hour's wait to get in, and well, gosh it was fun.

And on the walk home, I discovered the kitschest statue ever )
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So anyway, Ping and I are doing a wine course on Monday evenings. Today, the instructor mentioned that one of his colleagues is (when not running wine tastings) the voice of K9. Not only is he the voice of K9, but he also used to be the voice of Bungle.

Naturally, I didn't believe a word of it, but it seems to be true. That's right: K9 and Bungle were the same guy. Am I the only one who didn't know about this?

(Obligatory filthy YouTube / Rainbow link here.)
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Last week, elephants in Westminster. This week, tigers in Bethnal Green:

It's the Baishakhi Mela in Brick Lane: the largest Asian festival in Europe, now in its ninth year, with over a hundred thousand attendees last year. I'm reading all this from the booklet; it may happen only half an hour's walk from my flat, but I've never heard of it before. Anyway, happy Bengali New Year 1413!

Next week, giant clockwork penguins in Willesden. Probably.
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