Thursday, September 27

While browsing various websites for new mobile phones, I came across this spectacular review of the Sony J5e phone. The translation is incredible, and they aren't even trying to be funny about it!

/ forum / 08:35 pm GMT

Read from cover to cover today: The Times broadsheet, The Times 2 supplement, Guardian 2 supplement, Guardian Online supplement, The Business (FT supplement) and The Times Higher Education Supplement*.

I have to admit that today was a bit of an extreme day but by and large if there are enough newspapers and supplements available, I'll read them all.

The reason I bring this up is because I was recently having a conversation with a perfectly intelligent and seemingly informed friend of mine who confessed that she didn't read any newspapers at all. I found this a little unusual and said so. Apparently lack of time was the deciding factor.

Generally I try to make time to read the newspapers. I'm sure I could get by without reading them, just as I could get by without watching the television or to a lesser extent using the Internet. However, that's not the point - we can get by without most things, but in most cases the reason we continue to do them is because we derive some kind of enjoyment or payoff for what we do.

Identifying that payoff from reading newspapers took a bit of thought for me. Most people will say, 'Well, what does Israel/the recession in Japan/the merger of AOL-Time Warner/the price of cheese have to do with me?" and then leave it at that. I'm not going to take the ultra-holistic argument here, but I will steal a quotation from an economist for my use here:

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back..."
Substitute 'economics' for 'seemingly irrelevant current affairs' and you might appreciate what I mean. What we read in newspapers does affect us and they can help us understand the present situation - and even sometimes directly or indirectly help us to make more informed decisions in the future that could improve the lives of ourselves or others.

But, okay, I've just stated the obvious.

The other major advantage of reading newspapers is that they provide an effectively limitless source of interesting stories. They're very entertaining, and quite cheap. Also, they provide a common point of reference for conversations with friends and allow you to exhibit your superior knowledge of current events in order to impress people - and who hasn't attempted to do that in the past?

*I didn't read the Guardian broadsheet as I thought that might have been pushing it a little.

/ forum / 01:12 pm GMT

Wednesday, September 26

I've had a couple of good days recently. First up was poker night a few days ago which went well; huge masses of popcorn, wine and beer were consumed and no-one seemed too bothered that we only managed to half-finish one game (there were eight of us, mind, and a lot of chips to start out with). The favourite well-worn jokes were dusted off for another night and the following exchange was heard at one point in the evening.

Someone: Adrian, are you shy?

Me: Nah, I'm just quiet.

[insert mocking laughter from all corners]

Someone: Okay, that's the third time we've heard that tonight, I thought the rule was that it only got to be said once per night.

Me: Yeah, but it's only the second time that I've said it, and anyway it's my house!

Other hijinks included the highly-reflective sunglasses which were supposed to hide a player's eyes but instead showed the reflected image of his cards to everyone else at the table.

Last night was pretty good as well; it started off on a bad note since we didn't manage to get dinner at the place we wanted, but the takeaway we got instead was good enough and we found an excellent late night ice-cream parlour nearby (opposite Safeways in West Kirby, in case you were wondering - not that any of you guys know where I'm talking about) which bears all the hallmarks of being a great chill-out zone for post-sporting events.

Then we were off to the pub quiz for more drinks and much raucous calling out of answers. For example, the quizmaster asked the pub in passing (not as part of the quiz) which act was the only one from Woodstock to play at Live Aid.

"Led Zeppelin!"
"Phil Collins!"

- "No, not Led Zeppelin or Phil Collins."

"The Stones!"
"The Who!"
"The Stones!"

- "Yep, it was The Who."

"The Stones! The Stoooonnnneeesss!"

And from that point onward, our table's response to any kind of question was equally irrelevant, e.g.,

- "What links Liverpool, Derby... [insert list of Prime Minister's names]?"

"No, the Stones!"

You can tell it was a good night...

/ forum / 12:39 pm GMT

Monday, September 24

I was idly perusing some DDR forums when I saw the song list for the next arcade version of Dance Dance Revolution, DDRMAX - and what a list it was. While most of the songs were unrecognisable generic pseudo-Eurobeat pop/dance songs, there were a few that stood far out.

In particular, Scatman (SKI-BA-BOP-BA-DOP-BOP) and a remix of Can't Take My Eyes Off You! I have no idea how they're going to manage the Andy Williams song, but I for one want to give it a try out.

Just finished watching Red Planet as well; not quite as bad as I'd been led to believe from reports from the Mars advocacy community, which like all tightly-knit communities is obsessed with the details. I'll limit my criticism of the film's dubious science to the terraforming expert who claimed that the bases of DNA were A, G, T and P, but let's face it, you're not watching Red Planet for the science so it's not that much of a big deal. I thought it was entertaining enough.

What I'm doing right now: reading The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker, thinking about what I should write about in the New Mars editorial and listening to Iggy Pop (The Passenger).

/ forum / 01:38 pm GMT

Sunday, September 23

I added a fair few photos to the gallery today. There are two new galleries for when I dressed up as a fruit for Volvic and when I went to Alton Towers a couple of months back (and also a couple of photos from my birthday).

I've also updated my May Ball gallery with a couple of new scanned photos.

/ forum / 05:07 pm GMT

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