Saturday, 11 October 2008

Yet again...

Yep, I've moved platforms again, sorry!

You can find me at now!

See you there!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The mess we're in

I’ve been trying to understand bits of the financial crisis, but I can’t say that getting the whole picture has been my latest strength. Here’s the Subprime Primer, which may help minds alike grasp a few more bits and pieces of what’s going on.

Thursday, 2 October 2008


This is a video from Pleix I really like. Check it out!

The Shard

The Shard is a project of Renzo Piano that will be a major addition to London's skyline. Once built, the Shard will be the tallest building in Europe. It has been designed to utilise solar power as a considerable source of power and will provide a public piazza underneath its base.

See this link for a grander view of London's panorama with the Shard.

The making of

The topic of unconscious or 'well, it's not gonna kill me, is it?' acquisition of hazardous substances through food has been around for a while. Most of us eat fertilizers and pesticides on our fruit and vegetables, pop a few genetically modified bits in-between and then just do hormones and antibiotics in the steak. To focus on meat, why are hormones and antibiotics used so widely in the production of meat, should we be careful about consuming them, and if so, how can we avoid them in our food?

As much as I don't want to get activist here, but I can't help posting this video from Pleix. It may not be new, but it's quite to the point...

Sex hormones are often used in animal diets because they are an easy way to increase the animals' production of muscles and fat without having to give them more feed. Although the amount of hormones acquired through meat consumption cannot be measured in an accurate manner, as by the end of the processing one cannot tell the difference between the animals' natural and artificial hormones, there is a lot to think about when it comes to having those extra amounts of hormones floating in our bodies. Oestrogen has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and to fertility problems in men. Progesterone has been shown to increase the development of ovarian, breast and uterine tumours in laboratory animals. And testosterone has been linked to prostate cancer in men. There have also been concerns about the acceleration of breast development among children in countries that allow hormone use in dairy production. Another concern is that hormones administered to animals could be passed with their feces and as a result have an effect on water and plants. Hormone use in meat production has been banned in the EU and does not allow imports of such meat into the area.

Like hormones, antibiotics make animals gain weight and therefore increase the meat industry's profits. They are commonly administered sub-therapeutically to increase the weight of the animals and also to preven the diseases that the conditions of factory farming can bring on. Some antibiotics administered to animals are also used to treat human illnesses. Long-term usage of such antibiotics can effectively make the bacteria within the animals immune to the antibiotics. If a person ingests such bacteria with the meat and gets ill, the bacteria will continue being antibiotic-resistant. Another larger-scale concern here is the arms race between bacteria and drug innovation that can lead to us having around diseases that we cannot treat appropriately. So far the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in meat has been banned in several countries in the EU and imports of such meat are not allowed into the UK.

The UK seems a fairly safe zone for both hormones and antibiotics in meat, but the US continues a much more robust use of these substances in their meat production. I guess the safest bet is to buying organic or going vegetarian.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The Sweater

This is a song by Meryn Cadell I caught on the radio while driving in the States about a year ago and I only now found the video online. Enjoy and follow!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Little Bo Peep

This is Phillip Roebuck, a real one-man-band...

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Tyrannosaurus Cash

I feel something should be done with the monetary system, and not just in the UK, but everywhere in the world where paying by card and doing Internet transactions is common place. Retailers and other commercial businesses should allow more freedom of use of bank cards and online payments. Fees for spending amounts smaller than £5 in shops and £10 in bars should be eliminated - this would allow more spending freedom for the consumers and eventually more profits for businesses. All this would increase the velocity of the circulation of money and who knows, maybe eventually even bring down the shopping prices.

The history of people fiddling with the idea of having cards as media of payment goes back to the early 1900s. The first credit cards as we know them were introduced in 1966 and since then they've become a favored form of payment for much of the population. The digital age is here in so many ways, so what's keeping a wide-spread standardization of payments from happening? Does it really cost so much to the retailers to carry out the card transactions? I paid a 50 pence extra charge on a £3 purchase for using my card yesterday, which makes the fee over 15% of the entire purchase. As far as the pure transaction costs for banks, they are supposed to be a relatively small fixed percentage of the purchase, so to me it seems like the fixed fees applied in bars and shops are there not just to cover the transaction costs, but also to discourage the use of cards. Why does this take place? The bank charges, exactly as they are, should be transferred to the consumers instead of influencing the policies of retailers. By the way, Sweden supposedly found a way to make this all work.

If one was to push this issue further, why not think of abolishing cash and introducing a strictly card-only system? This would allow more transparency of transactions and eliminate a lot of ways in which cash is misused, but now this is probably a too-extreme measure. What can I say, I can't wait for tomorrow.

Lykke Li

Here's Lykke Li, a young Swedish singer I was recently introduced to. Disregard the videos (I don't think they're that good) and get into the tunes...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Just for fun

Check out the Sartorialist, a blog published by a guy shooting random people with some taste in what they wear in the streets of NYC and other locations around the world. Fashion is nothing, style everything.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Bruno, My Love

We say it's hard to pick our favorite favorites when it comes to many things, be it friends, countries, or pieces of art. Despite the wealth of choice of literature available and the intense differences between many a writers, I have come to a place where I can not only appreciate, but truly adore a writer.

Bruno Schulz was a Polish Jew, born in 1892 is a small down of Drohobycz in Galicia. Apart from creating drawings and a few magnificent pieces of writing, his life mostly revolved around teaching drawing and handicraft in a small-town Polish school. He was a man of a feeble health and an almost incurable state of self-perceived inferiority and insecurity. His life was an endless conflict between providing financial support for his extended family and carving out moments of freedom in which he was most creative. His life ended in 1942, when he was shot dead by a Gestapo officer in a street of his home town.

Despite not being widely known on an international scale, Bruno Schulz is regarded as one of the greatest Polish-language stylists of the 20th century. The quotation below referring to Jacob, Bruno's father, could easily be pointed at the writer himself.

It is worth noting how, in contact with that unusual man, all things retreated, as it were, to the root of their being, rebuilt their phenomenon down to the metaphysical core — they returned to their primordial idea, only to betray it at that point and lurch into those dubious, daring and equivocal regions which I shall here succinctly call the Regions of the Great Heresy.

Descriptive to the point of transcending the nature of objects and states presented, Bruno Schulz's writings are characterised by a language of incredible depth and color. The simplicity of the prose's content is transformed, liquefied, and brought to its very essence in light of the language used to portray it.

But even further from the light there were cats. Their perfection was alarming. Locked up in the precision and meticulousness of their bodies, they knew neither deviation nor error. They sank for a moment into the depths of themselves, to the bottom of their being, then they froze in their soft fur and grew menacingly and ceremonially serious, while their eyes grew as round as moons, soaking up the view into their fiery craters. But a moment later, cast out to the edge, to their surface, they yawned in their nihility, disappointed and without illusions.

Due to his entrapment with teaching and poor health, and above all, lack of free time, the body of his most popular written work includes only two collections of short stories: The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. In 1975 a collection of Schulz's letters was published in Polish as The Book of Letters. Several works have been lost or burned, including some short stories from the early 1940s that the author had sent to be published in magazines, and his final unfinished novel The Messiah.

This works have inspired other creations such as the adaptation of The Street of Crocodiles by the Quay Brothers:

Bruno Schulz's writings and life have been described in more detail in a book by the Polish poet Jerzy Ficowski Regions of the Great Heresy. The texts of The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass are available here for free.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


From the Economist.

Friday, 29 August 2008

The Little Minx

These are two out of the six videos that can be found at The Little Minx Exquisite Corpse short film collection. Enjoy!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

A conversation with Himself

Tom Waits: a conversation with himself

From The Independent, Friday, 13 June 2008

Tom Waits: The director Jim Jarmusch once told me, "Fast, Cheap, and Good... pick two. If it's fast and cheap, it won't be good. If it's cheap and good, it won't be fast. If it's fast and good, it won't be cheap." Fast, cheap and good... pick two words to live by.

I must admit, before meeting Tom, I had heard so many rumours and so much gossip that I was afraid. Frankly, his gambling debts, his animal magnetism, coupled with his disregard for the feelings of others... His elaborate gun collection, his mad shopping-sprees, the face-lifts, the ski trips, the drug busts and the hundreds of rooms in his home.

The tax shelters, the public urination... I was nervous to meet the real man himself. Baggage and all. But I found him to be gentle, intelligent, open, bright, helpful, humorous, brave, audacious, loquacious, clean and reverent. A Boy Scout, really (and a giant of a man). Join me now for a rare glimpse into the heart of Tom Waits. Remove your shoes and no smoking, please...#

Q: What's the most curious record in your collection?

A: In the Seventies, a record company in LA issued a record called The Best of Marcel Marceau. It had 40 minutes of silence followed by applause and it sold really well. I like to put it on for company. It really bothers me, though, when people talk through it.

Q: What are some unusual things that have been left behind in a cloakroom?

A: Well, Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' cloakroom and was one-sixteenth Iroquois.

Q: You've always enjoyed the connection between fashion and history – talk to us about that.

A: OK, let's take the two-piece bathing suit, produced in 1947 by a French fashion designer. The sight of the first woman in the minimal two-piece was as explosive as the detonation of the atomic bomb by the US at Bikini island in the Marshall Islands, hence the naming of the bikini.

Q: List some artists who have shaped your creative life.

A: OK, here are a few that just come to me for now: Kerouac, Dylan, Bukowski, Rod Serling, Don Van Vliet, Cantinflas, James Brown, Harry Belafonte, Ma Rainey, Big Mama Thornton, Howlin' Wolf, Lead Belly, Lord Buckley, Mabel Mercer, Lee Marvin, Thelonius Monk, John Ford, Fellini, Weegee, Jagger, Richards, Willie Dixon, John McCormick, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson, Hoagy Carmichael, Enrico Caruso.

Q: List some songs that were beacons for you

A: Again, for now... but if you ask me tomorrow the list would change, of course. Gershwin's Second Prelude, "Pathétique" sonata, "El Paso", "You Really Got Me", "Soldier Boy", "Lean Back", "Night Train", "Come In My Kitchen", "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands", Rite of Spring, "Ode to Billy Joe", "Louie Louie", "Just a Fool", "Prisoner of Love", "Wang Dang Doodle (All Night Long)", "Ringo", "Ball and Chain", "Deportee", "Strange Fruit", "Sophisticated Lady", "Georgia On My Mind", "I Can't Stop Loving You", "Just Like a Woman", "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", "Who'll Stop the Rain?", "Moon River", "Autumn Leaves", "Danny Boy", "Dirty Ol' Town", "Waltzing Matilda", "Train Keeps a Rollin", "Boris the Spider", "You Really Got a Hold On Me", "Red Right Hand", "All Shook Up", "Cause Of It All", "Shenandoah", "China Pig", "Summertime", "Without a Song", "Auld Lang Syne", "It's a Man's Man's Man's World", "Crawlin' King Snake", "Nessun Dorma", "Bring It On Home to Me", "Hound Dog", "Hello Walls", "You Win Again", "Sunday Morning Coming Down", "Almost Blue", "Pump It Up", "Greensleeves", "Just Wanna See His Face" (The Rolling Stones), "Restless Farewell", "Fairytale of New York", "Bring Me a Little Water Sylvie", "Raglan Road", "96 Tears", "In Dreams" (Roy Orbison), "Substitute", "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues", theme from Rawhide, "Same Thing", "Walk Away Rene", "For What It's Worth", theme from Once Upon a Time In America, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", "Oh Holy Night", Mass in E Minor, "Harlem Shuffle", "Trouble Man", "Wade In the Water", "Empty Bed Blues", "Hava Nagila".

Q: What's heaven for you?

A: Me and my wife on Route 66 with a pot of coffee, a cheap guitar, pawnshop tape recorder in a Motel 6, and a car that runs good parked right by the door.

Q: What's hard for you?

A: Mostly I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane. Math is hard. Reading a map. Following orders. Carpentry. Electronics. Plumbing. Remembering things correctly. Straight lines. Sheet rock. Finding a safety pin. Patience with others. Ordering in Chinese. Stereo instructions in German.

Q: What's wrong with the world?

A: We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. Leona Helmsley's dog made $12m last year... and Dean McLaine, a farmer in Ohio, made $30,000. It's just a gigantic version of the madness that grows in every one of our brains. We are monkeys with money and guns.

Q: Favourite scenes in movies?

A: R De Niro in the ring in Raging Bull. Julie Christie's face in Heaven Can Wait when she said, "Would you like to get a cup of coffee?" James Dean in East of Eden telling the nurse to get out when his dad has had a stroke and he's sitting by his bed. Marlene Dietrich in Touch of Evil saying, "He was some kind of man." Scout saying, "Hey Mr Cunningham" in the scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. Nic Cage falling apart in the drug store in Matchstick Men... and eating a cockroach in Vampire's Kiss. The last scene in Chinatown.

Q: Can you describe a few other scenes from movies that have always stayed with you?

A: Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker explaining to the Puerto Rican all about gold. Brando in The Godfather dying in the tomatoes with scary orange teeth. Lee Marvin in Emperor of the North riding under the boxcar, Borgnine bouncing steel off his ass. Dennis Weaver at the motel, saying, "I am just the night man," holding on to a small tree in Touch of Evil. The hanging in The Ox-Bow Incident. The speech by Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner as he's dying. Anthony Quinn dancing on the beach in Zorba. Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick covered in feathers in the church as the ladies stick needles in the voodoo doll. When Mel Gibson's blue healer gets shot with an arrow in Mad Max 2: Road Warrior. When Rachel in The Exorcist says, "Could you help an old altar-boy, father?" The blind guy in the tavern in Treasure Island. Frankenstein's monster after he strangles the young girl by the river.

Q: Can you tell me an odd thing that happened in an odd place? Any thoughts?

A: A Japanese freighter had been torpedoed during the Second World War, and it's at the bottom of Tokyo harbour with a large hole in her hull. A team of engineers was called together to solve the problem of raising the wounded vessel to the surface. One of the engineers tackling this puzzle said he remembered seeing a Donald Duck cartoon when he was a boy where there was a boat at the bottom of the ocean with a hole in its hull, and they injected it with ping-pong balls and it floated up. The sceptical group laughed but one of the experts was willing to give it a try. Of course, where in the world would you find 20 million ping-pong balls but in Tokyo? It turned out to be the perfect solution. The balls were injected into the hull and it floated to the surface, the engineer was elated. Moral solutions to problems are always found at an entirely different level; also, believe in yourself in the face of impossible odds.

Q: The most interesting recording you own?

A: It's a mysteriously beautiful recording from, I am told, Robbie Robertson's label. It's of crickets. That's right, crickets. The first time I heard it, I swore that I was listening to the Vienna Boys' Choir, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It has a four-part harmony, it is a swaying choral panorama. Then a voice comes in on the tape and says, "What you are listening to is the sound of crickets. The only thing that has been manipulated is that they slowed down the tape." No effects have been added of any kind except that they changed the speed of the tape. The sound is so haunting. I played it for Charlie Musselwhite and he looked at me as if I pulled a leprechaun out of my pocket.

Q: You are fascinated with irony. What is irony?

A: Chevrolet were puzzled when they discovered that their sales for the Chevy Nova were off the charts everywhere but in Latin America. They finally realised that "no va" in Spanish translates to "no go". Not the best name for a car, anywhere... "no va".

Q: Do you have words to live by?

A: The director Jim Jarmusch once told me, "Fast, Cheap, and Good... pick two. If it's fast and cheap, it won't be good. If it's cheap and good, it won't be fast. If it's fast and good, it won't be cheap." Fast, cheap and good... pick two words to live by.

Q: What is written on Hemingway's gravestone?

A: "Pardon me for not getting up."

Q: How would you compare guitarists Marc Ribot and Smokey Hormel?

A: Octopus have eight tentacles and squid have 10 tentacles, each with hundreds of suction cups, and each have the power to burst a man's artery. They have small birdlike beaks used to inject venom into a victim. Some gigantic squid and octopus with one-hundred-foot tentacles have been reported. Squids have been known to pull down entire boats to feed on the disoriented sailors in the water. Many believe that unexplained, sunken deep-sea vessels, and entire boat disappearances, are the handiwork of giant squid.

Q: What have you learnt from parenthood?

A: "Never loan your car to anyone to whom you've given birth." – Erma Bombeck.

Q: Now Tom, for the grand prize... who said, "He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of"?

A: Mae West.

Q: Who said, "Half the people in America are just faking it"?

A: Robert Mitchum (who actually died in his sleep). I think he was being generous and kind when he said that.

Q: What remarkable things have you found in unexpected places?

A: 1. Real beauty: oil stains left by cars in a parking lot.
2. Shoeshine stands in Brazil that looked like thrones made of scrap wood.
3. False teeth in pawnshop windows: Reno, Nevada.
4. Great acoustics: in jail.
5. Best food: airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
6. Most gift shops: Fatima, Portugal.
8. Most unlikely location for a Chicano crowd: a Morrissey concert.
9. Most poverty: Washington, DC.
10. A homeless man with a beautiful operatic voice singing the word "bacteria" in an empty dumpster in Chinatown.
11. A Chinese man with a Texan accent in Scotland.
12. Best night's sleep: in a dry riverbed in Arizona.
13. Most people who wear red pants: St Louis.
14. Most beautiful horses: NYC.
15. A judge in Baltimore MD1890 presided over a trial where a man who was accused of murder and was guilty, and convicted by a jury of his peers... and was let go, when the judge said to him at the end of the trial, "You are guilty, sir... but I cannot put in jail an innocent man." You see, the murderer was a Siamese twin.
16. Largest penis (in proportion to its body): the barnacle.

Q: Tom, you love words and their origins. For $2,000... what is the origin of the word "bedlam"?

A: It's a contraction of the word "Bethlehem". It comes from the hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem in London. The hospital began admitting mental patients in the late 14th century. In the 16th century, it became a lunatic asylum. The word "bedlam" came to be used for any madhouse – and by extension for any scene of noisy confusion.

Q: What is up with your ears?

A: I have an audio stigmatism whereby I hear things wrong – I have audio illusions. I guess now they say ADD. I have a scrambler in my brain and it takes what is said and turns it into pig Latin and feeds it back to me.

Q: Most thrilling musical experience?

A: My most thrilling musical experience was in Times Square, over 30 years ago. There was a rehearsal hall around the Brill Building where all the rooms were divided into tiny spaces with just enough room to open the door. Inside was a spinet piano – cigarette burns, missing keys, old paint and no pedals. You go in and close the door, and it's so loud from other rehearsals you can't really work – so you stop and listen and the goulash of music was thrilling. Scales on a clarinet, tango, light opera, sour string quartet, voice lessons, someone belting out "Everything's Coming Up Roses", garage bands, and piano lessons. The floor was pulsing, the walls were thin. As if 10 radios were on at the same time, in the same room. It was a train station of music with all the sounds milling around... for me it was heavenly.

Q: What would you have liked to see but were born too late for?

A: Vaudeville. So much mashing of cultures and bizarre hybrids. Delta blues guitarists and Hawaiian artists thrown together, resulting in the adoption of the slide guitar as a language we all take for granted as African-American. But it was a cross-pollination, like most culture. Like all cultures. George Burns was a vaudeville performer I particularly loved. Dry and unflappable, curious and funny – no matter what he said. He could dance too. He said, "Too bad the only people that know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair."

Q: What is a gentleman?

A: A man who can play the accordion, but doesn't.

Q: Favourite Bucky Fuller quote?

A: "Fire is the sun unwinding itself from the wood."

Q: What do you wonder about?

A: 1. Do bullets know whom they are intended for?
2. Is there a plug in the bottom of the ocean?
3. What do jockeys say to their horses?
4. How does a newspaper feel about winding up papier-mâché?
5. How does it feel to be a tree by a freeway?
6. Sometimes a violin sounds like a Siamese cat; the first violin strings were made from catgut – any connection?
7. When is the world going to rear up and scrape us off its back?
8. Will we humans eventually intermarry with robots?
9. Is a diamond just a piece of coal with patience?
10. Did Ella Fitzgerald really break that wine glass with her voice?

Q: What are some sounds you like?

A: 1. An asymmetrical airline carousel created a high-pitched haunted voice brought on by the friction of rubbing and it sounded like a big wet finger circling the rim of a gigantic wine-glass.
2. Street-corner evangelists.
3. Pile-drivers in Manhattan.
4. My wife's singing voice.
5. Horses coming/trains coming.
6. Children when school's out.
7. Hungry crows.
8. Orchestra tuning up.
9. Saloon pianos in old westerns.
10. Roller-coaster.
11. Headlights hit by a shotgun.
12. Ice melting.
13. Printing presses.
14. Ball game on a transistor radio.
15. Piano lessons coming from an apartment window.
16. Old cash registers – ka-ching!
17. Muscle cars.
18. Tap-dancers.19. Soccer crowds in Argentina.
20. Beatboxing.
21. Foghorns.
22. A busy restaurant kitchen.
23. Newsrooms in old movies.
24. Elephants stampeding.
25. Bacon frying.
26. Marching bands.
27. Clarinet lessons.
28. Victrola.
29. A fight bell.
30. Chinese arguments.
31. Pinball machines.
32. Children's orchestras.
33. Trolley bell.
34. Firecrackers.
35. A Zippo lighter.
36. Calliopes.
37. Bass steel drums.
38. Tractors.
39. Stroh violin.
40. Muted trumpet.
41. Tobacco auctioneers.
42. Musical saw.
43. Theremin.
44. Pigeons.
45. Seagulls.
46. Owls.
47. Mockingbirds.
48. Doves. The world's making music all the time.

Q: What's scary to you?

A: 1. A dead man in the back seat of a car with a fly crawling on his eyeball.
2. Turbulence on any airline.
3. Sirens and searchlights combined.
4. Gunfire at night in bad neighbourhoods.
5. Car motor turning over but not starting, it's getting dark and starting to rain.
6. Jail door closing.
7. Going around a sharp curve on the Pacific Coast Highway and the driver of your car has had a heart attack and died, and you're in the back seat.
8. You are delivering mail and you are confronted with a Dobermann with rabies growling low and showing teeth... you have no dog bones and he wants to bite your ass off.
9. In a movie... which wire do you cut to stop the time bomb, the green or the blue?
10. McCain will win.
11. Germans with sub-machine guns.
12. Officers, in offices, being official.
13. You fell through the ice in the creek and it carried you downstream, and now as you surface you realise there's a roof of ice.

Q: Tell me about working with Terry Gilliam.

A: I am the Devil in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – not a devil, the Devil. I don't know why he thought of me. I was raised in the church. Gilliam and I met on The Fisher King. He is a giant among men and I am in awe of his films. Munchausen I've seen a hundred times. Brazil is a crowning achievement. The Brothers Grimm was my favourite film last year. I had most of my scenes with Christopher Plummer (he's Doctor Parnassus). Plummer is one of the greatest actors on earth! Mostly I watch and learn. He's a real movie star and a gentleman. Gilliam is an impresario, captain, magician, a dictator (a nice one), a genius, and a man you'd want in the boat with you at the end of the world.

Q: Give me some fresh song titles you two are working on.

A: "Ghetto Buddha", "Waiting For My Good Luck To Come", "I'll Be an Oak Tree Some Day", "In the Cage", "Hell Broke Loose", "Spin the Bottle", "High and Lonesome".

Q: You're going on the road soon, right?

A: We're going to PEHDTSCKJMBA (Phoenix, El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Tulsa, St Louis, Columbus, Knoxville, Jacksonville, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta). I have a stellar band: Larry Taylor (upright bass), Patrick Warren (keyboards), Omar Torrez (guitars), Vincent Henry (woodwinds) and Casey Waits (drums and percussion). They play with racecar precision and they are all true conjurers. I'm doing songs with them I've never attempted outside the studio. They are all multi-instrumentalists and they polka like real men. We are the Borman Six and as Putney says, "The Borman Six have got to have soul."

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Chocolate Jesus

For those of you who may 'have trouble getting up on Sunday morning and going to church'...

Monday, 11 August 2008

Beauty and The Beast

The topic for this post arrived into my head when I was people-watching the French on a beach a couple of weeks ago. I could see the perfect bodies, but then also the imperfections of the behaviour. Why has evolution not equalized and unified the physical beauty in human beings with their intellectual capabilities? After all, beauty is a sign of health and fitness and hence of good genetic predispositions while intelligence could be rated as one of the most important survival qualities. If evolution is preoccupied with the enhancement of the human race for the sake of the survival of the fittest, then shouldn't beauty and IQ not go hand in hand as we breed? In looking for a partner we obviously seek physical attractiveness, but also don't want to spend too much time around people who will make us fall asleep at dinner, so how has this not worked itself out over the millennia?

Life is usually easier for the beautiful ones, so there is less incentive to succeed through self-development and hard work. For the less beautiful ones, on the other hand, developing intelligence and gaining knowledge is often the only route to score in life both on a professional and a personal level. Hmm, will the world be full of supreme humans in a few centuries provided we don't destroy the earth beforehand?

Sunday, 29 June 2008

A dog's life

Upon hearing about FlexPetz, I thought that it was my long-lived dream of having a dog in London finally coming true. So I thought, until I actually visited the site of the company moving to London from the States and supplying this rent-a-dog service to the busy, mobile, or the purely lazy urban dog lovers. I never thought that the shared ownership would be doable, simply because I think it requires a set of conditions that makes it convenient for the owners and not upsetting to the animal. I would guess that something along the lines a close friend or family member who lives in the same street would potentially do, but a company-facilitated dog rental? I think that the business has a potential of making some people happy, but is it really the right way to go about dog sharing? The other side of this is the money: not only does FlexPetz charge a monthly fee of 100 GBP, but on top of that requires a mandatory fee of at least 180 GBP a month for the minimum of 4 days a month it assumes you'll spend with the dog. Some of the funds FlexPetz generates do go to caring for the dogs, but ekhem, has sharing anything ever been more expensive than full ownership?

So how will the dogs feel about all this? FlexPetz claims that a dog will have a maximum of 2-3 owners at one time, but how many owner will that amount to over the dogs entire life? What are the 'permanent' homes that they go to once too old and sick? In principle, they aren't all about money and convenience - all the dogs are rescued, but doesn't FlexPetz really leave them to a fate similar to the one they seek to leave, a semi-permanent life of seeking the one owner that will not get rid of them once they're inconvenient? Maybe shared dog ownership is a good idea, but one that just isn't workable on a business scale?

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


This is an animation from Run Wrake that I recently fell in love with at Short and Sweet. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Sacred monsters

Last night I could feel only two things: clear happiness and a the strange pride of being human. The potential of the human mind and body suddenly dawned on me again as I watched Sylvie Guillem and Akham Khan unwind on stage at Sadler's Wells. 'Sacred Monsters' is possibly the most appropriate title for this piece. With its minimalist scenography, stunning musical accompaniment, and the dancers' elegance, 'Sacred Monsters' was one of the most exceptional pieces of contemporary dance I have ever seen. Despite being very casual, the performance echoed everything contemporary dance should be about: beauty, athletics, and above all, the expression of the human soul and creativity.

Sylvie's fleeting innocence and striking technique contrasted and complemented Akhan's strenght and sophistication in their common struggle between conforming to traditional forms of dance and the journey into the contemporary expressive dance form. The dancing varied from aggression and internal conflict to surprising humour and tenderness. The weight of Akham's choices and Sylvie's worries of futility in dance were perfectly balanced with sparks of humour and the striking ease between the dancers. Beautiful, inspiring, or as Sylvie pointed out, simply 'merveilleuse'.

Friday, 30 May 2008

In sickness

Horrors have long been an element of the film industry and despite being able to appreciate the old classics, I cannot quite comprehend why people give so much attention and spend so much money to see all the modern trash horrors that are being produced. There almost seems to have emerged a whole new genre of horror cinematography, which produces horrors with not just the classical thrill, but also with sickly sex and unentertaining violence. The bad acting and predictable plots draw even more questions about this genre's popularity, but maybe this is a sphere in which we just don't seek high-brow stimuli? Could it be that in our uber-comfortable castle lives drive us to seek out more basic experiences and emotions that we can no longer find much of in our modern lives? Horrors, both old and modern thrive on one of our most basic emotions like fear and disgust.

In principle, I have nothing but a pause of 'wonder' for these films - after all we should all be able to watch whatever we want so long as no one gets hurt on the way. What does disturb me though is the common perception that it is perfectly okay to play trailers for these films. I realise that this is fiction and yet another genre of cinema, but I am time and again disturbed by sitting squased between film viewers chewing on their popcorn and having really unpleasant images thrown in my face.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Bending spaces

I have recently come across a wave of artists who have created something of an art form that is a fusion between illusion, graffiti, and architecture. Georges Rousse, Felice Varini, and Julian Beever are some of the most prominent illusionists in the sphere of anamorphic art. They create illusions of objects by painting in interiors, on streets, and pavements. The illusions are visible only from specific angles and disappear if they are distorted.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Cat with Hands

I do apologise for not having much real written content lately, but my final year deadlines are catching up with me! Perhaps at the end of it all I'll finally be an educated woman!

Here's a piece from the lastest Short&Sweet:

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

What brand are you, love?

People watching can be good fun, but recently I find the brand parade in London a little obscene. I keep seeing the boys and the girls, the hot mums, the Shoreditch kids, and naturally the Posh-wannabes, all wearing sunglasses possibly worth more than their outfits. Being at the Borough Market every week, I keep seeing more and more frames, both shades and the classic variety, with big thick brand initials on the sides. Is this a bit off as far as style exhibition is concerned or am I the only non-shades-extravaganza follower in town?

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Just another day in London

Sunday, 30 March 2008


I can't say I'm the greatest fashion follower, but I'm still capable of love when it comes to clothes. I have my parameters and usually follow them, but sometimes it's just like springtime love - you see it, you take it. So far the only designer that has kept me on board of loving followers is Nanushka, a young fashion designer whose work I discovered when I lived in Budapest.

Nanushka's style combines elements of the modern urban edge, comfort, playfulness, and the simplicity some of the current fashion trends beg for. Nanushka herself is a young beautiful woman who came out of the London College of Fashion and started her own line of clothing design in Budapest. She now supplies her creations to shops in Madrid, London, Tokyo, and some cities in the US. Take caution, you may fall in love.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Wildly beautiful

My first taste of Joanna Newsom was her 'Book of Right-on', which proved impossible to get out of my head for days. Recently I also bought her album 'Ys', which just blew me away with its beauty. Joanna Newsom's music is an incredible piece of instrumental and vocal originality. Her use of orchestral background and her chilling voice will make your day fall into slow motion. The lyrics are intricate, romantic, and longing for much of what we wish for in the cracks of our modern lives.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Micro credit

Micro credit is a form of facilitation of small loans to individuals in the developing world, who are otherwise considered not bankable and as such unable to obtain any loans in their own countries. I was first struck by the deep contrast of human existence and owning capabilities between Africa and the Western world when I read 'The Shadow of the Sun' by Ryszard Kapuscinski. It seemed utterly inconceivable that a family's income could depend on a single pot, in which they would cook a dish and sell it to the fellow villagers for a small sum of money. The book inspired me to strive to understand more aspects of poverty and inequality both in Africa and worldwide.

Micro credit focuses on supporting forms of micro entrepreneurship and employment generation for mostly community based initiatives. The project started in Bangladesh, where it has enabled impoverished people to engage in self-employment projects that allow them to generate income, begin to build wealth, and at times exit poverty. It's strange to think that so much can depend on so little.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Your feelings?

Wefeelfine is sort of an emotional search engine. The site was launched in August 2005 and is a continuously expanding statistic of human emotion around the globe. Its system searches the web for blog posts and fishes out the words associated with the phrases 'I feel' and 'I am feeling.' The statistics are browsable through 6 different categories: the feeling (such as happy, guilty, alone; they have around 5000 of them indexed), gender, age, weather, location, and date. The interface of this webpage is a constantly self-re-organising system of particles, where each particles represents an individual and his or her feeling. I have to say, it looks really nice and is fun to fiddle with. The database expands by about 20 000 new feeling per day and thus creates a pool of information that allows everyone to investigate human perceptions around the globe. You try to find answers to questions about which locations are most depressing, how weather affects us all, and such. So how do you feel today?

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Short & Sweet

I feel a little guilty writing this, as already too many people know about Short & Sweet, but I feel that spreading the vibe will only increase the general happiness. Short & Sweet is the only weekly short film screening club in London. They promote new talents, but also present work of the major directors, both in animation and live action. I attend their shows every week and find inspiring work shown time and again. S & S is managed by Julia Stephenson, an ultra-energetic Australian chick, whose high pitch makes the whole thing click and sway.

Short & Sweet was selected to screen the short films nominated for BAFTA this year. I got to attend one of the two sessions and saw some very interesting work. The video above is regrettably only a fragment of 'The Crumblegiant' by John McCloskey. The video below is 'The Pearce Sisters' by Luis Cook, a strange and vaguely disturbing story of two lonely sisters living by the coast. Other than the BAFTA awards, yesterday at Short & Sweet I saw Signe Bauman's 'Teat Bit of Sex', which was commissioned for European television, but is still considered too explicit to be shown on iTunes or Netflix. I find it somewhat amusing that sexual content in animation is considered too explicit considering all the sicko violent movies out there...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Biting the bullet

Can we approach the most troubling issues of the world without a coordinated political and economical initiative? Bjorn Lomborg drew public attention to reaching a consensus on resolving the world's most troubling issues. According to the Copenhagen Consensus we should first enhance HIV prevention, fight the malnutrition occurring in the 3rd world, establish a better organised free trade worldwide, and help African countries stop malaria. Global warming was the last thing on the list of things we should strive to resolve right now, as it would require most investment to produce relatively little effect.

The talk drew my attention to the immense problems we have to face, but also to the immeasurable trivialities we seem to get caught up in while positioning ourselves politically and ideologically. How far should our perspectives reach? I'm not setting out to convince anyone that the global warming consequences or blood sheds should be left alone, but I feel that there is much more beyond to resolve and explore both in fields of technology and medical research. The human mind has evolved to understand distances we can travel and time stretches we can perceive within our lifetimes, but with our current understanding of history, space, and biology, we should strive to push ourselves and our perspectives a little further.

The agricultural history dates back roughly 2000 years and we've been developing the industrial side of our existence for only about 300. At times I feel that humanity is squabbling with itself rather than focusing on what's ahead. The European politics, with yes, some important issues, but overall with an immense amount of human potential simply flushed down the drain to short-term and short-sight visions and solutions. How come is so much of the world still so far behind compared to its current capabilities? Going back to economics, it would take $40-70 bln a year to resolve most of the disease/malnutrition quagmire by 2015. I really do not mean to bash, but the $100 bln the US is pouring into Iraq seems a little out of place right now.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The lightbulb quagmire

I always wondered why people write blogs about their personal lives, but at this point in my life I have to do the same. My relationship with the lightbulb industry is escalating into a never-ending game of bait and trick. Perhaps for most people it's all very 'duh', but I find lightbulbs to be one of the most complicated things to purchase these days. Are lightbulbs not the only element of the household you have to buy with a reference code in your head? I recently got a desk lamp for my room and managed to buy 5 lightbulbs of the wrong kind. Once I did buy the correct one, it was of course already broken when coming out of the box. Why are there three different ways to insert them, different widths, not to mention the shapes and shades they come in? Do we need a lightbulb revolution?

Wednesday, 27 February 2008


Yesterday I heard a fascinating talk on Ted. The speaker was Janine Benyus and her topic was biomimicry. The topic relates to finding solutions in engineering areas that both improve our current systems and are naturally in tune with the environment.

With all the fun linguistics is, I've always wished I'd taken more hard sciences in the good old days. One of my favorite sources that let me tap into the fresh information in this area and is Twis. They are the ones who get me up to date on the quirks and news of medical studies and technology and manage to do it with both wit and language comprehensible to my sad lay ear. Do check these guys out. If this isn't enough to send you there, they're also the people who started the Unicorn Museum and work to spread the word about the Brights.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

There Will Be Blood

I just saw the movie and am thoroughly impressed, most of all with its music. For the first 15 minutes of the movie there is very little if not nothing said - the music drives you into the drama with its somewhat disturbing density and elevates the already high tension of the plot. The score is a very interesting contrast with the scenery of the arid landscapes of California, where one would perhaps expect a different genre of background music altogether. Yes, in this case the music can hardly be called 'background'. The composer of the score is Jonny Greeenwood, the acclaimed guitarist of Radiohead. The band is a genre in itself, but to know that this guy can also create such a dramatic mixture of avantgarde and classical elements is a sign of an emerging composer who could stand among the greatest. 'There will be blood' has received 8 Academy Awards nominations, a BAFTA award for best actor as well as a Golden Globe best actor award for Daniel Day-Lewis' part.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Another catch today

God (and Gadgets) of the Lonely?

I stumbled upon this blog today - praise the word!

by Chris

I've been hanging out with fellow atheists for a while now, and one of the more common discussions I've had when the topic of religion comes up is, why are people religious? The two most common answers I've heard from atheist friends and acquaintances are that religion is a fantasy designed to explain the mysterious and otherwise unexplainable, and that religion is a fantasy designed to make people feel less alone in the universe. As those of you who've been reading Mixing Memory for a while may have noticed, these discussions have led me to be somewhat obsessed with understanding the psychological origins of religion. While the final answer to why people are religious is a long, long way off, I can say with some confidence that the first of the two answers above is almost certainly wrong. People's religious impulses stem from much more mundane sources than the mysteriousness of the world around us. That's not to say that religion can't serve to help explain the otherwise inexplicable, or that this isn't an important purpose of religion, but it doesn't seem to be one of the fundamental or original purposes of it. Instead, it seems that religion's social functions are actually more foundational. This leads to the second answer above -- the one that says religion is around to make us feel less lonely -- seeming plausible. Most of the research on the social aspects of religion to date, however, has been on its function in communities. A paper in this month's issue of Psychological Science, however, takes a more direct look at the role of loneliness in religion.

The paper, by Epley et al.(1), starts with the hypothesis that people may use religious thinking and other examples of perceived agency (e.g., in pets or gadgets) to reduce their feelings of loneliness. Epley et al. note that, for example, that people outside of committed relationships are more likely to have personal relationships with god, that "insecure and anxious attachments to others" are associated with stronger religious beliefs, and that the death of loved ones can increase the strength of religious beliefs. That religion serves a loneliness-reducing function seems a reasonable hypothesis, then.

In their first study testing this hypothesis, Epley et al. gave participants descriptions of four "technological gadgets," and then asked them to rate the gadgets on five anthropomorphic dimensions (whether the gadget "had 'a mind of its own,' had 'intentions,' had 'free will,' had 'consciousness,' and 'experienced emotions,' p. 115) and three non-anthropomorphic dimensions ("attractive, efficient, and strong"). Then participants then completed a loneliness scale with questions like, "How often do you feel isolated from others?"

The prediction of the loneliness hypothesis is, of course, that people who score higher on the loneliness scale will give higher anthropomorphic ratings to the gadgets than lower scorers on the scale, but that the non-anthropomorphic ratings will not be influenced by high or low loneliness. And that's what they found: the correlation between anthropomorphic ratings and loneliness was quite high (r = .53), while the correlation between loneliness and non-anthropomorphic ratings was non-significant (r = .25).

This suggests that loneliness may prime agency detection, and since our hair-triggered agency-detection mechanism is thought to underlie much of religious cognition (as I've discussed before), it further suggests that loneliness may also prime religious thoughts. So, Epley et al. conducted a second study in which they first gave participants a long personality questionnaire, and then gave them predictions about their lives that they were told were based on their personality scores. Some of the participants were told things like, "You're the type who will end up alone later in life," which should induce feelings of loneliness or desire for social connections, while other participants received statements like, "You're the type of person who has rewarding relationships throughout your life" (p. 116), which should make them feel more socially connected. After reading the predictions, participants were asked to rate how much they believed in supernatural agents like ghosts, God, the devil, etc., as well as in supernatural events like miracles and curses.

Consistent with the loneliness hypothesis, participants who'd been given the loneliness-inducing predictions gave higher belief ratings to the various supernatural agents and events (mean of 4.35) than those who'd been given the socially connected predictions (3.71). Thus, the second study provides initial evidence that loneliness and religious belief may be connected.

Finally, in order to rule out a potential alternative explanation of the results of the first two studies, that negative feelings, and not loneliness specifically, may lead to religious thoughts, Epley et al. conducted a third study contrasting fear (an obviously negative feeling) and loneliness. This time, participants watched movie clips, one of which (from the movie Cast Away, poor bastards) was loneliness-inducing, one of which (from Silence of the Lambs) was fear-inducing, and one of which (from Major League, for some reason) was supposed to be non-fear or loneliness inducing. Then the participants indicated how much they believed in supernatural agents and events, as in the previous experiment. As in the second experiment, the loneliness-inducing condition caused the participants to give higher belief ratings for supernatural agents and events (though this may have been because they wanted god to help them turn off the god-awful movie clip). The fear condition did not lead to higher belief ratings relative to the control condition.

Obviously, these studies are not conclusive. For one, most of the participants come into the lab with religious beliefs, and while some of their participants did say they were not believers, Epley et al. don't break down the data by pre-experimental belief, so it's impossible to tell whether loneliness makes disbelievers more likely to think religious thoughts. It's therefore difficult to say whether loneliness is an originating impulse for religion, or if it instead simply uses existing religious thoughts. Still, this is a nice initial set of studies on the loneliness hypothesis, and I think all of those people who've told me over the years that religion is born of (existential) loneliness and alienation can feel somewhat vindicated.

1Epley, N., Akalis, S., Waytz, A, & Cacioppo, J.T. (2008). Creating social connection through inferential reproduction: Loneliness and Perceived Agency in Gadgets, Gods, and Greyhounds. Psychological Science, 19(2), 114-120.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Sketch away!

I watched 'Sketches of Frank Gehry' a while back and just wanted to throw the film's thread a little further. It's directed by Sydney Pollack, who as a friend of Gehry's, gives the movie a pleasant casual flair. The work offers an insight into the life and mind of one of architectural geniuses of our age and bounces you from the personal insecurities to the grandness of his creativity. A must see.

Saturday, 16 February 2008


According to Dunbar, human beings are able to maintain stable social relationships with a maximum of 150 persons at a time. In Dunbar's theory this capacity of the human mind is related to the size of his or her neocortex. The 150 of the people one maintains social relations with may include high school friends or past colleagues with whom a person would want to reacquaint themselves if they met again. Groups above that number usually require some sort of organised control. You can see a reflection of this in news reporting and charity advertising, among others. Why is it that somehow supporting a single child in Africa is often more appealing than the idea of donating money to a school fund or infrastructural causes, which one could deem as more important than a life of a single individual? With news of fatalities, once the number is too high, doesn't the tragedy of it all get lost among the numbers?

When looking at social networking, and in particular at Facebook, you can easily come across individuals who have a 150+ number of friends. This obviously does not include everyone they have social relationships with, since some people just refuse to do Facebook and some, like the the older generations, sometimes just have no incentive to maintain their presence in the online networking sphere. Assuming that Dunbar's theory is right, would it be possible to enhance our social networking capacities? Will sites like Facebook allow us to stretch the number 150 and allow us to create and maintain more relationships? This may seem possible, as in normal circumstances we would not have the array of information percolating about our friends' activities that FB makes available via its news feeds. Whether through status updates or news on your friends' blogs and break-ups, you're more often up to date with their situation than ever before. This availability of information stimulates a more regular reacquaintance with one's friends or colleagues, even family members. Social networks have also been effective in re-connecting people who have lost touch, whether via college networks or simple name browsing. I'm convinced that a lot of people create connections on FB just for the sake of it, regardless of having created a real relationship with a person, but perhaps more and more the friends on FB won't be just a number?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Cat Came Back

This space is not transforming into be an animation-obsessed blog, I promise! I'll actually write something soon, but for the moment enjoy yet another piece of animation thrown at me recently...

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


I got this from my darling flatmate Vincent. A bit of 'optimism' can't hurt this morning...

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Spam please!

Am I out of my mind? Nope, just I'm doing a project on persuasion in online media. In case anyone out there feels like forwarding me their spam or pop-up window/banner images, please mail them to (not to any other of my email addresses you may have!). I would really greatly appreciate. I have to build up a sizable database of these, so please please help out if you can!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Eat Dog Cat Mouse

I saw this last night at Short & Sweet. The creator is Kwok Fung Lam. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Sailing in London

Today the city is full of wind and water patterns, slicing up the air and slashing people's faces as they struggle up the streets as though they had turned into currents to swim up against. Umbrellas swarm the streets like birds, bend and twist, not being able to withstand the forces of the wind, which seem to be playing a game of hit-and-run. The wind strikes you from around the corner, pulls on your umbrella, rearranges your hair, and blinds you with the rain as you turn your face away. It seems as though everyone was taking sailing lessons, stuck under their little umbrellas and desperately trying to navigate the gusts of wind and the geometry of the streets. Though irritating, there is something incredibly attractive in the rain's calm permanence and force, which doesn't seem to retire day or night recently.

Monday, 14 January 2008


I have two French boys staying in my flat for this month and one of the things I keep hearing about is Tecktonik. It's a fairly new style of dance that started last year in Paris. Just thought I'd share...

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Think Think?

BigThink is a new platform of an intellectual exchange of ideas worldwide. At first glance it seems like a YouTube, except instead of random clips and music, it's filled with interviews with experts in all kinds of scientific and humanistic areas. If this idea sprawls like intended, it may become a very interesting source of opinions and information for all curious. The discussions vary from cloning to agriculture, so you're pretty much bound to find something for yourself. Except for providing information and opinion the site actually aims to include the opinions its members hold. You're free to create new ideas to discuss, rate the ideas of others and contribute to the general feeling on how ideas stand.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


I know it's after Christmas, but they say it's never too late for reflection...

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Have you done your homework?

MIT has opened its gates to people all over the globe with its Open Course Ware initiative! You can now access courses online and take advantage of lecture notes, readings, tests, and sometimes even watch video lectures. I've downloaded a few courses already, but haven't explored their structure. Finally we'll all be able to explore a little bit more than what's in the bookstores in areas that we've perhaps wanted to study or wish we studied in the past.

Here's a glimpse at where the users are from:

Obviously taking these courses won't get you anywhere as far as scoring credit points, achieving a degree, or networking, but by the sound of it will give you just about all of what's fleshy in the sector of intellectual self-development. MIT is the pioneer, but with more than 100 universities worldwide joining the initiative, the choice is astounding. You can download the courses straight from the Open Course Ware webpage or use iTunes with its iTunes U, which automatically directs you to podcasts from several different sources. All curious unite!

Oh yeah, Happy New Year everyone!