Showing posts from September, 2006

Amusing Characters in History, Part 1

Always found eccentrics amusing, so I was highly intrigued when someone pointed out Timothy Dexter , eccentric and very lucky man: Because he was basically uneducated, his business sense was peculiar but extremely lucky. Somebody inspired him to send warming pans for sale to West Indies, a tropical area. His captain sold them as ladles for local molasses industry and made a good profit. Next Dexter sent wool mittens to the same place. Asian merchants bought them for export to Siberia. His next venture was selling coal to Newcastle, which should have been a sure failure. His ships happened to arrive in the time of a coalminer's strike and potential customers were actually desperate. Here's the tale of his business success in Dexter's own words ... But the most eccentric part was his relationship with his wife: Dexter's own relationship with his wife was troubled as well. This became evident when he started telling visitors that his wife had died, despite the fact that sh


O ctober's here again, and with it brings the promise of one of my favourite dishes, German pork knuckles... okay, I just had real German pork knuckles in Bonn in May, so it's not like I've been deprived, but man, nothing like a huge chunk o' meat. Spotted this on the Amara hotel brochure promoting their Oktoberfest buffet... "our delectable buffet variety such as Wiener Schnitzel... Roasted Pork with Crispy Crust, Linzer Torte" (so far so good), "Seafood Teppanyaki... and crispy Tempura station". Um. I'm not saying I'm a major cultural expert or anything, but something tells me that teppanyaki and tempura are not German...

Bringing the Sexy

A l Gore had a funny opening quote at the MTV Video Music Awards - "I actually was not planning on being here tonight, but then MTV explained to me that Justin Timberlake is bringing sexy back". But I can't get "Sexy Back" out of my head - there's a raunch to that song that suggests Timberlake's Prince-loving side, and that's more fun than his Michael Jackson wannabe side... Anyway, since I'm talking about Al Gore and the environment and energy, stalkers should note that you might catch glimpses of me on Questions for the Future on CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia this Sunday, assuming they panned to the studio audience (was in the front row). More seriously, for non-stalkers: it's a pretty good programme if you're interested in energy demand in Asia.

Tech this and shove it - new MSN address

B ack in secondary school, for a "street theatre" festival, I wrote a short play that involved a guy being strangled by an extension cord as a sort of commentary on the stifling effects of technology. (Not very subtle, but hey, I was 13.) These days, technology seems determined to strangle me. Just when I was getting mad at Apple for totally screwing up my Macbook , Microsoft reliably screws up as well. The story: I get a message from my MSN Messenger saying that I have to change my e-mail ID to connect (I was using a Yahoo account as my MSN e-mail ID, and I suspect the new integration of Windows Live Messenger with Yahoo Messenger was confusing for the program). Which is fine, MSN promises me all will be well and my contact list will be intact. Well, it is intact, that much I'll grant. But now no one can see me online - nor can I see anyone online. Bloody bleeping hell. I'm in an IM world of its own. An IM singularity. I M lonely. So, if you're on my MSN list, j

Sunday, Monday - Happy Days

Incidentally - yes, that's me in the Sunday Times (Singapore, not the London one) today. If you haven't seen it - don't worry about it.

Random Macbook Shutdown

I cannot in good conscience recommend my Macbook anymore, much as I'm in love with its features and ease of use. Apparently the "random shutdown" syndrome that I experienced has been pretty much experienced by many around the world - the worrying thing is reading some of the comments on Ubergeek it seems having the logic board replaced (as my computer is doing right now) may not prevent a recurrence of the problem. And the fact that Apple is only issuing a terse response is pretty crap.

Jargon and Obfuscation

W as reading an article about the attempts to turnaround Ford's fortunes (well, shame on them for sticking so long to fuel-inefficient SUVs) and came across this quote by Mark Fields, president of Ford’s Americas operations: “My intent is that, going forward we bring that to the next level,” Fields said on CNBC. “We have to do and we are going to do a much better job of leveraging our global architecture to spin more products through product development.” Um, could you have any more jargon in two sentences? "Going forward", "leveraging"... ugh. The worst thing from a communications and clarity point of view is after reading that you have not much idea what the company will actually do to develop new products. Or maybe I'm just not used to leveraging global architecture... Plain English Campaign

Stingray Revenge

So now people are carrying out revenge attacks on stingrays as a result of Steve Irwin's freak death. Didn't they even get the point of his conservation messages?

Linksfest: Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love

Gary Brolsma, the Numa Numa guy, sells out . Where the phrase "hunka hunka burning love" comes from . I particularly like the titbit that "in 2005, an Australian woman stabbed her partner in the back, thigh, and shoulder with a pair of scissors because he played the song too many times. His injuries were classified as 'non-life threatening'". Slate has a slideshow on various kinds of balustrades - this particular one links to I.M. Pei's work at the National Gallery of Art.

Five years on

Edit: Check out Keith Olbermann's scathing commentary on the Bush administration's response to 9/11 .

High Fidelity as a Musical

I t seems that they're making a High Fidelity musical (via Stereogum ). This sounds like it has the potential to be incredibly naff, a terrible travesty of a pop cultural milestone. Of course, I thought that when I first heard about the film version, but it turned out to be pretty good. But checking out the "music" section of the musical's website (and I use the quote marks deliberately), there's only one thing to say: the songs sound atrocious. The Rob character of the book or film would kick the singer of these words straight out of Championship Vinyl - check out the lyrics of "Desert Island Top 5 Breakups": "These were the ones that tore my heart out / These were the ones that ate me alive You might squeeze the top 10 Laura / But you're nowhere near the top 5..." Urgh. "Nine Percent Chance" (which refers to when Laura says facetiously to Rob that there's a 9% chance of them getting back together) has the even more execrab

Casting Against Type

F or various reasons, I've been thinking of the Frere-Jones brothers. Firstly, I got in a shipment of magazines from my aunt's store including an old New Yorker that had Sasha Frere-Jones writing about Mariah Carey and how with the "Fantasy" remix with ODB she invented the whole "male rapper / female chorus" sound that's so ubiquitous today. Which come to think of it is probably true, that whole sound is such a cliche now. He also writes glowingly about "All I Want For Christmas Is You" as one of the few worth additions to the modern Christmas canon, and it's nice to know someone shares my opinion of that song. And then I read in Karen's blog that Helvetica , a film about the ubiquitous Helvetica typeface and about typography in general is coming out next year, on the 50th anniversary of Helvetica. Here's a quick description: Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual cult

Banksy vs Paris Hilton

I 've written about Banksy before - I think his art work is great. This latest prank involving doctoring the Paris Hilton album in stores is a pretty subversive way to critique the whole weirdness of the cult of celebrity around Paris: Banksy has replaced Hilton's CD with his own remixes and given them titles such as Why am I Famous?, What Have I Done? and What Am I For? He has also changed pictures of her on the CD sleeve to show the US socialite topless and with a dog's head. Pictures of the doctored album are up on this Flickr set .

Griping about AppleCentre service

J ust got off the phone with a very frustrating experience with the AppleCentre@Orchard people. Basically, last Friday when I took my Macbook in, they said that it was probably a logic board problem, and that logic boards were out of stock and would take 2 weeks to ship in. But they promised me that they would do the diagnostics, and if it did turn out to be the logic board, I could take back the Macbook for those 2 weeks while the thing was being shipped in, and then they would call me in to get the part replaced. And they promised that they would call me to tell me if the logic board was out of stock. So, fast forward a week, and no word from them. Finally I decide to call the service centre. First, of course, I was put on hold, which was fine until some computerised voice said "you have exceeded the number of tries" and promptly disconnected me. Bad sign #1. Second try, got through. Asked about the status of my Macbook. The guy at the other end went "oh, we're wai

The Chaucer Blog

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog , yclept, um, "Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog". I particularly like his attempt to be on Hot or Not : Plese uote for me and saye that ich am hotte. Peraventure my peynture may plese nat the moderatoures (for it is a manuscripte and ich haue but litel cleavage), yet lette vs yive this a trye! I also thought Serpentes on a Shippe was quite a clever title...

Linksfest: I'll let you whip me if I misbehave

H eard Mousse T's "Horny as a Dandy", the mashup of Mousse T's "Horny" and the Dandy Warhols' "Bohemian Like You" on the radio today, and decided to look up the video. Meanwhile, some random links. Dane Cook is overrated . Advergaming spoofs . Sorryassbabydaddies . I just thought the domain name was funny.

Double Jeopardy

Ken Jennings, Jeopardy champion extraordinaire, has quite a funny piece on the show on his blog: We were a bit of an item a couple years back, in all the papers, but I think we both know that was just a summer thing. The last time we saw each other…well, the magic just wasn’t there. That’s why I don’t mind when I see you with a new special someone. Or two. Nearly every night! … I’m sorry, is this sounding passive-aggressive? I don’t mean to badger you. I remember that, when we were together, it seems like all I ever did was nag you with questions.

Macbook issues

M y Macbook started turning itself off automatically on Thursday. No warning, no nothing, just an odd "click" sound and then all power goes off. Bleah. Gave it one day and hoped for the best, but by Saturday I had to take it into the service centre. Some logic board fault, most likely, they said. And wouldn't you know it, they're out of logic boards for about 2 weeks. Man, two months and it goes cuckoobananas on me. Oh well, while my Mac's recuperating, I downloaded ObjectDock as part of turning my PC into a Mac . Mmm.

Hedging your bets

I have to say that I find hedgehogs inexplicably cute. So it's nice to know the McFlurry is being redesigned in the UK to prevent trapping hedgehogs (however improbable). Here's a pic of the original hedgehog-unfriendly cup...