This is all over the internet right now with millions of hits a day. Which is great as it is probably my favourite music video right now.
Chris Hadfield is an astronaut with an awesome moustache who has just returned to Earth from the space station. Before leaving he decided to sing a farewell song and chose Space Oddity. With understandably altered lyrics. It is one of the most inspiring things I have seen in a long time.
I’m surprised no astronaut has done this before.
Next week – Rocket Man by Elton John performed by Gregori the Cosmonaut.
The World’s End is the third film from the guys who brought you (and me), Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Two superb movies I can watch repeatedly. And have done. I live in North London and wonder if the idea came from two pubs in the area both called ‘The World’s End’ and both in areas that I know the stars and writers frequently hang around. (Camden and Finsbury Park.) Or maybe, also like me, they are obsessed with the apocalypse.
The World’s End is going to be great, I can feel it.
Back in the early 90s I remember trying out Virtual Reality and being tremendously excited. Everyone agreed it was just about to change the world and make it slightly more brilliant. Which, quite frankly, it needs. Films like The Lawnmower Man showed some of its potential for taking ‘educationally challenged’ people and turning them into raging egotistical psychopaths. On the gaming front (and probably porn front), things were going to be great.
I remember VR being pretty fun. For its time. I wondered slowly around a blocky landscape and fired an inaccurate gun at a slow pterodactyl for some reason. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Then… no VR for bloody ages.
20 years later we finally have the awesome sounding Oculus Rift.(Good Scifi character name.) Oculus Rift was invented by some ‘soon to be a billionaire’ gaming brainy-pants in his garage. It has since been crowd funded. The cool thing is that it doesn’t cost a 100,000quid, it will actually be affordable. Plus, advances in screens and motion sensors have allowed it to be fucking incredible.
Just to reiterate, this is fully immersive 3D, we are talking about. Combined with games. Come on Christmas!
Here are some vaguely interesting clips. First, someone brilliant has already turned Skyrim into an Oculus Rift compatible game. Here is a brief clip talking about it and the Oculus generally.
If you like Skyrim or want to see the 3D yourself, you can try this NOW. AT HOME JUST USING YOUR EYES!Maybe you have already seen this before. Quite frankly, it may be the last thing you see because I am sure it messes up your eyes. But watch this clip and go cross eyed. Honestly. If you get it right you will see Skyrim in 3D and that’s surely another bucket list ticked.
Finally, here is a gamer/geek’s first impressions:
I will be buying one of these. Or if an Oculus Rift publicity man reads this, then send me one and I will publicize the hell out of it.
I bloody love a good internet meme and this one is a good’un. Remember Planking? That was so last year. Or the year before perhaps. Ages ago anyway. There have been a ton of memes since then but they, like planking and Pottering, have all been kind of crap and pointless. Then, this year, there have been two awesome ones. Huzzah for 2013!
To be fair they are quite similar.. They both involve people with a fair amount of time on their hands doing silly things on camera recreating something a bit nerdy. The first one was called Hadouken. It originated from a move in Street Fighter. Happily I remember Street Fighter 2 and all the moves from a teenage life spent in games arcades in Hong Kong in the late 1980s. (A youth well spent by the way.) Here are a couple of examples:
Cool isn’t it? Before this was ‘Pottering’ but that was awful. Exhibit A:
But now… there is Vadering.
Remember when that pillock in the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope mocks Darth Vader? (The first one back in the 70s.) He calls the Force an ancient religion even though it was one of the most powerful and respected things about 20 years before and had been for literally thousands of years. Vader rightly chokes the moron. Then, in Empire Strikes Back (the best of the Star Wars films – fact) he starts chucking shit about with his mind, like a demented Uri Geller that isn’t a fraud. Well that combo (used in the games) is the new thing to utterly waste your time posing for. ‘Vadering’.
Time well spent quite frankly. Vadering is cool. If we had the internet and weren’t so naively obsessed with sex and drink and drugs back in the early 90s, I would have spent all my time doing this sort of thing. I give you… Vadering…
As I have mentioned frequently over the last few weeks, I am currently on holiday in Thailand. For some reason this caused a lot of envy-laden comments amongst my Facebook buddies. Bastards. I suppose, to be fair, I had just posted a link to this website from a hammock. Which would annoy me too if I had read it. But hey, bollocks to them.This is going to be way more annoying.
I know Thailand incredibly well. I even used to write for a well known travel website on the country. For some reason however, I had never been to Railay beach even though I had always wanted to. It is a stunningly beautiful part of the world and I highly encourage you to go.
The main problem you are likely to face is where to stay. The entire peninsula is basically a load of interlinked resorts, which is a bit of a shame. On the West side, there is the main gorgeous beach, lined with posh resorts. They seem nice enough, but the food we had was ok and a bit overpriced. Another option however, is to head for the East side, (which is a bit swampy) and enjoy the cheaper nosh there. A third option is to do what we did: stay in Ao Nang (which is ok but has good food) and just take longtail boats everywhere.
If you are in Thailand and haven’t visited, you should. It’s gorgeous. If you don’t believe me, here is a photo:
Here’s a panorama. Because I can. Unfortunately my wife’s arm moved and now she looks like a mutant. The beach is nice though.
Ok this isn’t Thailand OR beach related. Happy? If you are a trainspotter or a Londoner, you will probably find this pretty cool. It shows the position of every tube train in London. Live. Something even the guys who work in the little booths claim they can’t do when you ask them ‘Where the bollocks is my train?’ It must be magic. Anyway, I thought it was pretty interesting. For a bit. Here’s the link:
This post is something of an experiment just to see how brilliant the technology at my disposal is. I’m currently lying in a hammock on the very quiet and quite remote island of Koh Jum in Thailand in the Andaman sea.
I bought a cheap smartphone in Hong Kong which I then took to Thailand. Phones in this part of the world are unlocked as they are fully aware of how stupid and pointless it is to lock an easily unlockable device. With a Thai 3G sim card and internet tethering I now have the web at my fingers wherever I am.
I just bought Anthony Beevor’s superb Stalingrad on my kindle while eating a spicy bowl of Kaotom pla (boiled rice and fish with spices). I then spent the last 4 hours lying in a hammock in the tropics with a belly full of superb spicy Thai breakfast while reading about the slaughter and carnage of Hitler’s attempt to invade Russia. Good times.
I then wondered if I could write a website entry from my supine position on my tethered Galaxy Note 2 mobile phone. If you are reading this, then I can. If that’s the case, I may be here a while…
Here is a picture of said hammock, kindle and sea. Plus my feet. I apologise if it is cold where you are.
Dear readers, I apologise most profusely for my lack writing. But I do have a pretty awesome excuse.
I left my flat of 4 years and had to pack everything in storage. As anyone who has ever moved apartment will know, this was a massive stressful ball-ache. Not just the lifting but calling half of Britain to cancel direct debits. Just try calling Camden council and you will see that the stress induced is reason enough for my not having time to write.
I am in the final stage of my degree and am now entering the ‘Massive Bastard Essays’ stage. I have two huge fiction essays to write and accompanying essays of several 1000s of words. This is all while moving. I probably shouldn’t be writing this in fact.
As well as being technically homeless, I am now technically unemployed as well. I probably shouldn’t say this but both of those facts are brilliant and I love being in this state of limbo. Consequently though, I am now constantly scouring the job pages to persuade someone, anyone, to hire me. To do anything. I work in TV, write fiction, am a journalist, and can teach, so please send me an offer at firstname.lastname@example.org. This leads on to the next time consuming point.
I also left Britain. Quite frankly, it was cold and the natives were grumpy. Maybe these points are connected. I flew to my old home and place of birth – Hong Kong. I bloody love it there and in the 5 days we stayed we drank, met people, and generally revelled in the futuristic awesomeness that is Hong Kong. Superb place. I also applied for some jobs while there in addition to looking at property and writing the aforementioned essays. Busy but brilliant times.
The next stop was the current one. Bangkok! Again, a place where I have lived and loved and lagered. I spent a couple of years as a journalist here and that is another option on the cards. I have spent the last week looking up old contacts and going out with friends. A lot. Oh yeah, and the essays.
So there you go. I’ve been a busy boy so cut me some slack. If you are rich and live in Hong Kong/ Bangkok/ Singapore and want to hire someone to write some stuff or work in a TV studio you own, give me shout. Then I can write more here as well and everyone’s happy.
In case you feel a twinge of pity, there really is no need. I am headed to this beach in a couple of days. Bye for now.
I know, pretty bold statement right? I almost prefaced it with ‘probably’ but will stick to my guns. There is good reasoning behind it.
When the Playstation 1 came out I played certain games on the console and others on a PC. The console was great for driving games and third person adventure games (such as the pixelated bosom-filled actioner Tomb Raider), while the PC was better for First Person Shooters and Real Time Strategies. It all worked together perfectly. Soon after the PS2 arrived however, I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with PC games that either didn’t work or took hours to install. I have yet to gain the patience that apparently comes with age. I want to play now! This trend just seemed to get worse with the PS3. Consoles were great multimedia gaming devices and my PC was for toil or writing superb website entries.
Recently however, this seems to be changing and it is a change that will be permanent and the end of consoles. In my opinion, these will probably be the last consoles of their type. Something similar may be along to replace them, but as they are now they just can’t keep up with PCs. Why? I hear you ask, you poor ignorant fool. (Unless you’re a tech type and have already stopped reading as you know this already.)
The answer is Moore’s Law. This states that ‘the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles every two years’. Essentially, computers double in speed every two years. This law was written about in 1965 and still holds true, so huge kudos to Mr Moore you clever tyke. Here’s a graph:
As you can see, it’s pretty damn close to the prediction. It should be noted that this rise is exponential. Which means that the speeds will continue to rise at ever quicker rates. This means that when someone makes a console, no matter how quickly they make it, that console’s processor will be a year or two behind what a PC can do. If a console is around for 4 or more years, it will look like an ZX Spectrum compared to a PC by the end. (Possible exaggeration.) This will just get worse.
Unless you can 3D print a new console every 6 months, the gap will become ridiculous. And as a gamer, unacceptable. The new consoles are basically PCs anyway. Couple this with the fact that it is getting so stupidly easy to build your own gaming PC and update it with new cards that even I could do it, and you can see where all this is headed. There are some cool games coming out, which you can see here, but they will look better on a computer. Personally, I see myself writing on an ultrabook and gaming on something like this:
How cool does that look? I’m sure many will disagree with me on this one and feel free to do so. (You are wrong though.) In the future, enjoy your silly moving controllers as you leap around your living room. I will be here:
I don’t know who made this or why but basically it is the best of the web (minus porn) volume 4. In HD! It has some amazing shots in it, mostly of people doing astoundingly brave/stupid/incredible things. Set the button to HD, maximise the screen, and gawp at people doing stuff you probably can’t. Enjoy.
The exhibition comprises over 300 pieces of art, sculpture, anthropological pieces, and more. I’m no expert but I thought it was brilliantly curated. Great lighting, well presented, and er, other curatorial goodness. The first room is full of art relating to death with lots of ‘Memento Mori’ – which is Latin for ‘Remember your mortality’ or ‘Remember your going to die’ (I did 5 years of Latin at school and it just paid off). Then things diverse into skulls, masks, models, pictures, and even cool things like a bone candelabra. It’s downright fascinating.
I would have liked a bit more anthropology however. There were some really cool masks and statues but they were so interesting I wanted a few more. It is a minor quibble though.
Here are some photos to give you an idea of just quite how much Death is on display:
Death: A self-portrait is on at the Wellcome collection until the 24th of February. It is well worth a visit and like all exhibitions at the superb Wellcome collection, it is free. So if you’re in London, check it out.
Here is a video about it:
The Wellcome collection is at 183 Euston Road, London (opposite the main entrance to Euston).
For more info, click this link. Death: A self portrait.
All the space exploration stuff I dreamt of as a kid are finally coming true. I now just need longevity drugs so I can actually get out there. In particular I want to be around when they find the first weird alien artifacts that unleash an unspeakable evil and need myself and an elite team to to find out why none of the miners are responding. It’s going to be great.
This fanciful dreaming has been inspired by the science-fiction-sounding Deep Space Industries. To increase this scifi feeling the exploratory modules are called Firefly. I don’t know if they are fans of the show but I suspect space scientists/engineers probably are, as all intelligent people like science fiction (that’s a fact). The Firefly modules will act like scouts and will be out there by 2015. Probably. This new space expansion is unlikely to really get going until the 2020s at the earliest. I’ll be almost 50 in 2020 which is why I need the longevity drugs. There are a lot of ifs in my mental scenarios but I’m an optimist.
In addition to these modules Deep Space Industries have all sorts of incredible vessels planned. Harvesters and miners and processors and habitats. And it’s all real!!! Well, soon will be. Probably.
I really hope DSI makes this happen. I’m fed up with being disappointed by humanity when it comes to space exploration. Whenever anyone says something like ‘we should spend all the money on hospitals or something’ it makes me want to cry. Sure that would make things a bit better right now but it’s so short sighted. If we keep everyone healthy, old, but stuck on this planet you are essentially dooming future generations to overcrowding, disease, and mass starvation. You are essentially thinking purely of yourself. Prick.
Anyway. As I said this will hopefully be about to change. This time it looks more hopeful than ever. Call me cynical but this time there is a factor that might help us reach for the stars: mankind’s innate greed. There’s a shitload of gold and valuable goodies out there, locked away in asteroids. I read somewhere that some asteroids near us contain enough gold to change the price of gold on our planet permanently. It may now be financially viable to get our grubby paws on the stuff.
Here are two brilliant pictures straight from a movie. These are followed by a clip that could be directed by Paul Verhoeven but isn’t. It even has scifi writing fonts and everything.
I want to work for this company. Even if it is in the video making department.
For more info see their site. I got all the pictures from there and there are more. Go Deep Space Industries! If you read this can I have a job? http://deepspaceindustries.com/
I found this video clip fascinating and I want to go into space so badly it almost hurts. Although probably not for a couple of months. A long weekend will do. It looks a bit cramped.
I meant to flick through this tour of the space station to the exciting parts but it actually kept me clued to my laptop. Just don’t go on a random youtube journey afterwards and waste hours of your life looking at proof of aliens videos and government hushup crap. People on youtube frequently depress me. Clips like this then cheer me up. Enjoy.
I forgot to mention the digit change and wish all my readers a happy 2013. (Funnily enough, this replicated the Indie Retro New Year’s Eve party I went to in Camden where everyone was so drunk it was 5 past midnight before anyone noticed.) As I look wistfully back over 2012 I realise that personally speaking, absolutely bugger all happened. On the whole I am better off than before: I turned 40 and got some grey chest hairs BUT I quit smoking, had a lot of holidays, and saved some money. So a good year I guess.
This website started as a blog/review site and has morphed into a place where I talk vaguely about things I think are cool or interesting like science or exploration. As well as doing reviews. Well rest assured it shall continue thus. At the risk of just blogging about myself you should know that things afoot. This is the year I will make a change and write more stuff! This is not a New Year thing, it is a realisation that I want to work a bit less in TV. Just a bit. The reason I am telling you this will be made clear.
One thing I did last year was read the superb 59 Seconds by Professor Richard Wiseman. It is a self-help book based on science. I hate self-help books, but am quite interested in psychology (you’d think the two would be more connected but they really aren’t). In the book they do crazy things like take a look at self-help stuff and actually test to see if it works rather than blather on about unsubstantiated vague old bollocks. For example, picturing yourself in a wonderful perfect place and trying to work out how to get there doesn’t help you achieve goals. It does the opposite. When you see all you need to do to achieve a major goal it can be overwhelming and disheartening. If you think about writing a book it seems huge but a 1000 words a day and you’ll be there in 3 or 4 months. Just set little targets and you’ll be in your own Playboy mansion/Skywalker ranch hybrid in no time (or whatever your ideal house is).
In 59 Seconds Wiseman tries to study things that actually do work and attempts to explain why. Some of it is just bizarre. Lots of studies for example, have shown that just the act of smiling can make you happier. Also, if you are a relatively happy optimist then better things happen to you. You are more open to opportunities. So don’t be a miserable whinger – it makes your life shit and you are boring to listen to.
Another thing that has been discovered is that if you tell a lot of people that you are going to do something, you are more likely to do it. Which I could probably have predicted, but didn’t know for certain.
So bollocks to New Year resolutions, just tell lots of people and let shame do the rest. I will write 1000 words a day. Lots of them will be here. Do stuff people! And have a great year.
I saw this exhibition yesterday at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (London). It was downright awe inspiring. Alongside Cartier Bresson, Adams is probably my favorite photographer in equal first place. I guess I’m a sucker for black and white photos.
Ansel Adams is best known for his stunningly detailed photographs of American landscapes. In particular Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, and the Californian coast. He does do smaller more intimate pictures but my favorites are his huge and epic pieces. You can see a few at the the bottom of this post but quite frankly, the only way to do justice to his work is to see it on a larger scale. Which means you should go and see this exhibition if you happen to be in London. I have been a fan of Ansel Adams since I was a kid and this is a worthwhile exhibition with a variety of examples of his work – from the small and intimate to the large and epic. There are also a couple of interesting documentaries.
ANSEL ADAMS Photography from the Mountains to the Sea is on at the National Maritime Museum (which is fascinating anyway) from 9th November 2012 to 28th April 2013.
As promised here are some bigger pictures. Imagine them even bigger.
I found this brilliant and touching and admirable. I love the scientific mind, the need to question everything, to test things, to find out what makes them them tick. This is from a BBC interview entitled ‘The Pleasure of Finding Things Out’. Which says it all.
As Feynmam argues here when discussing aesthetics and the beauty of a flower, understanding only adds to our appreciation of our existence and our surroundings. I don’t need a deity to have made everything by magic, I am awestruck by how nature and the universe actually work. I apologise for my serious and philosophical tone but it is 9am on a Sunday, I am up, and people are going to the church 50 feet away. It has made me wax lyrical for some reason. Enjoy.
Happy Christmas wonderful readers! If you aren’t a Christian, then happy Tuesday! No need to worry really Christmas is hardly a religious thing. Like Easter it is a made up date supposedly celebrating something to do with Jesus but in actuality is a mashup of wacky traditions. You don’t have to be religious to like Santa, Christmas trees, presents, the Easter Bunny, chocolate, and so on. So feel free to go mad.
I was going to write this tomorrow on Christmas day but I have been a good boy this year so I will probably be playing Assassin’s Creed 3 and watching Doctor Who as God intended. I doubt you will read this till at least Boxing Day anyway.
In case you aren’t lucky enough to be a Londoner I found this great time-lapse thing for you to enjoy. Lots of lovely Christmas lights to get you in the mood.
So happy Xmas! Enjoy!
The Mayans predicted that on the 21st December 2012 the world will come to a grisly end and that a few bored and hungry astronauts will be all that remains of humanity. Except they didn’t. Their calendar actually predicted that humans would go through some kind of change and enter a new phase. Maybe the internet becomes sentient and takes over and things actually turn out a lot better. Who knows. Of course the Mayans also seemed to have thought that their culture would be around to witness this ‘change’ so, like every prophet ever, their prediction is likely to be bollocks.
I am clearly a bit sick but there is definitely something that smacks of schadenfreude when a doomsday group sets a date and waits for the Rapture/inevitable disappointment. I’m talking about the nice ones where everyone dresses up in matching ludicrous outfits and when nothing happens, they either justify it somehow or shrug, blush then slink of home regretting that they sold the cat and TV. I think it is because they often get so public about their delusions and probably end up genuinely scaring some vulnerable people that I enjoy seeing a bit of hubris inaction. Or maybe it is the secret joy akin to seeing someone walking into a lamp post – you wince in sympathy but snigger a little deep down. The suicide cults are thankfully very rare and very sad for most of followers who were just misguided and could probably have done with some genuine help.
I’ve lived through quite a few predicted apocalypses. There was a Nostradamus one when I was at school in the 80s (I think his fans ‘reinterpreted’ it afterward to explain it away. On the 6/6/6 a few people predicted doom based on the arbitrary dating system humans invented after incorrectly working out Jesus’ birthday (it’s actually Spring around 5BC). Last year there was that hilarious Rapture fiasco.
The big one was Y2K because there was a danger that all computers were going to freak. There was a fascinating article in the New York Times written just before 2000 that listed a lot of these doomsday mentalists. Here are some of my favourites:
Elohim City, Muldrow, Okla. Elohim City is an armed compound guided by Robert Millar, 73, a former Mennonite who based his revelations on an eclectic mix of fundamentalist Christianity, racism, pyramidology and astrology. Millar teaches his followers that the Great Tribulation is upon us and that ”worse is to come”when ”Asiatics” invade America. ”I abhor war,” Millar says, ”but it is a foregone conclusion.” He says he believes that Jesus has been revealing himself for 2,000 years and that disasters will strike, possibly by 2006, at which time the ”wicked will be removed” and Elohim City will enjoy an age of peace.
The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days, Manti, Utah. James Harmston, 58, a former real-estate agent, claims he was ordained by Moses and is, according to his followers, the reincarnation of Joseph Smith, the long-dead 19th-century founder of the Mormon Church. Harmston predicts that a period of violent, apocalyptic turmoil will start within five years. In preparation, he started a Mormon survivalist community in the town of Manti, where some 300 armed, food-storing polygamist followers plan to ride it out. (Harmston denies there are arms and food.) Several former members of the sect are suing Harmston, alleging that he duped them for $250,000, and the church has been excommunicated by Mormon authorities in Salt Lake City for”undue preoccupation with Armageddon.” Harmston says he is planning a countersuit.
Chen Tao, near Buffalo. Previously based in Garland, Tex., Chen Tao entered the national spotlight last winter, when its leader, a Taiwanese emigre named Chen Hon Ming, predicted that God would appear on March 25. Overcoming this setback, he has since moved 80 of his Taiwanese followers to a place just outside Buffalo. Dressed in regulation white smocks and cowboy hats, Chen Tao faithful expect Armageddon to start next month, when China invades Taiwan and precipitates a nuclear holocaust. Eventually a third of the world’s population will die, but God will arrive in a”Godplane” to deliver the sect’s believers from doom.
That’s enough for now I guess. There are loads of these and they are fascinating. The link to the NY Times article (which is fascinating) is: www.nytimes.com/1998/12/27/magazine/apocalypse-now-no-really-now.html?pagewanted=all
You’d better read it quick but we are doomed! From something. At somepoint.
Technically Britain is part of Europe but most Brits feel less European than say, a Frenchman or a German does. Actually, Brits consider themselves to be English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh and then, if pushed, British. We feel as if we happen to live next door to Europe and that it is a handy place for holidays and the occasional war. Most of my readership is now American, so in case you guys haven’t been here, this is what it all looks like:
The great thing these days is that you can hop on a train in the centre of London and a couple of hours later be in Europe. My flat is four tube stops from King’s Cross and the Eurostar, which means I only have to change trains once to get to Paris or even nicer places like Belgium. (I’m not being sarcastic by the way, I massively prefer places like Brussels, Bruges and Ghent to Paris.) Recently Mrs Wordofward and I hopped on this train and, ignoring what I just said in the previos sentence, had dinner in Paris. The next morning, we caught the train to Milan where we had another dinner and saw the Last Supper. Then a train to Florence where we stayed for 5 days (and had lots of meals) and then a final train to Rome where we spent another fews days (including a trip to Pompeii) where I ate my own mass in pizza and drank gallons of Chianti. Italy is superb and lives up to all of its stereotypes. Great food, wine, coffee, art, ruins, women (aesthetically) and organisational chaos. Salute Italia!
My point in mentioning all this is not to boast but to er, um, you know… Alright fuck it, I am boasting. It was a cool trip and it is superb to live next to such a varied continent. Europeans have even gotten together and made their currency easier for us with the Euro. (At least until it all collapses.) In fact we have decided to live there it is so damned fantastic. Our prime candidates right now are Prague, Berlin, or Rome. But anywhere is pretty much an option.
I had originally intended to bore the internet with my holiday snaps but my laptop seems to have thrown a hissy fit and is temporarily out of order. Then, while writing this I thought that although 40% of my readership is American, the rest of you wonderful and attractive people come from all over the planet. Roughly 40% from Europe. This equates to 40,000 hits last month from the Continent alone. With this in mind I have just one question for my European chums. Can any of you give me a job? An average paid writing gig would be fine. Or better still, a high powered art-related job for my talented wife.
Answers on an email: email@example.com
Thank you Europe!