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.
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 email@example.com. 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 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.
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 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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Europe!
This is astounding. I seem to be posting a lot of videos recently but I can’t help it as people making awe inspiring clips. And this is one of the best ones. This video is made by a lot of very clever people who are advancing our civilisation and should be applauded from every rooftop.
I hope deep down that the more the Mars rover explores, the more humanity’s collective brain will look out to the stars and will focus less inwardly on all the petty squabbles, greed, politics, conspiracy theories and all the other shite that makes mankind a less impressive species. This video is of the Mars Curiosity landing on Mars and looking around for the first time. The final bit is a picture that someone made up of a composite of reflections of the Rover’s face. So you can see what it looked like. For some reason I was reminded a bit of Wall-E crossed with Short Circuit’s Number 5.
Imagine parachuting onto the surface of Mars. Now press play…
There are times when I despair.
I once knew a guy in Thailand who sold ‘erectile dysfunction’ pills on the internet. They were just salt pills. He offered a money back guarantee and always honoured it. It just rarely happened that someone would contact him and ask for their money back as it was both a pittance and embarassing. Frequently the opposite happened – people wrote to him and thanked him for returning their ‘mojo’. Clearly it was all placebo but placebos, as any scientist will tell you, are fascinatingly effective. (Honestly, they work really well and no one knows why.) Was that morally wrong of him? People got to have sex after all. He now lives in a huge house by the beach with millions in the bank. Prick.
Then there was the guy who threatened to kill a bunny if he didn’t get a certain amount of cash. Ok, it all turned out to be a joke but the site got loads of hits and probably generated cash. And the bunny lived! (For a bit. Probably.)
In fact there are a million ways people are making money off the internet in slightly dubious ways. African nobility want to hide millions in your account! You have won some prize or other but you need to pay a processing fee! A major social media website is going public and having an IPO that will make you rich if you buy shares! And so on.
I despair because I can never think of these ideas. I guess I’m not devious enough. Consequently I’m at work right now earning millions of pounds a year less than I should. Like a sucker.
The latest money spinner that passed me by is selling magic spells, hoaxes, wishes, and pointy hats on eBay. I just saw this on Boing Boing and there is only two weeks left until this magical bonanza ends.
I’m serious by the way. People are selling magic on eBay. I’m not knocking white magic or Wiccans or the Dark Side as such, I just don’t believe you can buy magic on eBay. Gandalf must be turning in his grave. Here are some examples (thanks Boing Boing):
On the British eBay I found a money spell described as:
‘Powerful £ MONEY SPELL £ for Success Prosperity Luck Good Fortune Wealth
UKs No.1 Powerful Money/Lucky Spell – Guaranteed’
Yes. Guaranteed. Although if I was cynical I might want to enquire as to how much it will cost to get back your hard earned £2.99.
I even found a book of all the spells from the Necronomicon. A book mentioned in lots of horror films but actually originated in the FICTIONAL tales of H.P. Lovecraft.
Sadly this bizarre earner is coming to an end. eBay has cried ‘Expeliamus!’ to the whole lot. This is from CNN:
‘Beginning in September, the site is banning the sale of “advice, spells, curses, hexing, conjuring, magic, prayers, blessing services, magic potions, [and] healing sessions,” according to a policy update.
The company is also eliminating its category listings for psychic readings and tarot card sessions.
Has anyone actually been buying magic on eBay? It seems so: The site’s “spells and potions” category currently has more than 6,000 active listings and happy feedback from quite a few satisfied buyers.
“Best spell caster on Ebay,” one customer wrote after a recent purchase.
“Wonderful post-spells communication!” another raved. “We bought 4 spells! Highly Recommend!”‘
I repeat, I despair.
On an unrelated note, this website might go public and sell shares. Although it is yours for a million pounds if you want to buy it now. Let me know. I have Paypal and Western Union accounts. Thanks.
The Olympics are currently in full swing here in London town. Lots of Londoners, myself included, were originally against them. We weren’t asked if we wanted the games but we were expected to pay for them. It felt a bit like being mugged but without getting the chance to run for it or telling the culprit to piss off. Not only that, but getting around our own city to do (admittedly pointless stupid) things like work, was predicted to be a nightmare. Then there were the security problems, the missiles on roofs, anger over Olympic lanes, and sponsors behaving mean and spiteful to pretty much everyone.
Fickle bastard that I am, I’m alright with it all now. If you didn’t enjoy Danny Boyle’s superb opening ceremony you must be a pretty joyless individual. Sure some bits were better than others (the weird music text story for example wasn’t my thing), but generally speaking it was all fun, rousing stuff. Quirky is probably the word. It had Bond, Bean, and the Queen. Surely you must like one of them.
I’m not normally into sport, but the brief glimpses I’ve had of the games (between pointless work and epic train trips) have been great. The joy of the Olympics is that alongside main sports like tennis and football, you might find yourself inexplicably absorbed by something random – women’s archery or women’s pole vaulting or women’s beach volleyball or something. (They were just random examples you understand.) I’m sure these sports are on at other times but because it is the Olympics, it now has some kind of meaning or purpose to it all. If you live in London you are frequently bumping into events and can have a quick cheer. It makes life here about 10% more exciting.
It would be nice if the sponsors chilled out a bit though. Stop patrolling the streets looking for anyone heinously supporting the games with five round objects suspiciously overlapping, and just let people have fun. I’m a bit nervous just talking about them, they might burn down my website.
Transport has been a bit worse but it is so awful usually, most Londoners are coping quite well. The trains have all worked at the weekends which actually makes for an improvement.
I guess we shall see if the Olympics actually does make a profit. The organisers (or possibly the government, I wasn’t paying attention) reckon we might make a profit of £2 billion. Hopefully this will mean the mascots knocking on doors and giving everyone in London a couple of hundred quid each. Or at least a 6 pack. Most of us are easily bribed.
So go Olympics! We’ve paid and sufferend already, so we might as well enjoy it. To celebrate this, here is a funny sketch about the Olympics. It’s funny, quirky, a bit weird, and British. Go Monty Python!
Yes you read that unnecessarily long headline correctly. How depressing is that? There is something deeply amiss with the world today, although to be fair it has always been pretty fucked. World Wars, the plague, horned helmeted hordes and so on. These days, most of us are not immediately under threat and we have better means of seeing the world and all its flaws. And seeing how bollocks a lot of it is. We can do all this thanks to science.
Some people – morons or poorly educated mostly – seem to think of science as some kind of elite white jacketed group with their own agenda. Like a political party or all organized religions for example. This is not the case. Anyone can be a scientist and they all disagree, question and compete with each other. You are allowed to question and the consequences won’t be being kicked out of your politcal party or burnt at the stake. Science is simply the quest for knowledge. If you are interested in something you can do a test yourself and then write about it. You. At home right now. If your study is convincing more scientists and interested laymen will try and pick holes in your work. If it’s still sound they might conduct different experiments to see if your theory still holds true.
The only reason why science can be hard to get into is that it usually helps if you know a bit about your topic. A lot of science builds on what went before. It also helps if you learn scientific method so you can conduct a decent experiment. Other than that anyone can go for it and it is a noble pursuit. Read a science magazine they are great.
To be fair the scientific method wasn’t really in action around the time of Jesus. The first 1000 years was a struggle to survive against invasions and famines (although there was a bit of experimenting with farming and fun with fertilizers). Then religion pretty much kept everyone in check and in poverty for half a millennium. Then, thankfully, the renaissance happened and people were allowed to start looking at things that might make life better. I’m just talking the UK here. We started the industrial revolution and invented trains and TVs and computers and the Worldwide Web, for example. Other countries were also inventing things like cars and flying machines. Most of this on very little funding. In Britain the average person’s life and their life expectancy has improved decade after decade and it is nearly all down to science.
So let’s hear it for science. Imagine what we could achieve with a bit more cash. It would be nice if we could invade a few less countries, start a few less government campaigns that haven’t been fully thought through and perhaps persuade bankers that if they donated 10% of their bonuses to the betterment of mankind they may be more popular, and maybe mankind will progress a bit quicker.
Just a thought.
In case you are wondering where I heard the headline first, it was uttered by the always awesome Professor Brian Cox. Thanks to science, you can see it here:
A friend just posted this on Facebook (thanks Tim). Very cool. According to the blurb ‘The Leap’ is more accurate than a mouse. I don’t play many PC (or Apple games) very much any more but I remember the frustration of Quake 3 Arena with a mouse – especially before laser mouses and we had to use stupid ball things. (Plus laser mouses sound cool for some reason.)
Well the future is here my friends and it looks a lot like Minority Report but without the gloves and the weepy, happy ending. (Especially if you need both hands to scroll through porn sites.)
It looks cool in my opinion. Especially the game bit. All those years practicing shooting with imaginary finger guns are finally going to pay off. (And they said I was a fool!) I assume some kind of weird arm rest would be needed after a while but what the hell. Me want!
This is genius/awful. I love Guinness, it’s a tasty pint of health and alcohol. I also love gadgets, so you can see while this really appeals to me. Basically it’s a glass that has a QR code on it that is only visible when filled with ‘the black stuff’. It doesn’t work with normal lagers or other inferior drinks (except stouts obviously).
When I first saw it I immediately thought what an absolutely genius idea. But then I read an article about it on Boing Boing (great site if you don’t know it). Apparently it then: ‘tweets about your pint, updates your facebook status, checks you in via 4 square, downloads coupons and promotions, invites your friends to join, and even launches exclusive Guiness content.’
I don’t know if this is true (hopefully it is a zeitgeist joke) but if it is then the idea has been downgraded from genius to ‘leave me the fuck alone’. I recently wrote how annoyed I was that every app or programme wants to ‘share’ everything I do with facebook. Now my beer wants to grass me up. Thanks technology.
(Thanks Boing Boing for the image http://boingboing.net/2012/05/18/hidden-pint-glass-qr-code-is-o.html )
I get a lot of requests on facebook to join groups, play games, take part in a quiz or do something else that will literally waste my life. I nearly always turn these down as I am happy to waste my time playing proper high quality games, or going down the pub with friends, or watching inane violent movies, or gambling on Mexican midget wrestling. I know how to live. I do occasionally enjoy reading articles though and some of my friends are surprisingly interesting in their reading preferences.
The other day, I saw an intriguing looking item that someone had read in the Guardian. It was probably about why the Daily Mail is awful or something, I forget. So I clicked on the link and it said I needed a Guardian app for some reason. (I know, I know, another option was to copy and paste the title into google but the article wasn’t worth the effort.)
Why? Apps are great on phones as they give you a little picture that takes you to a handy programme. Why the balls do I have to install an app to read an article on bastard facebook? I then got annoyed and a little worried. I could read the article but they wanted:
My basic information – which could mean anything.
My email address – why?
My location – piss off, you might burgle me.
My birthday – seriously, why? My birthday? To read an article?
In the end I thought, fuck you Guardian, I’ll read the Mail instead, take that hippies. Except links to the Mail’s site of right wing doom or Yahoo or pretty much anyone else all want the same info. It just seems nosy and intrusive. If I want to do a quiz that tells me what flavour ice cream I am, why do I have to submit the details of all my friends and where I was born or my religion or pant size? It feels as if all major internet sites are currently competing to steal my identity.
Which they will then hand to Facebook.
Who will note it in my timeline.
I know I’m jumping on the bandwagon a bit as more and more people are writing about how facebook shares your data and fucks your privacy. I’m also not naive enough to think that my personal data isn’t already in the hands of a ton of people but I still find it annoying. Twitter and facebook are always trying to find out where I am and I am always telling them to piss off.
I joined Netflix recently and forgot to unclick some box or other and now it’s telling everyone on facebook what I’m watching. I love Netflix and will write about it at some point but publishing what I watch only benefits their advertising, it does nothing for me.
Goodreads and spotify do the same unless you turn off the option. As does my kindle whenever I finish a book. I love technology. I love that by paying a small fee I can effectively carry thousands of films, books, and music wherever I go and access them on shiny little devices but am getting increasingly annoyed with being asked to share it on facebook. Or even worse – sharing it automatically on facebook unless I opt to turn it off which is usually what happens.
The irony is, the moment I finish this rant I will post it on facebook. The difference is that I will have chosen to do so. So there.
Reading: Leviathon Wakes, Book One of the Expanse by James Corey. (Tremendously exciting space romp.)
Listening to: Led Zeppelin II (Zeppelin rules!)
Just watched: episode 11, 1st series of 24. (Never watched it before. Tremondously exciting Kiefer Sutherland romp.)
Last meal: Spicy noodles. (Tremendously exciting rumblings now happening in my stomach.(
Next bowel movement: 8:15 – 8:25am 21/04/12 (Hopefully not too exciting. Depends on the noodles.)
I hope this enriches your life.
If you are anything like me you will have (incredibly sensibly) planned what you are going to do when the inevitable zombie apocalypse occurs. My plan involves leather, shotguns, and a castle. In case you are just starting your plan some genius on the internet has just made your job easier. He has made a google map specifically for surviving the zombie outbreak. It is genius.
The Map of the Dead shows you where the nearest essentials are. Things like the nearest camping shop, chemist, hospital, supermarket and so forth. It also shows where the nearest cemeteries are, which is pretty important. I love when people wisely spend their time doing shit like this. The map would work for any kind of apocalypse – it’s just that zombies are cooler. Also, didn’t the Mayans predict a zombie outbreak? Click here for the map.
Boohoo I’m back. Not just back in London but back at work. The first day of our return it predictably rained. To cap it all off, our heating is still broken so it was cold too. The following day was sunny – which sounds nice but actually sucked as I had to sleep due to my starting the first of five twelve hour nightshifts. To sum up the situation, it was all bollocks and might have lead to undignified self pity.
Fortunately I am a cheerful sort. Despite all the introspective, snivelling, spoilt, cry-baby-ness of my opening paragraph, I am in fact feeling refreshed and inspired! Even the teensiest bit of perspective helps me to realise what a selfish prick I would be if I wallowed in gloom – just look at what the majority of the rest of the planet put up with each day and here I am whingeing about my return after a 5 week holiday. That perspective and the fact that I have a huge TV rarely fail to provide an emotional lift when I feel a bit fed up. Nil carborundum illegitimi! Currently however, my (apparently mildly annoying) chirpyness comes from having a superb plan.
I turn 40 in a couple of months and apart from the uncontrolled and unmanly weeping I intend to do on the fateful day of the digit change, the rest of my year and those that follow will be epic. My wife said that we can go back and live in Thailand once I can prove that I can earn £1000 a year off the internet. You can live well out there for that amount and the money will only increase. I know that sounds like the opening premise of a sitcom where I go on to try whacky, yet hilarious things to hit my target but it is possible. My plan is fourfold:
1/ Write more. My eBook The Uneven Passage of Time (BUY IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!) has had over 600 downloads and will hopefully continue to earn me money until I die or the internet does – and I intend to live until I’m 400 thanks to advances in science. So the more I write, the more money I will make. I will also write a lot more entries on my websites until they become huge and I get pissed of with the fame and pressure. (Most of these entries will be more interesting and less self absorbed than this one, I promise.) I also intend to write a fiction book before I hit 41.
2/ Keep trading. I am getting the hang of this buying and selling shares malarkey and am finally starting to make money off it. Big tip – when the stock market has a timidity spasm and drops massively, don’t shit yourself and sell everything. Hang in there.
3/ Poker. I am now consistently winning at online poker. Granted I am only taking part in games that cost $1 where most of the players are crap, but a year of constant play has honed my skills and I am now ready for the big time. The $3 game. Even if I just win £10 a day, I will be almost a third of the way toward my £1000 target. I confidently predict that within 2 years I will be able to call myself by a cool poker nickname. A decade or so after that, people may even call me by it.
4/ Write what I have just written. According to Professor Richard Wiseman in his book 59 Seconds
(great book by the way), one method to help improve your chances of hitting self imposed targets is to tell people about them. This obviously doesn’t include drunkenly telling people that you are going to quit smoking and write a book while in the pub because I have been trying that for years. I feel that if I write my plan down somewhere more permanent for others to see – like a flickering group of pixels on a screen – then I am more likely to succeed. See, it has already worked. Part four of my plan is done already.
I won’t be tracking my progress in some lame girly way such as found in Bridget Jones’s Diary either. Oh no. I have gone for the more manly option of a spreadsheet on my iPad. It looks pretty awesome.
The target I have set myself is to have all this done by the age of 42. It is my lucky number (thank you Douglas Adams) and a good age to retire from the workplace. So in just over 2 years I should be writing, trading, and playing poker on my laptop in the warm tropics. It won’t be retirement as such, but I will be very happy indeed to spend the rest of my days avoiding the office and doing the things that I love.
My next gripping entries will all be about Thailand and Laos. Tropical adventure! Uncomfortable travel! Sweat! Similarly self-absorbed waffling as above but it will be informative, interesting, and will have pretty pictures. Probably.
We’re all doomed! On the 10th of January 2012 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (acronym is BAS but BLAMS would be better) moved the Doomsday clock from 6 minutes to midnight up to 5. In case you are unaware of this clock, midnight means we have just blown our planet up and are all dead. Most of us anyway. The few that remain will be donning leathers, forming gangs, and sharpening their finest cannibal cutlery in a cool post-apocalyptic landscape.
This is just like in Watchmen when they have a doomsday clock that counts down to midnight. In the comic/movie the clock gets to 1 minute to midnight before… well just read/watch it. The nearest the clock has been before is 2 minutes to Doom during the cold war, when the superpowers were dicking about threatening each other over Cuba. The clock was last changed two years ago when, in a spirit of unbridled optimism, BAS moved the clock up to 6 minutes to Mass Death. The reason they gave was:
“Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face.” (http://www.thebulletin.org/content/media-center/announcements/2012/01/10/doomsday-clock-moves-1-minute-closer-to-midnight )
They have since decided that not only have world leaders not bothered to do anything, in most cases the world is a bit worse. Lazy arses.
It all feels a bit like the scientists felt they were missing out on all the misery of recessions and wars and wanted to chip in to add to the general malaise sweeping the globe with some scientific pessimism. Thanks for that.
I will keep you updated on any more clock movements just to make sure you feel the appropriate levels of stress and anxiety as you go about your day. At one minute to midnight, I will be doing this from a bar on a beach. Post apocalyptic tropical islands will be nicer that post apocalyptic cities.
Just keep in mind: Be mildly afraid!
I hope all my lovely readers had a superbly indulgent and alcoholic Christmas. And will do likewise for the New Year. Unless you don’t drink or celebrate Christmas, in which case I hope you are simply having a superb end of December.
Every TV and radio show is now poised to launch its end of year review show. Some will be funny, most will be depressing. It has been quite a momentous year all things considered. Charlie Brooker mentioned that if 2011 was an episode of a TV show, then it would have been an end of season finale. Good luck topping this 2012! Unfortunately it would be a fairly depressing and gritty show that not many people would want to watch.
Let’s look briefly at some of the bigger events:
Someone in the Middle East watched the original Star Wars or Flash Gordon or something and realised that dictators and oppressive regimes suck. So things kicked off and for the first half of the year one mental bastard after another was toppled from power. Thousands and thousands of secret police are now out of work. The whole thing has generally been seen as positive, obviously no one wants to be tortured at random by despots after all. It just remains to be seen how good the new fellows are and if they will sell us oil so we can fuck up the planet for less cash. So fingers crossed.
Osama bin Laden finally found and shot a lot
Keeping with the Middle East, the Americans finally killed Bin Laden! There was no, ‘Unfortunately, he put up a fight and we reluctantly shot him’ bollocks. I guess Obama just thought that as no one would buy that, just shoot the prick and be honest. I think this was a good decision. Why spend a fortune on putting him on trial and eventually hanging him, when everyone for once thinks the bad guy should definitely die. All over the World tedious boring people in pubs where hurriedly denying that they ever said things like ‘You mark my words – he’s dead already,’ or ‘They’ll never find him.’ Hah! Sussed!
Sad loner in Norway kills lots of innocent people because he is worried about increased Muslim… er… was fighting a crusade against… er… was a colossal fuckwit that should be ignored
In Norway an horrendous loser blew up a bit of Oslo then killed a load of teenagers on an island. He was complaining that his country was under attack from extremists or something. He wanted to draw attention to his moronic belief by the massacre of innocents. The press obliged and went on about it for weeks, thereby assuring any copycats that this technique works. Sadly they didn’t just shoot him and cover it up. Or publicly ridicule him until he becomes a twisted laughing stock putting fellows nutters off. Sad.
Disasters. Sadly there were lots
There were also plenty of disasters around the world. It was all very depressing and tragic. Flooding and mudslides in Rio killed 903 in January. More flooding killed 434 in Pakistan in September, Cambodia lost 207 in flash flooding in September, but the worst hit was Thailand (my past and probably future home) with floods killing 657 people. The biggest disaster of the year was of course the tsunami off Japan. An estimated 15,840 were killed and 3,926 are missing. Other disasters included an earthquake in Turkey (604 dead), famine in Somalia and 1,249 killed in the Philippines by a storm. I could go on but I am getting down thinking about it.
The West’s economy gets fucked over by Europe. That doesn’t include Britain, we’re just next to Europe and join in occasionally.
Economically the entire planet stayed pretty fucked. Even China’s rapid growth has shrunk to being very slightly less rapid. Although every country on the planet would probably dream of having this new reduced rate of 8.8%, so it’s hard to be that sympathetic. In Europe tons of things happened economically, with France and Germany doing the bare minimum to keep the EU going but without doing enough to actually fix anything. They did the maximum bleating about it though. Annoyingly I have to agree with Cameron using his veto. People argue that it might diminish our power and influence in Europe but as Cameron said he would go along with Merkozy et al if they agreed a few small concessions and they flatly refused, just how much say do we have anyway? Bollocks to them. Anyway, to conclude, Europe’s dicking about has caused chaos and misery.
There were a lot of people blowing themselves and others up all over the place. I don’t know if this has been an increase or if it just seems that way when I look at news sites and statistics. Like all the above, it’s very depressing.
The Iraq war ended
Hooray! The Iraq war ended and happiness and peace spread throughout the land. Unfortunately the people who live there haven’t realised they are at peace and continue to have a horrible time. Afghanistan still has coalition forces in it though. Not sure why Iraq was a huge success but Afghanistan still needs work. I have been fairly disgusted with the whole thing for years now so won’t write more about it. One thought comes to mind though… if the West had just left Iraq alone and the Arab Spring had kicked off there too, would it be in a better or worse situation than now?
Science has cheered me up.
Science has had a good year. Which is a relief because having read all the above I want to be injected with longevity drugs, put in a spaceship and escape. The sad news was that the Space Shuttle project ended. On the plus side, this may open the way for others to leap into the inky (hopefully sexy-alien-filled) void of space. I wrote about these exciting new things here. In other science stuff:
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took photos of what looks suspiciously like proof there may be liquid water during the balmy summers on Mars. Liquid water means that there was highly likely to be life on Mars at some point. Religions around the world are hurriedly rewriting their beliefs to make it look like this somehow fits in with what they have said all along.
Juno, the first solar powered spacecraft is launched and is on its way to Jupiter. Also launched is the ‘Curiosity’ – the most advanced Martian exploration vehicle ever (due to land in August 2012).
Finally, the Large Hadron Collider dudes discovered a new particle. Those whacked out scientists captured the public’s imagination by naming it chi-b(3P). Awesome. It has something to do with matter apparently and will help scientists understand things most of us never will.
Apart from science things seemed pretty dire. Of course lots of great things happened too. They just don’t get mentioned. Things like the worldwide launch of www.scifiward.com. Other things like the Word of Ward getting 1 million hits from 50,000 unique visitors!
But most important of all. I published a book called The Uneven Passage of Time
on Amazon kindle. I know for a fact that not all the 50,000 visitors bought one so let’s change that shall we? Buy my trilogy of short stories and I may be less self absorbed next year. Think of it as a Christmas present. Click here to buy and support the arts this New Year. Or the tab at the top of the page that says ‘my books’.
If I’m happier, then maybe next year I will write about all the good things that happen in 2012. Stories like: The Mayans were wrong and world doesn’t end (although they didn’t predict that but who cares), or Everyone is still broke but triple dip recession is unlikely, or aliens are discovered but only want to enslave us, not destroy us. Or something.
Anyway, enough blathering.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE WORD OF WARD AND SCIFI WARD! (AND MRS WORD OF WARD)!!!!!
I read last week that Larry King, the legendary American interviewer, stated that he wants to be cryogenically frozen. For years, I always said that I wanted a viking burial, where I am floated out to sea on a boat with all my treasured belongings and the severed heads of my enemies. Sadly that wasn’t practical. Being older, nearer death, and more sensible these days I decided that I now want to live for thousands of years and will consequently be frozen and brought back by attractive people in the future.
This decision has caused me to do a bit of research and quite frankly cryonics looks like an awesome way to go. I can’t bear the thought of being buried and cremation just isn’t for me (unless I’m on a boat that’s on fire with the theme tune to the 1982 version of Conan the Barbarian playing obviously). Getting frozen is looking increasingly practical.
One of the problems with the process is that crystals form when you are frozen and this fucks you up. While researching a short story about a guy being put in stasis I came across a frog that lives in Canada and Alaska that freezes solid for winter. Solid. You could probably shatter one against a wall (if you were a psychopath). It’s called a Rana sylvatica or Wood frog if you are interested. It does this by using chemicals in the blood that stop the crystallisation process. Since 2001 this has been possible with humans thanks to new developments. There are photos on weird websites showing the difference between brains frozen pre 2001 and now. Which means the first people to get ‘iced’ are probably screwed.
Numerous studies have shown that it is the structure of the brain that counts. Embryos are routinely frozen for years and humans have survived freezing temperatures that have stopped their hearts, blood and brains for up to an hour. After that, crystals form and you are doomed.
One of the main problems is tissue damage but with new advances in nanomedicine we are increasingly able to repair individual cells. Which sounds pretty cool. Loads more scientists are now seeing the whole thing as being plausible. There are only a couple of hundred people frozen right now but thanks to these advances there are over a 1000 signed up and that number is going up. Hopefully they aren’t all dull if we have to hang out together in 2312.
It isn’t even that expensive really. The average cost of a funeral in London is over £4000 – add in lawyers fees, wakes, drinks, cars, and other costs and you are looking at £10,000. You could get your head frozen for that in what is known as the ‘cheap package’. I wouldn’t recommend the cheap option as they probably just cut of your head and chuck it in a freezer but there are better choices. From what I’ve seen, it will cost about £100,000 for the full body, with an extra £500 a year for electricity and polishing and so on. This is obviously a lot but I intend to be loaded and the rest of my money will go to family and starving people with diseases, so it’s all good. I will also chuck some money in a high interest account and reap the benefits in a hundred years (with more going to starving kiddywinks too, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise).
There are other reasons why it is looking increasingly feasible but I can’t be bothered to go on too much about it.
The main thing is, I’m an atheist. I think this existence is all I have and frankly I’m terrified of death. If I believed that when I die I went to a place that was just constantly brilliant forever and ever, I would probably look forward to it. Even if I thought there was an afterlife I would be too scared to pick a religion in case I got it wrong. Most religions seem to think all the other ones are going to be punished and have shit time for eternity because they backed the wrong deity. This doesn’t seem to bother religious types as the vast majority of them just pick the same faith as their relatives and ancestors and somehow convince themselves that coincidentally they definitely got the right one.
I think faith in scientists and the possibility of being brought back is much more believable. Even better, if I’m wrong I’m still just dead. If there is an afterlife then at least I wouldn’t have spent my life pissing off a god(s) for making the wrong choice. (Which is likely if you look at the odds of you being correct).
So the only thing left is to pick a pose. I would prefer a clear-fronted freezing pod otherwise the pose would be wasted.
At first I thought angst might be funny. There could be a caption underneath reading: ‘WHY ME!!! WHY YOU BASTARDS??!!!’
I then thought it might be better if I struck a pose for the ladies.
I’m pretending like there is an option in my head. I’m a traditionalist and when I die at 120 will still be a traditionalist. There’s only one option. See you in the future.
Now that google maps can spy on every corner of the world, the unemployed can systematically check out every square foot of the planet. Consequently one of them has discovered some weird-assed stuff in the Chinese Kumtag desert near Tibet. These things are massive and spooky/cool. There are numerous theories floating around the internet already and these include some kind of targeting display (doesn’t really make sense), giant wind farm/solar power generator (doesn’t look like that), plans for new cities (minus the buildings), and a whole host more.
I have the answer. They are clearly military in nature and are either something to do with aliens or the groundwork for a doomsday device. The sort of thing a mad scientist like Dr Evil would build that induces earthquakes/ causes all volcanoes to explode/ has some weird magnet that would cause the moon to crash into the earth/ generally fuck things up. There really is no other explanation. We need Fox Mulder, Indiana Jones, and James Bond to investigate this now. Or even someone real. If not the internet may implode from speculation. The above image can be found here on google maps.
If you think the above pictures is odd, check out these.
This one looks like an airport. Two airports in fact – except one seems to be glowing. WHY? To help planes land at night? To guide UFOs in? The link to google maps is here.
To stay with the airport theme, here is a weird circular thing. It looks uncomfortably like a massive target and if you go to google maps here, you can see that there are a few crashed aircraft on it. Almost as if to just freak you out.
To return to bizarre massive glowing things, here is a huge rectangle of the stuff. This is 10 miles long and 5 miles wide. It could be a reservoir but why the weird colour? Satellite problems? Also governments tend not to build reservoirs in deserts. It looks like a swimming pool for colossal aliens.Google link here.
There are quite a few more but I will end with my favorite two. This one is an odd grid. It’s obviously an audio death device. If you go to google maps here you can see destroyed cars. These are destroyed cars, on a huge weird grid, in the middle of the desert. Just thought I would reiterate that point.
The final picture is of the biggest oddity. This is 18 MILES LONG and simply cannot be for anything normal. It really should be looked at on google, so click here. The only thing I can think of is a test track for filming a Chinese Top Gear. Or they are a really unimaginative take on the Nazca lines.
So there you go. Mental. Internet spods with time on their hand are finding more of these things. Doomsday devices or something to do with aliens. Mark my words. Either is just as likely and just as cool.
Thanks to Gizmodo for the pictures and pretty much the entire story. You can read more here: http://gizmodo.com/5859081/why-is-china-building-these-gigantic-structures-in-the-middle-of-the-desert