Category Archives: Blog

My blog and occasional comment on current affairs.

The Uneven Passage of Time

The Uneven Passage of Time cover finalI’m not just plugging my awesome eBook because I haven’t done so for 6 months, (although that would be reason enough,) I’m plugging it because I am going to release a new one! Soon! The last trilogy of tales was a thoughtful blast of entertaining Scifi short story excitement. The next are a trio of true travel tales. Which are dramatised and are going to be pretty damn exciting too.

They are from three different periods of my life – when I was 21 and picking fruit in Australia and there were snakes, spiders and a plague of locusts; another was when I was in my late 20s in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco in prime flash flood season and the only escape was a trip in a van full of Berber tribesmen driven down the edge of a cliff; and the final one is set in Bangkok in my mid-30s when the Thai military thoughtlessly staged a military coup during happy hour. All three are moments where I really thought there was a chance I might die. And not my usual concern of alcohol poisoning either – these were genuine threats.

I just need to finalise the cover and sort out the bastard formatting. So bear with me.

In the meantime, I give you The Uneven Passage of Time!

Here’s the blurb:

Time, famously, is relative. In this trio of short stories journalist and fiction writer Jason R. Ward looks at three individuals and their unorthodox journeys through time. These entertaining tales blend the themes of psychology and perception with classic science fiction.

Stephen Hawking once sent out dinner invitations to all future time travellers. No one turned up. But what if one had? In ‘A Date to Remember’ a young physicist is convinced he has worked out the secret to building a time travel device. Lacking the resources to construct the machine he sets a time and date for a meeting with his future self.

It is a truism that people remember the big events in life and forget the repetitive. For most people, their year skips by unnoticed, punctuated by birthdays, world events, big personal milestones or traumatic events. As you age life seems to speed up and you find that the years seem to fly past. ‘As Time Goes By’ is the story of Frank Gilbert who is experiencing this to the extreme. His time seems to be accelerating at an abnormal rate. Years of his repetitive life seem to go by in days. Can he break the cycle in time?

The final and longest short story is ‘The Man Who Loved Statues’. Captain Michael Pike is a man who has taken a bit of hammering in life. With nothing much to live for he volunteers for an experiment that is going to attempt to alter his passage through time and put him in stasis. Things don’t go quite according to plan.

For the US:
http://www.amazon.com/Uneven-Passage-Time-ebook/dp/B006MHSWI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324264158&sr=8-1
For the UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Uneven-Passage-Time-ebook/dp/B006MHSWI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324258518&sr=8-1

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50 Misconceptions about Science

mmmm science....

mmmm science….

I’m a massive fan of the scientific method, which I’ll be the first to admit is a strange and vague thing to say. Scientists propose theories, conduct tests and then have their peers (their very smart peers with brains chock full of knowledge) look at their experiments and ideas, and then disagree/ agree/ generally argue about it/ get bored and have sex with each other. It’s a process. Eventually though some things become so established they are difficult to disprove and become facts which are used to make the world a bit better. Or worse. More interesting anyway. For example, the ability to use a laptop to look at naked ladies or TheWordofWard over a wireless signal in a coffeeshop is the result of a lot of things being discovered and implemented by brainy scientists.

I’m not going to mention religion. Each to their own. Their way of arguing is different and I’m not a fan. This explains it better:

futurama science

I heard a story on QI about a scientist who was told as a child that if you crack your knuckles you get arthritis when you are older. Having an eager scientific mind even at the age of 6, he started cracking the knuckles of just one hand, every day, until he was 60 and concluded it was rubbish when he got arthritis in both hands simultaneously. I like that kind of mind. Question things people!

Sometimes some bit of widely believed knowledge get proved wrong or was wrong to begin with but seems to get stuck in the collective human psyche as a fact. I’ve never understood how anyone can think the following are true having thought about it for a few seconds:

World-is-Flat-480x480

Mind the Gap

Everyone used to think the world was flat and that vessels going over the horizon were believed to be falling off the edge of the Earth. This is clearly bollocks as the boats used to come back. There wasn’t a constant stream of boats disappearing and never ever returning. Sailors aren’t that mental or suicidal.

A cup of tea has more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Balls. Have three cups of strong tea in an hour. You might feel a slight buzz but it would be minor. Now have three strong coffees in an hour. You’ll be twitching and raving like a madman. What’s true is that a pound of tea has more caffeine than a pound coffee. But a pound of tea makes a billion cups of tea, whereas a pound of coffee makes about ten cups (figures may vary).

The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that can be seen from space/ the moon. No it isn’t. From space you can see tons of stuff. From the moon you can barely see continents. Why would you be able to see something just because it’s really long?

Anyway, some very cool fellows at “Mental Floss” have compiled 50 misconceptions people have about various bits of science. If you like science you will know most of these but they are still fun. Enjoy.

 

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Coding with Code Academy

Pretty sexy headline eh? I would like to say that I haven’t been able to write much because I have been spending every waking hour learning how to code like a fevered coding madman. Sadly, the real reason is that I have been looking for a new flat. Which is less sexy.

Here's a complete virtual world I coded earlier

Here’s a complete virtual world I coded earlier

But I have been learning how to code in between appointments. I felt its a skill I should learn for these important reasons:

1/ I have some websites. They are awesome and look pretty but I have no idea what I’m doing on the programming side of things. I just drop in some html code for, say, some Google ads (for eg) and just see where they end up. That method has its limits and has probably led to some readers seeing bizarre placement of things.

2/I also want to be able to do cool things with fonts and redesign generally. At present I am terrified of fiddling with the template (not a euphemism) as it might mess up the whole site.

3/It is on my CV/Resume that I can write code – so I should probably learn it just in case an employer calls my bluff.

To begin with, I have been using something called Code Academy.  It is pretty cool so far and you will soon be seeing some astounding changes on this site thanks to what I have learned.

Code Academy is an online school that is free. It is browser based so you can do it on any computer you come across and you save your progress on the web. (I definitely haven’t been doing it at work though.) It consists of a series of tutorials and tests. When you do well you get points, badges and other achievements that increase your pathetic sense of self worth. (All the cool kids have a blog to do this.)

I don’t know how long I will stick with it, but I have already lost my sense of fear of some of the intimidating code behind this site. You can also learn other things like Java, so you can create a new app and make billions.

I appear to be a year or more behind everyone else when it comes to Code Academy but in case you’ve been out socialising, travelling or having sex or something, I thought I would fill you in.

Also get ready for this site to look different. Hopefully for the better but if not – I’m a coder not a designer, cut me some slack.

softwaredesign

 

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Building Empire State – the other photo

I saw this and thought I would share. Because I’m nice and thought it was pretty awe inspiring/terrifying. You know that famous old black and white photo of the workmen having lunch on a girder high above Mahattan? You know, this one:

Empire State Building workers having lunch

Empire State Building workers having lunch

Well, there are a few more pics like this. My favourite one is the one that was presumably taken after lunch. In many ways I find this even more terrifying, given that I once rolled out of a bunk bed. I’d like to think that the photo was posed and the guys were absolutely shitting themselves, but somehow I doubt it. Some people just aren’t scared of heights. Anyway, just thought I’d share. Enjoy.

After the famous photo

After the famous photo

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The Starving Writer

cutcaster-photo-100733092-Graduation-CelebrationI’ve done it! Five bastard years of broadening my already swollen noggin. A couple of weeks ago I sent off my final essay for my Open University degree in English Language and Literature (with hons). I am now totally educated and shit. It has happened at a weird time though.

Some background is needed as this site isn’t normally a blog (just occasionally). Mrs Wordofward and I wisely decided to go to Thailand for two months at the end of February and gave up our flat in sunny Belsize Park and put everything into storage. We are now back and have been working freelance in TV. My current client only books me a day or two in advance and as I write this I have nothing booked. Currently, we are staying in a friend’s lovely two bedroomed flat (she’s away for a few months) as are looking for our own place.

So now I finally find myself with a degree and I am technically homeless and unemployed. I’m pretty sure that is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen.

On the plus side, I am now realising I have no excuses not to write more. Before, I always had this nagging guilt that I should have been studying – a guilt I have to admit I was able to ignore a lot – but now there is no excuse. I am writing this in a sunny garden on a Macbook air with a cup of tea and an increasing portfolio of shares, so it’s a bit of a stretch to class myself as a starving writer but fuck it, I like the imagery.

Why am I saying all this? Firstly, it is my website so I’ll write what the hell I like. Secondly, I read a book called 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman that proves if you announce things publicly, you are more likely to actually do them. (I wrote about this before here.) I have been writing 1000 words a day as I vowed before but only on days when I wasn’t working and most of them were for my degree. I now vow to write more fiction and badger the hell out of  all of you lovely readers to buy it. Thank you in advance.

So, er, I had better dash. Next entry: something more interesting that isn’t so self absorbed.

5016875837_1012236936_self_absorbed_xlarge_xlarge

 

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London in the 20s. Colour video!

I saw this on Facebook and felt the need to share. It’s pretty amazing to see colour video from the 20s and this is even more amazing if you happen to be a Londoner. It’s mad to think that my teenage grandad might be in one of these shots, taken almost 100 years ago. It was certainly a glorious time if you like to wear hats. Enjoy.

Real Astronaut sings Bowie

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 Trailer

The World's End

The World’s End

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.

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/

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A fascinating tour of the International Space Station

The International Space Station

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.

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Happy 2013!

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).

Smiling makes you happy

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.

 

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