Category Archives: Blog

My blog and occasional comment on current affairs.

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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Ansel Adams – Photography from the mountains to the sea

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

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.

Ansel Adams

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Richard Feynman’s Ode to a Flower

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 from the Word of Ward

There is no justification for this picture but here it is anyway.

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!

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Another Apocalypse is about to not happen

Sadly we aren’t on the moon any more so this must be in the future.

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.

It’s going to get hot!

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.

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Moving to Europe

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:

This is all you really need to know

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: thewordofward@gmail.com

Thank you Europe!

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Florence

Ok. Here’s an attempt to post a picture or two.

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