Monday, December 31, 2007

The Sittingbourne Supremacy


We just got back from a blissful few days' doss with Chris and Jennie @ The Beauty of Bath. Since our last visit he has more wrinkles, and she has more dogs. We discovered Cranium, the Isle of Sheppy, and Strictly Come Duncing, the QI DVD game, whereat we kicked Alan Davies' sorry arse.

This afternoon I am in "turncoat scum" mode as I visit Liberty Stadium to cheer against my home town's team. Then it's all hands to the cocktail shakers, as H hosts Hogmanay for the Swansea select.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Lick Your Own Elbows for Xmas!

What a rich font of wisdom and guidance Christmas is. The Queen tell us to help the needy; the Archbishop of Canterbury urges us to protect the environment; while the Pope trumps the lot, praying for an end to violence. Between them, I'd say they had all human suffering covered. At this rate, there'll be nothing left to fix next year!

Inspired by these sanctimoniousfying feats of moralistic carpet bombing leadership, I humbly offer my own exhortation to my fellow man; let us all lick our own elbows! Christmas is, after all, a time of coming together, a time of love, a time of miracles - if we all nake that little bit more effort each day, we can say "goodbye" to dry elbows forever. Isn't that a gift worth wishing for?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Old Firm Derby

Blair conversion bolsters Catholicism's lead | Reuters

A big "hurrah!" for the C Team, then - edging ahead of the competition in a tricky away fixture. Looks like the management's recent signings - one star right wing, and a couple of thousand Polish full-backs - have really had an effect. It's a whole new world!

Of course, I prefer to see the fact that only 1.8m out of a population of 60m+ (i.e. 3%) bother to watch the stupid game in the first place, as the truly heartening statistic here. It has possibly made my whole holiday*, in fact!

* Sorry, couldn't resist!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Man Who Was Third Way

I have often opined that G. K. Chesterton - whose works I admire - was nevertheless one of the wrongest men who ever lived. Here was a man so resolutely wrong about everything, that he actually converted to Catholicism... presumably because he found the Church of England gave him insufficient scope for wrong-headedness.

Strange how history repeats itself. Except, of course, Tony Blair's talent for witty, evocative fiction and essays is yet to fully blossom...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Radio Daze


High Again
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
A slightly bizarre afternoon yesterday; got called up to do an interview on Radio Wales with about ten minutes' notice. You can hear it via the post title link until Christmas Eve - I'm at around 1h 55m.

I hope you dig the subject matter - after that, outing myself for the other thing doesn't seem so bad...

Update: the title link now points to an mp3 of the 4-minute interview.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Anthropomorphowatch 2

BBC NEWS | UK | Fitting tribute to animal heroes

Give me strength...

How about a gong for the gut flora that caused Rommell to miss the start of the Batttle of El Alamein? Hell, no need to think even that discontinuously; let's give a posthumous VC to the torpedo that crippled the Bismarck!

While we're at it, we haven't yet formally apologized to the phylum arthropoda for gassing all those billions of lice in the WWI trenches. Who speaks for them, that's what I want to know?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Land Of The (Practically) Free

Voters focus on pocketbooks as economy wobbles | Reuters:
"'Food prices are getting pretty darn high. Milk is pretty near $3 a gallon.'"
This is a cut'n'paste, and I am not making it up. Three dollars a gallon - and apparently, that's expensive!

You've got to laugh really, haven't you?

L33t Entertainment

Merriam-Webster Online has published the "Words of the Year". I doubt I'll be overusing "w00t", to be honest, although I quite like the self-explanatory "blamestorm". I hope I won't be seen as Pecksniffian if I endeavour to insert "sardoodledom" into a review forthwith. There's a new series of "Doctor Who" soon, for a start...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Moonfaker

Well, it's a space first, of sorts. It seems that China has become the first country to successfully photoshop the moon!

One can't help but wish they'd shown a little more imagination, though. You know - made an alien face, or a WWII bomber or something? Instead, they just moved one of the craters around a bit. Hardly in the Capricorn One school of space-fakery, that...

Nonetheless, this revelation is bound to strengthen the notion that the Chinese government is pathologically incapable of releasing any information without distorting it; even if it's just the exact whereabouts of some very, very distant rocks.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wooly Thinking

Me ol' mucker (literally, in this case) Leila, who works down on the Swansea Community Farm, has asked me to point both my readers in the direction of her very clever sheep. Any publicity is good publicity, after all.

Perhaps now a few more people will believe my story about having once seen a Swansea sheep look both ways before crossing a road? It's a tall tale, I grant - there are, after all, plenty of higher primates in Townhill that haven't mastered that!

True though. Scout's Honour.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sprite Ties

The ThinkGeek 8-bit Tie

I'm normally an enemy of "off-the-peg" eccentricities; they're just a way for corporate drones to co-opt some ersatz personality, and I don't see why I should let them get away with it.

But I had to go "ooh!" at this one. 1000% funnier than a Simpsons tie, and they instantly transform the whole shape of the person wearing one. I could actually really do with one this weekend. Damn the Atlantic Ocean...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Professor Yes

There are better links than this for Professor James Chapman, but the rest don't contain quotes by Steve O'Brien. And thus my universe collapses a little further...

You see, I just went to the Ernest Hughes Memorial Lecture at Swansea University, and it went something like this. Chapman's thesis is valid and uncomplicated, although his delivery could use some work. A serious academic but also palpably a fanboy, his case sounds more like a plea for acceptance from the latter, than an offer of it from the former. But still; he likes James Bond, and he's got a chair - that has to be progress.

It could not escape my notice that the Faraday Lecture Theatre now has cushioned seats. Kids today don't know they're born...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Anthropomorphowatch

BBC NEWS | England | Derbyshire | Piglet saved from loo roll peril

Aw, bless.

Let's all hope that little Andrex will be safe and warm and happy tonight, and taste great in the morning, maple-cured and served with a couple of poached duck eggs.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Andorian Over Fist


Darling in Commons row over Rock

While it is supremely difficult to either (a) understand or (b) care about the Northern Rock affair (I actually thought it was a type of beer), it does give a handy excuse to post this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not Naked; The Other Thing

Norman Mailer was once rhymed with Maxwell Taylor by Simon & Garfunkel. Maxwell Taylor was played by Paul Maxwell in the 1977 movie "A Bridge Too Far". You might remember Paul Maxwell as "Panama Hat Man" in "Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade", which also starred River Phoenix, whose first big break had come in Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me". Regular Reiner collaborator Christopher Guest is the son-in-law of Janet Leigh, who, in 1966, starred in a rather poorly-received movie adaptation of the novel "An American Dream", by Norman Mailer.

I've read it. It's rubbish.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Stars For Your Buck

Delocator.org.uk

I say, this is jolly. Fancy a coffee? Fancy keeping your soul?

They really need a mobile interface, I suggest.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Good Ol' Little Boy

Hiroshima bomb pilot dies aged 92

Another one to file under "He Was Still Alive?". Paul Tibbets - best known as the answer to the world's fifteenth most popular pub quiz question - has belatedly joined the celestial squadron.

Contrary to myth, Tibbets never expressed any regret at his role in history. His subsequent 62 years of happy life would seem to suggest that someone upstairs concurs. It's certainly true that hardly anyone remembers Charles Sweeney, who dropped Fat Man on Nagasaki - an act far harder to justify in any military context. I guess that just shows the value of being first. Ask Buzz Aldrin.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Purest Green


Poster Girl
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
I never really "got" Eva before. But then, I never got Dior perfume, either. Hereafter, I might just try harder.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Best Foot Backwards

BBC NEWS | UK | Menezes police: 'We did our best'

Mr. McDowell might want to read that line back to himself, and reflect that "doing their best" involved shooting an entirley innocent man seven times. One shudders to imagine the consequences of their worst. In light of this revelation, perhaps we should be thankful that they were - apparently - on top of their game?

Social Unfocus

Swansea's Regenerations con went by perfectly (i.e. no need to ever leave the bar) and so it's a big hello to my new chums from Tachyon TV, John and Daymon. The cheque's in the post, chaps.

Guez, bless him, was the usual good value. I shall refrain from enlightening him fully on the events of Saturday night, as their currency can surely only increase. Before embarkation I took the aforementioned and the charmingly Philadelphian Ms. Karen Baldwin on a whirlwind location tour, hence the snap.

There was much curry, significant volumes of precious-metal priced lager, and a concommitant expansion of Facebookage, of course. Splendid.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cuppage


Australia, Canada & Fiji all visited the mothership, and there was much enflickration. I made ginger biscuits, which didn't last long enough to get flickred. I bought a little model of Red Dwarf that looks like a sex toy. And tonight I had beer in the bay with Rob F. That'll do for now.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

They Came And Hiatus

Argh, a blank month... it's like the bad old days!

My head is still spinning with working out exactly which of my 2.0 appendages should fold into which others (e.g. should my TWITTERings appear here, or my BLOGGERation be entwittered? Wither Facebookage? Just how much Flickr?). So, yeah, I've been distracted.

Not that anything's happening, of course. I did finally get off my gluteus and register robstradling.com, which currently just points here. And today I should get my hands on a decent tripod to start mucking about with. I'll be a regular on Vision On and Screen Test before you know it.

Eh? Really? Ah well, Flickr will have to do for now, then...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tales & Ballads


Shock Rock
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
Sunday's inherent, inescapable Sundayness meant a curtailed final day of the Big Weekend for us, but we got our £0.00's worth for sure. Pictured is Dai Smith of Swansea's The Storys (sic.), a kind of celtic Eagles with touches of other Californian influences like The Doors, and the occasional Floydesque twang. Super stuff.

We also caught Ben Taylor, who I'd been looking forward to. He's the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, which is a fairly tough pedigree to live up to. He's doing just fine, it seems - mellow acoustic crooning with a touch of whimsy. Not quite his father's gorgeous voice but good enough, with an edgier, sometimes satirical lyric style.

And so to bed for another year. At least I'll have something to hum.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Blue's Guitar


Blue's Guitar
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
He may be a busker, but he was a darn sight better than some of the stuff on stage at The Big Weekend today. Still, it was hot and sticky and the beer flowed nicely.

Nice of the Wales Ladies Third XV to cheer us all up at Twickenham, too. Berks.

Souled Out


Purple Haze
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
Soul II Soul were a big hit, but we snuck out before the end. Wimps... Before them, Bobby Kray was the perfect wind-down for a muggy summer's evening. The kid's got quite a set of lungs on him. Check him out @ bobbykray.com

The camera did quite well on its first serious low-light challenge, although it isn't too happy auto-focussing at long range in the gloom. Hurrah for manual focus, then!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Back To Life



It's that time of year again, so I'm off to hijack a bus, kidnap a girl, and take her on a journey beyond sight and sound. Or at least, for a bit of a bop to Soul II Soul. I've got a better camera this year, so watch out for evidence later.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Home: Run!

NY baseball fan killed mother as team lost

I've never subscribed to "it's only a game" - sport is much more important than that. Perhaps not more important than Life & Death, as Bill Shankly famously opined, but as the extension of a collective ego and a means of non-lethal warfare, it clearly matters.

I'm supposed to be a New York Mets fan - although my loyalty barely extends beyond checking if they're winning or losing. When they lose - if I notice at all - my reaction is usually limited to "Oh, pooh!" Contrasted with this guy, I could be said to lack passion.

But I'm not sure it's fair, or wise, to report what is clearly an incidental fact of the case - that he was watching baseball - in a way that implies some culpability by the sport. I don't believe that Reuters seriously intends to float the notion that watching one's team lose can spontaneously transform any random individual into a matricidal maniac. Nevertheless, that's what comes across. There must have been other contributing factors heard in court, but we aren't told them. The fact that he was 25 and still living at home surely says more, for a start? It's lazy, sensationalist reporting, especially troubling as it comes from Reuters.

Meanwhile, the Rugby World Cup approaches, so perhaps I'd better stay away from my parents, just in case...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cosmopolit... ahh.

We're not quite there yet. Every now and then my beloved city can still embarrass me. Last night everything seemed to be closing early, just as I was trying to impress Rob F. and Ian A. with the urban delights of a Cardiffian night.

We did finally manage to get a bottle of wine and some nice tapas down before everything went pumpkin, but it was close. Come on, 24-hour society - get your act together, eh?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Spirit of '68... (1568)

Red Mosque disturbances - Reuters

In days of yore, it was a pretty fair bet that if students were being tear-gassed, it was for protesting that the regime under which they lived was too restrictive. Not any more, not in the New World Order. Now we can have students rioting because their country's government is not oppressive enough.

File that one under "Fear for the Future".

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Driven to Distraction

Debora zu sexy f�r den Bus - Bild.T-Online.de

No, I can't read German either. But the jist of it is this; Lady with impressive rack sits down on bus, directly in driver's line-of-sight in his mirror. Driver asks lady to move as her attributes are distracting him and causing a safety hazard. Lady complies, but of course has a nice moan about being "humiliated" - though not humiliated enough to withold her name from the press, or to refuse to have a glamour shot taken for the website, of course.

Kudos to the driver for his honesty and presence of mind, sez I. Even more Ks to his employer, who supported his actions. It couldn't happen here, I fear.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And how are Wii feeling today...?

Like many before me, I surrendered my Wii virginity with little or no thought to the consequences. I didn't need to take precautions; bad things happen to other folks...

Well that was Saturday night, and I've only just regained the ability to walk properly. It's not just the gameplay of Nintendo's little monster that's counter-intuitive - you'd be simply amazed how punishing a few rounds of virtual bowling can be. I mean, I've bowled for real enough times, and the real balls are way heavier than one of those little nunchuck thingies. So I'll admit I didn't think a few ends of 10-pin required much in the way of preparation or caution, even for a spud like me.

Limping around like a lemon for a few days has disabused me of my naivety. Poking around online to find such gems as "Wii Have A Problem" and "Wii Injury Dot Com" shows me I am not alone, or even unusual. You have made me feel OLD, Nintendo. BAD Iconic Gaming Brand! NO cookie!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The 80-yr-old fanzine

A Handwritten Daily Paper in India Faces the Digital Future

I must admit, halfway through I was thinking; good riddance to another retrograde religious rag. But read on and you learn about its fascinating history and, more importantly, its enlightened attitudes. You learn something new every day, but it isn't always this much worth learning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Well, they gave Kissinger the Peace Prize...

Blair becomes Middle East envoy

At prime minister's questions, Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley said: "I just want to say to the prime minister this one word: He has entered into another colossal task."

Which is the greater surprise? That Paisley thinks "he has entered into another colossal task" is one word, or that of the nineteen words in the entire quote, none of them is 'No'?

Meanwhile, we must all welcome Tony's new incarnation, impressed as we all are with his existing track record in bringing peace to the Middle East. I bet every child there is sleeping easier tonight.



Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bike?

Cooke excited by home race return: "'It'll give me a chance to open up my legs..."

Oh, Nicole... all of Wales loves you, but perhaps not quite that much.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bay City Strollers


Hubbies
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
The latest punters on the Rift City Tour are pictured refuelling at our famous pit-stop. Thomas, Jo, Steve and Liam absolutely did NOT break into a spontaneous rendition of the Monkees Theme after this photo, I promise. A very pleasant day was - I hope - had by all, and a very pleasant chicken by three, while only two were even remotely John Malkovich.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mates are top, innit?


GreenEye
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
Oops, forgot to say... last weekend I got older, which was rubbish, and caught up with some mates I don't see enough of, which definitely wasn't. The brief London jolly included a few hours at the V&A, to offset the naughty boozing karma.

Then on Monday I spent the evening drinking wine with friends on a Gower beach - something I've not done for way, way too long. So all in all, the rubbishness has been kept in check.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Schubert Quip


Unfinished
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel
I really want to believe that this is deliberate. The correct spelling gives me hope.

We get a better class of graffitti in Cardiff, oh yes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Misssster Creosssssote

Snake bursts after gobbling gator

You could wait a whole journalistic career to write a headline like that. Leaving aside the amusing innuendo therein, this is still the funniest thing in weeks.

We hear so much about the intelligence, grace and nobility of wild animals, it's really good to see them do something reassuringly stupid now and then.

Plus of course, in terms of the natural justice of the food chain, it couldn't have happend to two nicer fellas...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Zoooooom


Fountain of Delights
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
My new toy is a Fujifilm Finepix s6500fd, and it's veeery sexy. It does pretty much everything a DSLR can, for about a quarter of the price. Problem is, the weather is not exactly photography-friendly. So, what better than to hide in coffee shops pointing my zoom lens at strangers?

I actually got a shot of Nigel Walker, ex-Olympic runner and sugar-off-a-shovel Wales rugby winger of the 90s. But he was looking a bit glum, so here's some happy chrome instead. Once the sun comes out I'm going to bore everyone zitless with this thing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Genocide Itch

It's taken 38 years of living in the war-zone for me to finally become a casualty. But it's not like I haven't done my bit against the enemy, and railed against those bleeding-heart types who preach peaceful co-existence. It's not as if I've just noticed the problem. Shoot every last one of the bastards, I said, but do they listen? And now look what's happened.

Yesterday, I got shat on by a pigeon.

It was loitering in a tree on Windsor Place. Judging by a forensic examination of the projectile residue I'd guess the perp was a Wood Pigeon, but don't think for a moment that I'm going to let those feral phuquers off the hook for that. I could have lived with having to wash my hair, but how did it get the front *and* back of my nice linen jacket?

Kill them all; and if any bunny-huggers get in the way, dip them in breadcrumbs and chain them up in St. Mark's Square. Enough, already. If they didn't have wings, we'd give out medals for shooting them. Mass extermination of urban rodents is positively encouraged - and yet, strangely, no rat ever shat on my head...

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Brief Mystery of Time

After the recent death of Kurt Vonnegut, my juices were stirred to a long-intended re-read of Slaughterhouse 5. It flowed a bit easier now I'm nearly grown up. It's one of those American novels of its time that doesn't actually talk about its main subject that much (the firebombing of Dresden in WWII) and rather uses it as the source for a stream of consciousness.

The aliens (of course, there had to be aliens), the Tralfamadorians, percieve Time as a contiguous lump, and have no concept of causality. I've been unable to confirm if this was SFs first use of such a device, though I suspect so. More recently it was used to good effect in the opening
Deep Space Nine story, I recall. It's a fascinating intellectual puzzle to follow, but of course ultimately it falls down, as must any 5-dimensional construct by a 4-dimensional creator. Any being not subject to cause and effect, and thus with no free will, could not communicate with us in any meaningful fashion, as communication itself demands linearity. So it goes.

Elsewhere - and you'll have to stay with me here - I was dipping into some reviews of Simon Schama's A History of Britain, and musing once more on the academic wrestling-match that goes on between the newer, iconoclastic "holistic" historians, and those who maintain the more traditional "Great Events Shaped By Great Men" approach; Schama being something of a hero to the latter breed, and thus having a target on his back. Being the son of a professional historian makes one a fraction more attuned to such political tomfoolery. So it goes.

Anyway, these two amorphous gobbets of mental sputum seemed to unexpectedly splat together when my attention was brought to a quote from Tolstoy's
War & Peace; which, I hastily add, lest you think me a wanderer of higher intellectual planes than I truly frequent, was quoted on the endpapers of Gregory Maguire's Wicked, to the joys of which (ha ha) I am a typical latecomer.

"In historical events, great men - so called - are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like the labels, they have the last possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to be an action of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity." -Tolstoy

One has to be suspicious of timing this good. Hannibal Smith may have loved it when a plan comes together, but philosophical symphoria such as this perturbs me . If I wasn't such a rationalist, I'd swear something was trying to tell me something. Or something. So it goes.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ouroborant

By Your Command Line...

"We don't allow people to walk around with live grenades in their pants, and we shouldn't allow people who don't understand math questions to get the answers."

I hope Mr. Sjöberg is mollified by the knowledge that it took four or five seperate clicks of my mouse to 'blog his article. And that I could have coded the HTML myself, had I needed to, honest.

Go on, link to this post for a laugh. It'll wind him up. In a nice way.



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cosmonaught Percent Surcharge

Tourist handed an extra day in space for free | Science | Reuters

Okay, so a day in Space sounds like a fun freebie - but this one's "further purchases required" clause is a bit of a bitch...

Six coupons from "The Mirror", perhaps. Then we could talk.

Actually I'm bluffing. I never wanted to be an astronaut, even when I was a sci-fi kid. It's the single most insanely dangerous field of human endeavour, and I'm scared of crossing the road. Leave it to the experts. Or, failing that, the Americans.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Not Quite Yeti


Rob & Hev
Originally uploaded by Northtroll.
The thing about spending a holiday holding a camera (or two) is that one ends up with bugger-all proof that one was ever actually there.

So hurrah for our erstwhile host, Mr. Jan Johansen, and his brand new electromatic Talbot lightbox. Here we are in our decidedly UNnatural habitat. He was wearing shorts and chuckling at us. Smug git.

Transport of Sub-light

Stealth train uncloaks on Google Earth | The Register

Top marks for this. Very good indeed.

I can report that Tromsø's bus service operates similar technology. Cardiff Bus's #12/13 service is at the cutting edge of development in this field, and funding was increased this week with an 8% price increase, hot on the heels of last year's 14% hike. The price of commuting into central Cardiff has now risen by 62.5% in four years.

Anyone selling a 4x4?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Snowed Out


Postcard from the Edge
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
Just look at that. Imagine being blasé about everyday scenes like this. I could never live here, if it meant forgetting how bloody stunning the place is!

It's our last night here and, sadly, the ionospheric climate has defeated us, colluding with the clouds to mean we don't get to see aurora. Oh well - snow is what we came for, and we've seen enough of that to last a lifetime; in H's case, several.

Having managed to stay on my feet for a week on icy roads and in thigh-deep snowdrifts, today I fell over twice. Nothing to show for it except a big blue bruise halfway up my ego.

Tomorrow we fly south, then spend all afternoon is Oslo airport. How this kind of thing was ever survivable in the days before GameBoys and iPods is, thankfully, something I have no need to recall.

So, Farvel, then,
Norway.
You were, in every
Sense,
Extremely cool.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Crinkley Bits


Håkøya Sunset
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
We finally got to bond with some truly award-winning topography today. Our picture shows tonight's sunset behind Håkøya, but we've been beyond that horizon to a fairyland called Kaldfjord (lit. cold fjord) and the album swelled nicely. Go see.

There was time for pizza, and sweeties too. But still no aurora. They're hiding. Boo. I never thought that checking the Weather in Space would become a serious activity, but now we're reliant on this datasource for our one still lacking set-piece arctic experience.

Tomorrow there will be junk shopping and banana-flavoured spread on toast. And some snow, more than likely.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Monster's Graveyard

The Norwegian sun woke us early despite the whisky, and we climbed over the spine of the island to cross the water and get a cablecar up Tromsdaltinden. We timed our arrival perfectly between snowstorms and the spectacular views may be enjoyed on the flickr pages.

After a struggle with the Tromsø Easter bus timetable (or lack thereof) and a prolonged siesta, we crossed the water the other way, to Håkøya (Hawk Island), scene of the spectacular demise of the WW2 German battleship Tirpitz. In our photo, Jan and I stand before one of the awesome craters created by Barnes Wallis's 12,000lb Tallboy bombs. Two of these monsters hit Tirpitz on 12th November 1944, and 1000 Kriegsmarine sailors died.

The beach is marked only by a small memorial, made from a hunk of Tirpitz hull. Though the wreck was scrapped after the war, bits and pieces still litter the beach including some of the chains that fastened her to her mooring. It's an eerily peaceful place to visit, but it's hard not to attempt the impossible task of imagining the sights and sounds of that day.

Without Prejudice

No Deal Done With Iran - Blair

"...Tony Blair insists no deal was done to free 15 Royal Navy crew members."
- BBC

It is perfectly healthy for reasonably well-informed adults - or 'cynics', as Mr. Blair's gang like to call us - to suspect shady goings-on in the return of the British servicemen held in Iran.

What is not reasonable is for the BBC to attempt to make our minds up for us with the pernicious use of pejorative language, such as 'insists'. The clear implication is that Blair's assertion is being made in the face of the evidence. So far no credible evidence exists that a deal was done. Blair is entitled to have his words reported with a neutral 'said', until such time as his trousers start to visibly smoulder.

Perhaps the Beeb feel that this is their only recourse of protest in the post-Hutton climate? Understandable, perhaps, but ultimately no excuse for acting like just another two-bit rag.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Subterranea


Auroring fire
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
Tromsø has a fascinating underground road system. Its existence makes perfect sense for what is basically a mountain in the middle of the sea, but it's something to see for those from less extreme environments.

There is a whole network of roads, junctions and roundabouts in the stygian gloom, and driving through it you feel like a drone in some dystopian troglodyte futurescape. Scattered throughout are enormous parking hangars, which, although hewn from rock, are uneven and whitewashed so they look like ice. Unavoidably, my geeky hindbrain expects to see tauntauns and snowspeeders parked here.

Today we found the coldest beach I have ever walked along. Even the gulls were shivering.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Discovering snow


Cool Water
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
It snows here. Lots.

Which is good, because it's what at least one of us came to see. For Heather, it's cryo-torture, but I'm like a pig in fluffy, white shit.

When the weather clears, we get views like this one. Ten minutes later, those mountains had disappeared. We drove over that bridge in zero visibility half an hour after I took the shot.

Today we learned a little about Sami culture via the Tromsø museum, and also about the Soviet POWs here during WWII. We also learned more about the insane cost of living in Norway - but a friendly optician fixed my knackered sunglasses free of charge, so I guess it evens out.

We put off today's planned cablecar ride on account of the capricious weather, so hopefully that's tomorrow's entry.

Northern Highlights


Bearded Lady
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
Plenty to see and do in Norway.

This was one of the first friends we met, at the Polaria exhibition in Tromsø, where we are now staying courtesy of the inestimably generous Mr.Jan Johansen.

Tromsø is 200 miles inside the Arctic circle, and at 60,000-odd inhabitants, the biggest conurbation for 700 miles in any direction. It's over 1000 miles north of Oslo, where we spent a brief but luxurious day of Castles and waffles. Lots of snaps on the Flickr pages.

It started snowing with a vengeance this morning, so we're going out for a walk now. We may be some time...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Noodlack

For the last 48 hours I have failed to acquire noodles.

It's not exactly a challenge to the Great White Hunter, is it? It's not as if they run really fast, or have sharp claws, or only live on one small island in the Pacific ocean...

Yet still they elude me. Invisible carbohydrate worms that fly in the night. Snug in their vaccuum packs, they mock my failure.

But I will have my vengeance. Soon they will feel the heat of my sesame oil, and taste the wrath of my soy sauce. This I swear on the graves of my forefathers. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Those little bastards will wish they'd never been extruded.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

That was no crisp packet...


Secretary General "Soooo Did Not" Soil Underwear - Spokesman

Mr Ban flinched and momentarily half-ducked behind the table before recovering his composure. Mr Maliki did not react.

In honour of the admirable sang froid displayed by the Iraqi prime minister in this incident, Whispers & Moans proudly nominates Mr. Maliki for the Nonchalant Dude of the Year Award.

It later transpired that the shell had exploded a mere 50 metres away. The cucumber-cool PM barely
blinked! How hard is that?

It's regrettable that, by reacting as any sane human would do to a concussive blastwave invading one's personal space, Mr. Ban has now characterised himself as - in the parlance of international diplomacy - "a complete wuss". Personally, I wouldn't go within 1,000 miles of Baghdad, so I think it only fair to judge his wussness in the proper perspective.


Glad you're okay, Mr. Secretary General.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Televideomatica Digitalis

This morning, a friendly Virgin cable gnome visited and left behind Digital TV. Coming to the medium this late, I'm hardly overwhelmed, but I must say that "On Demand" is rather jolly, and should up my viewing hours a bit. Last week's "Eastenders" - um, no thanks, but a whole series of "Alias" or "CSI" might ease insomnia now and then.

Of course, what I really want is next weeks National Lottery show. It doesn't seem to work that way, sadly. I tried to fast-forward through a football match, but it wouldn't work; I still had to wait 90 minutes to find out who won! Hardly very space-age, Mr. Branson!

Let's hope these are just teething troubles, eh?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Everybody's High

Coffee 'no boost in the morning'

Okay, so what next? Can we redefine hunger as "food withdrawal"? If I have a headache, am I just in paracetamol cold turkey?

It's one of those findings that make you think - okay, very interesting, but what actual difference does it make? Very few people are going to be willing to give up coffee, so most will still need that first kick in order to get going.

I write as an ex caffeine-head who now sips the very occasional decaff americano; but I find a can of Coke hugely invigorating, whether it's my fourth of the day, or my first in weeks, both of which happen regularly. Maybe I should report to a laboratory...?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

White Blackness

Government backs digital lockdown

In its response, the government said these digital locks, known as Digital Rights Management, helped give users "unprecedented choice".

Coming next from our inspirational polymath leaders;

"Slaves enjoy 'unprecedented freedom', say ministers."

"Armed combat 'has health benefits' - government spokesman."

"Moon 'balloon', says Hoon."

etc.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Naughty Beans


Caffeine Triptych
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
We have a new Costa coffeehouse in Cardiff, which is a good thing, especially as the DotCoffee Boom seemed to be fading to an echo around these parts.

The word "Coffee" derives from "Kaffa", the ancient kingdom in modern-day Ethiopia where then bean was first cultivated, apparently. This I unquestioningly believe, because it came from Wikipedia - unlike the "fact" that an ant can survive for two days underwater. This I don't believe, even though it was printed on the lid of a Snapple bottle. Even my credulity has limits, it appears. I think perhaps some dark part of my psyche regards Education and Refreshment as immiscible. That's why teaching the World to sing, and then buying them a Coke, happen on two different lines.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Chionophilia


Snow Goal
Originally uploaded by Brainless Angel.
Okay, so a few centimetres of snow may be small beer to some - but in my manor it's the biggest snowfall in ten years, and the first snow of any kind in four. I was nearly ten years old when I saw my first snowflake.

These kids might be making their first snowman. How cool is that? About -2 Celcius, I think. Whatever, it makes today a good day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Breakfast at Holloway's

Jail for lonely-hearts conwoman

"Miss Gorightry! I protest!"

Now that is one bad case of "The Mean Reds"...

Not exactly Audrey though, is she? I can't think that Capote would have approved.