Some people argue that a familiar nursery rhyme was the prototypical limerick. Which inspired what I call...

Winston’s Rhyme

When I first saw Room 101’s clock,
It was striking thirteen, to my shock.
Now the clock has struck one,
And the rats have begun
Singing Hickory Dickory Dock.

29 March 2006 · · Whatever


29 March 2006 · Net Culture

Ian Dowding: I invented banoffi pie.

27 March 2006 · UK Culture

Ben Goldacre casts a refreshingly sceptical eye on pseudoscience peddled in UK schools and gets a barrage of point-missing complaints for his trouble:

[Brain Gym] teach that a special theatrical yawn will lead to “increased oxidation for efficient relaxed functioning”. Oxidation is what causes rusting. It is not the same as oxygenation, which I suppose is what they’re getting at, and even if they are talking about oxygenation, you don’t need to do a funny yawn to get oxygen into your blood: like most other animals children have a perfectly adequate and utterly fascinating physiological system in place to regulate their blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and I’m sure many children would rather be taught about that.

26 March 2006 · UK Culture

This probably won’t interest anyone except Graham, but in preparation for D-Day (where D stands for ipoD; I’m finally getting one after 2–3 years of faffing around with flash-based mp3 players, not just for the capacity but for the navigation interface) I’ve been ripping my CD collection of various favourite artists, and in the process have discovered that one by A Certain Musician is copy-controlled—or at least is behaving the same as another that I know is. Which is par for the course for anything released during 2003—but this CD was released in May 1999. Napster hadn’t even appeared, mp3s were still a novelty, and already they were experimenting with making everything cactus for future listeners, or so it seems. No, WEA, I am not re-purchasing one of Mike Oldfield’s crappiest albums in DRM downloadable form seven years after first buying it, so what good did that do either of us?

26 March 2006 · Music

As We May Have Thunk

I was at a talk a while ago by Professor Wendy Hall, a computer scientist whose group’s pioneering hypermedia system Microcosm emerged just in time to be trumped by another called the World Wide Web. As part of her potted history of all things hypertextual and semantic webular, she asked how many in the audience had actually read Vannevar Bush’s landmark article As We May Think. I was one of the surprising number of people who weren’t among the surprisingly few who had. Three weeks later, I still haven’t, so this public confession is to remind me that I should.

Read More · 26 March 2006 · Journal

Three random links—a pretty thin haul for a fortnight’s surfing, really:

26 March 2006 · Weblog

Holy Blood, Holy Architecture

It seems that every time you open the paper at the moment there’s another story about the Dan Brown court case, asking whether he infringed copyright by ripping off the plot for The Da Vinci Code from the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. And every time I see it, all I can think is, “Of course he didn’t. What kind of bizarro legal world is this?”

Read More · 21 March 2006 · · Books

Down the Peninsula

I’ve finally finished the last of these photo galleries, and as you’ll see have saved the best for last. Well, I would say that, seeing as how I grew up not too far away and have spent many happy days there.


Hope you’ve enjoyed them. More in a few months... in the meantime, we return you to regular old words bashed into a keyboard.

19 March 2006 · · Travel

If you like the sound of People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves To Unsuspecting Bystanders and What To Do About It, wait ’til you read the past winners of the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for the Oddest Title of the Year. Bombproof Your Horse, anyone?

15 March 2006 · Books

Howdy Ho!

It snowed again here on Sunday morning, and all those photos from last week were nothing compared to what we spotted in Princes Street Gardens in the afternoon: the most beautiful snowman in the world.

Read More · 13 March 2006 · · Journal

More found stuff at that newly revamped part of the site, from an origami penguin onwards.

13 March 2006 · · Site News

The Man Brooker

Let’s face it, you’re a massive hypocrite. You sit there at your la-di-da dinner parties sipping Tempranillo and pointing out that you don’t own a television, and as soon as the guests have gone you whip out the laptop and gorge yourself on half a box-set of Curb Your Enthusiasm or Six Feet Under. No TV? All you’ve done is boil it down to a syrup of video sweetness, minus the hours and hours of bum-wincingly tedious drivel that selfless critics like Charlie Brooker sit through so that they can warn you, in sarcastic rant-filled form, what to avoid. Forget hypocrite—you’re a super-hypocrite, a hyper-hypocrite: you should be chased around a hippodrome by a horde of hypnotised hippos.

Read More · 12 March 2006 · Books


Okay, it was slightly optimistic to think I’d have sorted through all the Australia photos by Christmas. But here are the first second fruits: a tour of the Eastern seaboard almost as frantic as it felt (minus one significant exception—I’m saving Tassie for last). I’ve tried to avoid too many of the obvious shots and include only the things that struck me as new or unusual on my umpteenth visits to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, with one or two familiar landmarks thrown in. Shame I couldn’t take the camera on the Bridge Climb—that was fantastic (thanks, G).

Eastern States

The whole exercise reminds me how much of my first twenty years of photo-taking goes untapped in Detail, but half of them are in storage, and as for the other half... well, that’s a lot of scanning.

11 March 2006 · Travel

Aussie Birds

For too long I’ve been resisting the obvious way to drive traffic to this site so that I can plaster it with flashing banners and Visa logos. So here’s a first instalment of hot new pix from my trip down under. Click now while they’re free, because birds like these won’t be for long! Phwoar!

9 March 2006 · · Whatever

Email from Jane: “Can we paint the hallway this weekend?”

9 March 2006 · · Weblog

Mark Morriss of the Bluetones

When I mentioned to James that I was going to see the Bluetones, he said he thought they’d split up. But no, they’re still going, and kicked off a new tour in Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms last night.

Read More · 9 March 2006 · Music

How to fold a shirt [via Crooked Timber].

7 March 2006 · Weblog

How blogging saps the vital juices:

It renders the word even more evanescent than journalism; yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence. No Modern Library edition of the great polemicists of the blogosphere to yellow on the shelf; nothing but a virtual tomb for a billion posts—a choric song of the word-weary bloggers, forlorn mariners forever posting on the slumberless seas of news.

Alas, poor choric.

Read More · 7 March 2006 · · Net Culture

Fractal Desktops. Alternatively, just stare at the screen after rubbing your eyes too hard.

7 March 2006 · Weblog

So how come when I saw the newspaper headline “Revealed: The Best Places in Scotland to Raise Children” I got this instant mental picture of the mushroom farm we used to have in our bathroom?

6 March 2006 · · Whatever

Four Days in Winter

For once I haven’t spent weeks getting a bunch of photos together for a new gallery. Here are the past four days in winter here in Edinburgh. Brrr.

5 March 2006 · Journal

Busting Balls

View from Appleton Tower, 3 March 2006

The above photo is Jane’s (all rights reserved by Jane, reproduced by kind permission of Jane). She works in the widely loathed Appleton Tower. Although it’s a monstrosity from the outside, overshadowing its charming Georgian surroundings with nine floors of Duplo-block ugliness, the tower is quite pleasant inside, and has some of the best panoramic views of the Old Town... because they’re the only ones without Appleton Tower in them.

Read More · 4 March 2006 · Journal

Neil Gaiman on Mirrormask [via LMG]. I saw it last year at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and failed to write anything about it here. It’s good. Go and see it.

3 March 2006 · · Film


It’s blowing a blizzard out there;
It’s snowing and freezing the air.
The world’s turning white,
So it’s winter, all right.
Just a shame that I’m no polar bear.

As I write this, it really is snowing heavily outside—Edinburgh’s first of 2006. It started coming down while I was out in the street, and I just happened to have my camera with me, so some photos will be coming soon.

3 March 2006 · · Journal

Radio 4’s News Quiz is one of the staples of our household, and whenever Linda Smith was on the panel we knew it would be a good one. She was one of the funniest people in Britain, and it’s far too early to be reading her obituary.

1 March 2006 · · Comedy

Photos of tiny people living on the surface of food. Electron microscopy is amazing, isn’t it? [Via the null device.]

1 March 2006 · · Weblog

Wombat File fans may have been wondering about Bill’s Movable Type woes. Never fear: all is now well, and the Wombat should be up and waddling again in no time. Just had to remove a malignant database that had grown to sixty times the size of its host.

1 March 2006 · · Weblog

Learn more about E-Learning, Politics and Society with Edinburgh University’s online MSc in E-Learning.

←February 2006