The secret video of Mitt Romney’s private fundraiser comments at Mother Jones (first excerpts, second excerpts, and full transcript) and the accompanying Metafilter schadenfreude-fest have been far too entertaining and distracting this week.

By way of contrast, Michael Lewis’s profile of Obama at Vanity Fair.

By way of British contrast, it’s The Nick Clegg Apology Song.

Read More · 22 September 2012 · Weblog

Painted second bedroom

So, here’s what consumed 48 hours of the weekend. J. and I tag-teamed the painting while taking turns minding the kids, who will be moving into this room; I finished off the final coat of the walls on Saturday night and the gloss around the windows and doors on Sunday. This picture was taken a few hours before the carpeters arrived.

Read More · 18 September 2012 · x4 · Journal


Okay, in the wake of that desperate post of two days ago, I am now officially off the Beeminder road. Writing an extra 112-word post before the end of yesterday was competing with too much work at work and too many chores at home. So it’s time to leave automated guilt-tripping behind and go back to manual guilt-tripping recorded on a note on my desktop. Fortunately, that makes this the last time I’ll post about the subject until my end-of-year reckoning of how far short of 100,000 words I’ve fallen.

13 September 2012 · Site News

The daily consequences of having evolved.

Mitt Romney, badly lip-read (via Armando Iannucci’s BAFTA lecture).


I Hate Snark.

Behind the masks of Anonymous and life after LulzSec.

People only use iPhones to take photos of their food.

12 September 2012 · Weblog


Uh-oh. I have one hour to write 160 words, or I fall off the yellow brick road at Beeminder. Which, given that I’ve adjusted my 100,000-word target down to 66,666 (without actually mentioning it here; I’ve been planning to nudge it up again at some point), would be a pretty feeble performance. So I’d better write something.

Read More · 11 September 2012 · Site News


Over the course of the weekend we’ve finished emptying my study, getting it ready for its fireplace to be taken out tomorrow and the hole plastered over. The books came out a week ago, into new bookcases along the hall; yesterday all the other loose stuff went into boxes to stash away for the time being. Then came the desk, a 1970s giant which we had carried in there on its end from the box-room it occupied when we moved in. I wasn’t sure we’d get it down the hall now that the bookcases are there (possibly not the best planning, that), but fortunately the top screwed off and we could bring it through in pieces. This morning the last major piece of furniture, the filing cabinet, followed it. Now our lounge looks like the corner of my study has materialised in it, like an office TARDIS. Except instead of being surrounded by Daleks, it’s landed next to a curious toddler who wants to grab everything in arm’s reach.

Read More · 9 September 2012 · x1 · Journal

Depressing Greek parallels with Nazism in the rise of Golden Dawn. The clue is in the flag.

Wilma Hurskainen’s Growth is one of the better examples of this kind of photo project. They’re a bit of a growth industry.

It takes more than 21 days to form a habit. And, as the collapse in daily posting to this blog showed in May, less than 21 days to break it.

Can the Wachowskis top The Matrix?

Stem cells bring back feeling for paralysed patients. Not just any old stem cells, either. Coming soon to an episode of The Moral Maze near you.

The four biggest bubbles of the last forty years.

7 September 2012 · Weblog

Denis Denis

Some incredible DNA research was reported recently: we now have a better-quality genome from a few fragments of Denisovan bone found since 2008 than we have from all the Neanderthal bones found in history. And as with Neanderthal genes in all populations outside Africa, some of those Denisovan genes persist in Pacific and Asian populations today.

This is the kind of news you stumble across when you’re spotting untapped words to write limericks about.

In the frosty Siberian ground,
A Denisovan pinky was found.
Its genes have revealed
The truth it concealed:
Descendants, still roaming around.

7 September 2012 · Weblog

I Dream of Gina

News of billionaire Gina Rinehart’s latest comments about how the poor should work harder did the rounds the other day on Twitter, leaving me with a burning, righteous fury and nowhere to put it. Nowhere, because I like to keep this blog reasonably civil, and figured I’d already wasted enough breath on her poetry.

But it’s hard to resist. At the very least, it’s staggering that someone in her position can’t see the enormous competitive advantage in money-making that one gets from inheriting a mining company from your rich father just before a once-in-a-lifetime mining boom.

Still, at least she has no compunction about bankrupting her own children because she has a problem with the behaviour of people who stand to inherit their parents’ enormous wealth. Um.

I nominate one square mile in the middle of Western Australia for Rinehart’s special economic zone, with no roads in or out and a flight exclusion zone above it. To be valid only if she lives there, in an enormous Scrooge McDuck money bin.

7 September 2012 · Politics

Speed of Light

It isn’t much of a photo, but the orange dots are Edinburgh and the blue dots are runners in light-suits in Speed of Light, the art performance held on Arthur’s Seat every night of the Festival. J. ran in it twice, after months of training, so I went along to see it for myself on Saturday, the final night, when another friend was running it for a fourth time. Even being in the audience was a minor workout, as it meant hiking up to the summit of Arthur’s Seat in the dark, using special walking sticks with softly glowing lights at the bottom and piezoelectric lights at the top that sparkled when the stick shook. From the top we had a perfect view of the runners coming together and fanning apart. We didn’t actually make it to the very top on our night, as the winds at the summit were 63 miles per hour, but we got near enough. The round trip took over two hours, but it was worth the hike; walking up Arthur’s Seat in the dark isn’t something I plan to do often.

Read More · 6 September 2012 · Events

Airshow, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

What I Did This Summer, Part One. At the end of July we took the kids along to the Airshow at the National Museum of Flight east of Edinburgh. It was rotten weather—we had to hole up in the hangars more than once—but the planes were fun. Here’s a gallery of aerobatic pics.

1 September 2012 · Journal

August 2012