Popular has been continuing steadily through 1998 and into 1999. More of the tracks are new to me now, so my comments have been getting briefer, but here are a few of the longer ones, edited and adapted.

Read More · 30 August 2014 · Music

The Not Zone

I wish I’d never read The Hot Zone, and could remain sanguine about what’s happening in West Africa. As if there hasn’t been enough bad news lately, with MH17, Gaza, Ferguson, Robin Williams’s death, and another volcano rumbling in Iceland. But even against that competition, accounts like these aren’t easy reading:

Mob destroys Ebola centre in Liberia two days after it opens.

Haunting images from Liberia.

Laurie Garrett’s grim analysis.

“Help! Help! We are drowning in the sea of Ebola.”

22 August 2014 · Events



Two weeks ago we went camping with the kids one last time before Edinburgh’s schools went back, at Camusdarach near Mallaig (which I had visited years ago with my parents to catch the ferry to Skye, before the bridge was completed further north). We were a bit late getting there because of an unanticipated traffic jam into Fort William, and because a few miles before the campsite we were flagged down by a local who told us there had just been a bad accident up ahead, with two cars on fire. For the next couple of hours we watched emergency vehicles race past while we fed the kids hot dogs from a tin for dinner and got eaten alive by midges. Driving past the scene of the accident was haunting, as it looked like one that nobody could have walked away from, but apparently three people did escape and were taken to hospital. Five minutes later and it could have been us.

We set up our tent and got to sleep, and were rewarded the next day with beautiful sunshine and a string of great beaches and dunes separated by rocky points and warm rockpools. It was breezy enough to fly our kite, but warm enough for the kids to run in and out of the sea all day.

On our second full day it rained relentlessly. We waited too long to make it worth heading home that day, so stuck it out for a third night before packing up the wet tent and driving back east. Turns out we caught the southern edge of ex-hurricane Bertha, which did a lot of damage further north. So it could have been worse.

The camping trips this summer have been fun, even though they each had a rain-to-sun ratio of about two to one. We might try to sneak in another weekend away before the weather gets too cold, although it’s felt like autumn since we got back, so that might not be long.

22 August 2014 · Journal

Wonders of Nature

The visual microphone.

Wired interviews Edward Snowden.

The Home Office’s campaign against a mother (and part two).

Ethan Hawke’s Black Album from Boyhood. The film was stunning; like watching life itself.

The Funeral with Carol Burnett and a young Robin Williams (via MeFi). Also, James on RW.

A Gun for George by Matt Holness.

Slug Solos.

Chanel’s shopping centre.

It will almost never be as bad as you think.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, together again.

If Michael Bay had directed Up.

How scientists feel about climate change.

Clive James’s retreat from this hot sun.

How the sun sees you (via io9).

How to Talk Australians (via MeFi).

The double identity of an anti-Semitic commenter.

22 August 2014 · Weblog

The Kelpies, Falkirk

The Kelpies are a pair of monumental new sculptures by Andy Scott located between Falkirk and Grangemouth, next to the M9 from Edinburgh to Stirling. I was there on Sunday with the family and took some photos of the mega-ponies in an hour of sunshine between downpours.

5 August 2014 · Journal

July 2014