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Straw Dogs

Polynesia’s master voyagers.

Breaking into games design in 1982.

The psychological toll of wanting your kid to be perfect.

Cory Doctorow on Facebook and its secret war on switching costs.

The invisible plague.

Post-vax covid is a new disease.

What “mild” really means.

The vaccine is doing what it was designed to do.

Iran was our Hogwarts.

Millennials know how to get richer.

Noel Fielding as cakes.

Giant straw animals take over northern Japan.

26 September 2021 · Weblog

Breathing Room

Two weeks ago today I wasn’t feeling quite right, and thought I’d better do a lateral flow test from the kit we’d recently been given, just in case. Within moments I was confronted with this:

My positive lateral flow test result, 7 September 2021

Damn.

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21 September 2021 · Events

10 REM RIP

Sir Clive Sinclair, who launched countless programming careers, has died at the age of (ZX) 81.

No one in Australia would remember him for his failed C5 electric trike (we never saw them, except on news reports), but a mate in high school had a ZX81, and I still remember pressing my fingertips firmly on its flat plastic keyboard. Even though it couldn’t do much, it looked great, with its sharp black corners and red lettered logo, like KITT from Knight Rider. In rural Tasmania in the early 1980s, it was pretty cutting-edge.

I can’t think of too many of the personal computers of the time that were so closely associated with a single individual. None of us knew who’d founded Acorn, or who the Vic was behind the VIC-20. Even Apple had two Steves, not one. Clive was one of a kind.

18 September 2021 · Infotech

A Cure for Cancer

One woman’s mission to eradicate Nazi revisionism on Wikipedia.

All of those women were right.

The paradigm that derailed the science of obesity.

Has mRNA biotechnology delivered a cure for cancer?

The man who helped make Pixar possible.

Ubermenschen.

2021: A Bus Odyssey.

Mozu Miniature Studios (via).

Demolition Man.

18 September 2021 · Weblog

Falling Down

The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 felt more significant than in a while, probably because the fall of Kabul to the Taliban last month had already taken the world right back to 2001. I wouldn’t add much to my comments of those early years, but some of the articles that did the rounds were worth a look.

“The Falling Man” is still you and me.

My mother died on 9/11. Every year, her absence feels larger.

9/12, by Edward Snowden.

The wildest shit from ’01 to ’06.

I also watched 102 Minutes That Changed America, which because we didn’t have a TV in September 2001 was the first time I’d seen the footage at such length. A waking nightmare.

18 September 2021 · Politics

The State of It

Why there is a shortage of drivers in the UK.

Why public schoolboys aren’t fit to run the country.

The hollow heart of Brexit.

EU citizens who have applied for settled status in Britain are being threatened with deportation.

Why is English spelling so weird?

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31 August 2021 · Weblog

The Mask

Masks littering the pavements of Polwarth and Morningside, August 2021.
Typical mid-pandemic sights. Mouseover for more.

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31 August 2021 · Events

Quiet is the New Loud

Now that I’ve got 2020’s sounds out of the way, time for a post about 2021’s (so far).

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26 August 2021 · Journal

The Soundtrack of Silence

After a reasonable start at tracking my listening in the first few months of 2020, things tailed off in lockdown, mostly because my opportunities for music-listening were more limited when I wasn’t riding back and forth to work every day. (As for podcasts, I’m impossibly behind.) For the months of the first lockdown and the summer school holidays I was sharing the flat with everyone else all day and not wanting to impose my tunes on them all the time. After school went back I hadn’t wanted too many musical distractions while working from home.

Still, I managed to keep up with some of the big releases of the pandemic, and made a few deep dives into artists I’d never given enough time before. So before I turn to my favourite music of this year, here’s the best of (the rest of) last year’s. Hey, if Tokyo 2020 can be held in August 2021, so can 2020 Best Ofs.

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26 August 2021 · Music

Begone

After last year’s non-holiday summer, everyone in our family was yearning this year to get out of Edinburgh for a proper summer holiday. With the Delta variant on the rise, international travel was off the cards, whatever the state of vaccinations, so like the rest of Britain we were looking closer to home. Luckily, school holidays in Scotland start earlier than in England, so we faced less competition for holiday homes in remote locations, and were able to book one without much trouble. It wasn’t cheap, but not as bad as some reports of costs down south.

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26 August 2021 · Journal