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Great Esquire article titled “A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century” – with entries ranging from flippantly amusing to poignant and slightly worrying (emphasis mine):

NOV. 3, 2020: True becomes the first president of America’s postliterate era.

JUNE 11, 2041: In a matter of weeks, the entire Internet is replaced by “news blow,” a granular microbe that allows information to be snorted, injected, or smoked. [...] Now irrelevant, an ocean of Web pioneers lament the evolution. “What about the craft?” they ask no one in particular. [...] “You just don’t get new media,” respond the news-blowers. “You just don’t get it.”

[...]

Mini Flash Game

Open in a new window (rather than iframe as it was – there is a memory leak in the swf).
Proof-of-concept for a game for an upcoming client. Very unpolished as yet.

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jpgmag.com closes

Happy New Year from jpgmag.com, who announced today they’ll be shutting up shop as of Monday. I’ve been a subscriber to the print version for about a year or so, not sure what’ll happen with outstanding due issues.

RIP jpg, you’ll be missed. :(

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Back.

So it’s the longest gap without a post this blog has had. Meh.
Been a busy couple of months for me. I’ve handed in my dissertation, visited my sister in Dublin, been to Glastonbury, graduated (and the associated revelry), been to a wedding (including the stag weekend in Biarritz), moved out of Manchester and into London.
I have also found a new Web Development position, and have started a new company (link redirects back here) for this purpose.

Another recent venture is a gallery for the wedding mentioned above.

So, that’s it for now. Soon there will be a new photography blog, but I think even though I’m in London it won’t be tied closely to the city as my sites for Peterborough and Manchester were.

Lynne Truss – Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Eats, Shoots & Leaves softback coverYou’d hardy believe that a book about punctuation could be entertaining, but Lynne Truss has achieved that here. I’d heard of the book a few times in the past, but only decided to pick it up after our introductory notes to the third-year report recommended it. I’m glad I did now. because it’s reminded me all over again why things like getting punctuation correct matter, and why we must fight to slow down the erosion of English.

5 ouf of 5 rating Tags: , , , , ,

Lasagne

Lasagne cross-section

Mmmmm… worked out nicely.

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This one slipped under my radar somehow: Microsoft have changed the default rendering behaviour of Internet Explorer 8. Previously, the plan was that IE8 would behave as IE7, unless the developer added a special <meta> tag. Now, the default is to use the (slightly more standards compliant) IE8 renderer by default, but give the developer the option to use IE7-style rendering (again, but means of a <meta> tag). PPK sums it up nicely:

Microsoft has decided to put the interests of web standards above the interests of the Intranets of its corporate clients.

I advise you to read the previous paragraph again. Even two years ago I had never expected to be able to write such a statement.

[...]
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Jean-Benoit Nadeau & Julie Barlow – Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong softback coverA wealth of information about, and insight into, modern France. The book is split into three sections, this arrangement being how the authors have chosen to delineate the aspects they see as forces influencing French culture, disposition etc.

The first section, Spirit, gives a brief scan of French history, and attempts to get a handle on the French mindset with regards to topics like globalisation, their attachment to rural traditions despite the overwhelming majority of the population living in the cities, and the value of rhetorical and conversational skill.
n this section, a whole chapter each is given over to World War II (1939-1945) and the Algerian War (1954-1962), such is the influence these events still hold over the country.

Structure, the second section, is possibly the most informative, but it’s also the most disappointing in style. Page after page of dates, statistics and percentages betray the book’s origin as a report for the ICWA, but this still doesn’t disguise how much information is presented: discussions of political structure (and the reasons and history behind it); distribution of power at the national, regional and municipal levels; the education system(s); law; associations and language are all present.

Finally, Change addresses the current political situation, issues surrounding immigration and France’s changing racial make-up, and the country’s relationship with America and it’s place in the EU.

Throughout, the authors cannot help name-dropping friends and acquaintances they’ve encountered, to the point that it becomes tiresome to read another anecdote about the hiking club or some politically ambitious friend, even though one is assured of being well informed about whatever topic is being discussed. No doubt is was felt this would provide a feeling of sincerity for the reader, but with this kind of overuse it ends up feeling forced.
The other complaint I had about the style was the frequency of descriptions provided in the third person, again, presumably, done with the aim of engendering trust, but actually coming across as badly realised Gonzo journalism. Take for example this first paragraph of the final chapter:

Sitting at his desk one Wednesday afternoon writing an Institute report one Wednesday afternoon, Jean-Benoit was startled by the sound of sirens howling in the streets – not fire-engine sirens, but air-raid sirens, distant and melancholy. He recognised the sound from war movies, but it was the first time he’d heard the wail for real. His thoughts spiralled. The Kosovo war was drawing to an end, but anything could have happened. Was there a nuclear attack? His thoughts raced to Julie, who was travelling in the Middle East. He thought about going down the street to the subway for shelter.

Of seven sentences, four begin He or His, yet the authors are not sufficiently well drawn as characters to justify this attention or to create empathy. Further, both authors are referenced here in the third person – who is supposed to be the voice here? If the the answer is “both” or “neither”, this breaks the facade of connection with the reader this style was aiming for in the first place.

Major stylistic gripes aside, there can be no denying the depth and breadth of information presented in such a compact book: in just under 350 pages, Nadeau and Barlow have managed to convey an insightful analysis of France, and more importantly, it the French. Bravo!

4 ouf of 5 rating Tags: , , , ,

Anti-War Protest in London, March 2008

I attended a protest march in London yesterday in opposition to the wars currently being engaged by the UK. These photos are available in a Flickr set.

Arriving at Trafalgar Square

Crowds at Trafalgar Square
Manchester University SU at the Protest

Manchester University Student Union sent two coach-loads of people.
Temporary Stage Errected

A temporary stage was set up.

George Galloway speaking on said stage.
Banners and slogans everywhere

Emotive slogans.
Placards being constructed en site
Tens of thousands flooded Trafalgar

Tens of thousands of people flooded Trafalgar Square and the surrounding area, but what little media coverage there was of this played the numbers down.
Missing the point..?

The fact that McDonalds just carried on regardless was fairly amusing.
World's #1 Terrorist

Damn straight.
Hand-written placards are striking amid the mass-produced

The majority of placards at the protest were produced in the thousands by organisations (I carried one from the CND), so more sincere, hand-made versions stood out well.

I took this video as we approached Westminster Bridge. The chant is supposed to be “This is what democracy looks like; this is what democracy feels like”, but a change seemed fitting here…
At Westminster

Final phase of the rally at Westminster.
CPGBs were loud

CPGBs started chanting about revolution. Great to see people enthused, but that wasn’t really the topic of the day chaps.
Summation

I noticed these placards lying around at the very end, seemed to sum up the feeling of the day.
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Schmap Marseille Photo Inclusion

Schmapw have seen fit to include a photo I took in the summer of St. Charles station in their latest online travel guide. Neat! No compensation, but credit is given, and a link back to the original on Flickr. Check out the guide, or see the original.

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