Category Archives: Cool things

The Burger of the Gods

Now, usually I wouldn’t post on here about what I’ve eaten, but last night I created The Burger of the Gods.

Two slices of decent wholemeal bread
Mature cheddar
Jalapeno peppers (quite a lot of these)
Anchovies (the ones in olive oil with garlic and herbs, not preserved in salt because that kills the flavour)
A decent low-fat burger (all the taste of beef but without the nasty fatty taste in the mouth afterwards that you get from the cheap burgers)
A load of salad on the side.

You might wonder how I knew that this was The Burger of the Gods, but when I created it a beam of sunlight came down through the kitchen window (which is impressive at that time of evening in an east facing kitchen) and a holy choir descended from the clouds. Between the lowest angels a banner unfurled saying ‘this is The Burger of the Gods’. That last bit was a real giveaway that I’d made something special. And lo, I did it eat, and it was good.

$1,000,000 to prove that Jesus isn’t the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster…

We are willing to pay any individual $1,000,000 if they can produce empirical evidence which proves that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Rather silly? You might think so, but it nicely gets to the crux of the issue. I’d be fascinated to see someone try.

Do you think that they would accept an evolutionary argument stating that no direct jumps between different species is possible?

Fancy supporting some artists?

Pinholecamp is a group of artists who go out to the Burning Man festival each year and take some beautiful images with a room-sized pinhole camera. Like pretty much everything at the festival, they do this for free and for the spirit of the thing; however, it does cost them a lot of money, so if you fancy buying an interesting print for US$20 and supporting a great group of people then visit their site and participate in keeping a great thing going. I’ve just sent them some money because I think that they’re a very worthy cause.

I can’t afford to get the to Burning Man this year. I’ve been twice in the past and I will go again in the future. There’s nothing else like it on earth, and it starts (officially) tomorrow.

Competing theories for creation

Given that apparently there is some doubt about the theory of evolution, I feel it is wise to highlight a couple of alternatives that should be covered when the Kansas curriculum (and later probably the rest of the US states) is opened up to suggest different approaches to creation.

First up we have the sound and reasonable belief that the world was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. The author of the website explains in his open letter to the Kansas School Board:

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. […] a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artefact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artefact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage.

Read more about the reasonable request here

The second theory, that it is of the utmost importance that should be presented with equal seriousness to other competing interpretations, is that of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

The IPU’s great appeal is described in a brilliant and undeniable piece of theo-logic:

The Invisible Pink Unicorn is a being of great spiritual power. We know this because she is capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorn is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that she is pink; we logically know that she is invisible because we can’t see her.

You can’t argue with that.

More here

So, along with Intelligent Design I hope to see these equally valid and scientific proposals on the Kansas syllabus next year.

Do you know any others that I should be aware of? Put a link in a reply!

New Portishead Album!*

*not really.

I’ve been waiting ages for the long-rumoured new Portishead album, so in the meantime I’ve found an album from a couple of years ago by the lead singer Beth Gibbons and someone called Rustin Man. It’s called ‘Out Of Season’ and, while not being slow trip hop (drip hop?) like the Portishead songs, it certainly has some really good moments. Beth Gibbons’ voice is very distinctive and it’s nice to hear something from her that I’d not heard before.

UK link US link

Fiona Apple album finally getting released

My taste in music is generally quite bleepy, but for many years I’ve enjoyed the dulcet tones of Fiona Apple’s two albums, which have now been released in a combined set UK link US link. Her first album, Tidal, has many great tracks on it and shows a voice with great strength and potential. Her unusual style of instrumental arrangment is very distinctive and produces some beautiful riffs that linger in the memory. A slightly more mainstream release of hers was ‘Across the Universe’, which has been described as ‘the best Beatles cover ever recorded’, and can be found on the soundtrack to Pleasentville (which is also a lovely film, and features the Fiona Apple video on the DVD UK link US link).

Anyway, back in 2003 she completed work on an album called ‘Extraordinary Machine’ which was apparently deemed too uncommericial for release. Some say that Miss Apple thought that the album wasn’t really finished, but I suspect that we won’t hear the truth about it. Fast forward to now, the album has been leaked onto P2P networks and a campaign has been running for around a year to get the album released. Finally later this year it will come out with about two-thirds of the tracks re-recorded. I’ve got a copy of the unreleased ablum, and it continues her earlier eccentric sound and puts in a few new twists. It’s definitely worth a listen and I’m looking forward to the official release and to hearing the difference the recording has made.

If you like female singers and fancy trying something a little unusual then give Fiona Apple a try.

Here’s a more formal run-down of the goings on:

My PC dreams of electric sheep

‘Electric sheep’ is a screen-saver that generates fractal patterns and using distributed processing to create new ones. The results are often very beautiful and hypnotic fractal flames that can be worryingly addictive to just sit and watch.

You need to have a decent-speed always-on internet connection and a fair bit of patience for the first ‘sheep’ (ie. fractal flame) to download, but once you’re started you won’t regret it.

For a long time I never bothered having a screen-saver, I found them annoying and distracting, but now I’m happy to see the sheep pop-up and help me relax into thought.

They’ve just updated the software so now’s a great time to grab electric sheep for your computer:

There’s more info in the FAQ link, so check that out if you’ve got questions.

Naughty Origami

When I was a kid I learnt origami, and even had an exhibition at my (tiny) local library. Back in those days it was hard to find any decent books about origami, and the internet was only a twinkle in the US military-industrial complex’s eye (and a few universitys’). If you were lucky you could find an old copy of Robert Harbin’s brilliant books (US link UK link) but most books had about twenty basic models and not a lot else. To this day I still make little birds occasionally, and it’s very relaxing to be able to make something elegant from something as simple as a square of paper.

Today things have changed. There are loads of origami books, reprints of Robert Harbin’s work, and models that certainly didn’t turn up in the books that I was reading when I was a kid. Today there are whole books dedicated to naughty origami (US link UK link), modelling women’s and men’s anatomy in various configurations, which may admittedly be more entertaining than a flapping bird and may prove a good talking point over a dinner with a loved one but I wouldn’t suggest trying to get them exhibited in your local library unless you enjoy giving grannies heart-attacks.

On a more publically acceptable note, there have also been some developments in the frivolous side of origami too, again working with the art as a way of entertaining other people. US link UK link

Next version of Windows in pre-release virus shocker*

*may not involve actual shock.

I’m quite impressed. Before Microsoft have even released their ages-in-the-making new version of Windows, previously known as the entendre-creating ‘Longhorn’ but now officially dubbed ‘Vista’, there have already been viruses demonstrating security such vulnerabilities that Microsoft has had to remove an entire tool from the software. Ouch. That must have hurt.

What sort of name is Vista anyway? Vista is suggestive of a grand expansive view to the horizon, with majestic possibilities available to you. Then you put a Window in the way of it and you can only see a tiny portion of the view and maybe you can see more if you press your nose up to the Window, but then you just leave a smudgey mark that takes ages to get rid of, and your Window never quite works as well again.

Actually, maybe Windows Vista is the right name after all.

New T G Browning book

Many of you won’t know that a while ago I did some cartoon illustration for a chap in the US called T. G. Browning. Now, T. G. has proven to me time and again that he really is a thoroughly decent man, and more than this he is also a very amusing author.

I worked on Caught Dead & Other Catastrophes UK link US link, but he has also written two other books: Wired UK link US link and his new one Red Tide UK link US link. I’ve not read it yet (because it’s literally only just come out) but judging by his other work it will also be a great read.

T. G. is a publish-on-demand author, and I know how hard he works on his craft. I really do hope that he’ll be recognised by a major publishing house because his style is very laid-back, idiosyncratic, and definitely a refreshing change from the usual authors. Sometimes individuals produce far more interesting things than mainstream authors. Anyway, that’s enough of me plugging the books. I’m really looking forward to getting my copy, but now I’ve brought it to your attention I hope you’ll give it a try.


I’m not sure if anyone would be interested in a podcast that I might make, or even what I’d put on it, but in case anyone is interested, here’s a tutorial of how to make a podcast using the lovely WordPress (the blogging software I use, and that I highly recommend):

Can it really be that easy? Apparently so. I may try this in a few weeks when I’ve got a bit of time on my hands…

For those who don’t know, podcasts are home-made radio shows that people can automatically download through the RSS feed (of which there is one available for this blog). You then listen to the show at your own leisure, such as on mp3 players such as iPods, hence the name. It sounds all rather complicated to set up, and there are loads of debates about the best way to organise them, but apparently it’s not. I guess I’ll find out if I ever give it a go!

Get Google Earth

If you’ve not played with this yet then you really have to.

Basically it’s a map of the planet, constructed from satellite photos. It takes a moment to download the new images, but it lets you download pictures of pretty much everywhere around the world in incredible detail.

Not only is big brother watching you, but so too could be you mother, father, and a whole host of complete strangers. I’ve not checked to see how often it updates, but if anyone knows how ‘live’ this is I’d be interested to hear.