Thought, experience and memory from a brain in a jar, one that sometimes has control over a thirty-two-year-old Londonite.

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Location: Herne Hill, London, United Kingdom

31 January, 2006

Good advice

Banksy Rats
Banksy Rats,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
c/o Banksy.

29 January, 2006

Do No Pass Go

I popped over to Daniel & Sarah's last weekend to play a game of Go, but never got round to it. It's been an absolute age since I played any games, so this weekend have logged onto the Kiseido Go Server, create a new profile (my old one has lapsed) and played a few games.

And by God I suck! Also, to make matters worse, I found out that the scoring on KGS has never been very clever, and that when the server is working out the score, the players are supposed to click on or off the live groups. Thus the first two games on my profile are somewhat inaccurately scored, the second one by over 100 points. I still lost both, but by a slightly less shameful margin. The third game I don't even want to talk about. I suspect a good bit of playing and reading are going to be in order if I'm to regain the level of personal comfort I once had in my game. I suspect my intuition is gone, and I just need some practice games and to sit on my hands a bit. I always play too fast on the computer, y'see.

24 January, 2006

Nearing Completion

Lipogram Prufrock
Lipogram Prufrock,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
Well, the lipogram Prufrock is pretty much as I want to leave it. Here's a relatively pointless pic of a paper copy I'd been editing. I'm going to upload the polished version to Hamilton's Brain for February, along with some other lipogrammatic doodles. I've not done much of an update at HB for a while, so will be racking my brains for goodies over the next few days...

...might send the Prufrock to Radio 3's The Verb. You never know.

23 January, 2006

About That ID Card Bill II

More defeats in the Lords. This time the Lords voted in favour of amendments that would ensure the scheme remains truly voluntary and that the scheme won't become compulsary without a second vote in the house. Interestingly, I have a letter (editors, please note!) from Charles Clarke suggesting this last point anyway. Surely he knows the content of his own Bill? That old New Labour decision of incompentence or corruption rearing its ugly again.

The only thing that they seem to be selling the Bill on at the moment is that 21st Century bogie man, Identity Theft. However, when they say ID Theft, they're usually talking about credit card fraud - remember that? Most credit card fraud is in the form of cardholder not present transactions: i.e. internet and phone shopping. Thus the ID card scheme won't make any kind of impression on it, as most home computers don't have ID card readers; that's why we won't be able to check our medical records using the cards either, Tony. Where it might make an impression is in preventing people adopting other people's identities when applying for credit cards. Given that although hassle and irritation will befall the person whose "identity" has been "stolen" (such alarmist terms - it's not Blade Runner!), generally speaking it costs the credit card companies, rather than the individual. So why is it the individual who has to pay? Why don't the credit card companies come up with schemes for their credit cards that will make this more difficult? And isn't credit card fraud on the decrease in this brave new Chip & PIN world?

The fact is, identity theft is avoidable. All it takes is a bit of common sense when disposing of utility bills, bank statements, and the like. Not costly, not intrusive, and, hey! it even becomes the individual's responsibility!

As for credit card companies, why not make it legal that you can only give someone a credit card in a face-to-face transaction? Why not take a photo of the person being given the credit card, so that should they be faking it, then it will be a lot easier to prove after the fact? I know this still leaves you with the costs, but getting rid of anonymous credit card application and photographing the applicants will put off a hell of a lot of would be fraudsters. The thing is, credit card companies don't want to do that because it will put some people off. Given the number of times the companies are getting their knuckles rapped over aggressive advertising and irresponsible lending, don't you think maybe it would be a way of showing you're willing to behave?

19 January, 2006

A.J. Prufrock's chanson d'amour

I'm writing a lipogrammatic translation of a famous work of Tom's. My first draft is shown below. My first parsing of it took it to lipogram status, and I shall visit it again for a final polish.

A.J. Prufrock's chanson d'amour

Why not go now, you and I
Whilst this gloaming's languid against its sky
as if it lay unconscious on a slab
Why not go through familiar but not crowding roads
Through murmuring lodgings
of tiring nights in short-stay tawdry inns
sawdust food-halls with scallop casings
Paths that follow, akin to boring discussions
Of implicit aim
To point you to an inundating inquiry
Oh do not ask “what is it?”
Why not go now and both visit

In my room ladyfolk pass on by
Talking of Buonorotti

A mustard fog that rubs its back upon a window’s glass
A mustard smog that rubs its lips upon a window’s glass
Tonguing into all of this gloaming’s nooks,
Floats aloft from ponds that stand in drains
Allows to fall upon its back dark ash that falls from roof stacks
Slips by a row of housing, without warning jumps,
And noticing this soft autumnal month
Curls all about my lodging for a kip

And opportunity will follow
For mustard smog that slips along my road
Rubbing its back upon all window glass;
Opportunity, opportunity
To form a look to confront looks in turn
Opportunity to kill and bring about
And opportunity for all works and days of hands
That lift and drop an inquiry in your bowl;
Instants for both you and I,
Instants too for a myriad don’t-knows,
A myriad drafts of a myriad sights,
Prior to taking of toast and chai.

In my room ladyfolk pass on by
Talking of Buonorotti

And opportunity too
To ask “Do I risk it for a small affair?”
Now to turn back, and go downstairs
With a bald spot tonsuring my hair
(all will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to my chin,
My cravat rich and civil, but stuck fast by a worn old pin--
(All will say: “But how his limbs now grow so thin!”)

Do I risk it
Disturbing this continuum?

In an instant, opportunity
For picking paths and making drafts which an instant can undo.

For I know all instants now, known instants all—
Known gloamings, mornings, nights and noons
Brought my mortal story out with sugar spoons
I know all babbling dying with a dying fall
Drowning in music from a distant room
My assumption is too soon?

And all looks I know by now, known looks all
Looks that fix you with sly formulaic words
And whilst I’m but a formula, sprawling on a pin
Whilst on a pin and wriggling on a wall,
How should I now start
To spit out all cigar butts of my days and ways?
My assumption is too soon?

And all arms I know by now, known arms all—
Arms with shining bands and palid and fair
(but whilst in lamplight, a down of august hair!)
Is it odour from a gown
Causing my thoughts to roam?
Arms lying along a worktop or that wrap about a shawl.
My assumption is too soon?
And how should I now start?

Shall I say, I brought my body down narrow roads,
Watching smog rising out of roof stacks
Of solitary chaps, tilting out of windows…
If only I had had a form, a pair of worn down claws
Scuttling across our sub-aquatic floors.

And so past noon, and gloaming, kips so placidly!
A smoothing of long digits,
Akip… worn out … or dawdling stays,
upon our floor, along from both of us
Should I, whilst full of chai, hot and cold pudding.
Find it in my soul to bring this instant’s flooding?
Though in my past I cry and fast, cry and pray,
Though I saw my skull (grown slightly bald) brought in within a bowl,
This is of small import—I am no guiding soul;
I saw my hour of distinction pass,
And I saw that undying footman hold my coat, and laugh,
And, in short, I was afraid.

And would my account find nothing owing
With cups, and citrus jams, and chai
Amongst this china clay, a bit of talk of you and I
Would it finally show profit
If grinning I bit this thing to stop it
So pushing this continuum into a ball
To roll it towards an inundating inquiry,
To say “I am Lazarus, back from passing,
Back to inform you all, I’ll inform you all”—
If a lady puts a pillow by that lady’s skull
Should say: “That is not what I said at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would my account find nothing owing
Would it finally show profit
Past many sundowns, many dooryards, and rain-slick roads,
Past many books, past china cups, past many skirts that trail along a floor—
Past an unfinishing list of things?--
I hold an inability to say what I’d imply!
But as if a magic box had on a backdrop shown my axons laid out tidily:
Would it finally show profit,
If a lady, placing pillows or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward a window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I said at all.”

No! I am no Danish dauphin, nor was that my path;
Am an assisting lord, such that will do,
To push a plot or start an act or two,
Inform my royal lord; no doubt a tool,
My Duty won, and glad to carry out,
Politic, cautious, and assiduous
Full of high standing, but short on clout;
Occasionally ridiculous—
Occasionally his Fool.

I grow old… I grow old….
I‘ll don a pair of slacks, its bottoms fold
Shall I part my hair at back? Do I risk having a plum?
I shall don my slacks with turn-ups, and walk upon a strand.
I know singing by aquatic nymphs, but only from dry land.

I do not think that song is for my favour sung.

I saw nymphs riding out on tidal flows
Combing strands of hair on surf blown back
As winds blow its foam both ivory and black
Our past was too long paid in coastal rooms
By nymphs with plants for clothing, blush and brown
Till human talking stirs us, so to drown.

I should point out that my saying "ladyfolk" is a rarity.

17 January, 2006

About That ID Card Bill

Quietly pleased, but the show's not over yet...

Glad to see that some people in politics are willing to actually point out the lies and inconsistencies in the Government's line on ID Cards.

The Lords have not only requested a full and open release of the Home Office's figures, but wish to make the scheme truly voluntary. They also want to block any future use of the NID key in other databases, which would prevent the creation of the meta-database.

Clarke recently suggested that public support for the scheme was higher now than it's ever been. Happily that doesn't seem to be the case.

I suspect a letter to Mrs Jowell might be in order...

15 January, 2006

Hello By The Way

Well, I've not posted properly for a while - between Christmas and an unshakeable cold I've not really had much time, energy or impetus to make more than a passing comment on recent news and events. However, my mucus has changed consistency, I've completed the story missions of GTA: San Andreas, and we've reorganised the books, so here I am. Consider this an update and that.

I've been spending a little too long on the QI forums of late. Its eclecticism appeals to me, and there's a genuinely interesting range of voices, experiences and learnings. I post there as Mr Grue (and in school time, too! A bad habit I'm determined to get out of). Say hello some time.

Christmas was made more interesting than usual in that Ian and I were prominantly visible in the audience of the Goodies night studio bits. We'd been similarly framed in a Dad's Army documentary a while ago, too, but this time round the show we were ever so slightly in was on the viewing list of most of our friends. We were inundated with texts and emails along the lines of "look! You're on the telly!". Ian got a message from one of the talking heads in the show complaining that we were in it more than he was. Bo.

We did our almost annual book sort, which is getting increasingly difficult. We'd get another set of shelves, but there isn't the space. There was collapsage, too, which was a tad annoying. All done now, though. Anally placed some pics on Flickr with loads of annotation. Check 'em out.

Speaking of anal - I also was considering the importance of art that has something to say and the need to apply this to my own writing. I began to "restate my assumptions" which was quite an interesting exercise. I've been a bit low of late, partly due to the cold, and partly just my turning 30 blues, which will hopefully end by the time I'm 31. Partly stemming from the list, and the blues, I've decided to draw up a life plan, pillow book type thing - starting with the list of assumptions, but going on to include things such as free pleasures, goals for 2006, goals for 2016. I'll probably post a good deal of it online when it's done. I guess what I'm trying to do is channel my energies more effectively. I've taken on a couple of creative projects lately that I really believe in, and find myself genuinely interested in the research that goes along with them, but I need to make sure I follow them through, and the listmaking exercise will be a help.

What about Pieces? Yeah, yeah, I know! It'll get done eventually. I'm having a huge problem trying to find something in the character's childhood to write about. There's a friendship with his art teacher which I want to focus on but I'm having trouble bringing it about without making it seem contrived.

What about GRW? Yeah, yeah, I know! Definitely want to do something with it, but I'm not sure at present what. I'm planning an expidition into the interior to find the source of the Circle Line, probably the weekend before my birthday. This was originally intended for a piece in the Grue, but it's very much mirth and merriment, and so goes against the original agenda. I suspect I may have to lighten up a little on the requirements for entry. Was even toying with running fiction, but would need to really really control that, and might not be bastard enough to do so.

I notice you've not done much with Hamilton's Brain lately. Yeah, yeah, I know! I'll at least get some more straplines out, and a progress update on Pieces. I did a noun+7 version of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock on the old Grue site. Rolf has lamented that I've not transferred the Victor Mature letters over to the Brain Probe, so I might make something of that. I had worked out a quite elaborate plot about it, which should be easy enough to work through in the correspondence stylee. Will that do?

Anyhoo, I'm for coffee. TTFN.

Lies, all lies!

Cameron Crowe
Cameron Crowe,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
On the town with Ian and Rolf and who should we bump into but North American film director Cameron Crowe! He was wearing a Robert Crumb t-shirt, so maybe those rumours are true?

07 January, 2006

BBC NEWS | Wales | Opik fury as Kennedy stands down

Opik fury as Kennedy stands down

Glad to see someone willing to point out how much damage this mess has done to the Liberal Democrats. I had some issues with Kennedy, feeling that he hadn't really done enough in the last election (despite the historic result). That said, his being forced from his position in such a weak-spirited conniving manner has shown the party up as a weak-willed, easily manipulated bunch of fools. I sincerely hope that this chaos will be short lived and that Simon Hughes, or whoever, will get the party back on its feet as quickly as possible. Let's just hope they'll regain credibility.