From December 2005

Festive Upgrade

Festive New Year

We may not have had a white Christmas on the day itself but the snow has finally arrived five days late! As snow in this part of the world goes it’s pretty impressive and was more than enough to warrant getting out the sledge and go break a few bones! I’m supposed to be travelling back to London in the next couple of days but if we get another night of heavy fall then there may be a logistical issue of getting to the train station 😉

Today I upgraded the site to the new and extremely shiny WordPress 2.0 and the latest version K2. There are a few kinks in the system which you may or may not notice but these should all be ironed out in the next couple of days.

Chinese Geisha

…don’t exist. It therefore might seem rather controversial that the ethereal Zhang Ziyi plays one in the cinematic adaptation of Arthur Golden’s bestselling novel “Memoirs of a Geisha“. Indeed the decision to cast her and Michelle Yeoh as Japanese has raised a few eyebrows with some describing it as a refusal to recognise the diversity of Asian cultures and others mistaking Geisha for prostitutes.

Personally I believe that this has got more to do with ignorance and underlying racism than anything else. I’ve not read the book or seen the film yet so I can’t really comment on its contents but surfficed to say those who have are not being overly negative in this way.

Zhang Ziyi

I guess the only thing which might annoy me is that it’s been made as an English speaking film but then again the book was written by an American and it would have had little chance of being a mainstream hit if it was done in Japanese.

Zhang Ziyi

This is one film I can’t wait to see in the New Year!

Poison Cloud

Poison Cloud

Sometimes newspapers take sensationalistic headlines a bit to far – two nights ago I noticed the front of the London Evening Standard had the headline “Poison Cloud to hit London” – as if we were all about to be gassed the death! This referred to the massive explosion at an oil depot on Sunday morning which is still being put out as I type this. What the papers will say if there is a real catastrophic disaster I don’t know!

Continuing last weeks map theme, here’s a cool world map which has been proportioned by population volumes. No surprises for the largest countries but for some reason I always imagined that the US would have more people – I guess they just make more noise than most! Check out the full size map here along with many others.
The World\

I could spend hours browsing through some of the brilliant photo sets people have put on Flickr and even though it was brought recently by Yahoo! it’s still the best photo sharing site out there. It’s like being able to look though a million different people’s eyes on the world from a million different perspectives. Of course to find the gems in there you have to wade through a load of fairly low grade stuff. Why not have an explore!


This weeks links straight from the hive mind:

Tubular Mish-Mash

Excuse the lack of updates again, life is squeezing every last drop of energy out of me at the moment – not leaving much time for my simple interests!

With reference to my last post, there’s a lot of cool stuff slowly simmering under the mainstream surface of the web right now. To be honest it’s difficult to know where to start when conceptualising it. Maybe it’s just be the sort of stuff I read but I certainly foresee a technological explosion on the horizon that will rival anything we’ve seen before. The technological revolution as we know it is really gathering pace and shows no sign of slowing!

As seasoned readers will know (contrary to popular belief there are some!) I have an interest in graphic visualisation and in particular map designs. Earlier in the year as part of my final year university project I designed an ‘underground’ map of Durham which worked quite well. Now a student at the London College of Communication has gone and tried to redesign the London Underground map, the father of all such visualisations:

New Underground Map

The neat thing about this is that it has been laid out based on time between stations as opposed to quasigeography which the original depicted. To a degree it works but it nowhere near as readable at a glance as its forebear. Another more fundamental issue with any map is that anyone who uses the underground will know that time you spend underground rarely depends on the distance you are traveling!!

Something I’ve long wanted to do is to visit Japan and finally I’m starting to make plans to visit some time around April next year. Of course this isn’t quite as simple as skipping off to Paris as it’s quite literally on the other side of the world! At the moment I’m not sure whether it’s worth finding a tour to go on or to arrange the whole thing myself. Whilst ideally I’d like to do the latter I’m not sure that I’m up to it quite yet due to the language barrier but I don’t want to end up on a tour when I “see” Japan from the window of a stuffy coach. If anyone has any hints or tips I would greatly appreciate them!

To round this mish-mash of conversation off here’s some cool/funny videos to pass a few quiet minutes (I wish), of note is the great matrix spoof and the especially cool IKEA ad (Tip – drag your mouse around!):