Professor Hawking, Dragonslayer

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Image by je@n via Flickr

Listening to an e-book using Voiceover on the iPad doesn’t always capture the essence of the scene.

Picture it: riding a dragon for the first time. Excitement, flames, the leathery beat of blackened wings.

Uhm, not so much:

iPad Voiceover doesn”t quite capture the moment. (mp3)

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The Illusion of Dolphin Sex

You’re probably familiar with the Young Girl-Old Woman illusion, which was first seen on a German postcard in 1888. Or a the Necker Cube, where the image’s perspective spontaneously changes.

Take a look at the USA Network logo:

If you don’t see a dolphin performing oral sex on a smurf then you need to contact a mental health professional.

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J’suis seul dans ma cuisine/Et je bois du café

In the early nineties (1985 in Ireland years) my uncle shipped a percolating coffee pot over from America, which sat in the middle of the kitchen as we tried to figure out what this Cray supercomputer of a kitchen implement was for. It looked like a giant kettle with piping that led up to a mesh basin, which is where the coffee went. Up until then coffee came in a jar, tasted like willow bark, and was only every drunk under protest. Even Anthony Head’s on-and-off romance over a jar of Gold Blend couldn’t make it any more palatable. Gold Blend? We weren’t made of money.

Once we’d found some ground coffee (what do you mean Arabica – I want coffee) the pot was watered, loaded, and put on the gas. Within ten minutes of hissing, pffting, and all manner of steampunk noises this Dr. Snuggles-like machine produced what I can only describe as stimulant heaven. No more Mellow Birds for me… until the mesh corroded.

Ever since, like a heroin addicted J.R. Hartley jonesing for one last fix, I’ve tried to find a replacement. Times have changed and all you can find are french presses, cafetieres, and coffee makers. Until now!

Thanks to the Argos of the middle classes I’ve found a replacement.

I haven’t slept since.

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Jesus, Mary, Joseph, St. Patrick, St. Colmcille and all the holy hosts of angels help me in my hour of need.

Two months ago Ang and I struck a deal: I could let my ten-year old self run wild at Jodrell Bank if we spent the Wednesday before the Royal Wedding at Alton Towers. I thought I was on to a winner there, I loved roller coasters, I didn’t have to watch a wedding, and I got to play with big science: what could go wrong?  I hadn’t been on a really big roller coaster in ages which is why this was the result:

This is what comes from not having a fully rounded classical education. I could have learned from poor old Dr. Faustus.

Picture the scene – 1985, days before a bedraggled Irishman put on a little benefit show for Ethiopia, nine-year old me was brought to Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This was the year the Space Invader opened, a black hole ride that I’d just seen on John Craven’s Newsround and I wanted to go on. Dad hates roller coasters so I told him it was just a gentle indoor ride, I begged, I wheedled, I got my own way. Imagine a man terrified of all fast rides, his young firstborn, and a single car climbing up in the pitch dark.  That was the day I learned my first swearwords.

Ang just won free passes to another amusement park and this was my reaction:

Damn, Karma exists.

And she’s a bitch.

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What do you mean there are books other than Twilight?

Whether Better Book Titles took the idea from yourmonkeycalled or came up with it independently, it’s my favourite Tumblr of the moment.

A couple of weeks ago I overheard a WH Smith employee telling a customer that he’d looked up the author of a book and it was William Golding.  The customer was looking for Lord of the Flies. That’s right, he had to look up the title of Nobel Prize winning, thrice adapted, on the GCSE, Junior Cert 1954 classic allegory Lord of the Flies.

Needless to say, I posted this on Twitter and FaceBook and got accused of elitism and snobbery. I’m not saying that someone working in a bookshop needs to know the author of every book under the sun, but a basic grounding in the classics couldn’t hurt.

Good job the ConDem coalition is shutting down public libraries, eh?

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