July 2004 Archives
July 31, 2004
Tidying up Dad's grave is always a difficult job and today was no exception. In the heat, the grass grows rapidly and the flowers wilt fast, so there was much to be done.
Today's effort was made that much harder by the numerous people swarming the church yard. Most of them were part of a cycling party, there to here a bell-ringing demonstration and enjoy one of the most scenic churches in Suffolk. All well and good, except when you're trying to pray and they're busy photographing everything in sight.
However, they weren't the only ones there. There was a couple of old people, cleaning up the graves of their parents and most of their contemporaries. That, I suppose, is the fate of the long-lived. The chap, in particular, was keen to talk. He pointed out one grave in particular. The guy under it dies in his 20s, in 1946.
"He survived the war. He survived being a Japanese prisoner of war. He survived building that railroad," said the old chap, resting on a nearby grave and warming to his theme. "He survived all that, and then was killed on his motorbike the year he came back. He ran into a telegraph pole."
There's no logic to death. It doesn't fall into the narrative patterns we'd like to assign it. It just is. There. Inevitable. Unpredictable.
But life goes on, even lycra-clad, happy-snapping life, and that's something to be grateful for. Sometimes graveyards aren't about remembering the dead. Sometimes they're about remembering that we're still alive.
July 30, 2004
July 29, 2004
It's Thursday morning and I'm busy enjoying a freshly-squeezed orange juice and some toast in a little coffee shop in a small Suffolk market town. Mmm. This is the right way to blog.
I've abandoned One Woman to the joys of London commuting for a couple of days and shunted myself off to the countryside for a few days. So, thanks to BT's rather tardy rollout of broadband to our more rural areas, the next few days of posting will be brought to you via dial up. How very 1990s.
Today, I've been indulging in two of my favourite addictions: hardback books and taking far, far too many pictures. I'll probably blog about my purchases a little later on, and I'll certainly post some of the photos. For now, you'll have to settle for my current working environment. Hell, isn't it?
I love the countryside. In particular I love market towns where all the shops, bar the coffee shops and the newsagents are shut on a Thursday. This is the life. I may never return to London.
July 27, 2004
Our blogging Labour local counciller makes the local rag again:
Councillor Andrew Brown, cabinet member for the environment, said: "It is disturbing that, in recent years, we have not done what we should and it was not brought to the attention of officers or members."
July 26, 2004
I'm finally free of the round of writing and commissioning I've been caught in for the last fortnight. I should have more time on my hands for blogging for the foreseeable future. You may commence rejoicing now.
I've been busy catching up with some favourite blogs in the minutes since I despatched a file to a developer and what do I find? This.
Another one gone. Bloody hell, at this rate I'm going to be looking for a whole new lot of blogs to read.
Anyway, back to the normal inanity and photography from tomorrow.
July 24, 2004
In the late 1980s, I went to Yugoslavia for what would be my last family holiday. I was about to start University, and the four of us never went on holiday all together again.
During that wonderful two weeks, we visited a spectacular bridge in Mostar. Five years later, it was rubble, destroyed on the Balkans conflicts that raged through the area.
Now, it's back.
Another small step towards healing the region.
Technology usually used to study sub-atomic particles is being applied to the task of restoring recordings now too delicate to play.
For all the scare stories about the transitory nature of digital media, this reminds us just how transitory hard media can be, too.
July 23, 2004
Strange day today.
I worked in the morning, despite the heat, and fretted over my car, which is in for repair.
I went to a memorial service for a friend from church, who finally lost her long battle with cancer.
I found this online. My child-self, somewhere deep inside, isn't sure whether to be delighted or horrified.
I wrote about ghosts, which seemed appropriate somehow.
I cooked dinner for my wife, and then walked her to the station and waved her off to visit her Mum. Walking back, I was struck by the mingled aroma of booze, cheap perfume, cheap food and cannabis that is Lewisham on a Friday night. I want a digital smell=recording device, so I can post the scent here. Get to it, technical types.
I wrote some more about ghosts.
Strange day today.
July 21, 2004
Sorry for the silence, but I'm busy both sorting out the contents of the next issue of GRID and completing a project for White Wolf.
Normal service will be resumed soon.
July 17, 2004
July 15, 2004
These photos are so easy to get in Soho on a moderately sunny day that it's almost cheating. They're so much fun that I just can't resist them, though.
Another blog dies, this time in the property arena. It must be the time of year for it.
You never know when that student magazine geek will come back to haunt you:
July 14, 2004
Looks like the Evening Standard takes a different view on the Butler report.
Dan has called it a day. Empty is truly empty.
Empty was the first local blog I found, with a post about the Leegate Centre making it plain that he was just up the road from me. My contact with other local bloggers sprang from there. I'm sorry to see it go.
The Butler Report into the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war is out. Boy, it doesn't look good for the intelligence services:
The Channel 4 News report is worth a read, too.
All in all, a fairly comprehensive kicking for both the intelligence services and the Government, which should be enough to give even the most ardent pro-war supporter pause. It's a damn shame that nothing will change within the Government as a result, though. When did our politicians become so brazen that mistakes on this scale happen without anyone taking responsibility and resigning?
However, the more paranoid elements of the anti-war camp might also want to note that "No evidence was found that Britain went to war to secure continued access to oil supplies".
Get your own copy of the report here.
July 13, 2004
This has everything: druids, mysterious Cornish villages, a death, a body in the sea and possibly occultism.
It's all true, too. Frightening and entertaining stuff.
I just submitted my first iMix to iTunes.
Do you remember the early 90s Steve Martin comedy L.A. Story? It's one of my favourite films, and I've always been annoyed that they never released a soundtrack for it. Now, I've been able to assemble my own:
Feel free to vote for it. :-)
July 12, 2004
One last post on the Metroblogging issue for now. This will be a little more serious than the posts to date.
Mr Bonner dropped by and left a comment below, and it got me thinking and researching. I'm fascinated by his sites, simply because they appear to taking advantage of the bloggers involved. Please feel free to correct any of this, if you feel I'm misrepresenting your operation, Sean.
1. The bloggers aren't being paid. There has been mention of the possibility of payment in the future.
2. The service is actively soliciting, and running, advertising.
3. The service is undergoing a rapid expansion to 20 or more blogs (as he mentions in the comment referenced above).
Now, I don't believe that Metroblogging is doing this purely in a spirit of altruism, to foster community involvement in the cities in question, and neither do others, it would appear.
So, Metroblogging looks like a commercial venture built off the back of a rather good blog. Bonner himself implies this saying: "Right now we're spending about $140 a month on each of the sites, we've made TOTAL $200 from ads. Do the math. We're losing money. But this is brand new, and I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't believe that would change." There's an inc behind it all, too,
It's possible that he's only aiming for the advertising to cover costs, but the possibility of paying authors further down the line seems to suggest that this isn't the case.
So the evidence points to Metroblogging using unpaid labour to build traffic to a site, which is converted into cash via advertising. Ergo, the bloggers are producing the product (the website content) for free and the company is aiming to make money from that.
This is a mug's game for the bloggers, in my eyes. Now, it could be argued that the Metroblogs are a good way of driving traffic to the blogger's personal blog. For me, that doesn't stack up but then I make my living writing, so writing for free for anyone but myself is anathema. Others might disagree.
Sean may well have the best of intentions with all of this. However, the combination of his attitude in his dealings with British bloggers (the result of overwork?), the lack of clear explanation of what he's aiming for (intentionally, it would appear) and the poor quality of the London blogs, among others, is not creating a good impression right now.
That could be the kiss of death for a venture like this. You need goodwill to build up a readership, and precious few publishing ventures can afford to ignore reader feedback. Part of the problem with the London blog is that Bonner has ploughed ahead with a British extension of the core concept, without making allowance for the rather more robust style of commentary and blogging we have over here, a legacy of our largely disrespectful print media.
There's nothing wrong with the idea of a commercial blog venture. There's nothing wrong with the core idea of Metroblogging or the London MetBlog. In fact, I like the idea. I'm all in favour of more paying outlets for writers... It's just that the execution and attitude are wrong right now. I'll carry on watching the site. I'll hope to see it get better. Right now, though, I'm not holding my breath.
I'm all for journalistic cynicism (it's in the job description after all) but I do think this piece goes too far.
The story is simple: Lewisham Council has decided to stop mowing certain parts of its parks, because urban meadows are a useful environmental feature. Good call, in my book. The News Shopper disagrees, casting it as a cynical disguise for a cost-cutting exercise.
As a keen gardener who also cares about our environment and wildlife, I'm well aware that even small areas of urban meadow can be of huge beneft to wildlife and our ecosystem generally. To do so on a large scale in an urban environment is great news. Oh, and the local kids will get a little taste of what nature really looks like, rather than the organised, managed example of it that makes up so much of our urban green spaces.
Sorry, Toby Nation. I just don't think you've done your research on this one. For once, I'm backing Mr Brown on this one. Good for you, sir.
The London MetBlog saga grows ever more entertaining. I logged into my Bloglines account this morning, to find a post on there from Heppy decrying the abrupt sacking of OnionBagBlogger from the site for satirising the Princess of Wales memorial. I clicked through to the original article, and found it gone. Wow. For a "non-edited" blog, there's a heavy hand of censorship at work.
With all the good writers gone from the Metblogs site, I still say a good, multi-author London blog would be an excellent idea. Anyone interested?
July 11, 2004
Lacking access to my normal computer and the photos on there, I've been forced to look for inspiration where I can find it, without the fall-back of my many years' worth of pics on the iMac.
This is from my shopping trip this weekend. I like the patterns formed by the bins, and the ominous sky overhead. It's both a gritty, urban shot and a very silly one.
July 10, 2004
Apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days. It's partially because I've been working particularly hard, and partially because I've lost my study to One Woman for the next few weeks as thesis-writing comes to an end.
July 7, 2004
No posting today - I've just discovered that somebody I know has died and I'm not really in the mood for it.
God bless her.
July 6, 2004
I couldn't do a series on Chinatown without a chicken in the window shot....
Who needs a London multi-author blog, anyway? With so many good London bloggers out there, you can pass a happy half hour catching up on local experiences, and you get the variety of different blog designs, too!
To facilitate this process, gentle reader, I've started linking to interesting London blogs on the right. Check 'em out, when you have the chance.
Personally, I think the blog has only one real problem: some very weak writing mixed in with some very good writing. That's an aesthetic judgement, though, not an objective one and therefore only true for me and people who think like me.
However, on a professional level, I wouldn't let the poster called Cristopher anywhere near any publication or blog with my name on it as editor. Take
this bland example [Post since removed] of fact dump and uninteresting comment, for example. Oh, and look out for that nasty double negative!
July 5, 2004
I lost my father to cancer nearly three years ago. Still a day doesn't pass without me missing him. I nearly didn't enter this week, and then I though "to hell with it". So there he is above, my father, in the last year of his life. Below are some rather earlier pictures of the same man.
July 4, 2004
The Grauniad gets all excited about the idea that coffee shops are becoming a transitory space between work and home, where you can relax or carry out business:
Fair enough. I ran a feature on a similar theme nine months ago and, as we pointed out at the time, it's hardly a new idea. After all, the coffee shops of the 17th Century played almost exactly the same role.
July 3, 2004
I'm busy downloading a couple of albums I've only ever owned as cassettes. Less space, better sound quality. It's like digitally remastering my youth...
July 2, 2004
These are yesterday's Soho Project images. Nothing today, alas. I'm at home, taking a day off for chores and the like. What fun!
I suspect that I'll continue with these themes next week, as I'm enjoying 'em.
July 1, 2004
I hope no Lewisham residents are hoping to use a leisure centre between 2007 and 2010.
The Lewisham leisure centre has just reopened after a 20 month, £1.8m refurbishment. And it'll close in three years. So that's, what, £600,000 for each year it'll trade? Wow, value for money there guys.
By the way, if anyone's wondering why the posting has been mainly pics of late, it's because I've been busy being household chores guy to help my wife through the last stages of PhD thesis write-up. Computer time is limited right now....