January 15th, 2011
Dan Hill has posted an epic tale of life in Brisbane as the floodwater started to rise:
We spot a large advert for chocolate milk adorning a building. "Dive into chocolately fun" it says. It seems newly relevant as we see the river, looking exactly like a vast, smooth soup of milk chocolate. The Brisbane River is famously brown at the best of times, being an extremely silty bit of river, but is now browner than ever.
The landscape round here is distinctly suburban. Not quite the manicured suburban of rich Los Angeles suburbs, or even 'Erinsborough', but the slightly more raggedy Australian version, with cars parked on lawns, rampant foliage growing in and around the low, angled roofs, set against straggly gum trees and paperbarks, a most unruly genus. But it's distinctly suburban nonetheless, which adds to the surreal aspect of views like Witton Road, where that chocolately fun engulfs a training shoe, some wheelie bins, and a box of breakfast cereal, and most of the street.
The most striking observation, for me, came as he recounted a trip to stock up on sandbags:
We've run out of sandbags [...] so we have to drive out to Kedron to pick up as many as we can load in the boot of the car. Plotting routes in and around the city is relatively complex, as you're listening for road closures on the radio, looking for the blue wriggle of creeks and rivers on the map, and trying to remember the topography of the city, all those swoops of valleys.
When was the last time you had to stop and think about whether your route took you uphill or downhill as you drove around a city?
November 20th, 2009
If I were making a list of things I wouldn't have expected Umberto Eco to say, this quote taken from an interview with Der Spiegel would be a contender for the #1 spot:
I felt like a character in a Dan Brown novel.
October 24th, 2009
I think it's fair to say that Will Self is not enamoured with the mobile phone:
Yet I don't think inconsiderate use of mobile phones is simply the rudeness born of a slackening of social bonds: I believe it to be a form of collective madness. When I'm in a public but confined space, such as a train carriage, and some deranged person begins to Samsung-soliloquise, I try to bring them to their senses by reading aloud from Schopenhauer (I carry a copy of The World as Will and Idea with me for just this purpose). Soon enough they stop and, sadly often irately, ask me what I'm doing. Then I explain that while public declamation and conversation is as old as humanity, there is no precedent for a person holding a one-sided private conversation aloud in public.
April 11th, 2009
Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.
My favourite read of the week, by a mile.
June 8th, 2008
Gidget on the Couch: Freud, Dora (no, not that Dora), and surfing's secret Austro-Hungarian roots.
While sports, life, and style have been around for a while, the "sports lifestyle" as a distinct market is a mere half-century old. Like much else of cultural import in the years since World War II, this niche is the product of the human laboratory we call California, and specifically of its coastline. Surfing is enjoying (or despising, depending on your perspective) one of its periodic peaks in the general consciousness, which makes it appropriate to look back the five decades to the moment when the sport broke free of its cult status and became the urtext of athletic sports retailing. The publication of Gidget in 1957 did not just introduce us to the barely fictionalized account of a girlâ€™s summer in Malibu; it started a chain reaction that introduced surfing to the rest of the country and spread it to the world at large. The novel was licensed for three hit movies, and later made into numerous television shows. Within a few years, the Beach Boys, woodies, hanginâ€™ ten, and board shorts were as popular in Kansas City as Santa Cruz.
Before Gidget, however, there was a real girl named Kathy Kohner who learned to surf Malibu in the summer of 1956. [...]
[Via The Morning News]