Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Film: Tale of Tales (2015)


Tale of Tales is a bewildering, mesmerising fairytale movie for grown ups that is well worth watching if you're in the mood for something original that you can disappear into. I was surprised at the all star cast, which included Salma Hayek, John C Reily and Vincent Cassell. Also, I was fully expecting subtitles but the whole thing was in English, which was a bonus. I wish the studios would make more off kilter movies along these lines.

****

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A couple more Tweets from Existential Comics


Advice for depression


Monday, August 24, 2015

Existential Comics does Tweets


Cool. I just found out that the dude over at Existential Comics has a fantastic Twitter feed. Below are some choice tweets from the past couple of months. 

---

     The thing I most admire about the Ancient Greeks is that they didn't bother with pants. That's how you know they were in a golden age.

    I heard that if you look in the mirror and say "Kierkegaard" three times, you'll realize that you are wasting your life on trivialities.

    Protip: not believing in God doesn't suddenly make you an expert on...anything.

    And then at the end of the movie the hot girl put on glasses, and everyone realized that she was smart the whole time.

    I thought I was gazing into the abyss, but it turned out that it was just a mirror.

    Self driving cars are cool, I guess, but is there some way that I can drive the car and the robot can do the rest of my life?

    Intelligence is being able to come up with witty tweets. Wisdom is knowing that you are wasting your life on twitter.

    "Why does philosophy matter?" "I don't know, why does science matter?" "Well because scie-" "Annnnnnnd you are doing philosophy."

    I gazed deeply, longingly into the abyss, and the abyss gazed also into me. It was love at first sight.

    "Why did you unfollow me?" "You tweet too much." "But how much is too much?" "It depends on the person, but for you I'd say one tweet."

    I only drink coffee on the days I really need it. Such as every day.

    Remember, you don't have to do anything that you don't want to. Except be free.

    What I don't understand about history is that there were apparently entire advanced civilizations that existed without coffee.

    After studying a bit of history, you start to wonder if humanity wouldn't be better off without itself.

    I should write a cookbook. Step 1: cook whatever. Step 2: realize that all pleasure is fleeting. Step 3: despair in the finitude of life.

    I took a personality test, it said I was the type who doesn't believe in personality tests. Those things are more accurate than I thought…

    They should put answer sheets in the back of philosophy books.

    Live life neurotically obsessed with whether or not you are living life to the fullest.

    Right, compared to STEM the humanities totally aren't important. I mean…unless you want to understand humanity, obviously. But that's dumb.

    [Man dying] Tell…my wife…to erase my hard drive.

    Sisyphus is actually a pretty cool guy, once you get around the whole "obsessed with boulders" thing.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bedventures


The dinky mattress I've been using finally gave us the ghost last week, leading to restless nights where I was getting no more than 1 to 3 hours of sleep. On further inspection, I discovered the base of the bed was also knackered. For the past few nights I'd taken to sleeping on the floor, using my yoga mat as a base. It was miles better than using a broken mattress but the novelty wears off fast and it isn't exactly relaxing. It was time to take action. A couple of minutes of browsing on Gumtree revealed that somebody was selling a Futon Company futon just down the road, for just £25. A short while later and it was in my room, cleaned and ready for use. The quality of sleep was way higher than I expected and I didn't want to get out of bed this morning! It's a great stop-gap measure that I would consider using permanently, had I not also found a great single bed in my local charity shop. The bed is made by a company called Vi-Spring, who only use natural materials in their mattress construction. Their mattresses costs and arm and a leg full price, so I've been pretty luck to bag the full bed for £75, including delivery. Looking around my bedroom, my armchair and bookshelf are from a charity shop, my office chair was from work, and my futon was from Gumtree (soon to be replaced by a bed from a chairty shop). I do loves me some good bargains!


What the f*&!k

If you're interested in where bad words come from and what it is that makes a bad word bad, watch this great video by V-Sauce.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Douglas Coupland comments on the joys of shopping

A couple of cool bites from Douglas Coupland's latest column in the FT, in which he extolls the virtues of the modern shopping experience:

"Humanity actually seems to be split down the middle on luxury: those who want gilded leopard-shaped teapots, and those people who want to live in the white box their iPhone came in."
"Right now I like these new hipster stores that each sell exactly four and a half things and it feels like the Great Depression when you walk in. A painted rock, a really good paper notepad made in Antarctica, a knitted cosy made to display heirloom tomatoes, vintage aspirin holders and a sock. I’m never sure if it’s a pop-up conceptual art gallery or if it’s for real, which is actually the very best thing retail can be."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Film: Hwayi - A Monster Boy


"Hwayi" is another top rate South Korean action/revenge movie, in which five criminals kidnap a young boy and end up raising him as their collective son. Hwayi does perhaps go a twist too far but the story is original and refreshing, and the film moves along with rapid pace.

****

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A few diet related bits and pieces


- The above chart from the Washington Post shows how fashion companies have cheekily 'downsized' ladies clothing over the years, playing to people's vanity. In 1958 size 20 equated to a 32-inch waist. By 2011, size 20 equated with a 40-inch waist.

- Also from the Washington Post is this interesting piece pointing out that the importance of breakfast is highly overrated. I'm a long time repeat offender when it comes to skipping breakfast and am waiting for meaningful evidence to emerge telling me to change my ways. I've been waiting for a couple of years.

- An organisation called the Global Energy Balance Network has been receiving quite a bit of press recently. It heavily promotes exercise over nutrition as a way to a healthy future. If you look carefully, you'll see that the organisation has received an 'unrestricted gift' from Coca-Cola. The sum amounted to $1m. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that Coca-Cola will be doing everything they can to message a healthy lifestyle that doesn't involve cutting back on calories.

"Energy balance is not yet fully understood, but there is strong evidence that it is easier to sustain at a moderate to high level of physical activity (maintaining an active lifestyle and eating more calories). Not many people can sustain energy balance at a low level of physical activity (maintaining a sedentary lifestyle and eating fewer calories), as attempts to restrict calorie intake over the long term are likely to be ineffective". 

Personally, I have found it much easier to lose weight through diet, get to a good weight, and then ramp up exercise and diet to maintain energy balance. In response to the media criticism, the president of the GEBN has written, 'I can say unequivocally that diet is a critical component of weight control, as are exercise, stress management, sleep, and environmental and other factors. The problem does not have a single cause and cannot be addressed by singling out only one of those factors in the solution.', the whole GEBN web-site is clearly biased toward favouring raising physical activity, with only side mentions given to the diet side of the equation. It's just doesn't feel kosher.

Coca-Cola and Nestle also play a big hand in the world's largest obesity network, EPODE. Again, this might not be a swindle, but it just doesn't pass the smell test. The smell is one of misinformation.

Facebook and Twitter, I'm outta there...sort of

To reduce the risk of my political ambitions being thwarted by journalistic investigations into my embarrassing social media history, I have just deleted almost all the personal content on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. That just leaves this blog...ah, yes...well...I'm not ready to hit that delete button just yet.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Who Am I? Ted X

This neat little Ted X lecture introduces the story of The Ship of Theseus, a fable that has been employed through the ages to pose some interesting philosophical questions about identity and originality.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

xkcd - turtle or artist?

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/ninja_turtles.png

Monday, July 27, 2015

The School of Life: Death

becomes The School of Death with this useful reminder:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yuval Harari on TED

I'm happy to see that Yuval Harari's book 'Sapiens' has been picked by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg for his reading group. I haven't read Sapiens yet but Harari's s on-line Coursera course, which is based around the book, was first class.

Here is a recent TED talk from Harari:


Saturday, July 25, 2015

"The End of Doom": Ron Bailey on Why The Future Looks Pretty Damn Great

It's nice to here an optimistic view for a change:


Thursday, July 23, 2015

lessons from an ipod, sunk costs and the psychology of losses and gains


I first noticed my ipod was missing from the drawer when I was heading off to the gym. At this stage the expected loss (EL) was negligible because the probability of loss was low. The expected loss is the probability of the loss multiplied by the value, which in this instance was about £50.

When I returned from the gym, I searched my other draws, and also my various pockets, but still nothing. The EL had gone up to about £15 based on a 30% probability of loss. I was still fairly confident of finding the ipod in my car.

When I next used my car, the ipod was not to be found. The EL jumped up to about £45. This is where the pain of the loss bites, where instead of getting frustrated one takes a stoical approach and tries to quickly view the loss as a sunk cost. The probability of finding the ipod from this point on was close to negligible. I thought of the decent innings we had, and bid the device a mental farewell.
 
A few days later I went for a long drive and found the ipod under the car seat. Voila, as I'd completely written off the ipod, it's reappearance was a windfall gain.

A race to the top - city skyscrapers


While I've never much cared for cityscapes, it is interesting to observe the extent to which London's skyline is being transformed by skyscrapers.  It's also just been reporting that Paris is also joining in on this race to the top. Note, none of this would have been possible without the invention of the humble elevator.

While these structures of glass and steel appear to me a little cold and dystopian (a rebellious response to growing up in Milton Keynes, perhaps?), I don't have enough information to form an informed opinion on the transforming skyline and look forward to finding out how these experiments in vertical living turn out.

One thing we can say is that despite the availability of high quality video conferencing technology, living and working from the suburbs doesn't have quite the same draw as being physically present in the heart of a thriving city, despite all its drawbacks. In the future, self-driving automatic cars will further increase the appeal of living away from the city, but I imagine this effect will be also be a muted one.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Metaphors from the Greek debacle

"Greece is a cow slipping on ice that must be pushed to firm ground, says European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker.."

"The cow is still on the ice but the ice is a bit thicker."

"Europe hasn’t been kicking the can down the road, it's been kicking it up a hill and wondering why it keeps rolling back"