Blog July 2007 -
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Sunday 29th July 2007

The Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Mill

I just watched this episode of Bagpuss, in which the mice have a mill, which makes chocolate biscuits out of breadcrumbs and butterbeans. However, and I'm spoiling the plot, so look away now... it turns out that they just put the breadcrumbs and butterbeans down chutes and collect them at the bottom in sacks again, ready to take round the front and haul up to the hoppers. Similarly, there is only one chocolate biscuit which they keep re-using. A factory which produces chocolate biscuits is implausible. As Prof. Yaffle says: "No, no, no, no, no. Ridiculous! Ridiculous! You can't make chocolate biscuits out of breadcrumbs and butterbeans." and he's quite right.

I'm sure there's some analogy here with an economic system which claims to make happiness out of Big Macs and consumer goods.

Wednesday 26th July 2007


I've succumbed. I've joined Facebook , and I must say I prefer it to MySpace, at least for the moment. I've been thinking about social network visualisation (and doing some work in this area) for a while, and I'd thought about writing an application which visualised Facebook (or MySpace) networks. I found a couple already. This one from Touchgraph is quite nice, though it seems to run quite slow to me. It took an age load finish loading stuff when I started it the first time, but works quite nicely. Though not of course as nicely as a version I would have written smile

  • Facebook social network (too small for you to see who's in it smile ):
    Facebook social network (too small for you to see who's in it)

  • Network without pictures (intentionally blurred):
    Network without pictures (intentionally blurred)

Tuesday 25th July 2007


Those guys at are at it again in this funny YouTube video documenting some of their media appearances and attempts to persude the public to pay other people to offset their infidelity.

Sunday 23rd July 2007

Seven Inch Cinema

First time for Seven Inch Cinema at the Hare and Hounds in King's Heath. I missed the first half of the programme which was short films, but arrived in time to see Juneau Project performing on their home made instruments and a strange French guy eating a microphone to a backing of loops and feedback! I also got to see Powers of Ten which is one of my favourite films.

Saturday 22nd July 2007

Misty's and Kate Goes...

The Moseley Rd Baths fundraiser down at the Medicine Bar today featured two of my favourite bands, Misty's Big Adventure and Kate Goes.... If that can't save the baths, I don't know what will. There is a dire need for baths amongst some of the Moseley community, although some would benefit from a simple shower instead. smile

Friday 20th July 2007

Cafe Soya

Went to Cafe Soya with a group of friends. Had my old favourite - Deep Fried Fish and Tofu in Sweet Chilli Sauce mmmmmh, nice.

Tuesday 17th July 2007

Birmingham Artists

Sign the petition to save Birmingham Artists . Apparently their funding has been cancelled at short notice.

I'm on Facebook

I'm now on Facebook. See my Facebook profile .

Thursday 12th July 2007

Kindle Theatre - In My Father's House

Kindle Theatre are a Birmingham based theatre group, so the MAC is home turf for them. Rather bizarrely, the audience included a large group of maths summer school students, but they seemed to enjoy the performance.

Like the previous work I've seen by Kindle, at "Party Like There's No Tomorrow" and the launch event for the Festival of Xtreme Building, In My Father's House involves some audience participation, though not so much as to put off anyone of a nervous disposition smile Upon entry, we were greeted and seated by the performers, asked to sign a guestbook and given both a plum and a plastic knife!

Our slightly highly strung characters showed us how to make a plum cake, informed us of the meaning of life and revealed some veiled but quite traumatic events in their own lives. Along with this there was group hymn singing, and a performance of the Hockey Cokey.

It's hard to describe the performance as a whole, this isn't a simple narrative work, but it's highly engaging and had the audience on the edge of their seats. I believe it's going to the Edinburgh Festival, so you've a chance to catch it there.

Kraftwerk - Hockey Cokey

Odd but strangely catchy tribute to Kraftwerk's version of the Hockey Cockey .

Tuesday 10th July 2007

Moroccan Food at La Fibule

Amazingly enough I hadn't eaten at the local Moroccan restaurant, La Fibule until today. The place was very busy, especially for a Tuesday night, with virtually all of the tables occupied. Surely this is a sign they're doing something right. Our waiting staff were polite and friendly without being overbearing. There's no drinks license, but Drinksville a couple of doors down supplied some nice organic wine. The food was interesting, well presented and tasty but not over spiced, and we did ask for some harissa to add a bit of heat.

Food at La Fibule

Sun 8th July 2007

Anthony Gormley at the Hayward Gallery

Anthony Gormley's work at the Hayward Gallery has been well publicised, including a specially written Radio 4 play. The most interesting piece for me was a large glass box full of fog, so large that you can get 20 people in it and still get lost. From the outside, you see many people following the glass walls, just their outlines and their hands touching the glass visible. I had to queue for about 10 minutes to get in, and when I did I headed out for the centre of the space. Visibility is around an arms length, and the overall effect is very disorientating. All you can see is an even white light. Staring at this is very strange, looking round and seeing no change, turning my head and the world doesn't move. Soon the capillaries in my eye are visible to me, overlaid on the grey.

View from inside the fog box
View from inside the fog box

Anthony Gormley - Containing Boxes
Containing Boxes

Anthony Gormley - Rooftop Statues

Rooftop Statues

Rinky Dink

Rinky Dink on the South Bank
Rinky Dink on the South Bank

South Bank Sheds

Behind the Hayward Gallery there are a number of sheds, each of which has been modified by an artist. One contained a digital coconut shy, another a book swap at which I picked up a copy of The Rotters Club which is set in south Birmingham. A third contained the secret world shown below, but my favourite contained cubicals each with a chair, headphones and a little window overlooking the pavement cafe. The audio told a looped story of the people sitting there.

View into a shed
View into a shed

Sat 7th July 2007

Photographers at the start of the Tour de France

Tour de France - Photographers at the start line
Tour de France - Photographers at the start line

Friday 6th July 2007

Bollard Faces - Near London Bridge

Bollard Face Bollard Face
Bollard Faces

Sunday 1st July 2007

The Lives of Others

Saw The Lives of Others at The MAC. Haven't been to the cinema there for a while - they've refurbished, but unfortunately got caught in the flooding so there's a very slight (but not unpleasant) musty smell to the place.

The Lives of Others deals with life in East Berlin prior to the wall coming down, in particular the interaction between the Staasi (secret service) and those they spy on. How accurate is was I don't know, but it does give an intriguing insight into how these things work(ed).

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