Friday, 27 August 2010

Walkman vs. Hoover

At long last, the bitter age-old rivalry is settled...

Tiny cardboard people

This is easily the cutest thing you'll see this week. Click here.

Bitches Ain't Shit - a cappella

Everything about this is brilliant.

One Button Arthur

This is a great little game. All you need to do is click the left mouse button, but it has a different function on every level. Click the image to have a go.

The Last Exorcism - Chatroulette viral


Unicorn being a jerk

This unicorn... well, he's a jerk.

El Ganso signs for Wigan

Football fans: easily duped.

Caledonian Road - Tube art

Kim at Caledonian Road must be TfL's cheeriest employee. What a lovely way to start your commute!
Click here.

Isaac & Quincy

Give them a series!

Hungover Owls

Poor little buggers, they're having a shocker. Click the image.

How to catch a seagull

Not sure I approve of step 5, but step 6 pulls it all back into winning territory.

Getting your balls wet

Quite impressive, this.

Hay baling fun

You could give me a year with a hay baler and it wouldn't at any point occur to me to do this.

Smoking crabs

Fuck yeah, they're 'ard! Click here.

Why Twilight is popular

Succinctly put.

Beaches of yore

Aw, bless their modesty - not a bikini in sight! Click here.

27/08/10 - Theory of Relativity made simple

Following on from last week’s piece on Tom Cruise, today we’re taking the next logical step and learning about the Theory of Relativity.
This is an enormously serpentine and complex subject – at the time of Einstein’s initial Special Theory of Relativity it was suggested that only twelve people in the world were sufficiently brainy to understand the theory, although this was largely bullshit spun by the world’s cagier physicists – so let’s try to look at it as simplistically as possible.

The Theory of Relativity is basically applicable to everything in the universe (on a physical level at least – it doesn’t really work on an atomic level, for reasons relating to quantum theory that are too complex to explore in this frivolous distillation), and its central equation is something you’ve probably heard of: E=mc². You may remember from your schooldays what each of these letters represents, but let’s recap: ‘E’ is energy, ‘m’ is mass, and ‘c’ is the speed of light; the equation therefore states that energy = mass x the speed of light squared (i.e. the speed of light x the speed of light).
What this suggests is that mass and energy have an equivalence – they’re two forms of the same thing; the mass of an object is stuffed full of potential energy, while (logically) energy is liberated matter. The speed of light is precisely 299,792,458 metres per second, so the speed of light squared is, of course, a figure so laughably enormous that it has been twisting the melons of the world’s finest minds since it was first calculated.
To summarise the equation’s meaning, it’s saying that the energy held within any given object is equivalent to its mass multiplied by a mindfuckingly huge amount.

The average human’s body, as an example, contains 7x1018 joules of potential energy (in longform, that’s 7,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules) – equivalent to thirty hydrogen bombs. Now, humans as a species are pretty crap at effectively extracting the potential energy of anything (a uranium bomb, for instance, will only release approximately 1% of its total potential energy), so you will never actually explode like that. The point is, the vast amount of energy contained within every animate and inanimate object in the universe tells us a lot about how things age, erode, co-exist, radiate, move and so on.

But there’s more to the Theory of Relativity than simply E= mc². The reason for its name is that it explains the principle that space and time are not absolute, but rather are relative to the observer and the thing being observed. By ‘observed’, this doesn’t just mean looking at things – think of the Doppler Effect: this is the aural phenomenon that occurs when something making a noise moves in relation to you. Picture yourself standing beside a racetrack. A car is approaching from a distance and passes you at speed – the total sound is a little like ‘neeeeeeeeYOOOOwwwmmmmm’. If you were in the car it would just sound like ‘neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ – it’s the compression of sound waves in relation to where you, the observer, are standing that creates the perception of a change in sound. It’s the same as standing a foot away from a loudspeaker, then moving fifty feet away from it: the music doesn’t get any quieter, it’s just your position in relation to it.
An easy way to describe the physical manifestation of relativity was devised by the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell: imagine a train that’s 100 yards long travelling at 60% of the speed of light (a ridiculous notion, but stick with it) – to someone standing on a platform watching it pass, it would appear to be only 80 yards long, with everything aboard equally compressed; the speech of those onboard would sound slow and slurred, and clocks on the train would be running at four-fifths of normal speed. However, the people on the train would be entirely unaware of these distortions. To them, the observer on the platform would be the distorted one.
You see? It’s quite a simple premise, really.

The complicated part is when you start to consider the notion of spacetime. The General Theory of Relativity conceptualises that time is not eternal and absolute as mankind has always generally held to be logically true, but is in fact part of space. It follows that perceptions of time can be as malleable as perceptions of anything else. A common analogy is to picture a mattress with a bowling ball on it: the mattress represents (in this case, for the sake of a simple example) our galaxy, the bowling ball represents the sun. If you roll a marble across the mattress it will try to follow its natural straight line (this is Newton’s First Law of Motion), but as it nears the bowling ball its trajectory will alter, pulling towards the larger object. This represents gravity, which is a function of the warping of spacetime. So, while a day on Saturn can be assumed to be longer than one on Mercury simply because it takes longer to orbit the sun, it will also appear longer relative to their respective astral positioning and the consequent differing perspectives on time. If you expand the mattress to represent all of spacetime, you’ll find your marble taking all sorts of weaving meanderings. This is quite a confusing concept for the human brain to cope with as it’s pretty non-intuitive given the physical laws of Earth, so it’s probably best if we leave it there.

On the whole though, it’s not as complex as you thought, is it?

Friday, 20 August 2010

It shouldn't happen to a weather presenter

...yet it so frequently does.

Journalism warning labels

Shit journalists beware: Tom Scott's watching. Click here.

Living with steel wool hands

Quite amusing, and also quite disgusting.

Christoph Niemann - from New York to Berlin

A lovely, colourful tale of a boring journey - click here.

You're Not From Newport

Goldie Lookin' Chain's reaction to the whole 'Newport State of Mind' thing.


Pictorial representations of those random security verification words. Click here.

Homer Simpson is Darth Vader

Amateurish but hilarious. (Particularly the from 1m10s onward...)

Mastermind - BBC

So... what's your specialist subject? Click here to play. Don't worry, nobody's watching.

Ice Cream War!

Mr Softee's gonna fuck Softy Cream's shit up, yo.

Flash Theatre

See? Flashing doesn't have to be creepy.

Give Up, Robot

A cute little robot game that will fuck with your eyes. Click the image.

Calendar Countdown - pilot

This is so, so fucking awful it's brilliant. How did this ever survive, let alone become a staple of the Channel 4 schedule...?!


I always assumed that the plural of 'Walkman' would be 'Walkmen', but apparently not - the omniscient oracle of MS spellcheck informs me that the correct plural is in fact 'Walkmans'.
Pedantry aside, I had a little geekgasm when I came across this site chronicling all you could need to know about one of the coolest inventions ever. Click the image to see.

Real-life 'like' button

Not a bad idea, that.

Guerrilla marketing

...a random selection of interesting examples. Click here.

Simon's Cat in 'The Box'


The eternal cycle of fail! Click the image to see...

Antoine Dodson - mentalist/legend

Every news item, no matter what it's about, needs someone like Antoine.

...and here he is, among other memes, immortalised in 8-bit YouTube glory:

The worst lyrics from the richest rappers

Click the image for more.

Steve Moore - drummer extraordinaire

I'm not sure what's cooler - the monkey arms or the starey eyes. Either way, it's 100% commitment.

Godawful Child O' Mine

This is simultaneously the worst and best thing I've ever heard.

20/08/10 - Tom Cruise

There’s something I’ve noticed about Tom Cruise’s face that, now that I’ve spotted it, I can’t look at him without focusing on. If I were ever to meet him I wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye – I’d be staring squarely at his mouth.
You’ve probably noticed that his top front teeth are perfectly straight. They’re not entirely central though – it looks as if he’s turned his head too quickly and his gums haven’t quite caught up. They’re also canted two or three degrees diagonally from horizontal. It’s compelling.

He’s an enigma, isn’t he? He comes across as such a nice guy, yet the whole Scientology thing suggests that he must actually be a barking mentalist. One thing you can be sure of, however, is an extensive back catalogue of hits (and a few unfortunate misses).
Let’s take a little look into the world of Thomas Cruise Mapother IV…

Tom Cruise Good
Top Gun wouldn’t have been the classic that it most assuredly is without him. Yes, of course it’s an ultra-camp cheesefest, but it’s brilliant, and he’s the perfect pixie-pilot for the role. Obviously the homoeroticism of the movie doesn’t need highlighting, but it was a very proud moment when I observed my wife at a party playing dumb with a perfectly straight face while someone suggested to her that maybe Top Gun was a bit gay. ‘Is it?’ she sweetly said, ‘I’d never noticed. No, I don’t think so – Tom Cruise wants to shag Kelly McGillis, doesn’t he?’. The poor guy in question took her totally seriously for about twenty minutes. ‘No, really, watch it again – it’s so gay!’ Yes, well done, everyone’s noticed.
Top Gun is gay. This is not a fact that needs pointing out.

Tom Cruise Bad
The Scientology thing is a genuine concern, especially when you consider what a devout Christian Cruise was in his childhood. Did you know that he was dead-set on becoming a priest before he got into acting?
Without going off on an anti-Scientology tangent, let’s just highlight the weirdness of it with one thing that Tom felt it was necessary to share with the world: he claimed that Scientology cured his dyslexia. What the fuck?

Tom Cruise Good
Jerry Maguire is a superb film from start to finish, and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot and a bastard.

Tom Cruise Bad
He steadfastly refuses to allow his likeness to be used in video games. This is a little short-sighted on his part – imagine how awesomely baffling a PlayStation version of Magnolia would have been. Wasted opportunity there.

Tom Cruise Good
He does his own stunts. During the filming of Days of Thunder, that was him belting a NASCAR round the track at 200mph+. All that firing-guns-while-riding-a-motorbike malarkey in Mission Impossible/Mission Impossible II/Knight & Day/numerous others? He did all that. Fighting, jumping off buildings, gangsta shit with weapons… he does the lot. He even has his own stunt plane.

Tom Cruise Bad
The Oprah incident. Seriously, what was all that about? What a mental bastard. YouTube it if you don’t know what I’m talking about – it’s easily the most embarrassing behaviour that anyone’s ever exhibited on television.

Tom Cruise Good
He seems like a fundamentally nice and decent person. He proposed to Katie Holmes at the top of the Eiffel Tower, which is pretty bloody smooth. He gives an enormous amount of money to charity. In 1996, he saw a hit-and-run victim in the road: what would you have done, stopped to help? Yeah, Cruise did. And he paid all of her hospital bills too.

Tom Cruise Bad
He thinks that psychiatry is ‘a Nazi science’, on the grounds that Carl Jung, the father of modern psychiatry, edited Nazi papers in WWII. There is no truth in this, and it’s quite an odd thing to say.

Tom Cruise Good
He’s really good at telling people off. Did you see the incident where a fake reporter squirted him on the red carpet with a water pistol? He didn’t go all Prescott on his ass – he just chastised the guy in a way that’d make him feel like a naughty schoolboy, then had him charged with assault. Brilliant.

Tom Cruise Bad
A lot of people have accused Tom Cruise of being gay over the years (possibly because of Top Gun). He refuses to have a sense of humour over this. He sues anyone who makes such an accusation, swiftly and harshly. Which suggests that he probably does have something to hide, but doesn’t want the Scientology aliens to deal out angry retribution with anal probes (although, actually, that would be what he’d want if that was the case… oh, it’s a hornet’s nest).

Tom Cruise Good
er… Rain Man, Mission Impossible, The Firm, Minority Report, Tropic Thunder, Eyes Wide Shut, Born on the Fourth of July, A Few Good Men, Vanilla Sky, Goldmember… all of these things are good.

Tom Cruise UltraMegaDoubleWhammy
Cruise has the unique accolade of starring in a movie that won an Oscar for Best Picture (Rain Man) and one that won a Razzie for Worst Picture (Cocktail) in the same year (1988).

On balance, it seems that the good outweighs the bad. He’s a nice man, he (usually) makes good movies and he’s very smiley. Just don’t call him gay and certainly don’t try to animate him for your new videogame project. He won’t like that.

Smells like jizz

Come on, you were all thinking it.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Abbey Road webcam

Strangely compelling, this - you can be glued to it for hours waiting for Beatle-wannabes to get wiped out by an irate cab driver. Click the image to see.

Fred the Raver

Another star in the massive meme cosmos.

Whiteboard quitter

A lovely little story about a woman quitting her job by writing messages on a whiteboard and emailing the pics to the entire company. Subsequently revealed to be fake, but entertaining nonetheless. Click here.

Twitter movie trailer

This is what the world needs.

Jim's Pancakes

Lovely idea, this. The tagline is 'just trying to make some cool pancakes for my daughter'. And that's exactly what Jim does. Click here.

You passed the test!

This is exactly what my job interview was like.

Daddy flansucker

Naughty daddy...

The cheap end of history

You may recently have heard of Brewdog's new beer, 'The End of History'. It's 55% and costs £500. Tom Scott tried to emulate this achievement on a slightly tighter budget - click here to see how. I'll leave these two pictures below as a teaser...

Titanic 2

'Looks like history's repeating itself...'

Death of a washing machine

Massive meme of the month...

...and one of the many, many remixes:

Slow motion soda explosion

Think the whole Coke 'n' Mentos thing is old hat? You haven't seen it in slo-mo, baby!

Slow motion soda explosion from David Coiffier on Vimeo.

Christian propaganda

Astonishing, frankly. Click the image to see...

Steve Carell Between Two Ferns

Lyrical destinations.

Click here.

13/08/10 - Getting old

Getting old is something that comes to us all. I’m only 28 – a relative spring chicken, you might say (unless you’re younger than me, in which case you should heed my wise words and treat me as you would a proper grown-up) – but I’ve noticed a few changes in my behaviour, some big and some small, that appear to be indicating a certain middle-agedness. Behold my semi-crisis as I list henceforth the principle points of interest.

1.) I got married.
This is not something my generation does young. The previous generation approached family life from a different angle; my parents, for example, got married when they were 21. By the time they were my age they were popping out sprogs. This is not the Generation Y way.
It appears to have spooked my friends too. Of all of my same-aged friends, no-one is married (with one notable exception, but he’s rich and posh), but since I popped the question they now all seem to be jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve opened the floodgates. We’re all getting old.

2.) I bought a BMW.
Now, what do you make of that? I had a zippy little two-seater that was sporty and fiercely impractical. That’s been sold because we’ve got something that has a back seat and a boot now. It’s spacious. It’s economical (ish). It would be safe in a crash.
(I have actually had a BMW before, but it was a stripped-out 1974 rally car. Not quite the same thing… certainly not a grown-up’s car.)

3.) I watch the news in the evenings.
…and not to catch up on current affairs. I watch the news to find out what’s changed since I read it all earlier in the day. I do this by choice.

4.) I listen to Radio 4.
And why not? I love the Now Show, it’s brilliant. I have a digital radio in my kitchen which has numerous presets; number one is Radio 1, number two is Radio 4, number three is 6 Music, number four is Kerrang, number five is XFM… button number two is wearing out. It’s just nice to have something interesting and intelligent to listen to while you’re cooking, isn’t it?

5.) I don’t listen to Radio 1.
Well, sometimes I listen to Chris Moyles in the mornings, not because he’s especially hilarious but because I feel like I know the team, having listened to them for so long. I want to be friends with Comedy Dave, I think we’d get on. But in general, I can’t get on with Radio 1 at all any more – they play a lot of shit music. OK, Zane Lowe plays some good stuff and Jo Whiley has her moments, but in general you might as well listen to 6 Music. It’s just better. Or, like I say, nuzzle the warm bosom of Radio 4.

6.) I can’t remember the last time I went to a nightclub.
Honestly, I can’t. I still like a drink as much as I ever did, it just generally seems to happen in someone’s house now. I don’t go to the pub that often either, but I don’t go to clubs at all. I can’t really see the point any more – they’re bloody expensive, they’re generally full of hipster twats (the older I grow, the more irritated I get by pretentious berks who insist on wearing sunglasses indoors) and now that you’re not allowed to smoke indoors, clubs reek of sweat. Anyway, the thought of spending over fifty quid on getting pissed makes my inner skinflint shudder.

7.) I’m quite often in bed by 10:30 on weeknights.
I’m not ashamed of this. My bed’s really comfy.

8.) My fridge contains a selection of interesting cheeses.
It wasn’t that long since the fridge was just full of lager, was it? And maybe a bit of leftover Chinese takeaway? No, these days it’s full of cheeses ordered by their relative potency and consistency, complemented by a range of tasty cured meats. I don’t think there’s even any lager in there now.

9.) I don’t really drink lager.
…because I prefer proper beer. Substantial, chewy beer that you have to pick the twigs out of. Give me a delicious Spitfire or an Old Speckled Hen over an overly-fizzy Stella any day. It tastes better and you burp less.

10.) I don’t know who anyone famous is.
It’s a source of constant confusion for me. Who is this Justin Bieber pipsqueak - is he Jimmy Osmond’s pet hamster? What are the Kardashians for? What’s all this Twilight nonsense that the unhappy kids keep mooning about over? Who the fuck is that irritating moron Louie Spence and why is he allowed on telly where people can hear him?

I was quite resigned to accepting my fate, buying a cardigan and some carpet slippers and nonchalantly smoking a pipe… until I took a stroll through Hoxton recently and found that that’s what all the awful hipsters are doing now. Honestly, I don’t know where I am any more.

But this is probably just a symptom of getting old.