tales from urban dilettantia


Good Reads: A Miscellany of Blogs

I love reading the internet. Lots and lots of the internet. All of the internet!  No, that’s unreasonable; that’s too much internet.  However, I do use Feedly to subscribe to more than I can reasonably read, and  have resigned myself to occasionally declaring RSS bankruptcy and marking all as read.

I also have a habit of talking ad nauseum about the things I’ve read, and as a result, a number of people have asked for a list of the blogs I subscribe to.  Now, you probably don’t actually want a list of all the things I subscribe to, given that they include an assortment of high-volume feeds that largely post junk, but reliably throw in a few gems one can pick out by skimming the titles.  (I also have a list of around ten to fifteen low-volume local blogs of various sorts I subscribe to, that aren’t particularly relevant if you’re not a local, although I heartily recommend curating a similar list relevant to your own area – it’s a really nice way to tune in to what’s happening around you.)

And so, sans the junk, the webcomics, and the overly location-specific, here are some of my current favourites.

FlowingData: Data visualisation, infographics, and statistics.

Information Is Beautiful: Distilling the world’s data, information, and knowledge.

Mind Hacks: Neuroscience and psychology tricks discussed and perhaps explained.

Schneier on Security: Security and security technology.

Cipher Mysteries: The latest news, views, and research on uncracked historical ciphers.

Ribbonfarm: Experiments in refactored perception.

Atlas Obscura: Curious and wondrous travel destinations.

Google Maps Mania: Tracking the websites, ideas, and tools influenced by Google Maps.

Making Maps: DIY Cartography: Resourced and ideas for making maps.

Messy Nessy Chic: Blogging the off-beat, the unique, and the chic.

Strange Maps: Cartographic curiosities.

The Mapping London Blog: Highlighting the best London maps.

Strange Harvest: Architecture, design, culture.

Visual Complexity: Visualisation of complex networks.

Colossal: Art, design and visual ingenuity.

I’ve also become increasingly interested in finding great podcasts over the past couple of years (better late than never), so I’ll post a list of Good Listening shortly, to brighten your commute.

301 Days of Wikipedia

In 2011, I posted 300 Days of Wikipedia.  Subsequently, friends commented that this action was likely to get them fired, citing a sudden and overwhelming urge to spend all day reading Wikipedia.  No-one was, to my knowledge fired.  And so, in the spirit of trying ever harder, I have compiled a sequel.

As per last year’s post, a warning.  While many of the articles on this list are work-friendly and generally inoffensive, do be aware that my interests sometimes stray into the gory, morbid and pornographic, and click accordingly.  (This batch contains an article on the war photographer who helped break the My Lai Massacre news, cruel and unusual experimentation, sport, and a giant spider sculpture.)  If you come across any broken links or other errors, leave me a comment and I’ll fix them up.

001 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak
002 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack
003 555 (telephone number)
004 A moron in a hurry
005 Aerogel
006 AFL siren controversy
007 Alder Hey organs scandal
008 Ali Dia (footballer)
009 American Mustache Institute
010 Andreas Grassl
011 Anglo-Zanzibar War
012 Ant mill
013 Barbados v Grenada (1994)
014 Barometer question
015 Bear JJ1
016 Bed burial
017 Bedford Level experiment
018 Benford’s Law
019 Betteridge’s Law of Headlines
020 Bicycle infantry
021 Black fax
022 Blood in the Water match
023 Blood-vomiting game
024 Body snatching
025 Bootstrap paradox
026 Boston Corbett
027 Breaker boy
028 Bugchasing
029 Bummer and Lazarus
030 Burke and Hare
031 Burst of Joy
032 Bus bunching
033 Business speak
034 Bystander effect
035 Camping (game)
036 Canadian Parliamentary Cats
037 Candy desk
038 Cargo cult
039 Casper (cat)
040 Cat piano
041 Cecil Jacobson
042 Cecil Kelley criticality accident
043 Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge’s Taxonomy
044 Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler story
045 Cher Ami
046 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sarcophagus
047 Chess boxing
048 Chicago Tunnel Company
049 Chicken eyeglasses
050 Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
051 Christian side hug
052 Cliff Young (athlete)
053 Coal hoal
054 Cocktail party effect
055 Coffin birth
056 ComBat
057 Conflict of interest editing on Wikipedia
058 Contaminated currency
059 Copycat suicide
060 Coral Castle
061 Corpse road
062 Cow magnet
063 Crypt of Civilization
064 Cryptomnesia
065 Cultural cringe
066 Curse of the Colonel
067 Cute cat theory of digital activism
068 Dabbawala
069 Darius McCollum
070 Dead mall
071 Deep-sea gigantism
072 Descent from antiquity
073 Digital dark age
074 Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
075 Disappearance of Rebecca Coriam
076 Dog whipper
077 Domino Day 2005 sparrow
078 Doomsday argument
079 Drunkard’s cloak
080 Dunwich
081 Early flying machines
082 Early world maps
083 Eddie’s House
084 Elem Farm Ollie
085 Elevator paradox
086 Elisha Gray and Alexander Bell telephone controversy
087 Ellen A. Martin
088 English As She Is Spoke
089 Euthanasia Coaster
090 Exquisite corpse
091 Falling on a grenade
092 Flirty fishing
093 Floater
094 Florence Y’All Water Tower
095 Four-dimensional space
096 Fox tossing
097 Fred the Undercover Kitty
098 Gaëtan Dugas
099 General Butt Naked
100 George P. Burdell
101 Ghost army
102 Goose pulling
103 Gravity Research Foundation
104 Great Stink
105 Greg Packer
106 Greyfriars Bobby
107 Guess 2/3 of the average
108 H. H. Holmes
109 H. Rochester Sneath
110 Hairy Frog
111 Handlebar Club
112 Hansa Carrier
113 Hard problem of consciousness
114 Harold Hering
115 Hart Island (New York)
116 Hashima Island
117 Helike
118 Helikopter Streichquartett
119 Henry Box Brown
120 Here be dragons
121 Hiroo Onoda
122 History of longitude
123 Hobo
124 Hockney-Falco thesis
125 Hollywood Freeway chickens
126 Hotel toilet paper folding
127 Hubble Ultra-Deep Field
128 Hugh Thompson Jr.
129 Human experimentation in the United States
130 Human flesh search engine
131 Ice-hotel
132 Illusory superiority
133 Imber
134 Impossible colours
135 Inattentional blindness
136 Incident pit
137 Inherited accessory nail of the fifth toe
138 Internet vigilantism
139 James Joseph Dresnok
140 Jedi census phenomenon
141 JetBlue flight attendant incident
142 Joseph Jagger
143 Karl Bushby
144 Kattenstoet
145 Kepler 22b
146 Ketchup as a vegetable
147 Kjærlighetskarusellen
148 Klerksdorp sphere
149 Kowloon Walled City
150 Kuleshov Effect
151 La Princesse
152 Laika
153 Lal Bihari
154 Language of flowers
155 Larry Walters
156 Laser harp
157 Letters of the last resort
158 Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
159 List of company name etymologies
160 List of confidence tricks
161 List of inventors killed by their own inventions
162 Littlewood’s law
163 London matchgirls strike of 1888
164 London Post Office Railway
165 London Underground mosquito
166 Lost in the mall technique
167 Lunokhod 1
168 Magic Roundabout (Swindon)
169 Marvin Heemeyer
170 Mary Ellis Grave
171 Mary Mallon
172 Matthew Robinson, 2nd Baron Rokeby
173 Mayerling Incident
174 Mercy Brown vampire incident
175 Method of loci
176 Miasma theory
177 Mike the Headless Chicken
178 Mill Ends Park
179 Miraculin
180 MissingNo.
181 Missionary Church of Kopimism
182 Moberly-Jourdain incident
183 Mobile Bay Jubilee
184 Montpelier Hill
185 Montreal-Philippines cutlery controversy
186 Moon treaty
187 Motorized recliner incident
188 Mummy brown
189 Murder of Tim McLean
190 My Way killings
191 Myrtle Corbin
192 Nail house
193 Net cafe refugee
194 New York City Subway chaining
195 Nix v. Hedden
196 Nixon’s Enemies List
197 Non-apology
198 Norwegian butter crisis
199 Octopus wrestling
200 On Bullshit
201 Operation Cornflakes
202 Orphan Train
203 Oxford Electric Bell
204 Panelák
205 Parahawking
206 Parking chair
207 Paternoster
208 Paul Erdos
209 Paul is dead
210 Peel P50
211 Pencil test (South Africa)
212 Pepper’s ghost
213 Perpetual traveler
214 Phantom ringing
215 Pink slime
216 Pit of despair
217 Pollen basket
218 Polybius (video game)
219 Portsmouth Sinfonia
220 Powers and abilities of Superman
221 Pranknet
222 Prediction market
223 Premature burial
224 Preview of the War We Do Not Want
225 Principle of least astonishment
226 Project Steve
227 Pruit-Igoe
228 Pulgarsi
229 Quine (computing)
230 Radium Girls
231 Raising of Chicago
232 Realistic conflict theory
233 Roadkill cuisine
234 Ronald L. Haeberle
235 Room 39
236 Rotten and pocket boroughs
238 Russian Woodpecker
239 Sankebetsu brown bear incident
240 Sarajevo Rose
241 Scold’s bridle
242 Season 6B
243 Seasteading
244 Sehnsucht
245 Semaphore line
246 Sexuality of Abraham Lincoln
247 Shaun Greenhaigh
248 Ship of Theseus
249 Shoe-banging incident
250 Shower-curtain effect
251 Silk Road (anonymous marketplace)
252 Sledging (cricket)
253 Smart mob
254 Sockpuppet (Internet)
255 Solving chess
256 Song-plugger
257 Sonjourner Truth
258 St Scholastica Day Riot
259 Stack Interchange
260 Stanislav Petrov
261 Strange loop
262 Sudanese goat marriage incident
263 Sugar glass
264 Svalbard Global Seed Vault
265 Tank man
266 Telegony (pregnancy)
267 Ten Pound Poms
268 The Boy in the Box (Philadelphia)
269 The Day the Music Died
270 The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever
271 Tim Tam Slam
272 Time discipline
273 Timeline of the Future
274 Tip of the tongue
275 Tired and emotional
276 Toilet paper orientation
277 Tower of Wooden Pallets
278 Tri-State Crematory
279 Triboluminescence
280 Troy Hurtubise
281 Tube Challenge
282 Two envelopes problem
283 Unauthorized Apple Stores in China
284 Underground restaurant
285 United States Capitol subway system
286 Unsinkable Sam
287 Venus effect
288 Villejuif leaflet
289 Vinland map
290 Wanda Tinasky
291 War pigeon
292 Waterspout
293 We Can Do It!
294 Weasel program
295 Weather Station Kurt
296 Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan
297 Witzelsucht
298 Wookey Hole Caves
299 Wreck of the RMS Titanic
300 Zero stroke
301 Zorbing

And now.

I have all of these fragments of posts; the river, the garden, the mortgage belts, the city, maps, wanderings, chance meetings, the ends of the earth.

And – as so often – I’m not writing any of them, but am sitting around vaguely thinking about life, Rachmaninov, whisky, the universe and kitty.

I imagine it’s something to do with leaving Large Accounting Firm, painting more, raging less, and spending time at the gym and climbing, but I’ve got a peculiar feeling of being on the brink of something. Close to presque vu, but not quite. (If someone can give the correct name for what I’m feeling, I’ll buy them dinner. Fancy dinner. And then maybe we could make out on the couch and…wait, this is not the time nor the place. Ahem.)

I am given to understand that such feelings have much to do with the temporal lobes of one’s brain having a Moment which is quite exciting in itself, and I do feel it’s kinda sweet of my temporal lobes to troll me with a feeling of something, someone or somewhere soon. Pretty, existential vertigo.

For the moment, shiny illusions have not resolved themselves, and I’m currently working on settling into a new job, enjoying finally getting mobility and fitness back after the Stupid Bicycle Accident, and wondering what the next adventure will be. Oh, and propositioning a lot of people, with the goal of being Vegas-married to as many acquaintances as are willing. And so while the bigger posts simmer, find herein a small handful of links of various flavours.

Read them fast so we can run away to Vegas, sugarcube!

The Oatmeal on Tupperware

A tale of hoarding, in which I’m afraid I heard myself.

A nice idea for vertical gardening and pallet re-use.

David Foster Wallace on life and work.

Just about the best coat I’ve ever wanted.

Derek K Miller – The Last Post

20 Creative Public Works of Art

300 Days of Wikipedia

For years, I have been bookmarking articles of interest on Wikipedia.  There are several lengthy lists of Wikipedia articles floating around the web, but most of them have padded out the interesting articles with an assortment of conspiracies, UFOs and supposedly haunted houses.  And so, I thought I’d share the things that interest me – notably alien-encounter and ghost free.

While many of the articles on this list are work-friendly and generally inoffensive, do be aware that my interests sometimes stray into the gory, morbid and pornographic, and click accordingly.  If you come across any broken links, leave me a comment and I’ll fix them up.

001    2006 Mumbai sweet seawater incident
002    Acoustic Kitty
003    Acoustic Mirror
004    Action Park
005    Alexander Litvinenko Poisoning
006    Alternate reality game
007    Amber Room
008    Amelia Dyer
009    Ampelmännchen
010    Anna Anderson
011    Anscombe’s quartet
012    Ant on a rubber rope
013    Anthropic principle
014    Antikythera mechanism
015    Anti-pattern
016    Aokigahara
017    Aptostichus stephencolberti
018    Arbre du Ténéré
019    Argleton
020    As Slow As Possible
021    Assassin
022    Atari video game burial
023    Baby hatch
024    Bacon mania
025    Ballooning (spiders)
026    Battle of Los Angeles
027    Beale Ciphers
028    Committee to End Pay Toilets in America
029    Beaumont children disappearance
030    Benjaman Kyle
031    Berlin Wall
032    Berners Street Hoax
033    Bible errata
034    Bielefeld Conspiracy
035    Bigfin squid
036    Black Dahlia suspects
037    Black Swan Theory
038    Bloop
039    Bodil Joensen
040    Bogle-Chandler Case
041    Boston Molasses Disaster
042    Brainfuck (programming language)
043    Brian Wells (bank robber)
044    Bubbly Creek
045    Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo
046    Burning Man
047    Cadaver Synod
048    Carl Tanzler
049    Centralia, Pennsylvania
050    Chappaquiddick incident
051    Checkpoint Charlie
052    Christine Chubbuck
053    Cincinnati Subway
054    Cleveland Torso Murders
055    Closed London Underground stations
056    Closed New York City Subway stations
057    Coastline paradox
058    Collinwood school fire
059    Collyer Brothers
060    Colonial Street
061    Color of water
062    Conspiracy 58
063    Corrupted Blood incident
064    Cosmic latte
065    Cross Bones
066    Crush, Texas
067    D. B. Cooper
068    D’Agapeyeff cipher
069    Dagen H
070    Dancing Mania
071    Dancing Plague of 1518
072    David Bain
073    Defeat in Detail
074    Defenestrations of Prague
075    Degree Confluence Project
076    Demon Core
077    Dérive
078    Digesting Duck
079    Distinguishing blue from green in language
080    Dollar Auction
081    Dorabella Ciper
082    Drake’s Plate of Brass
083    Dyatlov Pass Incident
084    Ebenezer Place
085    Eigengrau
086    Eltanin Antenna
087    Elvis taxon
088    Emperor Norton
089    Encounter
090    Enigma
092    Eton wall game
093    Eugenia Falleni
094    Evolutionary psychology of religion
095    Fan Death
096    Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat
097    Fermi paradox
098    Fine Cotton
099    Flannan Isles
100    Forest swastika
101    Brown_Dog_affair
102    Friendly Floatees
103    Frost flower
104    Georgi Markov
105    Ghost stations of the Paris Métro
106    Glasgow Ice Cream Wars
107    Gloria Ramirez
108    GoldenPalace.com Monkey
109    Gravitational lensing
110    Great Fire of London
111    Great Pacific Garbage Patch
112    Green Belt Europe
113    Green Boots
114    Green Children of Woolpit
115    Gropecunt Lane
116    Guerrilla gardening
117    Guess 2/3 of the average
118    Hampton-on-Sea
119    Hannah Twynnoy
120    Harold Shipman
121    Hartford circus fire
122    Henry Darger
123    Herd instinct
124    HeroRAT
125    Hinterkaifeck
126    History of the World Wide Web
127    If-by-whiskey
128    Illegal prime
129    Information Cascade
130    IP over Avian Carriers
131    I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!
132    Ivory-billed Woodpecker
133    Jandek
134    Jeanne Calment
135    Jimmy Carter rabbit incident
136    John Murray Spear
137    John Titor
138    Joseph Force Crater
139    Joybubbles
140    June 1962 Alcatraz escape
141    June and Jennifer Gibbons
142    Kasper Hauser
143    Keron Thomas
144    Kilroy Was Here
145    Kitty Genovese
146    Kryptos
147    La choutte d’or
148    Lazarus taxon
149    Le_Rêve_(painting)
150    Lead Masks Case
151    Lech mich in Arsch
152    Let’s trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle
153    Limerence
154    Lina Medina
155    L’Inconnue de la Seine
156    Lizzie Borden
157    London Beer Flood
158    London Necropolis Company
159    London Pneumatic Despatch Company
160    Lord Lucan
161    Lost Doctor Who Episodes
162    Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine
163    Louis Slotin
164    lp0 on fire
165    Mad Gasser of Mattoon
166    Magdalene asylum
167    Manhattanhenge
168    Manor of Northstead
169    Mary Toft
170    Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion
171    Maze solving algorithm
172    McMartin preschool trial
173    Metal umlaut
174    Michael Larson
175    Michael Malloy
176    Milgram Experiment
177    Mir diamond pipe
178    Mitochondrial Eve
179    MKULTRA
180    Mobro 4000
181    Mojave phone booth
182    MONIAC Computer
183    Monty Hall Problem
184    Mornington Crescent (game)
185    Mortsafe
186    Moscow Metro 2
187    Münchausen by Internet
188    Nannie Doss
189    Nash equilibrium
190    National Hotel Disease
191    Nemesis (hypothetical star)
192    No soap radio
193    Nuclear football
194    Numbers Station
195    Oak island
196    Oliver Cromwell’s Head
197    One red paperclip
198    Onion Futures Act
199    Open source religion
200    Operation Mincemeat
201    Original Spanish Kitchen
202    Our Lady of the Angels school fire
203    Oxford English Dictionary
204    Parkinson’s Law of Triviality
205    Patent medicine
206    Patricia Pulling
207    Percussive Maintenance
208    Phineas Gage
209    Pigeon photography
210    Pirate loot problem
211    Pitch drop experiment
212    Poe Toaster
213    Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko
214    Pole of inaccessibility
215    Post-mortem photography
216    Presecutor’s fallacy
217    Prisoner’s dilemma
218    Psychogeography
219    Publius Enigma
220    Quantum suicide thought experiment
221    R. Budd Dwyer
222    Raymond Robinson (Green Man)
223    Red Barn Murder
224    Red Rain in Kerala
225    Republic of Indian Stream
226    Resignation from the British House of Commons
227    Richey Edwards
228    Ricky McCormick’s encrypted notes
229    RKO Forty Acres
230    Roanoke Colony
231    Robert Shields (diarist)
232    Rogue wave
233    Rongorongo
234    Rosenhan Experiment
235    S. A. Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897
236    Safety coffin
237    Sailing Stones
238    Salish Sea human foot discoveries
239    Sedlec Ossuary
240    Semantic satiation
241    Seven Bridges of Königsberg
242    Shape of the Universe
243    Shugborough inscription
244    Slow Down (unidentified sound)
245    Snuff film
246    Snuffy’s Parents Get a Divorce
247    Social engineering
248    Social traps
249    Solved game
250    Spite House
251    Spring Heeled Jack
252    Stanford Prison Experiment
253    Subterranean Rivers of London
254    Taman Shud
255    Tamworth Two
256    Tanganyika laughter epidemic
257    The Aristocrats (joke)
258    The Bottle Imp
259    The Hum
260    The Incident at Petrich
261    The Third Wave
262    Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War –
263    Tidal locking
264    Tower Subway
265    Toynbee tiles
266    Tragedy of the commons
267    Trap street
268    Traveling salesman problem
269    Trepanning
270    Treva Throneberry
271    Trolley problem
272    Tube Map
273    Tulip mania
274    Tupper’s self-referential formula
275    Turritopsis nutricula
276    Tyche (hypothetical planet)
277    Tyranny of small decisions
278    Ultimatum game
279    Uncanny valley
280    Underarm bowling incident of 1981
281    Underground City, Montreal
282    Unexpected hanging paradox
283    Utah teapot
284    UVB-76
285    Valentich Disappearance
286    Verona
287    Voynich manuscript
288    Wardriving
289    Watermelon Snow
290    Whitechapel Murders
291    Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?
292    Wick Effect
293    Wicked Bible
294    Wife Selling
295    William Herbert Wallace
296    Williamson Tunnels
297    Winchester Mystery House
298    Wittenoom
299    Wow! Signal
300    Zero-sum game

In hard times, post Link Soup.

Work has been devouring all my energy and enthusiasm lately, so there’s not been much left for writing and Twitter and answering email. I’ve been just about keeping up with events in the Middle East (oh, Gaddafi…) and Japan (oh, Fukushima…) but that’s it. (Four more months then I’m free to start looking for a job that gives me the time and intellectual energy to purse the things that interest me; to write, to activist, to create, to connect, to run, to ride, to better participate in the world.)

In non-work-complaining-related news, I’m going to run the Melbourne Marathon in October. It’s bigger and harder and more interesting than anything I’ve done before, and will require some dedicated running over the next few months to get to a point where I’m even capable of the distance. Melbourne is a more attractive option than either the Perth Marathon (insufficient time to prepare) or the City to Surf Marathon (horrible, hilly course), and it will be fun to make the trip over for it.

I’m also taking some annual leave (hurrah) to do the Great WA Bike Ride next week. Upwards of 500km over nine days, camping, the beautiful south-west of the state…I can’t wait! I will be taking one of the cameras, so pics will be forthcoming.

Now, in lieu of interesting and/or original content, some link soup for you:

A great article from ars technica on Anyonymous and the HBGary hack.

Freshwater diving and snorkelling in South Australia – oh my, I want to do this so badly!

BoxCar2D, an entertaining little project about digital evolution.

A deeply disturbing but fascinatingly detailed article on one of the worst school fires in America’s history.

A showcase of beautiful photos taken on iPhones, helpfully citing the apps that were used to generate each image.

Another ars technica piece, this time on the topic of unsecured IP security cameras.

A wonderful article from The New Yorker on art, science, detection and fraud.

And finally, I was delighted to find last month that people are still using the Gopher protocol.  And that that Floodgap makes it super accessible on a browser.  Holy internet archaeology, Batman!

Random Soup

Hey you guys, blogging – what is that? Something I don’t seem to get around to doing at the moment, that’s what. Let’s all enjoy a nice list of random things:

  1. I’m thinking about pragmatic internet activism. My current idea is basically that we create or find a non-profit organisation with a legal defence fund, have it run a bunch of Tor exit nodes and work to mainstream the practice of safely running middle nodes for everyone else. Ideally this would be done with the support of a sympathetic ISP.
  2. I’ve been watching North Africa and the Middle East closely. I’m convinced that what’s happening there, in its various regional manifestations, is a turning point in history. People all over the region are kicking their dictators to the kerb, and I dearly hope that these events lead ultimately to a better life for many, and not to further violence, fear and oppression. As one Egyptian Twitter said the other day, ‘It’s scary, but it’s certainly not sad.’
  3. I’m brewing, gradually, a post about gender, consent, boundaries and geek culture. It’s been simmering for months. These things take time to cook.
  4. This year’s theme is ‘sovereignty‘. I drew a mind map for it, which I’ll post at some point soon.
  5. I’m (finally) discovering the wonders of snorkelling in Perth; it’s awesome. Penguin Island, Mettam’s Pool, Boyinaboat Reef; wonderful fish everywhere! I’m getting my dive licence shortly, and I’m considering buying an underwater camera.
  6. Virtual evolution is fun; check out Boxcar2D.
  7. A couple of days ago, I was thrilled to discover people are still using Gopher! Here’s an HTML gateway.  Digital living fossils excite me, as has been previously demonstrated by my passion for Amiga and C64 emulators.
  8. The most recent mental health news is that I’ve reached a stage where the SSRIs alone clearly aren’t working as intended, and so I’ve added the mood stabiliser and anti-epileptic Lamotrigine. I’m not sure what we’ll do if this doesn’t work, but I’m hopeful. From years of self-testing, I’m confident that my crazy is closely tied to either my progesterone levels, or the ratio of progesterone to estrogen in my system, and among other things, Lamotrigine has a progesterone lowering effect.

That’s all for now. Sufficient random soup has been posted.

Random Link Round-Up Thursday

Those of you who were absorbed into my cult of Dreamteam last year may be interested to see the recent announcement addressing the changes arising from the post Gold-Coast rejig for the 2011 AFL season: [Link]

An old but good post from Ken My-Go-To-Photography-Man Rockwell on how to enjoy photography more while carrying less gear: [Link]

Deep Sea News has put together a great post on the problem with plastic water bottles: [Link]

A New York Times article on endurance training and the topic of ‘how to push past the pain as the champions do’ (spoiler: there is no secret – you just run until it hurts, and you run until you know the track, and then you run some more): [Link]

Here’s a thoughtful piece on on procrastination from The New Yorker and a response from BigThink: [Link] and [Link]

Check out the website of installation artist Jason de Caires Taylor, featuring photographs of his eerie underwater sculptures: [Link]

An interesting exercise in data visualisation at Flight & Expulsion on the subject of refugees – be sure to check out the different tabs and mouse over the map: [Link]

Obits for Benoit Mandelbrot at The Atlantic and Philippa Foot over at the New York Times; the world is two great minds the poorer: [Link] and [Link]

And finally, some more deliciousness from The Oatmeal, this time on the topic of How To Pet A Kitty: [Link]

Random Jumble Post!

1. I’ve been taking quite a few photos recently, including more of the Perth Zoo:

2. I’ve also adopted a new rabbit in need of a home, largely because bunnies are social animals who generally do better in pairs. Her name is Bunny du Pompadour, aka Reinette, and I found her via the good people of S.A.F.E. Perth who were totally down with me organising bunny dates between Walter and prospective companions.  It was internet dating, for rabbits!

3. I’ve discovered a few nice new iPhone apps recently. ScannerPro is great for moving documents and scribbles in my sketchbook straight onto the internet:

4. And then there’s Simplenote…let us just say that I am as madly in love with Simplenote as a woman can be with a piece of text-document management software. It’s so…simple! And it speaks to everything else! I have the iPhone app for portable use, and access my notes via a PortableApps version of ResophNotes on my work machine (it copes just fine with the corporate firewall) and Notational Velocity on my Mac at home.

5. I’ve been reading Havi Brooks’ The Fluent Self blog quite a lot, largely because her internal dialogue sounds so very much like mine.

6. I gave away a large pile of clothes, stuffed toys, books and random items at the Really Really Free Market last weekend, which conveniently happens to be held in the park one block from my house. I strolled down with my granny shopping trolley full, and returned home with an empty granny shopping trolley and a small adopted tree. (I have named him Buswell, for media reasons.)

7. Last week, I took the alarming step of hiring a cleaner to visit my house once a fornight to clean the bathroom, do the floors and dust. I have conflicted feelings about being the sort of person who [needs to hire / hires] a cleaner, but my initial feelings about the shiny floors and lack of general filth are very positive indeed.

8. And finally, I’m in the middle of the messy transition that is getting off Venlafaxine, with all the mood swings, involuntary twitches, shaking and happycrazysadcrazyOMGPANICcrazy one might expect. In spite of this, I’m pretty relieved with how it’s going – it’s far from pleasant but it’s manageable. I’m taking it slow and am relatively stable at a low dose of 37.5mg a day at the moment, and should be completely clean in a couple of weeks.

Happiness Elsewhere

A recent post over on the Wired Science blog reminded me that I have been neglecting my favourite subject lately, discussing as it does the way in which happiness and sadness appear to fit the infectious disease model in large social networks. The Wired article leans a little far towards generalisation and pop-science for my taste, but the original study looks quite interesting and has made me wonder about the underlying assumptions, methodology and data set.

Looking through my bookmarks, it turns out that over the past few months I’ve hoarded quite a number of interesting articles on life, happiness and well-being.  In March, Scott Berkun wrote something that really challenges me to read, dealing as it does with being unbusy, being still and cultivating time.  It’s called The Cult of Busy.

Last month Dave Navarro (no relation) from Rock Your Day posted How To Stop Telling Your Sad, Sad Story, which I really loved; it’s such an ass-kicking.

Over at Fora.tv, you can watch Is The Pursuit of Happiness Making Us Miserable (which is probably is, if we take ‘happiness’ to mean hedonic pleasure).

Tim Ferris has written an epic piece on vagabonding, simplicity, travel and well-being.

Everyone’s been writing about Stuff versus Experience this year. There are posts on Unclutterer and CNN and The Frontal Cortex. This is something I wrote about some time ago, at least in relation to my personal experience, and it’s interesting to see it unfolding elsewhere.

On a slightly bigger scale, The Atlantic has an article from back in February on What Makes Cities Happy.

And lastly, the FlowingData blog has these two wry charts: Flowchart to lifelong happiness, and Path to happiness gets complicated and confusing.  FlowingData blog, you make me happy.

Welcome To Leftovers-Night

This post is like a Leftovers-Night dinner.  You’ll see.

Right now I’m doing some work that involves re-running a model through twenty or so different scenarios, and each run takes around a minute, so I have Notepad up and am using the runtime to write. It feels like a luxury to have some time to start thinking about having a page to fill with words.

I’ve been trying to manage the number of hours I’ve been spending in the office, but even when I’ve been able do that, the intensity of the last month has been something to behold. There’s not much I’m able to say about it in a public forum, but it involves a lot more responsibility and a whole bunch of time-critical work. I’m hopeful October will see a promotion, as I feel there’s a significant mismatch between the level I’m on and the work I’m doing.

Over the past month, the last module of my professional qualification has started up, so I’m studying and involved in a bunch of other things too. I know it’s something I come back to time after time here, but the struggle to manage commitments seems to be something of an ongoing theme in my life. I made a mind-map while I was having lunch yesterday, and even though many things spawned sub-commitments and began to ooze from the edges of the A4 page, it feels better to have the majority of it laid out.

Out of everything I’m doing at the moment, passing the last module of my Grad Dip is far and away the most significant one when it comes to my long term well-being. In part, this is because repeating will be a very expensive exercise, but more because the timing of finishing the course directly relates to when I’ll be free to leave my current employer without having to repay my sizable study debt. ‘Freedom, horrible freedom!’ as they say. (‘I’m the Queen!’ ‘No you’re not!’)

What else? Oh yes, the week just gone has been a shocker when it’s come to mental health – by far the worst in recent times. While horrible, the upside of this has been that I’ve managed to get through it without messing up anything significant, which is quite exciting – my ability to manage depressive episodes has really lifted in the past couple of years, and this is a topic I’d like to write more on at a later date.

Other than that…well. I’ve seen The Mountain Goats, Jeff Martin and Henry Rollins recently. Rollins was doing his Frequent Flyer spoken word tour, and I don’t think I have anything near the articulacy to express how moving and inspiring I found it. The man is a spectacularly interesting human being, and I find much of his discussion around depression, adventure, happiness and human experience to be almost painfully resonant. (I’m selfishly frustrated that he’s famous, because if he weren’t it would be easier to say ‘hey mate, come have a drink with me and we’ll talk about life the universe and everthing’.)

Musicwise, I’ve been obsessing over a few things, mostly relating to recent gigs. Jeff Martin’s Live in Dublin album is excellent, and I would strongly suggest getting it from iTunes if you haven’t already. portabledave has also put me onto The Tallest Man On Earth aka Kristian Mattson, a profoundly Dylan-esque folk muso from Denmark whose new album, The Wild Hunt, I’ve had on repeat. And then there’s the latest Mountain Goats album, The Life of the World to Come, which has this song about the thylacine, the dodo and the golden toad which just about moves me to tears every time, because (like most Australians?) I’m well aware of the heartbreaking footage they’re referring to in the first verse:

The sun above me and a concrete floor below
Scratch at the chain links maybe bare my teeth for show
Fed twice a day I don’t go hungry anymore
Feel in my bones just what the future has in store
I pace in circles so the camera will see
Look hard at my stripes, there’ll be no more after me
Laze by the shoreline while the sailors disembark
Scratch out a place to sit and rest down in the dark
Smell something burning downwind just a little ways
They set up camp and sing and sweat and work for days
I have no fear of anyone I’m dumb and wild and free
I am a flightless bird and there’ll be no more after me

In Costa Rica in a burrow underground
Climb to the surface, blink my eyes and look around
I’m all alone here as I try my tiny song
Claim my place beneath the sky but i won’t be here for long
I sang all night the moon shone on me through the trees
No brothers left and there’ll be no more after me
(- Deuteronomy 2:10)


And finally, a few links that I’ve stumbled across and appreciated in recent weeks:


A Node's Place is in the Home Tern, Coffs Harbour Coffs Harbour Coffs Harbour Nudibranch, Arrawarra, NSW Sea Cucumber? Arrawarra, NSW Urchin, Arrawarra, NSW Starfish, Arrawarra, NSW Polychaete Worm, Arrawarra, NSW Shrimp, Arrawarra, NSW Shrimp, Arrawarra, NSW Mollusc, Arrawarra, NSW 

Creative Commons

All content published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.  Sharing is a beautiful thing.

Creative Commons License


@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.