You're all invited!

As I have mentioned before, my freemail address gets a lot of messages seemingly intended for other people. For example, I have just received an invitation to a 10 year high school reunion that I did not attend. I can't make it, but if you are in the Long Beach area in February, then feel free to make use of my evite.


The internets is crawling with cammed copies of Cloverfield, which prompts the question -- "how can you tell?" (vide Parker on Coolidge).

Arbitrary Decisions

Back from San Fran, of which some later, to find another pile of random people in my inbox asking me to do things for them for free. Top of these was a review request for an uninspiring looking paper from some generic sounding journal that I've never heard of. I'm probably too committed with other stuff to bother with it, but it would be nice to have some other reasons to reject the request. The journal seems to be published by Elsevier, whom I vaguely recall being painted as evil. But some quasi research on Wikipedia shows that they seem to be cleaning up their act, at least as far as the arms fairs seem to be concerned.

Then I looked up some more details on the journal in question, and noticed that the subscription rate is close on $2000 a year. This should be compared to the rather meager in comparison TODS (with its excellent choice in papers) for as little as $30, and TKDE which is at most $80. So I think from now on, I'll prioritize such requests based on accessibility of the final results.


Eight Queens

Is it me, or is there something strangely fitting about a chess master dying at age 64?


Easily Confused

My recent trip to england was enough to confirm that I get hopelessly confused between Alex Zane, Zane Lowe and Alex Lowe. Fortunately, I am able to distinguish Alice Lowe, otherwise things would get really messy.

Passing thought

Should people in urgent need of CPR to prevent them dying be given "Kiss Me Quick" hats to wear?


Movies of the Year

Last time I bored you senseless with a tedious list of books that I read in 2007. Now I can do the same with the list of all the movies that I watched in 2007. Well, not all the movies; only the ones that came to me in little red envelopes from the NetFlix corporation. They have a handy feature which lets you see the list of films that you've viewed, so it's just a matter of cut and paste. Just think, with increasing automation, soon everything you do, read, or watch can be conveniently documented, annotated, datamined and exploited. Won't that be fun? I could even trawl through my last.fm history and see what I listened to in 2007, but that would bore even me. Anyway, here's the list (with the customary 7 word review):

  1. Fantastic Four: silly emotionless by-the-comic-book adaptation
  2. Hellboy: Animated: Blood & Iron: fun but simplistic animated comic book movie
  3. Topkapi: Peter Ustinov heist caper with Rififi riff
  4. Garden State: You'll believe New Jersey can be romantic!
  5. The Philadelphia Story: "screwball" Hepburn comedy with surprisingly few laughs
  6. Local Hero: quicky rom-com: landscape is the love interest
  7. Layer Cake: half Bond, half Lock-Stock, all half-baked
  8. March of the Penguins: Just a nature documentary, why the fuss?
  9. Firewall: Implausible Ford thriller, with too little technology
  10. Little Miss Sunshine: Vastly over-rated failed to raise a smile
  11. Accepted: Feel-good fake university comedy of the year
  12. The Graduate: Parodies are more amusing than the original
  13. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: Scary story of corporate greed and fraud
  14. Tommy: Quirky comic opera - an overlooked rock classic
  15. Hacking Democracy: Troubling tale of tallies that don't tally
  16. Passport to Pimlico: Amusing high concept lacks any noticeable jokes
  17. Crank: Preposterous action video game in movie form
  18. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: Hymn to San Francisco's birds and hippies
  19. Catwoman: Surprisingly underrated comicbook caper ticks the boxes
  20. Moulin Rouge: Dark musical with some show-stopping numbers
  21. Wordplay: Gripping documentary on crosswords and their solvers
  22. Flushed Away: Aardman's first CGI makes rats almost lovable
  23. Man of the Year: Shows why Stewart-Colbert couldn't (shouldn't?) happen
  24. Ocean's Eleven: Likeable heist movie carried by cast's charisma
  25. A Prairie Home Companion: Weak adaptation but makes Lindsay Lohan likeable
  26. Network: "I'm not going to take this anymore!"


My Books of The Year

For reasons which are now somewhat lost on me, I kept a note of which books I read this year just gone (by the cunning method of putting them all in a pile in the corner). So that I have a more permanent record of this snapshot, I have written up a list and (since it was in '07), given a 7 word summary of each. The list makes for depressing reading, since it shows up my tastes as being staggeringly low brow. In my defence, I will say only that some of these were read under duress (i.e. while travelling on planes and being unable to read anything of any significant depth or quality), and a few were read partly in order to up my count (well, wouldn't you up yours?). Anywhere, here are my books of 2007 in strictly non-chronological order:
  1. The Liar (Stephen Fry) - Fry's autobiographical youthful fancy bears multiple re-readings
  2. Playpower (Richard Neville) - Incredibly archaic firsthand account of seventies hippiedom.
  3. The Crying of Lot 49 (Thomas Pynchon) - Frustrating erudite underground US postal conspiracy novella
  4. Digital Fortress (Dan Brown) - Readable but terrible tediously flawed techno thriller
  5. Burglar on the Prowl (Lawrence Block) - Chripy tale: purloining and hugely improbable coincidence
  6. The Golden Thread (John Mortimer) - Rumpole in fine form, defending the delinquent
  7. Double Whammy (Carl Hiaasen) - More lively Florida corruption and murder antics
  8. Journey Around My Room (Xavier De Maistre) - Peculiar florid 17th Century geographically challenged travelogue
  9. Dawn of The Dumb (Charlie Brooker) - Collected columns of charmingly curmudgeonly cynical critic
  10. Lies and the Lying Liars who tell them (Al Franken) - Haphazard and disorganized swing at right-wing liars
  11. Perfect Crimes and Impossible Mysteries (Ed. Mike Ashley) - Delightful collection of ingenious locked room mysteries
  12. Cruel World (John Morgan) - Disturbing self-published tale of madness and religion
  13. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - Boy wizard goes camping, dies, recovers, wins
  14. Kitty Takes a Holiday (Carries Vaughn) - More entertaining werewolf hijinks for poor Kitty
  15. Before Midnight (Rex Stout) - A Wolfe story like all the others
  16. The Medical Detectives (Berton Roueche) - Fascinating stories of disease inference and analysis
  17. Jingo (Terry Pratchett) - Entertaining fantasy fodder for a long flight
  18. Side Effects (Woody Allen) - Hit-and-miss humour, some great ideas
  19. In Our Humble Opinion (Tom and Ray Magliozzi) - Genial Car Talk hosts unpleasant on paper
  20. Adventures in the Screen Trade (William Goldman) - Compelling insider stories and anecdotes on Hollywood
  21. Out of the Ordinary (Jon Ronson) - Need to imagine author's voice while reading
  22. Be My Enemy (Christopher Brookmyre) - Excellent knockabout murder and mayhem caper novel
  23. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat (Oliver Sacks) - Diverting case histories but no 'Medical Detectives'
  24. The 9/11 Report (Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon) - Devastating catalogue of failures - in comic form
  25. The Areas of My Expertise (John Hodgman) - Good, but not outstanding, hobo names included
  26. Barcelona Plates (Alexei Sayle) - Superb collection, especially first and last stories
  27. The Key (Malcolm McClintick) - Slight police procedural by former public defender
  28. Which Lie Did I Tell? (William Goldman) - More of the same from screenwriter and raconteur
  29. Lyra's Oxford (Philip Pullman) - Short and unfulfilling tale of Dark Materials
  30. Deception Point (Dan Brown) - Screaming baby on lap of next passenger
  31. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (M.C. Beaton) - Light silly mystery introducing largely unsympathetic detective
  32. Tanner on Ice (Lawrence Block) - Odd adventure tale of cryogenically preserved spy
  33. Perplexing Puzzles and Tantalizing Teasers (Martin Gardner) - Presented no significant challenge, mostly old puzzles
  34. Rumpole of the Bailey (John Mortimer) - First collection of Rumpole stories sets tone
  35. Rumpole for the Defence (John Mortimer) - Another collection with some sharply plotted tales
  36. The Men Who Stare at Goasts (Jon Ronson) - More investigation into peculiar beliefs, most ambiguous
  37. King's College Cambridge Annual Report 2006 - I read it for the member's obituaries
  38. Micronations (Lonely Planet) - Odd guide to places not on map
  39. In the Beginning... was the command line (Neal Stephenson) - Not hugely insightful potted history of computers
  40. The Collector Collector (Tibor Fischer) - Definitely worth a second reading (or third?)
  41. Rumpole on Trial (John Mortimer) - This year I couldn't get enough Rumpole...
  42. The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennett) - Addictive novella when ER finally starts reading
  43. Skinny Dip (Carl Hiaasen) - Buoyant Florida thriller hooked me on Hiaasen
  44. Unleashing Web 2.0 (Gottfried Vossen and Stephan Hagemann) - Soulless trawl through buzzwords without giving insight
  45. Time To Murder and Create (Lawrence Block) - Scudder swiftly investigates who killed a blackmailer
  46. Dummies Guide to Buying a Home - Visions of mortgages dance before my eyes
  47. Thud! (Terry Pratchett) - Another plane ride, another pratchett passes time
  48. Buffy Season 8 (Whedon et al) - Buffy's back, this time in comic form
  49. The Nudist on the Late Shift (Po Bryson) - Enthralling and scary tales from bubble 1.0
  50. Enclopedia Brown Collection (Donald Sobol) - Frankly stupid, irritating "solve-it-yourself" mysteries