Subatomic particles: the musical!

EDL supporters have been ridiculed, Jeremy Kyle has been put to music, and now this, from the Symphony of Science: the Quantum World, autotuned for your pleasure.

I’m increasingly siding with Leibniz. This really is the best of all possible worlds.



My relationship with Twitter began about two years ago when I was offered a prospective fortnightly column in TimeOut Hong Kong writing a series of 24-hour ‘tweet diaries’ about special events or daily life in the city. Not knowing anything about the medium I thought it best to sign up and get used to the thing, so I created a username, uploaded a picture and started writing infrequent updates about my mundane existence. The audience for these tweets generally consisted of a few friends who I knew used the service, various maniacal twitterers with upwards of fifty-thousand ‘follows’, and the odd pornography bot spouting on about butt-plugs and bargain-basement buggery. I think I lasted all of two weeks before the inanity of what I was doing struck me and I bailed out.

Recently though, in an ineffective bid to increase the readership of this blog (which wavers somewhere between nothing and barely anything on most days), I set up another Twitter account and started the whole sorry process again. Of course, nothing had really changed in the interim, other than slightly less people I knew were on it, and there seemed to be inordinately more sex-bots prowling the site in search of hapless sweaty clickers. I followed a few people of interest, was followed myself largely by marketing folks selling shit out of cardboard boxes, and idled away a few hours sending the odd tweet, chatting to friends and replying to or retweeting tweets which were funny or interesting, or both. But now I feel pretty much back to where I was just under two years ago, when I decided Twitter was pointless.

Having said all this, if you follow the right people, you can be directed to some very interesting articles, videos or online projects which you might otherwise have missed. It was through Twitter, for example, that I discovered the Top Documentary Films website, which has a collection of thousands of watchable documentary series available online; the Topsoil website, which is a sort of writing collective working towards equality and solidarity; and a fellow called David Kozin, who is looking to research a medical condition close to my heart known as HPPD. So clearly there are resources to be found if you look in the right places.

My main problem with the site, however, is that it seems largely to be populated (outside of the marketing folk and sex-bots) by people feverishly writing acerbic or witty one-liners about nothing at all. And more often than not, they’re not very good at it. In fact, most of the people I follow (which is probably where I’m going wrong), spend all day every day harping on about bugger-all in a certain withering tone of satire, farce, aggression and ‘oh my god I’d better write something’ desperation. Some of them make me smile, some don’t. All of them whiff faintly of futility.

None of this should be read as an end to my Twitter revisitation though. I think I just need to recalibrate my expectations, organise my feed a little better (by cutting the nitwits), and use Twitter for what it is evidently good at: exchanging information, disseminating knowledge and cultivating ideas (some of which can of course be acerbic and witty). Graham Linehan is perhaps best of all at striking this balance.

Whether I’ll write anything myself or simply use it as a dynamic resource for information is of very little consequence. With no followers or method for acquiring followers I may as well shout my opinions into an empty beancan.

Funny, huh?

Incidentally, my TimeOut ‘tweet diaries’ never got past the initial submission, which I blame solely on the format.

I’m very big in Sudan

Ever since I uploaded my ill-advised Metersbonwe advertisement to YouTube, the response has been underwhelming (which is to say, entirely as expected). A total of 58 intrepid souls have watched the thing in just over two months, which is probably about the hit rate you’d get if you uploaded a video of someone silently reading a book or quietly sipping a glass of water.

Oddly, however, of these 58 imbeciles, the majority appear to come from Sudan.

Unfortunately, due to poor cartographic standards on YouTube’s part, I am unable to determine at this stage whether my fame burns brightest in the newly created South Sudan or in the Republic of Sudan to the north. Equally unclear is just how big of a part my video played in cementing the official separation of the two countries after a long and protracted series of civil wars (stretching back to 1956) had made it seem that peace was impossible.

The potential impact of the video on the ongoing humanitarian situation in Darfur also requires more work.

Discussions with Jeremy Bowen are currently at a stalemate. Jim Bowen is a maybe.


I wrote a number of weeks ago about bald Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace (who I write on an unusual amount, it seems) attracting a particularly high volume of sexually oriented Google search entries—’greg Wallace dungeon‘, for example, and ‘gregg wallace kerb crawler‘—and surmised that there may be a dedicated cabal of scandal-hunters constantly scouring the internet for traces of misdeed and mischief.

To end I imagined three (frankly hilarious) new scandals that might be next on their agenda:

Hmm … I wonder if there’s anything about Adrian Chiles’ reach-around hell? A Sooty and Sweep love-hotel, you say? I’d better check. And what’s that? Jamie Theakston has admitted he has a vagina growing on his arm? Well I’ll be!

And then today found this search term, ambitiously spelled, in the stats corner of my blog:

sex scandle sooty and sweep

Whatever this person was actually looking for, I hope they found it. Or at least I hope they found it on the internet and don’t have to seep out into the real world to get gratification.

And if there is an internet video featuring a teary and collared Sweep in a motel shower, with Sooty stood over him, wand in hand, dead eyed and squeaking, Matthew Corbett off with Sue in the adjacent bedroom, fumbling noisily under sick florescent lights …

… then I clearly haven’t been looking in the right places for it.


When you have the temerity to live in Hong Kong (or some other place situated stubbornly outside of the UK), trying to listen to free music online—via things like Spotify—has always been a ball-ache par excellence (i.e. impossible). And now that has decided to start charging its users (or perhaps that should be ‘customers’) to use its service, the opportunity to spaff away great chunks of the working day to music has been limited to YouTube, which, when it comes to things like playlists, albums or sound quality, is about as useful as a marzipan dildo (to borrow a simile from Malcolm Tucker).

Enter the terribly named (but wonderful) Grooveshark.

Like all these things, I’m way behind the curve: it’s been going since 2009, has 400,000 users a month, and has already been involved in several high-profile copyright infringement cases (don’t go there looking for Pink Floyd, for instance). But working on the basis that there are probably (or possibly) people less clued-up than me, I thought it was worth a quick mention.

This is why I like it: it has an impressive catalogue of songs (see, for example, this and this), you can queue stuff up for weeks on end, and—if you use Firefox and download the Adblock Plus add-on—hardly any advertisements to contend with. (There aren’t any of those right-into-your-bloody-ear adverts in-between tracks either, which, from memory, there are on Spotify.)

With all these advantages to be had, I’m sure that somebody, somewhere is being totally screwed by Grooveshark, and like usual, it’s probably the smallest artists who take the biggest hit, but (I think, at least) it has to be better than raiding Pirate Bay or Mediafire. Hardly a ringing endorsement, I realise, but you can make up your own stupid minds.

A Gregg Wallace dungeon? Yes, please!

Writing a fabricated sex-scandal about a relatively well-known (and largely disliked) British television celebrity—see my Gregg Wallace post(s) a few weeks back—grants an unsettling insight into people’s off-the-cuff Google habits, which display, on almost a daily basis, an ardent belief (or maybe that should be “desire”) that anyone off the telly is a philandering sex-pest (among many other things).

This insight comes virtue of the stats package, which ensures that every time someone stumbles upon my site via Google (or any other search engine for that matter) I am told exactly what was keyed in to get them (t)here. Below are the search terms and hits relating only to our brave, bald pioneer:

Search term(s) Hits
greg wallace 365
greg masterchef 30
gregg wallace scandal 14
greg wallace sex scandal 12
greg wallace scandal 8
greg from masterchef 5
gregg wallace sex scandal 4
greg wallace pics 4
greg wallace hat 2
wallace barrel 2
greg wallace picture 2
pictures of greg wallace 2
greg wallace sex 1
gregg wallace + gay 1
greg wallace glasses 1
gregg wallace face 1
bald rich 1
greg wallace smile 1
gregg wallace sex 1
masterchef judges england 1
greg wallace big eyes 1
greg masterchef photo 1
famous bald people wearing glasses 1
bald rich man smiling 1
masterchef wiki 1
greg wallace cup 1
greg masterchef spoon in mouth 1
greg wallis masterchef 1
greg wallace photo 1
bald masterchef 1
greg wallace pictures 1
greg wallace images 1
greg wallace dungeon 1
bald masterchef judge 1
is greg wallace gay? 1
gregg wallace gay 1
is gregg wallace gay 1
is greg wallace gay 1
masterchef judge wallace 1
gregg wallace kerb crawler 1

There is a chance, of course, during my absence from the UK, that Gregg Wallace has acquired a media personality whereby connotations of sexual depravity, solicitation and homosexuality are par for the course. Maybe, à la Richard Keys and Andy Gray, our hero Wallace was seen rutting near the bread-bin in-between takes, or carving up a turkey with his hands behind his back.

These things I cannot claim to know.

What I can be sure of, however, is that my post on the (imagined) matter back in August hasn’t spawned this flurry of rumour and hearsay—I know how few people visit this blog—which suggests that there is a committed band of internet snoopers constantly on the lookout for the next celebrity scandal to dribble out of the internet and into our gaping brains.

Hmm … I wonder if there’s anything about Adrian Chiles’ reach-around hell? A Sooty and Sweep love-hotel, you say? I’d better check. And what’s that? Jamie Theakston has admitted he has a vagina growing on his arm? Well I’ll be!

God bless the internet.

After the storm

Like the American military who killed all those kids at Waco, I think I’ve gone too far. In my haste to get the job done, I’ve metaphorically trapped all my old school friends—among many others—in a Texan-themed facebook compound and then set fire to it, leaving no survivors. And not a single David Koresh among them to ease the guilt. (Although there were at least two people I knew of who were members of the English Defense League, who I can use as stand-ins.)

But what can be done? Nothing, that’s what. It’s like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm—any attempt at reparation can only make things worse. (A really bad episode, of course, where nothing of any significance happens, and all you see, for 30 minutes, is me clicking on a mouse and sweating.) Nobody’s going to re-befriend a spineless, belly-crawling wretch like me anyway. I’ve made my corpse-ridden bed, and now I’m going to have to play Scrabble in it.

All this really shows, of course, is the extent to which facebook has replaced our—or do I mean my?—ordinary socialisation. Although I’ve said much to the contrary, I haven’t actually killed these people—they’re still roaming about the planet quite happily … probably—so it’s odd that I should feel uneasy. I did tell a friend about a couple of the deceased, though, and he was genuinely shocked at my callousness, which shows that there is real significance accorded to these virtual friendships. (Baudrillard would have a field day.)

Maybe I’ll just see if they’re on Twitter instead.