Tag Archive for 'Twitter'

Upgrades, upgrades

The world keeps on changing under my feet.  I’ve done a few upgrades on the site — my apologies in advance if anything seems (let alone is!) broken.

A cool idea: the book tuner

I’ve just come across The Book Tuner (Twtter feed), which tries to match books with the perfect musical accompaniment when reading them.

It’s still pretty new and there aren’t many pairings lined-up yet, but here’s their latest suggestion:

The bio on the first page of Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming gives you a taste of the paucity of detail that lies ahead: ‘Steven Amsterdam is a writer living in Melbourne’. Further in, Amsterdam carries you on an episodic journey, starting with a father and son camping out on the eve of the then-impending Y2K global disaster. Each story revisits the son at various points throughout his life, in a parallel future to our own, a world seemingly ravaged by floods, disease and anarchy. This unnamed main character must negotiate chaotic and emotionally charged scenes of barricades, checkpoints, communes and rescue teams.

Noticeably absent from the novel is any description of the events that have left the world in this state. Without a Hollywood-style visual of towering tsunamis or flaming meteors, readers are free to project their own fears and anxieties about worst-case scenarios into the blank spaces. This has the unsettling effect of personalising the story, forming an instant bond between us and the anonymous son, so that we see and assess his actions as our own. Thankfully, despite the dystopian surroundings and grimness of the survivalists, Amsterdam shows us that there’s still room for hope and compassion in whatever future awaits us.

DJ Shadow’s 1996 debut release Endtroducing holds the Guinness World Record for the first ‘completely sampled album’. As later mash-up masters like Girl Talk have shown, when you rely completely on other people’s material, the skill comes from the way you mix the samples together. With Endtroducing, Shadow’s skill manifests in a spookily atmospheric composition.

The album creates the same vague sense of discomfort as Things We Didn’t See Coming. You know that something bad is happening, but you can’t quite see what’s around the corner: it’s dark, and you’re frightened. Hints are occasionally given: in ‘Stem/Long Stem’, a suitably haunting piano refrain is interspersed with the ramblings of a man terrified the police might hold him indefinitely for traffic offences (and what’s to stop them?). ‘Midnight in a Perfect World’ is another moody masterpiece – like the spaces between Amsterdam’s words, DJ Shadow allows breathing room in his songs for your own thoughts (dark or otherwise) to flourish. They make perfect companions as you settle in with your wind-up torch, tinned pineapple and sleeping bag for the long nuclear winter.

The Guardian is excited to tell you that it can’t tell you what it wants to tell you

From yesterday’s (12 Oct 2009) Guardian:

Today’s published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

It sounds tremendously exciting, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the House of Commons Question Book is publically available.  There are thousands of them (questions, that is).  There were 2,344 outstanding questions as of Monday 12 October 2009 (see here).

But the question in question, as it were, is apparantly this one, which as I type has been shifted forward to Wednesday 14 October 2009 (I have no idea, but suspect that unanswered questions get shuffled forward as necessary, so it’s best to start at the root Question Book if you’re searching for something):


Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

I didn’t figure the question out myself.  I got it from Alex Massie at The Spectator.  Alex also helpfully points us to the Guardian’s reports from Wed 16 September 2009 on Trafigura and their exploits in the Ivory Coast [Main article, supporting article, 8MB pdf of the emails] and highlights the fact that Trafigura is now a trending topic on Twitter.

While I join the general expressions of anger at the gagging of the press over parliamentary proceedings, I also note that this will ultimately serve to help The Guardian’s reputation enormously.

Integrating with Twitter

I’m not really sure about Twitter.  I don’t really see the point.  I guess the mobile-phone integration is a step forward, but still …

Anyway, I’ve just installed Twitter Tools so that my Twitter account will get an update when I post a new entry here on my blog.