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Monday, March 31, 2008

Seven up

I'm in Hong Kong and we went out for a walk to have a beer and get something to eat. The streets were absolutely packed.

Sevens up

Now, at first it didn't strike me as odd that I couldn't walk on the pavement for people, until I noticed that these people included sombrero-wearing Aussies, very drunk Irish persons dressed up as leprechauns, bar girls who could (as Raymond Chandler famously said) make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window and assorted cavorting Brits, Kiwis and others. Then I remembered: the Rugby Sevens finished today.

I have to say I'm really enjoying myself here. There is a real buzz to wandering in Hong Kong, a buzz of stuff happening. Right outside my hotel room window there is the biggest crane I've ever seen in my life helping to erect yet another gargantuan modern structure on reclaimed harbour land. When all of the port traffic has transferred to China in a few years, I imagine that they will fill in the harbour completely. I'm not saying that in a bad way: the skyscrapers and office blocks here are beautiful, multiple tribes of neon-powered aliens that have touched down for an intergalactic pow-wow on the neutral ground of Earth. It's a pleasure to walk among them, especially on our way to the restaurant just past the Crazy Horse and San Francisco bars. Very colourful.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The world's favourite airline

Well, they are as far as I'm concerned. I got bumped to First Class from London to Singapore, and since I've never been in BA's First Class on a long haul flight, I will only ever fly BA again. When it's a twelve hour flight coming up, you can't imagine what a spring it puts in your step when you're about to board and you get called over for an upgrade. What a great start to the week.

In case you're wondering what life the other side of the curtain is like, here's a quick guide...

Good. The seat was pretty comfortable and you get a much bigger table to work on. I really liked the leg support: it made for a comfortable working position. They give you a very nice sleep suit. I'd always assumed that the First Class toilets would be luxuriously large so that celebrities could have sex with the cabin crew in them, but they're not that much bigger so it's a bit uncomfortable to change. You get a duvet if you prefer it to a blanket: very cozy. The wash kit is much, much nicer than in the back of the plane and the sleep mask was better too. Really nice food and especially good full English breakfast.

Bad. The new BA Business Class has proper power sockets in addition to airline adapters, so I didn't bother bringing my airline adapter with me. But in First Class, the seats only have the airline adapters and my MacBook Pro gave up the ghost after 2 hours 20 minutes. It didn't really matter because I was knackered anyway so I slept for a fair bit.

The middle-aged (ie, like me) couple in the middle seats were obviously famous in some way, judging from the way they were greeted and seated, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out who they were so that I could impress my friends. He looked a bit like David Gest, she looked a bit like Delia Smith. Any ideas? Perhaps a simple future enhancement to the in-flight entertainment could point out the celebs to other passengers: I've even worked out how to do it, by getting people to add their Facebook page when they go through the online check-in (after all, it already asks you for your mobile phone number and so on).

P.S. I watched Beowulf with dinner: lobster salad, monkfish and dark age slaughter. Excellent.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good news

It's generally very depressing reading the newspaper, which I why I don't do it terribly often. I used to read two newspapers every day, then one, then one now and then plus a glance at the Financial Times in the office, then none except at weekends. Now I just buy The Telegraph pretty much other Saturday. Physically, most of it goes straight in the bin because I throw away property, travel, weekend (except for the crossword), magazine, motoring etc etc. I read the money section now and then. I read the first part of the sport section about football. But mostly I just read the main section.

Now and then you do stumble across some good news, though. I was trying to think of the last time I read some really good news, and I had to cast my mind back a few months to the time when I read that Mr. Robbie Williams, the world's most famous karaoke singer, had gone on strike. Not only are we to be denied his dreary warblings for some time, but apparently he may also be sued for countless gazillions. He probably won't even notice: his record company (EMI, the same people who once paid $50 million to Mariah Carey to NOT make any more records) gave him EIGHTY MILLION QUID to make four records so he must have some of it left. Sometimes the good news veers into the surreal: Mr. William's manager is quoted as saying that EMI is acting like a "plantation owner", implying that Mr. Williams is being treated as a slave. What planet are these nauseating people living on?

Anyway, I was thinking that as bands stop behaving like farmers and instead adjust to the new realities of the "intellectual property" business (despite their products not being property in any real sense of the word and not being intellectual in any way at all) the inevitable adjustment will be that the cost of recorded music will fall to zero and the cost of live music will soar, as the market prices the economically scarce resource appropriately.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Normal Service

Last week, I wasn't well for a couple of days, I was laid up in bed with some sort of flu. When I was feeling a bit better -- not sick, but still very tired -- I decided to keep my meetings and set off into London. How reassuring it was to find myself on the 7.40 cattle-truck to Waterloo and hear this announcement from the guard: "We apologise for the overcrowding on this service, which is due to an excess number of passengers." As the staid looking chap in a suit and tie opposite me remarked, "no shit".

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Thursday, March 06, 2008

D & Deceased

I was surprised how sad the news of Gary Gygax's death made me. For those of you who aren't initiates, Gary Gygax was the man who invented Dungeons and Dragons. When I was first introduced to D&D, I had never come across anything like it before. I came from the borderline-autistic wargames school, having spent many happy hours (days, in fact) at University refighting the Yom Kippur war and repelling Soviet tank brigades sweeping through the Fulda Gap. The idea of a game where you could do, essentially, anything... wow.
I always loved the game, even after moving on to Runequest and Stormbringer. Now life has gone full circle: my kids and their friends love D&D and I still love playing it with them. In fact, playing D&D with your kids is even more fun than playing D&D with your friends. Thanks, Gary.
In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rabbit rabbit rabbit

As is typical on South West Trains, people today were rude, annoying and generally revolting. There's no escaping the boorish British public. Yesterday I caught a 7.30pm train home and I was one of the last people to get a seat: other poor sods had to stand all the way after long day at work. And if, by some chance, the t*sser lawyer in the blue pinstripe who was sprawled across two seats talking loudly into a mobile phone all the way to Guildford is by any chance reading this: no act of charity you might undertake in the future will ever absolve you.

Today, I caught an early train home and was so happy to find some empty seats in a "quiet carriage" (ie, one of the carriages where people are not supposed to talk on mobile phones or listen to loud music). What happens?

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

Exactly. People rabbiting away on mobile phones right underneath the "no mobile phones" sign. Unfortunately, in 21st century Britain, you dare not ask anyone to shut up in case you get stabbed.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]