Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Glimpse into Another World

One oddity of the internet is that it discriminates in favour of people with unusual names. Bryan Appleyard being a slightly strange handle, I can google myself more effectively than poor John Smith. Lately, I have been noticing one Mark Appleyard in the listings. Curious, I went to far as to discover he has an entry in Wikipedia. Here it is:
"Mark Appleyard (born on November 11, 1982, in Burlington, Ontario) is a Canadian professional skateboarder. He currently resides in Huntington Beach, California. He is 6 feet 1 inch, approximately 160 pounds, and his skateboarding stance is goofy. He began skateboarding at the age of 11, and grew up skating Hamilton's Beasley Bowl, while also eventually hitting the streets of Toronto, with other skaters such as Ryan Allan, Jay Revelle, and Scott Pommier. He has sinced progressed to one of the sport's elite.He was Thrasher magazine's skateboarder of the year in 2003[1] and various honours from Transworld Skateboarding magazine from 2002 to 2004[2]. He has acquired a reputation as one of the most technically advanced skaters of today. His tricks are insane, and his consistency is considered unrivaled. His laidback style is reminiscent of Paul Rodriguez Jr.'s, though taking it to handrails with flip in/flip out tricks and doing tricks in switch stance (Using his back foot forward).His sponsors are Flip Skateboards, Globe Shoes, Volcom Clothing and Active Mailorder. He has starred in the Flip Skateboards videos "Sorry" and "Really Sorry", and numerous Transworld Skateboarding videos."
I don't know what any of this means, the words "goofy" and "insane" being especially problematic.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Aurora Exists

I am much bemused by the sudden interest in the secret, hypersonic US spy plane, the Aurora. See, for example, here. I came across stories about the Aurora while writing my book Aliens: Why They Are Here. From below this craft looks triangular, as do the Stealth fighter and bomber. During secret testing, the Stealths were seen and interpreted by some as alien craft - after all, they looked nothing like any known earthbound plane. The same seems to have happened with the Aurora, though most spotters and amateur investigators just insisted it was, indeed, yet another secret American plane. At first, I assumed this was one more fragment of paranoid mythology. Subsequently, however, two startling and entirely unexpected conversations provided confirmation that the Aurora does, in fact, exist. One was with a source very close to the US military who just talked about the plane as he would an F-15 or a 747: the other was with somebody who had experience of USAF instructions to airfields in the south west to turn off their radar at certain times of the day. They didn't want anybody tracking their hypersonic baby. I could tell you who these guys were, but then I'd have to kill you and I've got too much on at the moment.
All of which makes this latest Aurora coverage rather odd. I had assumed everybody knew what I knew. Apparently not. So, dear readers of Thought Experiments: The Blog, now, at least, you know. Perhaps best to keep it under your hat, these are dangerous times.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Keanu Reeves in Cough Shock

The truly unexpected becomes more rare and more cherishable with the passing years. So I feel the fact that I sat next to Keanu Reeves at the theatre last night cannot pass without note. His suit, since you ask, was a lightweight grey chalkstripe which may or may not have been by Richard James (see below); I cannot be sure since I considered the gesture of reaching across and seeking out the label may have been misinterpreted. Anyway, I can exclusively reveal that Mr Reeves has a slight cough.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sickness as Sin 2

I have been haunted by a response from David about my earlier Sickness as Sin post. I suggested that it would be good for the NHS and for society if people were ashamed of being ill. Since the overwhelming majority of people who go to their GP are either perfectly well or suffering from something for which there is no treatment, making them ashamed and thus discouraging them from bothering their doctors would plainly save a lot of money while having no adverse effect on the nation's health. David's response takes this point further:
"Some years ago while involved in sending lab results back to GPs electronically (PMIP-Pathology Messaging Implementation Project, unfortunately usually referred locally as 'PIMP') one GP rejected it totally - it robbed him of one of his key clinical tools - time. Samples were taken and patient told to come back in a week for the results. Most never did as symptoms/conditions resolved themselves without intervention. Sending results back within hours imposed an obligation to confer with patient probably unnecessarily."
So to add to the health care system's burden of dealing with the well or the untreatable, there are also those whose condition will cure itself without medical intervention. Yet experts on television or in magazines and newspapers always end their advice by solemnly insisting that we ask our doctor. In fact, the socially responsible thing to do is avoid doctors at all costs, there is little risk involved since we are overwhelmingly likely to fall into the categories of well, untreatable or self-curable. I reckon making illness shameful would halve the NHS budget and make Gordon Brown's brand new nuclear deterrent - here - easily affordable.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

David Cameron's Paul Smith Suit

I can exclusively reveal that David Cameron was wearing a Paul Smith suit at the News International reception on Monday night. I can exclusively reveal this because I asked him and, being good sport that he is, he told me. I had expected it to be Richard James, not because I know much about these things, but because everybody keeps talking about Richard James suits. Defensively, Bikin' Dave told me he did have a suit by Timothy Everest which cost 'an arm and a leg'. The suit, it is has struck me many times recently, is in a state of turmoil. At events over the past year or so I have seen Charlie Sheen, Joaquin Phoenix and Prince Charles in suits so awful that I was lost for words. Charles's lightweight number was especially dreadful, apparently made of soft tinfoil painted with dark, irridescent lines. It looked like a hallucination. How his tailor must have laughed. Anyway, I'm seeing Richard James tomorrow so I shall bring up the matter of the great Suit Crisis. A lot of other things happened at the News Int do, of course, but, well, you know......

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Demos, Perri 6 and the New World Order

Interesting article in The Guardian - here - on the subject of the think tank Demos. Of course, like all such tanks, Demos is a futile exercise in vanity and self-indulgence, but, unlike the rest, it manages to be very funny. Reading the piece, I found myself vaguely wondering what happened to a Demos character called, for reasons never explained to me at least, Perri 6. He used to appear, numerical and enigmatic, at Independent news conferences. I always wondered if his children would be called 7, 8 etc. Anyway, I've found him here. Nice to know he's still around and that his bibliographic entries provide yet more comedy - he is listed as 6,P. which must be very confusing. Geoff Mulgan of Demos was once so outraged by a piece I wrote about his tank that he sent an angry letter to The Sunday Times. The paper wanted to print it but it was so badly written, they couldn't. I contacted Mulgan and offered to write it myself on the basis that I can be far more vicious and fluent about my own shortcomings than anybody else. For some reason, this only seemed to provoke him further.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Beer Belly

All you internet shoppers (Nige) go here at once. An artificial beer belly that actually contains beer! This could change everything.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ronaldo Meets Watt (What?)

The distracted non-performance of Brazil's bald, fat striker against Croatia suggests that he may have been talking to England's "motivational guru" Watt (What?) Nicoll (see below Wayne Rooney etc). As I said, Watt's favourite question is, "Do you want to be a winner, a champion, a hero or a legend?" This is enough to paralyse the most stable mind, but the effect on poor, moody Ronaldo has plainly been devastating. This, after all, is a footballer who appears to buy his haircuts on eBay. But who is this Watt? Well, he seems to be an MP, though this turns out to mean Motivated Person, as one might have expected. But this seems to be the man. He has a beard, wears big bow ties and seems to know Hillary Clinton. I rest my case.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Poeme en forme d'Appleyard

The distinguished poet D.J.Mills has sent me a new work, prompted, he tells me, by "Appleyardian concerns". I am honoured, this is one good poet.I have his permission to reproduce it here along with an explanatory note. This is strictly copyright material.

"Well, I was lying in bed contemplating the refracted light spread by the mirror across the wall and thinking about Keats's unwoven rainbow and how most of us don't really understand what scientists are up to anyway. Are they really explaining the world or just rendering it more mysterious? And don't they do bizarre things - such as come up with string theory or poke themselves in the eye with blunt needles... All of which seemed an Appleyardian concern. And then my daughter came in and said, Look at the shadow of the rainbow. And I thought, Bingo. (And finally six months later finished these 14 lines...)"

Umbra Sumus

The world's turning and the shadow falls
With the weight of light. Coarcted in her eyes
The silence is slower and he calculates
Like something silver falling. We are shadows
With a look to disturb the feasting spider,
Pulling slow into the water his split teeth,
Roiled cogs and a taste of salt.

Look at the shadow of the rainbow, she says.
It's the morning sunlight bouncing off
The Venetian glass deep in the dark room.
Splitting, refracted, I was thinking of her
Potency over refluent waters.
It's not quietus, but it is a bare bodkin
That Newton jabs and twists into his eye.

Not the End of the World

I observe with some disappointment that the world did not end yesterday. It was, you see, the date of The Beast - 6.6.06. But, it seems, there is still hope - here .

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Wayne Rooney and The Unanswerable Question

I note from the report of David Bond in the Daily Telegraph that the Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe has gone to enormous lengths to welcome the England team - "Inside the hotel, posters of each of the 24 players .....have been hung on the walls to make them feel at home." The sports page are such consoling repositories of unconscious humour. And, on the very same page, there is an interview with Watt (What?) Nicoll, a "motivational guru" who confides that he has asked Wayne Rooney the same question he asks all players - "Do you want to be a winner, a champion, a hero or a legend?" I have been trying to answer this for myself but can't, there are too many hidden variables and ambiguities. As unanswerable questions go, it is up there with the one asked me by an editor years ago. He was trying to poach me for some new newspaper that never happened - "How much do you need?" Let your mind dwell on that for a while.

I Must Go On: the Emotional Maturity of Woody Allen

The crackling exchange on the subject of Nige and eBay between Nige himself, David and Dr Hackenbush, whom God preserve, of Fulham or thereabouts left me speechless and unable to blog. But I must go on. I have been concerned for some time about the ranking of this site on Google. It always comes just below a search result headed "Page of Misery: Bryan Appleyard, Wanker and Chief Cultural Critic". This is a piece written by one Michael Kelly who was upset that, in interviewing Woody Allen, I had shown off about "how how much cleverer, more moral and more Emotionally Mature" I was than my interviewee. Well, of course, I was, this was Woody Bleeding Allen for God's sake. Also there is no such post as Chief Cultural Critic at the Sunday Times and I wouldn't take it if there was. "Wanker", in the sense intended, is for others to decide. But, of course, Mr Kelly can say what he likes. I just want to know how to get my Google rating above this daily irritation.