Apr 5 2010

Only Four Shuttle Flights Remain

Strikingly sad realisation that manned space-flight is at an all time low point. Those flights that are planned now are maintenance of the ailing space station, and tourism for the super-wealthy. As Ballard pointed out, the true space era lasted just fifteen years, from Gagarin’s journey to 1975, when Apollo’s capsule splashdown was not shown on TV.

“Only intelligent machines may one day grasp the joys of space travel, seeing the motion sculpture of the spaceflights as immense geometric sympohonies.” – The Atrocity Exhibition, 1993 edition, JG Ballard

May 17 2009

Socotra Island

Situated in the Indian Ocean 250 km from Somalia and 340 km from Yemen is probably the most alien place on Earth.


Jan 31 2009

The Victoria crater

From these Mars images.

Dec 6 2008

Tubular Pressurized Tank

The NYT on the tasks involved in fixing New York’s water system:

The most immediate tasks are to fix a valve at the bottom of a 700-foot shaft in Dutchess County so pumps will eventually be able to drain the tunnel, and to ensure that the tunnel does not crack or collapse while it is empty.

For this, the city has enlisted six deep-sea divers who are living for more than a month in a sealed 24-foot tubular pressurized tank complete with showers, a television and a Nerf basketball hoop, breathing air that is 97.5 percent helium and 2.5 percent oxygen, so their high-pitched squeals are all but unintelligible. They leave the tank only to transfer to a diving bell that is lowered 70 stories into the earth, where they work 12-hour shifts, with each man taking a four-hour turn hacking away at concrete to expose the valve.

Nov 21 2008

Stability Through Piracy

Via Coming Anarchy:

Somali piracy has become a major news item, and most are blaming Somalia’s chronic anarchy. In truth, the pirates have become a highly organized business that originates in the stable civic society of Puntland in the north, not the chaos of the warring south.

Also: The Live Piracy Map.

Is this the point at which Somali Piracy becomes a reality gameshow involving a decommissioned aircraft carrier, helicopter-riding celebrities and televised battle-horror?

Nov 14 2008

Murs du Son

So my my game audio feature was translated into French:

Le maître de conférences Tom Betts est plutôt découragé par le comportement de ses étudiants vis-à-vis de la musique de jeux vidéo. « Je fais des cours magistraux sur le sujet mais la plupart du temps, cela se résume au fait que l’on peut jouer avec le son coupé mais pas avec l’écran éteint. Si vous étudiez les choses qui font qu’un jeu vidéo marchera, l’aspect sonore n’arrive pas en haut de la liste. » Pourquoi les étudiants de Tom Betts devraient s’intéresser à ce qu’il a à dire au sujet de la musique de jeu alors qu’il y a tellement d’autres choses à considérer comme les graphismes, la conception des niveaux ou des énigmes ? « C’est le parent pauvre depuis des années » déplore Betts.

Jun 13 2008

People: Smoke

BLDGBLOG continues to amaze with its link-dredging.

A long-exposure photograph from “City Of Shadows” by Alexey Titarenko.

May 2 2008

Peculiar Gobbling Noise

Will Self on Thanet:

I took the dog for a walk in the local park. The blackout was complete, but I was aware of the presence of many others. In any large city these might have been furtive seekers after fleeting, anonymous congress, but here, in Broadstairs, they turned out to be enormous gaggles of teenagers, wheeling around on the mown grass, their mobile phones held under their chins so that the wan uplight weirdly illuminated their vestigial features. As I grew closer to one of these gaggles I became aware of an insistent and peculiar gobbling noise; the sound of many breaking voices intoning “Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off” over and over again.

Not far from where I grew up, and a hellhole.

Feb 29 2008

Seesaw Horrors

Comrade Campbell sends word of a collection of photography intended to document the nightmare playgrounds of the world. Take a look here.

Feb 12 2008


K-Punk speaks my thoughts, exactly:

That ‘old long term’ was symbolised by solid wooden furniture, permanently nailed together, the new era by flat-pack kits. While the rooms change, the objects – heaved from flat to flat – provide the continuity. Records and books are relics of that old stability, the very solidity that is their appeal a problem, a drag, in the age of digital ether. Moving from one rented property to another, from one job (and ‘skill set’) to another, it’s unlikely that I will ever have a ‘home’ in the sense that my parents have one. This provokes ambivalent feelings: I’m well aware that keeping on the move revivifies at least as much as it drains, that the old, limited horizons were constraining, but the thought that there could come a point when I won’t move again is increasingly alluring.