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July 18, 2007



Cyberbrain haiku

my new cyberbrain
weighs only one kilogram -
i feel lightheaded

my heart is replaced
with a quantum computer -
i voyage the stars


May 14, 2007

Garbage In Garbage Out

“i wanted to create something truly disgusting
and useless, that no-one would like,” said the conceptual artist

whose latest work is a world map rolled into a cylinder
suspended above a wire mesh waste paper basket
containing a dead crow.

“i invite people to drop their own waste through the map
and into the basket. mostly the response has been negative.”

“you have no idea how long it took to procure
the dead crow,” the artist added,
pulling a string of filthy pearls from his rectum.

May 07, 2007

Grid of Learning

or: Please refrain from sleeping in the Grid.

Student advisors are here to help you –
Please give groups priority.

Can I eat in here?
Where do I find?
I’m lost…
Can we talk here?

Please Eat Hot Food in the Atrium.

It doesn’t work!
Look for the Blue Shirts.

Please clear your work-station.

March 27, 2007

Drop Pennies In The River To Mitigate Inflation

Frequently Asked Questions About Dropping Pennies In The River To Mitigate Inflation:

Q: Why drop pennies in the river?
A: To mitigate inflation.

Q: Does dropping pennies in the river mitigate inflation?
A: Yes.

Q: How does dropping pennies in the river mitigate inflation?
A: Inflation is caused by increased money supply. Dropping pennies in the river effectively decreases money supply by taking currency out of circulation (and into the river).

Q: I don’t understand.
A: Broadly speaking, if we all have less pennies, the pennies we do have become more valuable.

Q: I still don’t understand.
A: Consult your friendly local economics student.

Q: How many pennies ought I to drop in the river?
A: Opinions vary, but it is important to drop no more pennies than you can realistically afford to lose.

Q: What about larger denominations (two pence coin, five pence coin, etc.)?
A: Dropping coins other than pennies in the river is also viable. As ever, please use your own discretion.

Q: Is it more ethical to drop pennies in the river, or give pennies to a beggar?
A: Perhaps surprisingly, the former. If you give pennies to a beggar, only the beggar benefits. However, it benefits everyone to mitigate inflation.

Q: What if I believe the beggar will go on to drop pennies in the river?
A: Then you can feel free to give generously.

Q: Someone told me that dropping pennies in the river does not mitigate inflation.
A: This person may subscribe to the Keynesian school of economics, and ought to be responded to with skepticism.

December 31, 2006


from Solving Procrastination: an application of Flow by Kevin Chiu

Chiu’s model is of interest to me because if it is correct, procrastination is a function of perceived ability – therefore, procrastination can be caused by low self-esteem.

Please note that “Flow” in this case refers specifically to the mental state proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “Flow” corresponds with the idea of “being in the zone”, and perhaps with “no-mind” in Zen.

Chiu suggests that “solving procrastination” involves ordering tasks according to perceived difficulty, then starting at the bottom and working up.

I would suggest that anything that reduces self-absorption, even if it is not immediately useful, will increase one’s perceived ability. For instance, someone who meditates regularly is likely to feel confident as an effect of being less anxious and self-centred. Therefore they are less likely to procrastinate because of not feeling up to a particular task.

New Year’s resolutions, anyone?


What is Mappalujo?

See also: Jeff Noon on Wikipedia

Thankyou Internet! :D

November 25, 2006

Sci–fi story, Pt. 2

I’m watching you. I’ve been watching you for a while now. Heaven knows you’re a handsome young man. Greg Space, Engineer, Information Systems, Deck 13. Your room is in Section A3 – it has a little camera in it. You are, in fact, Infosys’ most talented Engineer. And I’ve always admired a man who knows how to use a screwtool.

Ha ha! My, how smutty I am. But don’t get the wrong impression: I’m not stalking you. No. I need you.

Right now you’re frightened and trying to fend off a growing feeling of despair. It’s been two days, one hour and fifty-two minutes since it happened, and you have been trapped in Section A all this time. You have no idea what happened. But ever since that afternoon (you were reading mystery novels in bed) the electrics have gone, most of the doors are jammed shut (though mercifully not the door to your bunk), and you’ve had to find your way around with only a box of matches and the dim emergency lights. Also, you’re alone.

Or not quite alone. There is Cerpin. He’s a quiet man, and a paranoid schizophrenic. He helped you find food from the ration store, and has discussed with you his views on death and organised religion.You don’t know it yet, but he’s only half human. Not to worry though – he’s mostly harmless.

I know a great deal about your emotional life. Enough to suppose that there is one thought – one person – you cannot shake from your memory. Laura, the Exec from Deck 3. The one with the odd face and two pairs of awful shoes. Perhaps I am not as sentimental about this individual as you are. But your memory of her is enough that, when Cerpin passes your bunk and announces “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous, got me?”, you just mutter mm-hm and fail to give it a thought. You are reading lyrics from the sleeve notes of a very old Ella Fitzgerald recording,

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
Oh, they can’t take that away from me.

Perhaps you are remembering that time on the observation deck when her eyes found yours, her irises two cobalt discs in the thin starlight. Or perhaps when you danced – listening to Ella’s cool voice and the fine, faint trumpet – and all the tender feelings the girl expressed in her careful swaying.

If only you understood! If you were here, we could have a real heart-to-heart, and I could explain how horribly pointless an art form jazz music is. What a sorry little diversion it was, how it represented the aesthetic nadir of an age already drowning in mass produced popular garbage. But you’re not here, and you can’t hear me. Yet.

As it turns out, something else needs my attention. Cerpin pokes his head around the doorframe and says, quite seriously, “I think the mascara snake is coming to visit.”

“The mascara snake?” you say.

“That’s right, the mascara snake.” Cerpin giggles to himself.

There is wisdom yet in his wild and whirling words. But I can tell that you’re bored almost to death, so before I deal with our visitor, I decide to give you a break.

You hear a clunk and a creak. Cerpin runs off, toward the Section A exit door. He calls back – “It’s open!” Now you can go exploring. Perhaps you will find me by yourself, without my help. If not, I will send Ariel to bring you up here. Or perhaps you’ll hear from Laura – she’s still on the station. But first, I must deal with this pest, who appears to be flying an obsolete vacfighter named “Troutmask”. Hm. Missiles should do fine.

Take care, Greg Space. I’ll be looking out for you.

November 23, 2006

b e d

bed in darkness, the

earth to my loneliness, keeps

dust, and lovers’ breath

Attn: Practice of Fiction People

Firstly, apologies for my absence.

I trust the message got through to “check the blogs”. And here you are. We are due to workshop my story next week (Wk 9). The best thing now is if you read it on my blog and bring me any notes and comments on the day.

The post below with the improbably stupid name is the first part of the story – there is more to come. This weekend I should think.

All comments welcome, even of the “what the hell are you doing?!” variety.

Many many thanks and I’ll see you all next week


November 18, 2006

Sci–fi story, Pt. 1

As I arc the vacfighter o’ertop the station, three crimson blips appear in my lower peripheral. These are missiles. “Shit!” I pronounce, “I wonder, do these people play their music on 8-tracks?” Mawhrin’s sophisticated irony circuits make a tinny chortle, and the blips knot closer. But then his brand new intelli-jammer routines send some radio magic out into the vacuum, making the red blips blue. “Bees,” he tells me. I thank him for saving my life in yet another interesting way.

The blue bees will now follow me at a respectful distance, since Maw has capped their velocity. I could shake them with a flare, but I want whoever’s sitting at this station to register my presence. So I continue the arc, but whip back round at the precise moment that Maw drops our radar profile. Bereft of a target, the bees buzz along a straight vector, heading home to the station.

Maw detonates the warheads 50m from the hull, enough to shake the sensors but leave nothing broken. This seems like a superfluous flourish, and so I question his judgement loudly.

“But there may be people on board, Captain!”

“You’re funny,” I reply.

Now someone wants to talk. I park the fighter in a loose and weavey orbit pattern and flick the screen up. A girl!

“Hey-” I begin

She replies: “Station security regrets to inform you that, unless you immediately cease h-”

I claim to be a dodecahedron and threaten to explode with the force of a million suns. This sort of surrealist non sequitur is a good way to tell if you’re speaking to a person or just an AI answerphone. “No games,” she says. She’s not a bot. “Cut power or we retaliate.”

“With more missiles? Go ahead. But I warn you, my robot and I will not show clemency twice.”

Mawhrin is chuckling his spinning robot head off, as he does at times of great excitement.

“This is a civilian vessel,” the girl reproaches.

“Don’t lie! I know full well it’s not, else I wouldn’t be here. Now please throw a rope so we can climb aboard.”

She seems to tut before closing the channel. No dice. I look for my mala beads so I can have a quick think. Mawhrin says, “Er.”

I bring up my HUD. The sky is full of tiny red dots.

November 15, 2006

Thoughts on doing an MA

I wanted to get my thoughts down on doing an MA…

I always find it quite strange plotting things a year ahead… perhaps I’ll think it a good idea now, but who knows how I feel about it when I get down to it.

Basically, I don’t want to just walk into another year at uni simply because of reluctance/fear to enter the world of work. But the reality is I have little clear idea of what I would do career-wise at the moment. My degree (Eng+CW) doesn’t suggest anything clear to me (though it may do to others on the course!) and it would be a worse fate to walk into a job I’m indifferent about.

I’m thinking seriously of applying for the Creative and Media Enterprises [beware PDF] course. My reasoning is that it may give me a better idea of what I’d like to be involved in as a career. Also, transferable knowledge, skills and whatnot.

In honesty I’m interested in the course from a more theoretical perspective. I’ve talked to the person who handles applications for the course and he has said that things like critical theory come heavily into play (this being an MA of course). Combine that with looking at how creative industry works nowadays, incl. things like intellecual property, and my brain is already buzzing.

However, there’s a billion odd reasons not to do another year, foremost of which may turn out to be funding. I don’t have much, errm, capital now (does any undergrad?) and I won’t expect relatives to foot the bill. So I need to ask people about funding and how likely it is I can find sponsorship.

Just thoughts… though comments from people who have done, are doing or might do such a course would be great :)

October 04, 2006

Computer Music – any ideas?

Dear Everyone,

I would like to tap your brains for knowledge. Please help me out.

I would like to set up my computer as a Music Machine. It’s a reasonably modern desktop with a built-in soundcard which runs WinXP and Ubuntu Linux. I’m what you’d call computer literate, but I know little about music software.

Anyway, I would like to do one or any of the following:
  • Use it as a fancified live FX processor for my bass guitar (y’know, delay effects and whatnot)
  • Get a basic synthesiser so as to make strange washes of ambient/electronic noise.
  • Er… drum loops?
My concerns are:
  • What software will I need? I’ve been told you can get VST hosts for free, but is this enough? Ableton Live is often touted… is it worth it? (One could always get a student discount after all)
  • Will I need a special soundcard? An expensive one?

Any help appreciated!

September 28, 2006

Pooh on Inspiration

Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.

Also: Was Winnie-the-Pooh a Good Muslim?

September 03, 2006

Cafe Culture

Whenever I’m in an internet cafe, I have a powerful urge to blog. An urge almost reproductive in its amplitude. Therefore, I will rattle out one of those marvellous, content-free ejaculations so common to the blog community, nay blogosphere, sorry Tavner.

I’m in Camden Town. Get me. I only came in here to check the train prices, which are pleasantly affordable, meaning I will take a trip to Leamington this afternoon to have a gander at my new flat[mates].

Coming soon: a comic vignette featuring an inept, wannabe modern-day-samurai. I.e. non-fiction.

In other news, The Mars Volta still rock hard

And the best quote I’ve ever heard about Muse from the Guardian Guide:

Quite simply, Muse give pompous, overblown, pretentious rock music a good name.


September 01, 2006

Shitty matches

I’ve just been lighting cheap matches by a dried-up stream.

Matches so cheap that the flame goes out moments after it is lit. Just a spark, then nothing. How’s that any use?

Before that, I accidentally uninstalled all of my Steam files… leaving an irrevocable 8 gig hole in my C: drive…

I contemplate: the planet is organising itself according to the pattern of human psychology – the “developing world” its unconcious, Western democracy its belligerent ego, the media its hypocritical conscience. The only solution is forced, brutal therapy...

Ex nihilo nuhil fit

August 31, 2006


Plan A – be who you want to be!

Travel the world – if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there!

Realize your potential – learn a martial art – read and write – do it, think it, blog it!

Join a worthy cause – go on a crusade – and change The World!

Run from your shadow.

Plan B – be yourself.

Know yourself. And your limits.

Get paid. Get comfortable. Settle down.

Enjoy games, DVDs and other digital distractions.

(Or perhaps you are an intellectual? Busy your brain, then, with the words of men long dead.)

Get sex if you’re the type. Watch porn if you’re not.

Slow down. Meditate. Get enlightened. Get brainwashed.

SO – you can run from your shadow or distract yourself from it. Choose either strategy to postpone that inevitable, inescapable, final disappointment.

Reality... what do you think of as worthwhile? To some, there’s no point in getting angry if it’s just a game, but OF COURSE you should be angry when your bank statement comes in. That’s reality.

Others want to waggle their fists at buildings and feel sorry for those less well off. The real world, after all, is a world of suffering and oppression. That’s nice. It’s nice to have a cause.

Or perhaps it’s that special someone for whom you live your life; without whom life would be a ghostly imitation of reality. Sure.

The final alternative is to rely only on oneself, to choose one’s own purpose and pleasure. You then realise you are locked inside your own skull and there’s only room for one. All very noble, romantic, etc. However, any given “self” is constructed of repressed self-hate. And in my experienced, self-oriented people are the worst kind of cogs in the machine.

... it’s a game you play with your muscles, and the rules are DNA

Behind your stated objectives, your narratives of progress, humanity and self: Who are you? Why do you wake up and walk and talk the way you do? Whose words are in your mind and in your mouth?

July 23, 2006


He mumbled a name gruffly at the floor.

"Oh really," I turned and said.

"Yeah, really." He looked at me, then past me. "What's it to you, anyway?"

"Oh, don't mind me," I said, "I'm just here for the band."

The band was Slim Jimmy's Swing and Sax Collective, the atmosphere was metallic. Like the foil lid of a coffee jar, or the thin cold film covering the sky on a moonless night.

"Your face is beautiful, like the curve of a Grecian urn," I breathed.

"You want to know why it's so long, then? You ever been in love?

I paused, then nodded.

"You ever seen someone you love walk out on you for the love of a milkman? A milkman?"

I shook my head, but knew inside that I was lying.

He downed his fifth whiskey soda, chuckled and look at me. "Then you don't know what it's like. What it's like when pain and failure are your last two constant companions."

I handed him a smoke with a sultry motion.

"I keep trying," he said gruffly, "but I keep just winding back around and biting myself in the ass."

He mumbled a name gruffly at the floor.

July 18, 2006


Have spacious room
w/ empty white walls
and items placed
in several drawers.

WLTM girl
w/ similar mind,
spacious body
and tidy grey eyes.

July 17, 2006


You are reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller. You are also eating a salubrious clementine. The first chapter is permeated with the scent of frying onions. This is to be expected, as the novel was borrowed from the library. Eventually you realise that, befitting a novel of such ambition and some might say pretension, that you are bored. Bored to distraction.

You put down Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller, and begin considering the nature of boredom. It is the brain's natural, neutral state, you conclude. However, it also gives rise to a certain anxiety – a restless desire to occupy oneself with other things. God, you must be bored. Bored stiff! What do you do?

If you decide to put out the cigarette, get out of bed and go for a walk, then carry on reading (duh).

If you decide to do something else, then stop being a rotter and write your own story.

So you have decided to go for a walk. I'm glad. Far be it from me, the author, to presume anything about your mental state. Indeed, I the author would like to suggest that I'm not your therapist, and I'm honestly disinterested in your mental state, bored or otherwise. In fact, let's change perspective. You are not going for a walk. You are reading about me going for a walk. There, isn't that more sensible.

I venture some way into the campus grounds and find a small pond, at which I smoke a cigarette and feel like a Jedi. I come up with a very profound story about a samurai in the moment before I flick the butt into the water, and then I wonder if the air trapped in the filter will cause the butt to float or perhaps sink more slowly – and in that moment, the story is lost forever.

Inclined to adventure, I decide to head towards the campus lake, which is not in point of fact a lake but a river corridor. This involves traversing a car park and then a short stretch of unlit woodland. Remembering my druid training, I shapeshift into a bear. Doing so gives me a 180% increase in armour class and renders me immune to polymorph effects, two things which prove useless in this case, so I shapeshift back into an English Literature student.

As an interlude, Lord Byron would travel with a bear at all times. Historians have suggested a causal link between this and his club foot. This would make more sense if bears were small, more the size of a large badger or dog.

I enter the realm of the waterfowl, where geese prowl the shitheaped gravel paths looking for violence and a quick fuck. They will not challenge my druidic might, providing that I take care not to enter their threat radius. I walk further along the bank of the lake, sorry river corridor, passing under electric lights until I reach a dark cranny near a bin.

The Night Elven blood in my veins allows me to meld with the shadows, becoming invisible to the gaze of any passing security officer or goose enthusiast. I use this stealthy cover to light up a drugs joint. Dave Brubeck's Take Five plays softly in the background as I pull on the business end, one of the few compositions in the jazz idiom to be set to a 5:4 rhythm.

As I inhale the dope fumes, heat–sensitive nanites stored in the barrel of the device begin to activate, streaming past my lips, into my lungs and throughout my bloodstream, bolstering my considerable bionic abilities. I know that the slightest twitch of my right foot could send me hurling into the night sky, screaming like a demented firecracker.

Eventually, the feeling settles, and I park my cheeks on a bench. I remember fondly how the loss of short–term memory caused by such crazy drugs caused me to believe I had teleported from one riverside bench to another, when in fact I had merely forgotten I had walked between them. Mad days.

Joseph Watson's autobiography Unusual Events is published by Phoenix.