I'm going on a business trip to San Francisco to attend the Twitter development conference. I've extended the stay over the weekend, so I'll be there and free from Friday 16th April to Sunday 18th.
So, anyone want to meet up? I'll have an innocent civilian co-worker with me on the Friday.
What I'm Reading
Finished Squeaking Cleopatras by Joy Leslie Gibson. Informative, accessible book about the boy-actors who played women on the stage in Shakespeare's day.
The information about them is a bit scanty. In particular we know very little about the actual individuals: they don't seem to have been celebrities like Richard Burbage. However, Gibson reckons that they were pretty skilled actors: they'd been trained in rhetoric and voice projection since a young age. Also, the relatively meager diet of the period meant puberty arrived later than it does now, so they could have had more emotional maturity before their voices broke.
Gibson also has some interesting analysis of the lines given to them. She points out that their speeches have many more places for breath, since they wouldn't have had the lungpower for very long speeches; and their appearances are rationed out to give them time to recover. For, they often recite lists of comparisons, which allow for frequent breaths. She also thinks that the analogies and language they use were designed to fall within their emotional range, so that they often describe womanly activities in metaphors that are familiar to children.
The book also has some fascinating background on the Elizabethan stage, and even Elizabethan society. Gibson points out that there was a fashion for androgynous dress in mainstream society in the period (much criticized by the Puritans) where men and women would often wear similar garments. There are a couple of chapters on the "Boys Companies": two theatre companies made up entirely of boys, who did a mixture of normal plays, and satires that partly depended on the incongruity of having children speak the lines.
Overall, interesting to me, but a bit specialized. The book's written in a popular style though, not like an academic treatise.
Had a driving lesson as a refresher. Hadn't driven for about ten years before that, hadn't driven a manual in more like twenty.
Don't think I did too badly. The instructor thinks I'm basically OK to drive, though he says I need to slow down and not be in such a hurry. Don't think he liked it when he pointed out a bus as we were driving down a narrow road, so I floored it to tuck in quickly. Apparently it would have been better to stop and let it pass.
The gears weren't a problem in normal driving, though I did stall a couple of times during the hour. We didn't do much slow speed manoeuvring though, and what we did I found quite tricky. Parking is going to be a problem: found it very hard to aim and judge when to straighten while reversing, especially when trying to balance the clutch too.
Also, I found it quite stressful going through London's narrow car-lined streets, where there's only width for one car, it's a constant game of chicken, and you never know who's going to dash out or open a door.
Need to think of somewhere to drive to now, to get some more practice in.
Bought a Samsung N140 netbook. Been wondering whether to buy one for a while, and this conference thingy prompted me to make a decision.
Seems OK so far. Quite light, but still comfortable to type on. Even the trackpad's a lot easier than I remembered, though will probably buy one of those mini-mice.
Any laptop tips? Haven't used one in a while. Might get one of those USB dongles if I have trouble tethering it to my G1.
What I'm Watching
Saw Thank You for Smoking on DVD. Odd little film about a tobacco lobbyist. based on a book by conservative scion Christopher Buckley.
Fairly entertaining, and nicely cynical for a satire, with all sides depicted unpleasantly. Even so, it seemed to pull its punches a bit: wasn't quite willing to make the lobbyist an actual hero. Also some of the plot elements didn't seem to go anywhere, the kidnapping and the you-can-never-smoke-again thing didn't seem to have consequences, and the laziest Hollywood father-son-relationship clichés get yet another airing.
Also, the slut-shaming of the female journalist who sleeps with the lobbyist to get a story seemed a bit distasteful. They seemed to want to make a moral equivalent between them, but nobody forced him to pillow-tell her all his secrets.
Overall, not bad, not brilliant.
One notable thing is that nobody ever smokes in the film: seemed a bit ostentatious to me but I knew in advance.
Got some nice light on the walk home the other day.
The Tories made three closely related mistakes in devising their economic and electoral strategy at the nadir of the financial crisis in the winter of 2008-09.Video. Tortoise versus dog. B3ta magenta penises (NSFW).
First they assumed that the economy would continue to deteriorate despite the enormous stimulus administered by the Government. Then they therefore reasoned that Labour’s Keynesian policies of expanding public borrowing would be perceived as a dismal failure by the time of the election. And that in turn convinced the Tories that fomenting public panic about a government debt crisis would be sufficient to win the economic debate.
All three of these assumptions have gone wrong...
...The loss of control over public spending is the issue on which the Tories should be fighting the general election, but to do this they would have to identify specific Labour policies that they would reverse. The Tory high command believes that such specificity would frighten the voters, Their hope is simply to stand back and watch Labour lose the election, goaded on by bogus hysteria about bankruptcy and personal attacks on Gordon Brown. We, therefore, face an election in which the Opposition will try to distract attention from the very issues on which the Government is most vulnerable.
Random. Pink Stinks "challenges the culture of pink which invades every aspect of girls' lives."
Pics. Pencil sculptures.
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