Archive for October, 2010

Intermission – Alice

More great stuff from RSA Animate


So farewell, Benoit Mandelbrot

Not many people can truly claim to have changed the way we look at the world. Benoit Mandelbrot, who has just died aged 85, is one of them. He was one of the founding fathers of Chaos Theory, which has helped us to a greater understanding of complex systems and structures.

Mandelbrot was most famous for his work on fractals – geometric features which repeat at different scales, sometimes to the infinite. He said he got the idea for the famous Mandelbrot Set while considering how to measure the British coastline, which becomes ever longer as you look at it in closer detail.

His work influenced fields such as medicine, physics, climatology, finance and sociology.


Richard Wagner didn’t like the saxophone. He said it sounded like the word Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge.

This is a nonsense word he made up meaning something like ‘nonsense sound factory tools’ but it could just as easily be a real German compound noun.

Tomorrow: Donau­dampfschiffahrts­gesellschafts­kapitän

Translating German

The problem is unpicking compound nouns like Bodenverträglichkeitsuntersuchungen*

*testing the suitability of the soil

My posh dog

Pip is actually quite posh, in spite of all the evidence. Her family tree has been uncovered during a house move. It details her ancestry back to her great-great-great-grandparents. Pip’s real name is Spanwise Strawberry but her ancestors rejoice in names like Tobias of Todgrove, Tundergarth Bonny Border, Careycourt Buggler, Tipalts Scots Lass of Dandyhow and Uncle Walter of Dandyhow.

There are some disappontments in there. Fanny Hill was obviously a bit of rough the family would rather not talk about. Oxcroft Rocker surely caught Crackling Rose on a bad night. Hollowmoor Duty Free almost certainly found a dodgy way of entering the country in the back of a van driven by two blokes from Chelmsford.  The least said about Hollybridge Simply Red, the better, although it might explain why Pip looks like she was beaten lightly with the ginger stick.

But the real skeleton in the cupboard is that the pair Tobias of Todgrove and Hollybridge Banshee were her grandparents AND great-great-great-grandparents. The dirty dogs.

Hello Mick

Time lapse photography of a meteor shower backdropped against the Milky Way,  above Joshua Tree National Park. Photography by Henry Jun Wah Lee soundtracked by Sigur Ros.

All gorgeous.

October 2010

Desk Jockey