Blog January 2005 -
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Sunday 30th January

Saw Goodbye Lenin (from CinePhilia), which I'd missed at the cinema. Not the pure comedy which I'd expected, it gave an insight into the pluses and problems of living in east Berlin before and after the wall came down. In a line "When we practice to deceive"

Saturday 29th January

Met up with some other Birmingham Bloggers Kenny (Parallax View - ), Ben (Silent Words Speak Loudest - ), Donna (Not Enough Rice Pudding - ) and Phil (Danger! High Postage - ).

We visited the Shakespeare (off New St), were serenaded by a fellow pub goer singing "Fly me to the moon" in The Anchor (Digbeth and officially the Best Pub in Brum this year), the Royal George and the Sunflower Lounge.

Thursday 27th January

Looked at the paintings of Moseley artist Steve Berridge ( ) - very interesting and complex. Steve's site pointed me to the West Midlands based bRAINcELL Artists Collective ( ) - which looks to have some other good local artists.

Wednesday 26th January

Saw Donnie Darko (director's cut) at The Electric. Haven't seen the original, but liked this. It's a classic "am I mad or is it real" kind of plot, with it hard for the audience to believe the "it is real" bit. It's a complex film, with lots of particular imagery, references to books etc.

Tuesday 25th January

Seven Inch Cinema at The Rainbow. Great film on Magpies (with some links to ) by an artist who interviewed people on their superstitions about magpies, the rhymes associated with them, and curated an exhibition of amateur drawings of magpies ( ). Also a big flash animation section (c.f. wierd internet animations), and a dj set.

Sunday 23rd January

Had a walk round Cannon Hill Park - I didn't realise you could walk along the river rea by the MAC before. Also visited all the current exhibitions at the MAC: Some big photos of auditoria and public spaces in the bar, all empty of people, and looking so spacious; In the "corridor" gallery, some great digital photomontages on the theme of "the dolls house"; Strange, unusable cups and saucers printed with brief phrases of wisdom; and a very stylistically mixed set of pencil/charcoal drawings in the downstairs gallery.

In the evening, visit the refurbished and (fairly) newly re-opened Electric Cinema. It hasn't changed a lot. "Thatcher's Children" disappeared from the front before it closed (returned to the artist or sold?) and it's been re-painted in creamy white with an art-deco design on the front. Inside, there's now a licenced bar, but cakes are still available as are olives, nuts etc.

I saw The Return, a Russian film which is up for a BBC 4 award. It tells the story of 2 boys whose father re-appears after a 12 year absense and takes them on a bizare road-trip. Interesting, with great cinematography.

Saturday 22nd January

Saw Julian Cope at the Wulfrun Hall. Good gig with an interesting audience - lots of diehard fans, many balding or grey, with a good sprinkling of Spinal Tap look-a-likes! Also some younger fans. Between each song, many voices shouted for their favourite songs, and with a repertoire as large as JC's, that's a lot of songs! At one point, he told off two fans as the front who were clapping at the front "there's nothing I hate so much as clapping out of time". He also ranted between songs in a most interesting way, talking about all sorts: pagan religions, the need for strong women, drugs etc. Music was good - I only knew about 3 of the songs, but many of the others were engaging.

Tuesday 4th January

Went and found the New Scientist article on happiness which I'd read a while back - I'd mentioned it to someone and wanted to make sure I had my facts right! I did (basically).

The article "Reasons to be cheerful" ( - registration required) lists 10 factors which scientists have identified as being important to happiness.

  1. Have enough money to live. Having good status is more important than cash - it's relative income that makes the main difference
  2. Desire less. A good Stoic principle. To quote NewScientist: In surveys by the Roper polling organisation in 1978 and 1994, for example, Americans were asked to list the material goods they thought important to "the good life". The researchers found that the more of these goods people already had, the longer their list was, so the good life remained always just out of reach.
  3. Intelligence (in terms of IQ) isn't a factor.
  4. Your genes account for a large chunk of your general level of happiness. Also, extroverts are happier, and happiness makes people more extrovert
  5. Think of yourself as attractive.
  6. Have a good network of friends / family
  7. Get married
  8. Believe in a religion
  9. Be altruistic
  10. Be old

Mirek's Java Cellebration ( ) is a nice CellularAutomata program which have many different rules as well as the classic "Conway's Life".

I hadn't known that there were so many CAs which generated interesting behaviour - having read articles on varients of Conway's life, and coded that same program maybe a dozen or more times, I'd thought most varients were pretty simple. I guess I need to have a look at the rules behind some of these.

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