Established 2003. Now incorporating The Sudbury Hill Harrow and Wherever End Times

Sunday, November 29, 2009

BBC iPlayer - Desert Island Discs: Morrissey

BBC iPlayer - Desert Island Discs: Morrissey

Broadcast on: BBC Radio 4, 11:15am Sunday 29th November 2009
Duration: 45 minutes
Available until: 12:02pm Sunday 6th December 2009

"As the lead singer of The Smiths he captivated a generation of angst-ridden teenagers and, a quarter of a century later, he remains the outsider's outsider. As a child, he was enthralled by the emotion and beauty in pop music. He discovered the joy of public performance when, as a six-year-old boy, he stood on a table and started singing. But from an early age he felt he had to avoid everything conventional life had to offer. 'I just didn't want the norm in any way, he says, 'and I didn't get it. And I'm very glad.'"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The art of short story writing

Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story (edited by Vanessa Gebbie) is "a collection of 24 specially commissioned essays from well-published short story writers, many of them prize winners in some of the toughest short story competitions in the English language". The contributors between them have won "The Bridport Prize ... The National Short Story Award ... the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award ... The Asham Award for New Women Writers, The Fish Histories Prize, The Fish Short Story Prize, The BBC Short Story Prize, The Commonwealth Award, Writers Inc. Writer of the Year, The Willesden Herald Prize*, NAWG Millennium Award for Radio Short Story and the Per Contra Prize."

* I have highlighted the most important one. Ed

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quote of the Week. Yes, you guessed -

The tests say I have leukaemia... hang on a mo, that can’t be right: "But how these things are distributed is a mystery. Why does the angel of death fly over some houses but not others? There is no rhyme or reason."

It's Boris again. It's always Boris and always will be, unless Van Rompuy comes up with a new haiku.

War crimes trial for Blair?

Leaked documents reveal No 10 cover-up over Iraq invasion: "Military commanders are expected to tell the inquiry into the Iraq war, which opens on Tuesday, that the invasion was ill-conceived and that preparations were sabotaged by Tony Blair's government's attempts to mislead the public." (Guardian)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A vote for the Liberals is a vote for Cameron

Nick Clegg dents Labour hopes of Lib-Lab alliance | Politics | The Guardian: "Whichever party have the strongest mandate from the British people … have the first right to seek to try and govern, either on their own or with others.'"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Willesden Library Centre: Filth and dereliction in Brent

Gigi's closed months ago and is still empty. Now the Bellevue Cinema has closed and the fitments have been ripped out. Last night the centre's mens' toilet was in the most nauseatingly filthy condition. Dirty paper was strewn around the floor, there was fluid underfoot. In one cubicle somebody had closed the lid and defecated on top of it. In the other the bowl was clogged and foul. The word disgusting is inadequate to describe the state of the place. The people responsible for the filth are horrible lowlifes but what about the people who run the place, i.e. Brent Council? The council tax this year for a house near the library centre, in Band E, is £1672.93. It's not rocket science - compare the Tricycle Theatre in neighbouring Camden council control also in Brent [correction], or the Southbank Centre or even a typical motorway services, or the loos at Victoria Station. Then ask yourself why Brent gives us nothing like that and instead something more like the opening scenes from Slumdog Millionaire.


Grand unification theory questions

Einstein's formulae predict correctly how things will seem from different viewpoints (frames of reference). You can state what is measured from one point of view then feed in variables and calculate how the same event would seem from a different point of view. The idea that reality depended on point of view was and remains shocking but it is true, i.e. it works and accords with observable reality and has been proven by experiment. Although it describes a sort of mutability it is in its own way absolute in that it predicts exactly how events will be perceived.

Einstein's thoughts mainly had to do with things on a grand scale - light, time, planets, people and everyday objects but when it comes to the very tiny world of atoms and electrons, it seems that there is no such predictability. There is a finding called Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle that says you cannot properly know about an atomic particle because by observing it you change it. There was a famous conference of the top physicists and theorists at which Einstein presented a thought experiment (an imagined experiment) that appeared to prove you could find out the mass of a particle at the same time as finding out its position, using a specially designed machine. However, on the next day of the conference another great scientist - Bohr? - pointed out a loophole that invalidated Einstein's thought experiment.

This troubled Einstein - he didn't accept it - and he spent most of his life trying to work out a way to reconcile his theory of Relativity and the apparently anomalous experimental evidence and conclusions of quantum (smallest possible scale) science. He said "God does not play dice." At other times he confirmed that he was an atheist, but he believed in a universe that follows set laws, rules that could be discovered and documented. He was trying to produce a new theory that would hold true at both the large scale and the quantum scale. Such a theory, one that would comprise a consistent set of rules that hold for all realms of science, is known as a Grand Unification Theory and is still being sought.

It was previously thought that electrons were particles that orbited around the nuclei of atoms but it is now known that they behave as if they are simultaneously all around the atom - smeared. Yet if "observed" or put into use, they will behave as particles. An electron is at the same time a wave and a particle, they say.

It seems to me that there is something in common between these two scientific theories, the conclusion that "different snapshots of the same thing" seem to comprise different realities. On the one hand it seems that X is the case but on the other hand it seems that Y is the case. For example in relativity on the one hand it seems that 20,000 years have gone by; on the other hand (for a space traveller travelling near the speed of light) it seems that only a few years have gone by. In quantum mechanics on the one hand it appears that a photon has gone through one slit in the apparatus, on the other it appears that it has gone through the other slit in the apparatus (in a device that tries to see which route a photon takes, which produces an inconclusive result).

In relativity an event in effect is more than one thing. To viewer A it is something but to viewer B it is something else. Yet there is only one event. In quantum mechanics a photon "is more than one thing". From a pattern seen on the surface of a detector it appears that the photon has gone through both slit A and slit B.

An electron is not in one location in orbit around a nucleus. But what does being in one location consist of for something that is moving - is it ever in one location? No, because it is moving - never in one location. So let us not be surprised that we cannot discover its location, especially as it is travelling at the speed of light - a speed at which time stands still. It is making its way from place to place but in no time. Therefore there is no time interval between it being in one place and the other, which in our terms comprises being in two places (N places) at the same time.

These particles participate in the very weft and warp of what reality is. It should not surprise us, therefore, that they appear miraculous since this whole dream of life is some sort of miracle. That there are elements that are in more than one place at the same time is no more amazing than any everyday event in life - all are equally miraculous. I doubt that anything people discover or describe will ever make life any less miraculous or mysterious.

The point I want to make is that this uncertainty of position is like relativity, it is a form of certainty, in that we know that these particles will be in more than one place at once. The whole question of where the electron is is an analogy of relativity's multiple viewpoints for the same event, where the electron is the event and the multiple locations are the multiple viewpoints.

Since this electron moves at the speed of light time stands still for it. "To the electron" no time passes, yet it moves from one location around the atom to another and therefore is in both places at once, since there is no time interval, there cannot be at the speed of light - when time "stands still". To the electron it is in more than one place at the same time. We cannot participate in this, so by trying to observe and detect this we disrupt it, effectively crash the electron. All we can see is a blur, which is the blur of a particle that is in the process of simultaneously being in more than one place at the same time.

Turning back to the idea that the multiple locations might be thought of as multiple observers of the electron, imagining that at several locations around the nucleus tiny observers could be placed who would have their impressions of where the electron was, they would all receive the same impression, that it was at their location all the time. What I want to ask is this: for these tiny imaginary observers observing the electron moving at the speed of light, and setting the speed of the observed object equal to the speed of light, will we not find that the laws and formulae of relativity do indeed apply and produce the same result for every tiny observer?

Whether or not the existing formulae apply, is it not the case that a set of formulae could be worked out that would correlate the multiple location impression, i.e. quantum uncertainty, with the "definite uncertainty" of relativity where what different observers will perceive can be calculated exactly? In effect is this not just a change to the variables whereby the event is moving at the speed of light and the observers are located in an orbital path of the event such that they all receive the same impression, despite their different locations. Can this quantum scenario not be derived by some transformation of Einstein's equations? (Where T=0?)


FM104 - The Thierry Henry Song

A bit of Dublin humour/parody of Take On Me by Aha

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Presidents 'r Us

"He uses the same toothpaste"/Man holds drip for child bomb victim

Tony Blair still stands an outside chance of assuming the new post of president of the European council, amid signs that EU leaders will take the selection process down to the wire at an emergency summit on Thursday. British government officials believe that the former prime minister could emerge victorious at the last minute ... and the decision could go down to "coffee and mints" at the dinner on Thursday night, as one observer put it. (Guardian)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another win for one of our authors

Juked - 2009 Fiction and Poetry Prizes

Fiction Winner: Jill Widner, 'Bisu and the Missionary's Daughter'

Congratulations Jill! You can read Jill's story "Mina and Fina and Lotte Wattimena" in New Short Stories 3. It conjures a sultry far eastern scenario of youthful adventure and discovery in rich and evocative detail.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

John McGahern: The Stoat

BBC iPlayer - Short Stories by John McGahern: The Stoat

Broadcast on: BBC Radio 7, 10: 15am Sunday 15th November 2009
Duration: 15 minutes
Available until: 10:32am Sunday 22nd November 2009

A man compares a stoat's steadfast quest for a rabbit to a shy woman's pursuit of his hopeless father

Arthur Rimbaud: A Season in Hell

BBC iPlayer - Between the Ears: A Season in Hell

Broadcast on: BBC Radio 3, 9:45pm Saturday 14th November 2009
Duration: 30 minutes
Available until: 10:17pm Saturday 21st November 2009

An abridged radio reworking of Rimbaud's intense masterpiece of spiritual disillusionment, narrated by Carl Prekopp with a soundscape by Bristol composer Elizabeth Purnell and poems sung by Robert Wyatt

"A Season in Hell was written between April and August 1873 in London and France, when Rimbaud was 18, and in the throes of an intense, transgressive and destructive relationship with Verlaine. It is regarded as one of the most remarkable pieces of prose poetry ever written - a mixture of autobiography and enigmatic dream sequence in which Rimbaud looks back in despair over his life as a poet. Combining lucid self-appraisal with demented vision, it moves between hyper-realism and hallucinatory surrealism, blending sounds, colours, odours and intensely visual images. The 25 pages of A Season in Hell, here cut to a third of its length, are seen as both a testimony to and a tortured recantation of Rimbaud's poetic credo, the 'disordering of all the senses'.

"Elizabeth Purnell's soundtrack for the work includes composed music, field recordings and processed sound in a raw response to the words; she set the poems specifically for Wyatt, whose voice in its high, delicate register suggests a beyond-the-grave alter-ego to the young Rimbaud."

Belle de Jour blogger unmasks herself as 'big mouth ex-boyfriend' looms

Technology* |

Research scientist Dr Brooke Magnanti announces she is author of mysterious call girl blog and says she has no regrets about working as prostitute

"I did have another job at one point, as a computer programmer, but I kept up with my other work because it was so much more enjoyable."

Yes, yes - er -yes!

Simon Moribund

* Huh? Ed.

Joey Ramone- In A Little While

and here's the U2 studio recording posted as "A tribute to Joey, set to the song, 'In A Little While' by U2- the last song Joey listened to."

U2 (In A Little While)

possibly their best

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Willesden competition trivia

Out of about 2,000 short stories submitted since we started the Willesden competition in 2005, there have (as of November 2009) been 30 shortlisted, 22 published in New Short Stories, 6 nominated for Pushcart prizes, 2 published by the Guardian online & 9 of the authors have subsequently had books published by Canongate, Salt, Sphere, Solidus, Future Fiction, Little Brown, Melville House and Luath Press, inter alia.

When postal entries were allowed the following postmarks were noted: Finland, Japan, Pakistan, India, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Ireland, UK, Singapore, Spain, Malta, Germany, Indonesia, Canada, Belgium, China, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, Poland, Philippines, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Romania & Jamaica, again inter alia.

A story that was shortlisted in our competition went on to be second in the gargantuan Fish Publishing competition and became the title story of a collection published by Salt (Words from a Glass Bubble by Vanessa Gebbie).

Jo Lloyd, who had her first success in a competition with her win here earlier this year, has gone on to win this year's lucrative (£1,000) Asham Award.

Local author and old friend of the competition, Zadie Smith, has among many grander honours just had her first novel listed in the top ten of the Telegraph's 100 books that defined the noughties: "Zadie, Nigella, Steig and, of course, the boy wizard. The decade has seen publishing phenomenons like no other, but which books, for better or worse, have summed up the noughties?"


Friday, November 13, 2009

The proverbial

Calm before the storm, not a breath of wind, but there is a weather warning for 75 mph gusts predicted later today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All foreign wars I do proclaim -

Mrs McGrath - Bruce Springsteen

- live on blood and a mother's pain / I'd rather have my son as he used to be / than the king of Amurikey and his whole navy

Monday, November 09, 2009

Try this

Enter zoom world

Press F11 to select full screen view in Internet Explorer.

Competition health bulletin - as well as can be expected

The number of entries to date: 85
Possibles for shortlist: 3 is stretching it

There is still all to play for. Closing date is December 18th, but it helps to have the entries more evenly distributed rather than all at the last minute.

Hundreds, getting on for thousands enter but only tens of copies of the anthologies are bought. Please consider buying some of these books to read the winning short stories from previous years:

New Short Stories 3 - featuring "Work" by Jo Lloyd
New Short Stories 1 - featuring "Kid in a Well" by Willie Davis
Fish Drink Like Us - featuring "Secure" by Mikey Delgado

Steve Moran

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Café Hopeless, across the street from Trees Lounge

"Infamous author Aden Bell attempts to seduce a Dover edition of Gertrude Stein's famous book, Tender Buttons"

Isn't that the young Gene Wilder?