"Information is all around us, now more than ever before in human history. You barely have to stir or incommode yourself to find things out. The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is." - Stephen Fry
This is one of the songs that isn't going on the annual family Christmas CD. Why? Well, it's more than a bit long, I'm told.
It's from the brand-new Kate Bush album, also called 50 Words for Snow. You don't get to use the phrase "brand-new Kate Bush album" very often, and it's actually her second this year, after a reworking of her catalogue (Director's Cut) that was released this spring.
This is most definitely not a Christmas record, but it's great listening for this time of year. It's not about Christmas, but it is about winter, and particularly snow. It has a rich, complex sound, and while it's not something you'll want to play at, say, an office party (although I'd love to imagine the office where it would fit in!) I wonder what it would do for a snowed-in weekend morning.
The title track features Stephen Fry, in the guise of a character of (I think) a Siberian scientist, listing 50 words for snow, with Bush chanting back at him. Once again, it shows that Bush (whose talent for audio manipulation and sampling was many years ahead of her time) is sonically in her own league.
I'm hoping that Fry's Planet Word, a BBC series featuring Stephen Fry talking about language, will appear over on this side of the Atlantic. Here's a preview. As much as I always enjoy listening to Fry talking about anything, I got a particular charge out of him waltzing through a tongue twister that would have stopped me around the sixth syllable.
A special is nice, but I would prefer to see something like, Oh, A Middle-Aged Bit of Fry and Laurie. I learned plenty in Stephen Fry's latest memoir about how the two began writing together as Cambridge students, and landed an agent (via Emma Thompson) before they were capped-and-gowned.
The reunion special aired last year. If you poke around, you can find it on YouTube (like here).
Red Nose Day, the key day in Comic Relief's biennal fundraiser, is Friday. "Do something funny for money" is the tagline this year's assault on poverty, particularly in developing countries. Here's Stephen Fry's pitch.
I finished reading The Fry Chronicles, Stephen Fry's second autobiography, earlier this afternoon. I might write more about it elsewhere, but I was struck by how it ended. Not to give anything away, but the book basically covers Fry's 20s, and ends as he celebrates his 30th birthday.
"Back in London some weeks later," he writes, "an actor friend asked me if I fancied a line." Unaware of he meant, Fry describes the effects of the drug, but adds, "The tragedy and farce of that drama are the material for another book."
"I shouldn't be saying this, high treason really, but I sometimes wonder if Americans aren't fooled by our accent into detecting a brilliance that may not really be there." - Stephen Fry, as quoted in this BBC piece on accents
Stephen Fry writes a lot about himself, but I don't complain. He fictionalized his youth for The Liar then told it straight (no pun intended) in Moab Is My Washpot. The next book is done and will avail of multiple technologies. From The Telegraph:
Stephen Fry, actor, novelist and legendary early adopter (particularly with regard to Apple) attended the launch of the iPad on Wednesday. You can read his thoughts here.
This section, though, resonated, as he laid out in detail how the "meh" chorus of the non-impressed (you know who you are) is very similar to the launch of another Apple product.
I know there will be many who have already taken one look and
pronounced it to be nothing but a large iPhone and something of a
disappointment. I have heard these voices before. In June 2007 when the
iPhone was launched I collected a long list of “not impressed”, “meh”,
“big deal”, “style over substance”, “it’s all hype”, “my HTC TyTN can
do more”, “what a disappointment”, “majorly underwhelmed” and similar
reactions. They can hug to themselves the excuse that the first release
of iPhone was 2G, closed to developers and without GPS, cut and paste
and many other features that have since been incorporated. Neither
they, nor I, nor anyone, predicted the “game-changing” effect the phone
would so rapidly have as it evolved into a 3G, third-party app rich,
compass and GPS enabled market leader. Even if it had proved a
commercial and business disaster instead of an astounding success,
iPhone would remain the most significant release of its generation
because of its effect on the smartphone habitat. Does anybody seriously
believe that Android, Nokia, Samsung, Palm, BlackBerry and a dozen
others would since have produced the product line they have without the
100,000 volt taser shot up the jacksie that the iPhone delivered to the
British author and actor Stephen Fry remains one of the most influential people on Twitter. This week, he told a convention in London that he advises a website in advance that hes's going to recommend them, lest they crash. Fry, a notorious early-adopter of technology since the early 1980s, commented, "If I do recommend a site it has to be capable of something like 1,000
hits a second ... It's like a DOS (denial of service attack) on people's servers and
it's terrible." As of this morning, Fry's Twitter account had just over 990,000 followers.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which launched earlier this week, seems set to top sales records for videogames. In its first 24 hours on the market, the game sold 4.7 million copies - which works out to about 3,264 copies per minute.
John Hodgman, who plays PC in Apple's long-running "I'm a Mac" campaign, is in fact a longtime Mac user himself. The author and Daily Show contributor nonetheless gets accolades from Windows types. In an interview this week, he told the Miami Herald, "The flip side is I am also approached by people who use PCs, and to
them I'm a folk hero. . . . I'm a little sheepish about it. I want to
ask, `You understand who's paying for these ads, right?' ''
Nitrous oxide had been known for more than 70 years to make people giddy and foolish at parties before anyone thought about it as an anasthetic. A dentist at a party in Connecticut in 1844 observed that a man who suffered a gash on his leg was literally feeling no pain.
Watch out, jellyfish: researchers working on a dive in the Red Sea found evidence that coral consume jellyfish. Their findings are published in the journal Coral Reefs. Mmmm ... jellyfish.
I laughed when I saw this Twitter-themed shirt. And while I'm delighted that the actor-comedian-writer-TV host is a Twitter celebrity, I'll admit that I'm not among those that Mr. Fry follows. Oh well. As seen here.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.