Sunday, 20 July 2014

Why watching cartoons meant I was inevitably going to be a feminist

I acknowledge that's two characters from Recess, but it was an epic show. Any more suggestions?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Quotes, with many thanks to

Alain de Botton explores why we have dreams:

Most of the time, you feel in charge of your own mind. You want to play with some Lego? Your brain is there to make it happen. You fancy reading a book? You can put the letters together and watch characters emerge in your imagination.

But at night, strange stuff happens. While you’re in bed, your mind puts on the weirdest, most amazing and sometimes scariest shows.


In the olden days, people believed that our dreams were full of clues about the future. Nowadays, we tend to think that dreams are a way for the mind to rearrange and tidy itself up after the activities of the day.

Why are dreams sometimes scary? During the day, things may happen that frighten us, but we are so busy we don’t have time to think properly about them. At night, while we are sleeping safely, we can give those fears a run around. Or maybe something you did during the day was lovely but you were in a hurry and didn’t give it time. It may pop up in a dream. In dreams, you go back over things you missed, repair what got damaged, make up stories about what you’d love, and explore the fears you normally put to the back of your mind.

Dreams are both more exciting and more frightening than daily life. They’re a sign that our brains are marvellous machines – and that they have powers we don’t often give them credit for, when we’re just using them to do our homework or play a computer game. Dreams show us that we’re not quite the bosses of our own selves.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman explains why we can't tickle ourselves:

To understand why, you need to know more about how your brain works. One of its main tasks is to try to make good guesses about what’s going to happen next. While you’re busy getting on with your life, walking downstairs or eating your breakfast, parts of your brain are always trying to predict the future.

Remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle? At first, it took a lot of concentration to keep the handlebars steady and push the pedals. But after a while, cycling became easy. Now you’re not aware of the movements you make to keep the bike going. From experience, your brain knows exactly what to expect so your body rides the bike automatically. Your brain is predicting all the movements you need to make.

You only have to think consciously about cycling if something changes – like if there’s a strong wind or you get a flat tyre. When something unexpected happens like this, your brain is forced to change its predictions about what will happen next. If it does its job well, you’ll adjust to the strong wind, leaning your body so you don’t fall.

Why is it so important for our brains to predict what will happen next? It helps us make fewer mistakes and can even save our lives.


Because your brain is always predicting your own actions, and how your body will feel as a result, you cannot tickle yourself. Other people can tickle you because they can surprise you. You can’t predict what their tickling actions will be.

And this knowledge leads to an interesting truth: if you build a machine that allows you to move a feather, but the feather moves only after a delay of a second, then you can tickle your- self. The results of your own actions will now surprise you.

Particle physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss explains why we're all made of stardust:

Everything in your body, and everything you can see around you, is made up of tiny objects called atoms. Atoms come in different types called elements. Hydrogen, oxygen and carbon are three of the most important elements in your body.


How did those elements get into our bodies? The only way they could have got there, to make up all the material on our Earth, is if some of those stars exploded a long time ago, spew- ing all the elements from their cores into space. Then, about four and a half billion years ago, in our part of our galaxy, the material in space began to collapse. This is how the Sun was formed, and the solar system around it, as well as the material that forms all life on earth.

So, most of the atoms that now make up your body were created inside stars! The atoms in your left hand might have come from a different star from those in your right hand. You are really a child of the stars.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The most inordinately frustrating thing about life is confronting a huge character flaw you were barely aware of

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Journal exercise 1 and 2

Adjective: Drab, grey, dark, chill, damp

Noun: Table, TV, orchid, hula hoop, towel

Verb: May, might, should, shall, can

Adverb: Slowly, angrily, sweetly, soon, very

The damp towel might fall off the TV slowly.
The drab room should be warm and light very soon.

Saturday, 14 September 2013


It's day three of our trip to America. I'm unfortunately not tech savvy enough to upload photos from my SLR. They are also things you've all seen anyway. The Washington Monument, the World War Two memorial, the Arlington cemetery and tomb of the unknown soldiers. They are all spectacular and moving, in the tone of the general way America does things. There is above all the overwhelming sense of space to do these things in. Nothing is overly grandiose - it is grand in a way that is necessary to fill the vast amount of room available, and create a fitting salute to the country's history.

Clean, vast columns and stretches of grass serviced by sprinklers will be my main memory of Washington. We were also caught by a fantastic thunderstorm while at the top of the cemetery's long hill. As rain thrummed on the bus shelter we hid under and the thunder and lightning promised that this wouldn't be over soon, I realised it was the first time I had broken out into a huge smile that week.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tube 2

The most amazing punk is stood over there. His mohican is about 8 inches high and bleached an incredible yellowy white to match his pale skin and almost melanin-free eyes. To contrast this, he is listening to music on bright red earphones. He looks tired and I worry about how his complexion will fare in the scorching summer sun that is finally beating down upon us.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


There is a fella with flannel shirt and mauve rucksack. His lips are pursed in concentration as he fiddles with his phone. It must be urgent.