Blank Makes Us Uniquely Human
To answer the question humans as a species would first need to agree on what it is to be human, and that'll never happen. Identities and views of life are too diverse (and often deeply irrational). For all that, googling the phrase "makes us uniquely human" turns up a bunch of answers:[read on...]
"logical thinking" - Terrence Real
"laughter" - Greg Thomas
"an insatiable thirst to know and explore the unknown" - Yasha Husain
"the ability to reproduce tempo and turn it into music" - Dolora Zajick
"thinking" - Donald C. Storm
"[how] the mind is set up in all kinds of organic and experiential ways to sort and select, edit and remember or discard" - Prokofy Neva
"our dualism: our understanding that there are material objects, or bodies, and people, or souls" - paraphrasing Paul Bloom
"language" - Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen
"the right prefrontal cortex" - Donald Stuss
"our ability to imagine the future" - D T Brookes
"our individuality - the ability to go consciously against the 'herd'" - Geoffrey Falk
"the capacity for thought and collective debate and action." - Eva Cox
"our capacity for self-awareness" - Jim Dryden
"transcendent longing to escape from nature" - Peter Lawler
"capacity for a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father" - Center Point Society
"ability for complex imitation" - Beth Azar
"[revealed by] the small differences between our genome and those of other animals" - Svante Pääbo
"early human prehistory" - Bob Gleichauf
"our ability to communicate" - Jan-Michelle Sawyer
"passion and spirit" - Pb Fisher
"the tension between mind and body" - Laurie Hassold
"our ability to add personal perspective to all things" - Gina Lawton
"poker" - Ask Kate
"[a] complex emotional repertoire" - Professor Solomon
Discriminating By Name
The Digerati Life recently ran a fascinating article on name discrimination, and how the name you choose for your child could affect their prospects in job and housing markets. On the one hand, name seems a terribly shallow, arbitrary and completely unfair way to judge people. On the other, racism aside, I can see how name may affect hiring decisions.[read on...]
The popularity of different names vary over time and according to socioeconomic status (say, Britneys born around y2k or Marilyns in the 50s) so at the very least a name says something about the group of people with that name, and may hint at ones parents values. Suppose an employer receives 100 equally qualified resumes, has time to interview ten people, preferring a female for the job. Customers generally like and like being around attractive people, so all else being equal the employer is imagining an attractive, poised, professional-looking person with a musical voice and an air of efficiency. Not imagining an overweight person with coarse accent, grating voice, ugly shoes and tent-like floral print dress.
Cut to Google facial recognition search for: Dolores, Bertha, Regina and Jessica, Kayleigh, Summer. A Rose by any other name would probably be fuglier, which surprised me.
A name doesn't say anything conclusive about an individual but the employer does not have time to throughly evaluate all the applicants and is forced to gamble with interview time, so stereotypes and generalizations may be used to estimate odds.
Even more interesting, research shows that names affect people's view of themselves as reflected by other peoples expectations of them. Teachers, for instance, could not help forming impressions of students before meeting them based solely on their name.
Link: Name Discrimination! How It Affects Job and Career Choices, Life Status, Overall Success.
It's good to be called Stricky, no-one has an abusive ex or was beaten up in school by someone with my name. It's completely unusual, few presuppositions can be formed based on it, and its near impossible to remember first time round, which suits me. Spell checkers highlight it in documents and spambots and data miners probably don't have it in their 'male first names' database. So I'm not sure I agree with the reports recommendation to give your kids 'normal', white-sounding names.
Yazdanism and Evangelion
The Yazidi are a sect of Yazdanism, also known as the Cult of Angels, a pre-Islamic Kurdish religion, sharing some common mythology with other middle-eastern religions - Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity. Wikipedia describes their creation story:
The tale of the Yazidis' origin found in the Black Book gives them a distinctive ancestry and expresses their feeling of difference from other races. Before the roles of the sexes were determined, Adam and Eve quarreled about which of them provided the creative element in the begetting of children. Each stored their seed in a jar which was then sealed. When Eve's was opened it was full of insects and other unpleasant creatures, but inside Adam's jar was a beautiful boy-child. This lovely child, known as son of Jar grew up to marry a houri [pure/heavenly/delightful being] and became the ancestor of the Yazidis. Therefore, the Yazidi are regarded as descending from Adam alone, while other humans are descendants of both Adam and Eve.
So.. Here we have God's Image, Adam, whacking off into a jar over a childish "my peepee is better than your peepee" fight with his girlfriend, and he gets the jar pregnant. Suck on that one, Abrahamic religion :-)
Gather round kids, its Hieronymus Bosch
Lovable crackpot Erich Anton Paul von Däniken had some theories on this story with the theme of extraterrestrials creating life on earth test tube-style, which is kinda interesting considering Rei Ayanami and her relationship to the angel Adam in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Hope nobody sprained an ankle in that leap. Evangelion is littered with symbols and code, much of it almost Christian but not quite, I'm wondering how much resonance there will be watching it again after learning more about the Cult of Angels.
Related: MASHAF REŠ - Yazidi Scripture
Random fact: The Yazidi have a dietary prohibition on lettuce, the Devil's leaf vegetable.[read on...]
Woonsocket, South Dakota
Did you know: there are several towns and cities across the United States called Woonsocket? It's like the City Fathers all got drunk on mead one day and had a contest for weirdest city name ever. The word is widely believed (by me) to be Nipmuc Indian for 'I will kill you and steal your horse, paleface'.[read on...]
Pioneer captain Jeremiah 'Lucky' Pierre, addressing captured braves: 'You are defeated, you will now convert to Christianity and serve your new masters in the name of God, or die. Tell me, what do you savages call this place.'
Chief Ravenous Beaver: 'Wo oon sok k ket'
Which would explain Woonsocket, RI, the city whose motto is (no fooling) 'the most French place in the United Sates outside of Louisiana.' which I guess is in their favor. Apparently it's a nice place too, because the good people of Woonsocket, South Dakota named their town after it. New York was originally called New Amsterdam. There's New Orleans, New England, New Jersey, New Hampshire and so on. There's even a Paris in Arkansas. Some homesick fellow in the wild west must have had grand designs to found a new and beautiful city to rival the might and splendor of home, he would create his homeland afresh in foreign lands and it would be called: New Woonsocket (cue trumpets).
I don't really get the process behind place names in general. Consider New Mexico. Did American troops look at the battered country across the border after the Mexican-American War and think to themselves, 'Yeah, we should have one of those, the world needs another Mexico'?
For what it's worth, in case you think I'm picking unfairly on Woonsocket for having a funny name - as opposed to say Hygiene, Colorado or Santa Claus, Indiana [Google Maps] - westerners have trouble pronouncing my home town.
Link: Woonsocket City Website
Pudgy-Fingered Gobbling Monstrosity
See? This is why I don't want children. We could probably replace the baked beans with a bowl of mice and and this pudgy-fingered gobbling monstrosity would scarf 'em down. And then he'd say something cutesy and midwestern with a scary grin on his face.
Halloween is fast approaching (October already, where did this year go?) and there's going to be the usual business with kids dressed up as ghosts and monsters coming round the house and throwing eggs. They will have been turfed out of their own homes by their parents so that they might learn an important lesson in life: If you want something from a stranger, put on the scariest demeanour you can, then go round his house with your buddies and make a threat. Offer your hapless victim a choice between vague misfortune and giving you what you want. Playing is how we learn :-) Fine, good, so long as they're having fun.
It is kind of cool that this sort of thing is so stereotyped, that society in general makes up the most absurd things for kids to be afraid of. Overdone icons like plastic spiders and bats aren't scary, and we tell kids they are. In every other Scooby-Doo episode and TV Halloween special kids told, over and over, that they're expected to be afraid of spooOOOOooky stuff. Which is good, because that means we're not exposing kids to things that are actually scary. If I ever see a little girl dressed up as 'rape' for Halloween I'll know the ruse is coming undone.
Garfield's Jim Davis explains:
'Ghosts aren't scary...' he told me before explaining that before writing the strips he went around to everyone he knew and asked them what truly scared them. The answer he got most often was 'being alone' or 'dying alone'.
That's why Halloween's great, it's the one night of the year you can't possibly be afraid of children. It kicks ass that a bunch of 10 years olds come to my house and make to fright me with their werewolf costumes. They've been completely suckered into thinking the worst thing they're going to have to face in life is plastic werewolves.
If they thought a little more outside the box they could stay home, and then have a different little kid phone my house every night at midnight and tell me that I will die in a fire. That would worry me.
Death of Garfield
Plan59 photoset[read on...]
No inspiration today
I need to get out of this rut.
TOE - Poetica Vaginal
I just finished listening to Benjamin Walker's Theory of Everything podcast about the Poetica Vaginal project, where a bunch of intellectuals from several universities got together to beam recordings of human vaginal contractions into space as a sort of SETI art project.
One of the problems with [previous attempts to communicate with extraterrestrials] is that there were episodes of sexual censorship: in the first messages we sent a line drawing of a male human being complete with external genitalia but a line drawing of a female human being without any external genitalia. We sent a picture of man and Barbie Doll into deep space to communicate with aliens as if they weren't entitled to know what we look like. It was really a picture of our own intolerance and it got worse with the Voyager probes ... where NASA prohibited entirely images of nude human beings. Aristotle knew that you had to reveal yourself to yourself before you can reveal yourself to anyone else. He writes about this in his book on poetics. He calls it the reognition and reversal principle. So.. really, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is an excercise in comminucation with ourselves.
The project was ultimately stopped by the US Air Force. Isn't that amazing? The US has the balls and foresight to spend millions of wingwangs sending data about ourselves into deep space, but cant send an uncensored picture of what we look like, it's as if we're embarassed about having human bodies. The subtext of our grand message to other sentince seems to be ''we're a species with massive issues about our own sexuality'', probably the most honest thing we could say on the subject. Not sure why we need to bring it up in our first communications with other species.
Gratuitous Monkey Photo
When the British first began to explore Africa, young monkeys were often captured and taken back on board the ship to entertain sailors. Some were later kept in zoos, many modern captive monkeys in the UK are descended from such Victorian era monkeys. In the Napoleonic Wars, the same practice is thought to have occurred. It is rumoured that one such monkey washed up ashore and, being mistaken for a Frenchman, was hanged in Hartlepool, England this caused the people of Hartlepool to be nicknamed the monkey hangers.
So there. Dont say I neva learned u nuthing. Wikipedia Link[read on...]
Something that's always bugged me a little are the censorship functions on search engines, those righteous little options with names like 'Family Filter' or 'Safe Search'. Little munchkin hats for search engines to tip at puritans. I dont think it's good to blinker people so that they can maintain a fantasy of living in some 1950s white picket fence world, better to expose people to the real world so they can love life for what it really is.[read on...]
Anyhoo, so I wrote a script to search both with and without the family filtering, and then return only those results that are 'potentially offensive'. I was amazed. Google's SafeSearch(tm) is one wacky piece of kit. Offensive inappropriate pages it's protecting people from include The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The UN International Court of Justice and this Wikipedia article about kittens. There were also a few consipracy kook sites about secret government censorship, happy crazy irony there, slightly more profound, the Feminists Against Censorship was taken out of the 'safe' results. Hmmm...
Of course, the script has practical uses as well, it produces near perfect adult searches, uncluttered by irrelvant vanilla stuff. Just the thing when you're googling for... um... treasure. Porntastic!
script here. go play...
Summer is here! It's wet and rainy and awesome. Surfing, beach parties, topless sunbathing. Of course, none of there things are happening at my house so I'm moving down the camp site until further notice. So call me on my cell phone, not my land line. Bye.[read on...]
w00t! w00t! w00t!
I got BoingBoinged! Sweet! I'm getting exposure and a metric crapload of traffic. So, this is the face I make while professing undying gratitude to Xeni Jardin: 8->[read on...]
Kick Ass! Thank you all.
Yeah! Whooo! There is this most kickass electrical storm going on outside. It's out in the sea to the southwest, clear, dark night with a big cumulus clouds rolling in towards the island, kicking off sheet lightning up and down the front, disappearing in and out of the thunderheads, lighting them up. It was a perfect moment, standing ot in a field at the top of the cliffs, grass up to my knees whipped up by this warm dry wind the storm was pulling into it, drinking a warm can of Bav NA (a Dutch non-alcoholic beer, I'm about the only person I know who likes it), dark sky overhead, lighthouses behind me and to my left, and these amazing shapes lit up in the clouds. Awesome.[read on...]
Today I bought myself a super-soaker. A big flourescent orange and purple water gun. Because they're stylish and sexy, and I look like a brute hunk of man walking through town with it. Actually, it's because of a nasty hairy turd that spends the day barking itself retarded outside my front door. I'm very fond of my flat, it's great and I've put a lot of work into fixing it up, I don't want to move. The catch to living here is this shitty idiot animal my elderly landlady dotes over. She actually calles her house the [dog's name] house.[read on...]
I've tried to explain politely that I work nights and need to sleep at least some of the day, and ask her not to let the thing out the second she gets up and about (5am), but it's hard to explain anything when she's absorbed in cooing at the thing. What makes old people talk to animals anyway? She's otherwise sane and has plenty of friends. The animal is widely hated, several neighbours and aquaintances have offered to help me mete it with an 'accident', but I'm just not arsehole enough to upset the owner. She's like 90 years old.
Anyways, I did some reading on animal psychology online and it turns out that when not caused by painful rectal mites, endless barking is caused by dogs being stressed or bored. In either case, dogs seek attention or resassurance from people, so hollerin' at them is only going to make the problem worse. It's not effective negative reinforcement. Repeated electric shocks and exposing dogs to citronella - a smell dogs don't like - does tend to solve the problem. Not real practical for me though.
A better recommendation was to throw a can of water in the face of a barking dog, like across a fence, or to use a pressure hose. Apparently, it's important to approach the dog calmly and quietly, to simply be around it friendly like - right until it barks for the first time. Then as it does, throw the water in its face, same time as yelling at it. That way the dog comes to know 'Quiet!' means 'shut the hell up' ratherthan 'I'm paying attention to you'.
My hallway's carpeted, so I can't use a bucket of water, hopefully shooting water up the thing's nose will be coersion enough. Oh well. If I had enough time, I'd go sit on the beach and read a book. If I had spare time after that I'd make a violent computer game called 'Poodle Hunter'. As it is I have stuff to do.
I've put the stream ripper on hold for awhile. When I get into crazed-enthusiasm-for-programming mode everything tends to get put on hold, I barely eat or sleep and drag myself to work by force of will, much as I like my job. So after the last week stuff like housework is backing up on me, think I might take today to set it right. I always feel that it's time wasted. I can spend six hours doing a week's ironing and then my afternoon's gone, nothing achieved. All this ironing and tidying is just vanity anyway, clothes are exactly as warm and practical unironed. But I can't go work dishevelled, and I guess I do care if people think I'm a slob, so I iron. I know I shouldn't care and nor should anyone else, but hey.
The island's electricity comes from antique and roaring diesel generators, the waveform of their output has been decribed as 'a row of bloody christmas trees', as opposed to a smooth sine wave. This puts a lot of stress on the cheapo AC to DC power supplies of small consumer electronics (switchmodes like on a PC seem to do OK). These power supplies wear out relatively quickly and then blow their internal fuses like they're supposed to, so that the power unit can be replaced without damaging the rest of the device. Only not everyone knows this so I see a lot of VCRs and Sky boxes at the tip, I have a couple I found there with perfectly good mechanisms and circuitry that just want standardized power units swapped in.
What has this to do with ironing? Well, I don't usually watch TV, I don't keep one in my home because I don't have the time to watch one and because terrestrial stations in the UK are dire. BBC and ITV broadcast the most incredible parade of crap and sports, focused around terrible British soap operas and football matches, in between the same baby product and homeloan commercials day in and day out. Soul sucking stuff. Come 2am, however, the lowest common denominator is asleep and they broadcast some quality programs, documentaries that are actually fresh and interesting and some adult education material, open university, et al. I think the government makes them do this.
In any case I think I might fix a VCR and record some 2-5am broadcasting, then hitch the VCR to my computer with a tuner card - which I also found at the Impot, amazing what people throw away - and see if I can't feed my mind a little while I get on with this ironing lark.
Oh well, best get on with it. And I've downloaded some new Evanescence music videos to watch. And there's an annoying sound biting at my concentration. Time to go water the dog again...
Whoo! Finally got my stream ripper working :-) Downloaded myself a copy of Linkin Park's 'Breaking the Habit' as proof. Excellent music video, gritty CGI anime, compliments the track perfectly. Probably the best music video I've seen this year. One of the things I like best about Japanse animation is the way good anime and mangas have such cool symbolism. This one has lots of gears and spinning circles (continuity?), gasses, pulsing fluids, steam, mists, haze, bubbles (breath/life?). [read on...]
I'm not an expert on anime or Japanese icon, and this won't be everyone's mug of beans but it's an excellent piece of art in an authentic style. And a very motivational song. Go see it.
Otherwise, its been a good week. The weather's been lovely so I took some time off to go climbing last Tuesday and Wednesday. Alderney's directly in the way of massive tidal movements between the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, the whole sea's always moving in one direction or the other against the island. This makes for some very powerful currents in the narrow stretch of water between here and France.
So, how the island disposes of it's trash is to incinerate what it can and then push the ash and what's left over a cliff into the rough, racing water of the Swinge. Around the neap tide this water can go way, way down, exposing a rocky wash.
One of my regulars once told me about how his father used to collect old coins and medals from this beach under the impot (municipal facility). So that's what I went to go see. You'd think it would be foul, with all the crap they push off the cliff from the tip, but it isn't. The tide tears away all but heavy pieces of metal and ceramic. It's actually really cool, it's like a pebble beach but with lumps of metal worn smooth by the sea. Brass goes orange, copper goes pink or dark green, aluminium weathers into smooth pieces and steel rusts into dark, pitted forms, sometimes black, sometimes orange with rust. Bits of very stained stainless steel. Drifts of little opaque sanded glass pebbles.
There's supposed to be a band on this wash where the physics of it all are right for small pieces of metal to accumulate, where it's good for coins etc. The water wasn't far enough out when I went there, but I did see some neat things. I'm always astonished at school art classes giving kids fake-o stuff like plastic glitter and white copy paper to be creative with when such beautiful materials are quite literally being bulldozed into the sea. Vivid things, like when pyrex goes irridescent from being battered by rocks. But then I'm a charcoal on brown cardboard sort of guy more than a crayon on white paper sort of guy.
Anyhoo, what I did get down there was a brass boule and a length of thin copper tubing that had been rolled into a tight ball. Both now live in my fruit bowl. The climb down took about an 45 minutes, the cliff's steep but chunky so it's easy climbing. Getting to the face involved a lot of blackberries, just coming into fruit this time of year. The trick to moving through blackberries - without ending up like that creature from Event Horizon - is not to be in a hurry. For safety I would have preferred to have someone climbing with me, but as it was I had to make to with someone at the impot knowing where I was. From the bottom I could see a much easier way up, so getting back only took about fifteen minutes. It's always easier to go up then down.
Other than that, mostly uneventful. Spent three days and nights fairly solidly wrestling with this stream ripper, I can get a little carried away with things like that sometimes. In the end I didn't use RTSP/RTP but went with using MMS framed streams over HTTP, turned out better for what I'm doing. So it's working, but it's not a finished product yet.
The beaches of the 8me Arrondissement are bounded by a breakwater of huge boulders piled into rows, about 300m paralell to the shore. I was climbing around out here on the rocks tonight, watching the waterfront and it's lights reflecting in the bay. I came across two guys fishing.[read on...]
I'm still a little in England mode: I was expecting to have to come up with a witty answer to 'Oi! What the fuck are you doing?' or some such, climbing rocks in the middle of the night.
Instead I just got a cheery 'Bon Soir'. I also saw some kids on the rocks, which made me feel less like a gargoyle watching the city. And I was happy to see them catch a fish. I think England may have helped me become somewhat unfriendly. People are nicer hereabouts.
There's just been some disturbance at the airport. French police swarmed out with their big guns and little hostess uniforms, herded the passengers out of a section of the terminal and set up a cordon.[read on...]
You'd think the English take first place for dressing their police officers up in funny uniforms. You should check out some of the palace guards on horses in London. Turns out the French also like to see young men in bonnets and tassely shoes.
Police in Napoleon hats: now that would be cool :-) [The dress kepi of certain monument gaurds in Paris are almost as good.]
Got fleeced in Dover for a couple pounds on my ferry ticket but hey! I'm in France! And riding on the most retro looking train you ever saw :-)
UPDATE: Above is the total, complete blog post from 2004, which is getting a baffling ammount of traffic recently. I imagine most people are searching for Gare de Lille-Flandres, the central train station in the city of Lille, France. I'll try be helpful.
The station was built between 1869 and 1892 and currently serves regional and SNCF Intercity trains on the Paris, Rouen, Leige and Ostend lines, among others. Wikipedia says: The station front is the old front from Paris' Gare du Nord and was dismantled then reassembled in Lille at the end of the 19th century.
The station was built for Chemin du Fer du Nord (a train company) by Sydney Dunnett and Léonce Reynaud, shown here worrying about the English.
From Lille you could go to:
Wilton in the past was an entrely different place, it was the capital of Saxon England. Wiltshire's named for Wilton and there's a road towards it in most old English cities. In London it's from Victoria Underground station, but there's Wilton roads everywhere round here. And they all lead to my ex front door.[read on...]
The Holy Roman Empire set up shop on some ancient Celtic earthworks a few miles east of Wilton, and built the cathedral city of Old Sarum, which was the seat of power in the region for some time.
An abbey was started at Witon and by the time of the Reformation the Abbess of Wilton owned most of the surrounding countryside. A bunch of sacking and looting and burning fixed that.
Into the power vacuum cam the Pembroke family. I'm not sure how or when but they did. The Earl of Pembroke owned the town and the coutryside for miles around.
Arstocracy back then - such as the Pembrokes - travelled around and married for social climbing. (So if Europe's royal families seem like a set of buck-toothed giggling inbreds, it's only because they are). One of the Pembroke wives was of a Russian roayl family, and she set about building a grand church in Italian style to honor her national saint, St Nicholas. Santa Claus to the rest of us.
And so the Italiante Church of St Nicholas was built, in parts in close imitation of various European cathedrals the Pembrokes liked. She destroyed the original town church in the process - out of wanting to, it's still there, ruined. In their travels and conquests the Pembrokes transported the wealth and history of many European cathedrals to their church on their estate at Wilton and it's well worth seeing.
Getting back to Sarum: it had a problem. Being atop it's celtic earthworks it was very defensible, but it didn't have a water supply. A new city arose in the swamp below Sarum. A city with canals on the trade route from the coast on the south to the Cotswolds in the north. A new and Grander cathedral was built. Salisbury Cathedral. The Old Sarum cathedral is stiil there, from the ruins there's a view of Salisbury down the valley.
Wilton, meanwhile, was frozen in time. Earls came and went. Portraits in Wilton House. The industrial revolution gave the town a carpet factory. The Pembrokes sometimes misbehaved, as those with money can (since they have money, after all). One recent Earl shot is butler for failing to pour his brandy just so. He got off more or less scott free, and the freemasons are said to have had something to do ith that. But hey.
In a dining room alcove of the Pembroke Arms Hotel opposite Wilton House there is a map of the area circa 18something. The little villages around Salisbury are still excactly as on that map.
Wilton has a baker, a greengrocer, a florist, a convenience store, three pubs, a hotel, a few sundry shops, a notable antiques shop off the square and a dog grooming shop of all damned things.
So.. Visit in the spring when the ducks get in the roads. And buy a Barbie doll. And go to the antiques shop off the Market Square.
Note to travellers: Do not go to Nottingham, it is dodgy as fuck. It contains - if anyone is interested - some Disneylandish Robin Hood 'historical' sites, the Sherwood Forresters Regimental Museum, Nottingham Castle (nothing special) and lots and lots of greasy, wheezy pigeons. It is crossed off my 'Possible Places to Live' list. Lots of grime and people covered in tattoos. Lots of litter and lots of litter bins. The London Underground is very clean and it doesn't have any litter bins. Goes to show.[read on...]
Anywhere that gives pigeons emphysema should recieve a wide berth.
From an aesthetic point of view, the buildings need painting and the local accent has an 'ee' sound to it. There is an art gallery. I didn't go.
From a cultural perspective, there are many stands selling England flags and football merchandise. And many football themed shops and advertising campaigns. I judge the Yob Quotient of a city on the proportion of cars I see flying football team flags. (Yobs being loud assertive young men with bad English who binge on Lager and then pick figts with random people. Sometimes form figting gangs. Use the words 'cunt' and 'fuck' a lot. Most sentences sometimes). Nottingham has a very high Yob Quotient.
The countryside around Nottingham is lovely. Tiny villages, old churches, hedged fields and stands of trees. Wheat, gypsophila (sp?), blackberries, those white flowers whose name I don't yet know.
Note to self: this county will be excellent for making crop circles. The fields are sheltered by hedgerows and the rolling countryside, and the local news doesn't seem to have anything better to report.
Something I did enjoy in Nottingham was watching a chugger on the High Street solicit money from a pretty young woman. I should pay more attention to chuggers, they have useful social skills to teach us.
This guy walks up to a strange, hot, young woman in the street, holds her attention for 15 minutes, makes her smile and laugh whilst talking about some sombre disease, pushes the right emotional buttons and walks off with her credit card number. All while looking like a hobo and staring at her breasts. Amazing.
Wilton today is a tiny village about three miles west north west of Salisbury. The carpet factory still makes carpets, Wilton house is open in the summer and there is a beautiful Italiante church to see.[read on...]
The town is walking distance from Old Sarum and British Land HQ (MoD). It is also close to Stonehenge, Woodhenge and Boscombe Down (The RAF test base).
The village is mostly four streets (North, South, West, Silver) around a market square and the ruins of an ancient church. Market day is Thursday and is the closest thing to a supermarket te village has. You can buy fresh bread and local cheese and there's a butcher who puts you off them by hanging up whole dead animals. And you can buy hardware/expired batteries/Barbie dolls/snail bait/kitchenware from a man who stands around shouting 'Torlet apypa fer a pownd! Wype yer arese fer a pownd!' and such. There really is no other way to buy Barbie dolls (fer a pound).
There is also a strange fellow who sells garden gnomes. Makes them himself far as I can tell. I wish I'd been able to find one to travel with. They're harder to swipe than the Garden Gnome Liberation Front makes out. But back to Wilton...
Wilton House was the set of a Jane Austin move and some crazy film about Mozart that's due out sometime this year. Terry Pratchett lives in the area.
If you're going to visit do so in the spring, the fields and meadows are green, there are daffodils everywhere and ducks everywhere with their ducklings, and the women wear fewer clothes and the motorists honk and shout at the ducks in the road.
Wilton House gardens are very beautiful and there's a place there where you can go at four or five in the evening to gawk at tourists eating cream cakes and drinkng tea. Presumably because that's what some tourists think that's what the English do at that time of day.
Alternatively, if you are visting England you can go to one of the local pubs and gawk at what people in rural England really do at that time of day, which is drink bitter. Bitter is a flat, warm dark kind of beer - not as creamy or dark as stout. Whilst drinking people typically complain about their job/family/climate/politicians/Europe, harass the barmaids and talk about one another.
If you're visting, be aware that rural England can be incredibly insular. The UK is not one country to the people who live there and the county is the geographical area many assosciate with.