Sandstorms sweep away parts of China's Great Wall

An estimated 25 miles of wall have already been eroded. “Frequent storms not only eroded the mud, but also cracked the wall and caused it to collapse or break down,” archaeologist Zhou Shengrui told Xinhua.

The area disappearing is in China’s remote and arid Gansu province, formerly on the edge of the Chinese empire, and the gateway to the Silk Road.

Chinese scholars say the actual wall left standing is now around 1,500 miles long, down from its high of an estimated 3,900 miles in the Ming dynasty.

I somehow find this really beautiful at the same time as it representing something freaky.

where did august go?

where did this year go?

but the sun has come back, hurrah!

time to go outside.

meatspace offline

My meatspace will be going offline for an indefinite period from the weekend, so blogging will be light to non existent, and I probably won’t be replying to email very fast. Best contact option is txt.

a musical synchronicity

To anyone who knows me, my love for the band The Gathering over the past seven or eight years will be well known. It has been obsessive and unreasonable. That it shifted recently seemed weird to me.

I posted noting the change back here.

In a moment of what feels to me to be synchronicity, I read their website just now and discovered that unknown to me Anneke van Giesbergen, the vocalist, and a huge part of what draws me to the band, announced she was leaving the band to pursue a solo career at more or less exactly the same time as I post realising somehow my experience of the energy associated with the band had shifted.


Meaningful to me.

114,382 words later

And I’m calling the second draft (revised) done and The United States of Dave ready for its first readers.

time perception

Last night I learned the margin of error in playing guitar is about 1mm, and even slightly drunken fingers can screw that up.

However, on listening back to the recording of it, it seems that my idea in the moment of horribly fucking things up is quite different than what actually comes out. What really struck me was that what felt like enormous gaffes at the time actually aren’t – in the context of listening rather than playing, they’re mostly fairly unnoticeable, or rectified really fast and quickly forgotten in the progression of the song. Which I guess says some random stuff about differential perception, and how focussed one has to be to play.

Slowly getting a bit more comfortable with this whole guitarist lark. Slowly. And today I ineptly restrung my acoustic, which now sounds lovely and full and bright, so I’m looking forward to doing the singer-songwriter thing for a bit, to see what comes out.

A funny thing with lyrics is things you can hardly get away with saying can really work sung.

Also weird is how much more expressive singing becomes when done in front of people vs singing in practice. A whole new intensity comes out, the songs come alive. For some reason I notice it more in This Charming Mystery than Idle Faction, though IF is always at a pretty intense pitch, so maybe that’s it.

cars running on water

An interesting round up of videos about cars running on water.

(via technoccult)


Had my first ever Singstar experience last night. It was pretty surreal and funny. Most of the surreal was discovering what the words were to so many pop songs I knew the chorus of. Most of the funny was, yeah, well. 🙂

Brain thumpy now.

Iraqi Biometric Database Could Become Extermination List, Pentagon Says

Iraqi Biometric Database Could Become Extermination List, Pentagon Says

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are being enrolled in a U.S military-run biometric database, seeded with Saddam Hussein’s own spy files. The Army created the database to help the occupation forces tell good guys from bad guys, but the program’s manager Lieutenant Colonel John Velliquette admitted to DANGER ROOM’s Noah Shachtman that the Iraqi biometric database could become a “hit list if it gets in the wrong hands.”

Of course, something like that could never happen here, when we are all carrying biometric ID’s to prove we aren’t “terrorists”.

Who's editing wikipedia?

Some Caltech graduate dude made a program to find out.

Griffith thus downloaded the entire encyclopedia, isolating the XML-based records of anonymous changes and IP addresses. He then correlated those IP addresses with public net-address lookup services such as ARIN, as well as private domain-name data provided by

The result: A database of 34.4 million edits, performed by 2.6 million organizations or individuals ranging from the CIA to Microsoft to Congressional offices, now linked to the edits they or someone at their organization’s net address has made.

Some of this appears to be transparently self-interested, either adding positive, press release-like material to entries, or deleting whole swaths of critical material.

You can search his results here.

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