The increasingly inaccurately-named blog of journalist and futurist Chris Taylor. Either the most sporadically brilliant amateur blog, the most brilliantly amateur sporadic blog, or the most amateur sporadic brilliance on the Web since 2001.
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Daily Blah FAQ
Who are you?
I'm the newly-appointed Future editor at Business 2.0 and the former San Francisco correspondent for Time Magazine.
Wow, so does this mean everything you write reflects Time Inc's opinion? Or do you perhaps have some sort of standard disclaimer to the effect that it doesn't?
Naturally, the opinions contained in this blog are not those of my employers. In fact, some opinions may be the polar opposite of my employers. Some may be the same, for all I know. Hey, it's not like I ask my employers their opinions about everything in the news, okay? Let's just say that if this were a Venn diagram with one circle marked "my opinions" and the other one marked "my employers' opinions", there would doubtless be some overlap. But neither I nor my employers are able to pinpoint exactly where that overlap is.
What is this Daily Blah thing?
An experiment for a column I wrote about blogging back in December 2001. All these years later, I haven't been able to kick the habit.
Do you write any other blogs, by chance? Could that have something to do with the fact that Daily Blah isn't always Daily?
Yes -- the Future Boy blog for Business 2.0. And yes. If you want true, editorially-mandated daily coverage from me, that's probably the best place to look.
Mister, you talk funny. Are you one of them furrners?
Why yes I am, as it happens. I was born, raised and educated in Great Britain. I've been living in the U.S. since 1996 and identify as British.
I say, old chap, you forgot the "u" in "colour."
No I didn't. I may identify as British, but I am also an American journalist writing for an American audience about mostly American issues. These two different sides of me are a constant source of tension. Nevertheless, Daily Blah will adhere to American English grammar and spelling.
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Daily Blah for... Sunday, July 31, 2005
23 Days Later
No, I haven't been eaten by a rampaging flash mob of zombies. I've been on an intense, life-changing non-vacation vacation. Task one, finding a new house to rent, was completed a couple of weeks ago. I nabbed a lovely three-storey turn-of-the-century townhouse in a cul-de-sac right by the Presidio. The landlords, who own the wax museum in Fisherman's Wharf, live right next door. The house's most intriguing feature: one room is filled with a fresco depicting the San Francisco skyline, painted in 1933 by Suzanne Scheuer -- the Depression era, DPW-commissioned artist who also did this mural at Coit Tower.
It's task two -- packing and moving -- that has been taking my time and causing grief ever since. The new house is tall and thin with tiny staircases and a living room is on the top floor, meaning it'll take a crane or winch to get my couches up there. I start my new job tomorrow, the day before the movers arrive. And packing itself is always a pain, but especially so when you have to get rid of five years' worth of accumulated electronic junk. I've made many trips to thrift stores and bookshops, filled a couple of dozen giant garbage bags, foisted all manner of games and other swag on friends and given two carloads to one friend to sell on eBay. It feels good to purge and I'm glad I had the time to do it. Throwing, say, boxes of old cassette tapes in the trash is good therapy for a born pack rat. It reminds us that nothing is forever. Pain and loss is a part of life. And the time must come when we all let go of our tinny old copies of "Bat out of Hell".
Still, it seems, I'm left with more stuff than I could ever possibly read, use, watch or play in a lifetime. The tyranny of choice still holds sway. I'll probably feel differently when it's all unpacked at the other end, of course, but right now I would very much like to go off into the woods and become a Bhuddist monk. Minimalism is key. Posessions, indeed attachments of any kind, equals suffering. Especially when you have to keep paying more than a thousand bucks to cart them around behind you.
Daily Blah for... Friday, July 08, 2005
For A Few Pennies More
A loyal Daily Blah reader asks: this political laundry listmaking is all very well, but where are my emotions? How do I, an Englishman abroad, truly feel about the London bombings?
Well, naturally, I was peturbed when this same reader woke me up yesterday morning with the shocking news. There followed a couple of hours of phone calls and emails, making sure family and friends were all accounted for. They are -- the last reply came today -- and I was never too concerned that they wouldn't be. 700 injuries and 50 deaths may sound like a lot, but in a city of ten million it's a drop in the bucket.
I don't want to sound insensitive. Yet this was, on the scale of tragedies, not an enormous one. More people died, by far, in each of the three football stadium disasters that remain terribly fresh in British minds (96 people at Hillsborough in 1989, 54 people at Bradford in 1985, 66 at Ibrox in 1971). Yes, yesterday did see the country's worst terrorist attack, but that's only because the IRA never went in for Al Qaeda-style synchronization.
You have to remember that Britons of my generation, especially Londoners, grew up under the shadow of terrorism. Every year brought a fresh atrocity: eleven soldiers killed and 50 civillians injured in Hyde Park in 1982. Six shoppers killed and 90 injured at Harrods in 1983. The IRA blew up politicians at Brighton, mourners at Eniskillen and children -- children, for Christ's sake -- at Warrington. No target was too innocent for those cowards.
As strange as it may sound to American ears, we got used to it. We got used to false alarms that cleared train stations and motorway service stations and generally hampered commuting. We got used to sniffing dogs and a dearth of rubbish bins on the Underground. It was a hassle, and like most hassles, it was part of life. Just background static. Treating it that way, I've always thought, is the best response civilians can have to terrorists. They love attention to their cause and it annoys the hell out of them to be ignored.
So how do I feel? I don't feel fearful. I don't feel threatened. I've had a lot of practice at not feeling fearful or threatened. I do feel sad that the clock seems to have gone back twenty years in London, if only for one day. I feel angry that no warning was given, that this synchronized bombing business appears to be designed to cause maximum ruckus in the media, and I feel extremely angry that the media, especially on this side of the pond, is lapping it up -- and thus allowing the perpetrators to chalk this up as a success. The city's commuters went about their business in a defiantly normal way today. So did traders on the London Stock Exchange. Why can't the 24-hour news networks? Why must my profession play right into the terrorist's hands by spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt?
But most of my ire I'm holding in reserve for any American who still harbors a false romantic image of the IRA, who would dare to tell me that there's a difference between then and now, who came over all sympathetic yesterday when in 1982 they might have dropped coins in dubious collecting tins in Irish pubs. Every Briton remembers that the US was a Johnny-come-lately to World Wars I & II; the same holds true for the War on Terror. We've been fighting it for a long time, mate. Where were you?
Daily Blah for... Thursday, July 07, 2005
London Bombings: My £0.02
My hope is that London and the UK, drawing on harsh lessons learned during the IRA campaign of the 70s and 80s, will respond to this tragedy in a calm and measured way that shows America how it's done.
1. You don't freak out.
2. You carry on exactly as before, because that's precisely what the terrorists don't want you to do.
3. You don't pass hugely restrictive anti-terror laws that few legislators have actually read.
4. You don't set up a ridiculous color-coded and ultimately useless terror alert system that is conducive to political manipulation.
5. You don't set up an offshore prison designed to have dubious legal status, then dump people there for years without charge.
6. You don't put protesters in a "free speech zone" cage, miles from where the event or person they're protesting is.
7. You don't swagger half-cocked about the Middle East, using inflammatory words like "crusade", threatening like a dockside bully. When you threaten, you threaten like a statesman, with justice.
8. You don't foreclose debate by calling your opponent unpatriotic or claiming that they want to coddle terrorists. You have a long and comprehensive debate that touches on everyone's opinion, preferably over a good pint.
Daily Blah for... Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Countdown to a Big Bang
Simnuke is coming! The brainchild of a very smart and twisted friend of mine, Simnuke aims to replicate the first ever nuclear fireball -- the one at the Trinity test site in New Mexico on July 16 1945 -- in the exact same spot in the desert, at 05:29:45, exactly sixty years later. Well, not exactly replicate -- as easy to procure as those ex-Soviet nukes are, it wouldn't be much of a party if we had to wear haz-mat suits or pop chemo pills for the next forty years. Talk about a hangover.
No, the Simnuke fireball, roughly 1/100th the scale of the original (which is still an awesome size) will be a carefully controled biofuel eruption. I will be there to witness it, as I can think of no better way to commemorate 60 years of the atomic specter, the ghost at our global feast who shows no signs of ever leaving the table. No better way, that is, except to push the big red button on Simnuke itself -- a vaunted position currently up for auction on eBay. Come on, someone must have a spare $2,000 and meglomaniac tendencies ...