The all singing, all dancing blog of Alex Guite

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A token gesture

Important backstory: I won a bunch of book tokens a few months ago. Today I decided to spend them. In fact I promised to bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend and oppose any foe to get a decent biography of JFK, one of my political heroes.

But despite my pledges in the previous paragraph, it really didn't go to plan. There wasn't a single book on JFK in Waterstones which didn't claim to offer "explosive new evidence" or "sensational new revelations".

Perhaps the authors of these books live very exciting lives and consequently have a low boredom threshold, but I find that I don't need shaky scoops to be captivated by JFK. The nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban Missile Crisis on it's own should be enough to intrigue anyone. I guess it is possible that these authors routinely challenge countries to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the earth before this decade is out, because they appear to rank a tabloid obsession with JFK's love life above the theatre of this improbable challenge.

I bought Letter to a Christian Nation instead. Dogmatic atheism: better than shrill sensationalism any day of the week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Haven't had time to blog for a while, partly because last week I was away at NUS Conference. More on that later when I write my blog for Live!, but moments of note include Ben and I jamming a minibus between the floor and ceiling in a multi story car park. The most important thing to bear in mind is that the height restriction barrier was set way too high, otherwise we wouldn't have attempted such an audacious parking feat. I guess it was appropriate that in Blackpool, the home of the humble stick of rock, that we got stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Big news yesterday when a modified French TGV train broke the world speed record for a train on conventional rails and was only within 6km/h of the overall record set by a Japanese Maglev train (which doesn't have to deal with pesky friction). It's times like this when I realise that I really am a bit of a geek. I've been avidly consuming the wikipedia entries about the TGV, high speed trains and even finer details about the construction of high speed tracks.

Geek or no geek though, this stuff is really cool. Check out this footage of the world record attempt. It's in French, but it's not too difficult to get the gist of what is going on. For instance when the guy shouts that it is "extrêmement spectaculaire" he is saying that it is "totally sweet" (literal translation). Best stuff is about two minutes thirty from the end.

The speed in km/h is displayed in the top left.