Tag Archives: twitter

Imperial College Union Votes to Rename Bars: #phase3

The Union is currently in the midst of a plan known as Phase 3 to modernise the Union’s bar and nightclub areas in place of the existing dBs and da Vinci’s to make them, y’know, actually decent places to have a night out. I will concede that da Vinci’s is alright, but dB’s is sorely in need of a refurbishment.

Anyways, the Union recently ran a competition to rename these new bars as part of the Phase 3 development, and they’ve just released the final shortlist of names, along with the opportunity to vote which names will be adopted for the new nightclub and bar.

Shortlist for the nightclub:

  • Iris
  • Lab
  • Metric
  • Neighbourhood
  • Theory

Shortlist for the bar:

  • Consort
  • Crown & Shield
  • Library
  • Quad

Now, I will be the first to admit that I did not submit any possible names; mostly this is because I’m ludicrously terrible at naming things. If I ever have children they’re probably going to be named by pasting pages from a baby name book onto a wall, then chucking darts until one strikes a name I like the sound of.

However, somebody at the Union seriously screwed up when they picked this shortlist. Some of the names are just plain terrible and others have the rather more significant problem that the collide with names of places already on campus; the most egregious example here is “Library”, which will have the rather unfortunate effect of making the sentences “Let’s meet at the Library” or “Let’s eat at the Library” ambiguous. I cannot possibly fathom how the brief enjoyment of a moment of irony derived from drinking in a bar called the Library could possibly outweigh the continuing irritation this could well generate for years and years.

“Quad” is broken for the same reason, although to a lesser extent. “Crown & Shield”, presumably drawn from the crown logo of the RCSU and the shield of the CGCU, is basically a massive fuck-you to the miners and the medics, the latter of which needs no further alienation from the rest of IC; it also makes it sound like a pub, which the new bar will not be, the pub niche is filled very well by the Union Bar.

The only half-decent name there is “Consort”, presumably drawn from the Prince Consort Road on which the Union sits, which possesses the fairly unique quality amongst the rest of actually sounding like a bar as well as being vaguely appropriate.

The names for the nightclub are mostly just plain awful. “Lab” is another unfortunate collision. The only decent one there is “Metric”, as you can tell by it being the runaway leader in the polling up to this point.

Speaking of the polling, it is rather severely flawed by the lack of an option to vote RON (re-open nominations) , something which is usually a central part of Union democracy. One wonders if President Ashley Brown‘s experience fighting the battle for election against RON left him with a grudge.

I jest, I jest. He’s been very good in engaging with the dialogue about this on Twitter, and that’s pretty damn admirable.

Anyway, I would suggest scrapping this poll altogether and starting a new one from scratch before this one is allowed to run on too long. Most people I’ve spoken to about these names share my opinion that they’re terrible. All I can say is, I don’t want to see this become a presidential election issue when the presidential candidates publish their election manifestos for next year. I can’t imagine anything quite as ignominious for the current president as to have his successor immediately strike down the voted-for Phase 3 names chosen under his stewardship.

Anyway, as the poll probably isn’t going to be called off, go here and vote for the least bad options. Thank you.

The Diarist

During one of my recent bouts of insomnia (and by recent, I mean last night, obviously) I found myself watching a series of programmes about diaries on BBC4.

The first was about a hoax set of Hitler Diaries, the second a dinner with Michael Portillo about political diaries, and the third an investigation into diaries hosted by Richard E. Grant, himself a published diarist.

The first thing I found myself thinking (after the obligatory: “There’s no way I’m sitting through anything hosted by Portillo!” despite the fact I then did) was that BBC4 is actually really very good; I think I may have been short-changing it by considering it solely as a vehicle for giving me access to (the excellent) Charlie Brooker.

I find  the concept of a diary incredibly interesting, keeping a written record of events and your thoughts and feelings lends a kind of permanence to the past which I often find slips through my fingers. I envy the people who have the time and patience to do it every day. I have a few volumes lying about with the occasional entries, often spaced apart by months; delving back into them is fascinating, and reveals often how little I’ve changed, in spite of how I may have thought I’ve grown or changed as a person.

The real vexing question at the heart of a diary is the purpose of keeping one; are they a private record, full of intimate thoughts, actions, feelings? Are they intended for publication uncensored, or do we censor ourselves to tailor to our eventual audience (even if that audience is only ourselves)? Are they an inherently self-indulgent exercise in the ego, or something our family and friends can use to remember us when we’re gone? Is a diary a record of the complete person, or just who they are in their most private moments?

Then just when that was hard enough, today we have the blog, Facebook, and Twitter. We can share our thoughts and feelings far and wide, if we like, and if anyone will listen. I know I’ve personally struggled with trying to find a soundbite to describe why I find a medium like Twitter valuable; there’s a lot of people out there who think it’s all about what was had for breakfast, or the like.

That’s the heart of my vexation: why the heck am I writing, and what about? What’s my manifesto? I realise that I have some unspoken parameters into which I confine myself. One of the guests at Portillo’s dinner was the former MP Oona King, who wrote in her published diaries about her feelings around being unable to conceive a child; I couldn’t possibly share that kind of emotion in anything public, at least not without being terribly oblique about the whole business.

I’ve certainly noticed that my output here has mostly become articles about my opinions and thoughts on politics, book reviews (incidentally, there’s probably a summary of my thoughts on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman coming up) and a very factual account of (selected) events in my life, with precious little analysis of what I actually feel about these things. I just don’t think that’s in my manifesto, the face I present to the world. I suppose for that kind of emotional catharsis I’ll just have to start writing a diary.

If you want me, I’ll be in the corner with a note-book and a pen with green ink.

Back On The Radar

It’s scary how Twitter has really become my primary way of squirting infomation out into the world. Sadly, it usually means that information is squirted out in ephemeral chunks of 140 characters, which is hardly ideal.

Anyways, stuff what I’ve been doing.

We did indeed figure out somewhere new to live, a flat near Acton Town tube station with a living room. It’s pretty much the furthest out I’ve lived so far, but the good tube links makes it not exactly onerous to zip into central London.

I’ve somehow filled time with a bunch of activities: finished up the new Fencing Club website which I encourage you to visit and join because it’s awesome, went go-karting (which I guess Dickie won? I forget), signed up for Spotify Premium so that I can use the iPhone app, went to see Coldplay, Jay-Z and Girls Aloud at Wembley, met friends for drinks (many times), moved down to London, sorted out phone and Internet, finished my Literature Review, bought my own fencing gear, fenced in a proper competition against another university, etc.

It’s weird because it’s the like the second week of term and I already feel sort of rushed. Haven’t quite gotten around to properly tidying my clothes away, so I’m still sort of living out of a suitcase. If I don’t do it soon entropy is just going to take over.


Started a whole bunch of things, not sure when I’ll finish them. Half-way through Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, started on Naomi Klein’s No Logo, a chilling account of the power of brands, and I’m really getting into the Sandman graphic novels, written by Neil Gaiman. They’re dark and twisted, wrapping themes and motifs around events; although as one of the writers of Lost puts it, “when we run out of ideas and do the same things over and over, it’s a motif”. I’m mostly reading it on the tube, but it’s bloody hard to resist the urge to just go read it now.

Anyways, see you later all.

Paradoxical Freedom

The odd thing about suddenly finding oneself a man of leisure is now that the exams are over is that it rather takes the fire out of things.

When you have a day-to-day purpose, it gives a underlying meaning to which you can anchor the structure and events of your life. Remove that purpose, that skeleton, or holding-pin, and everything else is suddenly adrift. It’s pretty unnerving, all in all. Another way of saying the same thing is that procrastination seems a lot more fun when you have something to be procrastinating from.

Sartre had a pretty good grasp of this phenomenon, all in all. His point was that life is always unanchored, but we like to pretend that it isn’t. He called that “mauvais foi”, or “bad faith”. Honestly, I haven’t read any Sartre for ages because my copy of Nausea is… elsewhere, and Being and Nothingness is trapped in book backlog hell. He’s probably still my favourite, though.

Anyways, exams are over, which means suddenly I have to figure out what to do with my time all by myself. So far, that’s mostly meant staying in bed stupidly late, which is frankly just crap.

I have though had plenty of good times with friends, including a barbeque, drinks in Kensington Gardens, a Champagne and Suit/Dress party, and a trip to the Tate Modern (see http://facebook.com/asimpson for pictures). With any luck there will be more such happy occasions soon.

Guess I don’t actually have a lot to say about stuff right now. This is one of the more fundamental issues with Twitter – it acts rather like a release valve, letting go some of the pressure that would otherwise build up into a blog post. Ah well.


  • Have more good times.
  • Play videogames.
  • Read books.
  • See bits of London I haven’t seen yet (like Marx’s grave)

Tethering in iPhone OS 3.0

For the non-cognoscenti, one of the upcoming features of the next version of the iPhone operating system is that, with the approval of the phone network, you’ll be able to use your iPhone as an Internet connection for a computer.

The worrying part of all that is the “approval of the phone network” part, as it’s quite possible that O2 will decide not to offer this feature to UK iPhone users. Which would suck rather a lot, really.

I’m hoping they will allow it, and here’s why:

1) Your SIM card that gives you access to the service is already portable. There’s nothing stopping you putting it into some other device that maybe does support tethering, and using the unlimited data from that device.

2) Lots of people jailbreak their iPhones. You can bet those lot will hack it up to allow tethering, and it would be pretty bad if the legit people got stuffed quite so badly.

3) There’s already an acceptable use policy. Use for web, email etc. is fine, and that’s pretty much what people want tethering for, so that they can use those things from the slightly more comfortable environs of a full-size computer. They could already easily cut off people who used it for BitTorrent or the like with that existing policy.

Honestly though, for me it’s just not that big a feature. Unless you count my Asus EEE, I don’t really have a laptop. My iPhone has rather neatly filled the portable computer niche for me – the only things I would feel uncomfortable using it for would be typing out a lot of text, so long emails and blog posts have to wait for a proper computer.

Short emails and Twitter though – very much iPhone territory.

I have to confess, I’ll be interested to see if Apple announces a hardware refresh, and if O2 will offer any sort of upgrade deal. If the terms are reasonable, I can easily imagine myself taking it up, especially if it fixes some of the slight hardware complaints with the existing phone (poor battery life, no camera flash, no camera video!)

Even with those defects, and the many others, the iPhone is still quite possibly the best gadget I’ve ever owned. You can tell the quality of the product by the number of imitators it’s spawned; the iPhone and the EEE both fit into this commendable category.


So I’m sitting here in the JCR, observing my new Monday ritual of a sausage roll and yogurt (because I’m hungry) and a latte (to make me a person again) and I realized I’ve made a mistake.
I think lots of things that I think are interesting, but too short to really deserve a blog post. Stuff like, “Left 4 Dead versus mode is awesome!”. So really I should put them up on Twitter, I thought. So up went twitter account, twitter sidebar on blog; all good. Then I thought, a twitter post is kinda like a Facebook status. I’ll link them together! So every twitter post shows up as a Facebook status.
Great, except that they have subtley different semantics. Facebook statuses (stati?) are noisy – they broadcast to all your friends. Which made me think twice about dumping my stupid minutiae onto Twitter. So yeh, idiot.
Next time I’m at a proper computer they’re getting unlinked.
Also, JCR gingerbread lattes are rubbish! Blurgh.

Interim Update

So revision is proceeding more or less on track. Things which I thought were scary now appear less so! It’s good. Haven’t really got a lot to write about right now, but I’m trying out a little experiment in microblogging, using Twitter.

You can see my Twitter stream here, the RSS feed of it here, as my status on Facebook (that’s automatic, how awesome is that?), or on the sidebar of my blog homepage.

I’m hoping to post updates slightly more regularly than I would here, as there isn’t the burden of feeling like I have to write a whole post. Also, I can write updates by sending a text from my phone if something really cool happens, which is tremendously awesome.

Exams start on the 28th. It’s all downhill from here!

Update: Doing a trial of using Disqus comments. This may/may not go well.