Monthly Archives: October 2007

How to…Stare

Saturday October 20, 2007
The Guardian

Staring is brought about by rips in the normal fabric of life. People like to look at things that they can’t imagine happening (car crashes), doing (wire-walking) or being (7ft tall). We generally stare at things that are new and need extra mental processing. A pink car needs staring at because we’re not accustomed to pink cars. We also need to keep staring to see who gets out.
When you’re talking to someone, it’s rude not to blink and occasionally look away, otherwise they’ll get the unnerving impression that you’re seeing them too clearly. Lovers stare into each other’s eyes because it makes them feel incredibly intimate. Look closely enough and you can see yourself reflected in your lover’s eyes – which is really what that stage of love is all about.

Staring is generally considered rude because it’s a sure sign you think someone is abnormal. Exceptionally rude people vocalise their staring by adding, “My word, you’ve got a big chin!!” Even worse, they often say, “Look at his big chin, everyone!!” You can’t even embarrass them by asking what they’re staring at, because they’ll simply reply, “Your massive chin!!”
Celebrities are abnormal in that you know what they look like before you see them. This is such an unnatural phenomenon that it always prompts staring. The effect of celebrities when they are out in public is remarkably similar to a continual moving car crash.

It’s a general rule that the thicker you are, the more you stare. That’s because, when you’re thick, you have a very low gawp threshold. Staring open-mouthed is the preferred pastime of the very simple, and largely explains why village idiots are never bored. Proper wide-eyed staring happens rarely in life. This is when you receive more stimulus than you can process, and your eyes go broadband to cope with the flow. Being “stark staring mad” refers to people in a condition of permanent mental overload.

One of the most popular places to stare is into the middle distance, because it’s neither here nor there, it doesn’t require processing and no one can bother you while you’re in there. It’s almost impossible to look at the middle distance deliberately. If it were easy, we’d all spend most of our time in there.

How to…be insured

Guy Browning
Saturday October 6, 2007

Insurance is the modern equivalent of all the old pagan gods. Every month we make our little offerings to the household gods, the travel gods, and the wealth and health gods in the hope that nothing bad will happen to us in any of these areas.
Insurance policies are rarely comprehensive, and it’s amazing what they don’t cover. For example, travel insurance often excludes travel outside the home. On the other hand, some policies include irrelevant cover. Household cover, say, often includes travel except when it’s done inside the home.

While burglary is a terrible thing, the subsequent insurance claim is often seen as Christmas come early. Loss adjusters are people who adjust the losses you’ve claimed to something approximating the truth. If all insurance claims went unchecked, the amount people nationwide would claim had been stolen would exceed the entire national product many times over.
The no-claims bonus is the bonus insurance companies get when people are persuaded not to claim. It’s estimated that half the people in a major pile-up are more concerned about damaging their no-claims bonus than the fact that their five-door estate is now a one-door cube.

There are two ways to get peace of mind when you buy something. The first is to buy something well made in Germany; the other is to buy an extended warranty on something cheap and nasty that ends up costing more over five years than the expensive German model.

All insurance policies have an “excess”, which is short for “excessive”. This is a tax on your stupidity. It’s how insurance companies give you a sharp rap over the knuckles before paying out, similar to your mum saying, “You’re a naughty boy” before pulling the grit out of your knee.

After something bad has happened, “Are you insured?” is a polite way of asking someone, “Are you an idiot?” If you’re not insured, then thinking of all the premiums you haven’t paid in the past never quite seems to compensate for that horrible sinking feeling. Of course, it is possible to live without insurance on the basis that, if something doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger (and if it does kill you, insurance won’t be a great help)

At least I can laugh at myself

You should walk around in public listening to Russell Howard’s 6 music podcast. I was walking home from uni listening to it and burst out giggling several times. You really cant help it. I may have got some rather strange looks a couple of times.
It made me laugh that I was walking along laughing. I wonder what I must have looked like.

This is scary

So who’s guilty – I know I am, I need to change.

‘Little Man’

This is called homunculous. I dont know if anyone has come across it before but it is a key concept in psychology.

This one is the sensory homunculous. It shows what a man’s body would look like if each part grew in proportion to the area of the cortex of the brain concerned with its sensory perception.


This one is the motor homonculous. It shows what a man’s body would look like if each part grew in proportion to the area of the cortex of the brain concerned with its movement.


It’s a fascinating concept dont you think?

Great films

Last night I watched A Beautiful Mind. It’s an excellent film – really makes you think about what’s real and what isnt and how someone with such a great mind can be so affected.
Also watched The Runaway Jury. Very good film – good ending, bit of a feel good ending actually. And starring the lovely John Cusack.

I recommend both of them if you havent seen them.

Havin a bit of a lazy day today in that I’m still in PJ’s and not planning on leaving the house today. I’m getting bored of cooking tho. I really want some nice food without having to go through the effort of making it myself. I was trying to do cheap food all the time and not spending money on ready-made meals but I fancy lasagne or pizza or something from co-op so I might be forced to go to the shop.

House party

We had a big house party last night celebrating Jess’ 21st birthday and Luke’s 23rd. The theme was insect fancy dress. Good turn out actually. Most people seem to find excuses like lack of money or they’re working bla bla but I was glad to see lots of people actually wanted to turn up and made an effort. I made myself into a butterfly. I think it was pretty good – multicoloured wings and sparkly boingy things on the head for antenna.
Among the older costumes there were ladybird, bright orange caterpillar, glowworm, bee, and 3 ants.
It was the typical house party – lots of drinking, hanging out in the kitchen, smokers were made to stand outside in the rain, we had a massive balloon pit in the front room made of approx 265 balloons which decreased slightly later in the evening.
Pity really that it had to end so early. Most people decided to go to Ride (student bar) so lots of them went off in taxis and some people went home. Me and John were left and neither of us really wanted to go out so we watched black books until 3am.
Just woken up and tried to stop my stomach doing funny things. If I remember rightly downstairs is covered in insides of party poppers, party popper guns, empty plastic cups and there are bottles of wine and lemonade and other assorted spirits lying around. Oh yes and many popped balloons.
I’ll wait till other people are up. At least there isnt any washing up to do.