The Bran Report

It's good for parts of you that you'd probably rather not think about.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Human nature, huh. What's up with that?

There's no post today. I'm working. Oh, mostly on this lab report, but also on something I'll post in a day or two.


No, don't worry. Really.

It isn't that interesting. Well, obviously, I think it's interesting enough to post, but...

Look, I don't want to mention it. I reconsidered, and the anecdote was not worth telling then and especially not now that it's been built up. Just forget I said anything.

What do you mean, I've made this topic of conversation seem intruiging and excited a burning desire in your to hear all the details? That was the exact opposite of my intention.

It is very unfortunate that you react that way to people telling you that they know a really boring anecdote.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Song Fight!

Do you like listening to new music? Do you love voting? Do you have very low standards?

Do you think music is better when it's independant? Do you think music is better when it's written and recorded in a week? Do you think music is at it's best when it is undertaken as an act of aggression?

The Dark Hymnal

Last night was a very bad night for me. About 9.45 pm, watching TV, a horrible harbinger came along that will give me no peace until the end of December at best.

A TV advertisement for toys or cutlery or pharmecuticals or whatever had a child in a wool hat and a Christmas Number One.

If you're not familiar with the phenomenon, here's how it works. Whatever musical single happens to be the highest-selling on Christmas Day, the 25th of December, gets noted down in a big book. The book is titled 'People will associate this with good times'. It's like the principle of "sex sells" but with more poultry and cake. That song will be played ad nauseam from now until I finally move to Afghanistan.

I hate seasonal music. I don't know why- perhaps it's a conjunction of my inability to dealwith cliché and my hatred of moods induced by advertising. It doesn't help that musicians try to score a X#1 by recording the most syrrupy crap they can muster up. Mention snow, even though the UK mostly experiences snow in January. Mention Holly, even though it is at it's prime in November. Mention children, even though they're bestial cretins. Wait for the cash to roll in.

From the potential field of, I guess, two thousand and four x#1's to choose from, they could nat least vary the repetoire a little. "Here it is, Merry Christmas". No, as I discussed, it's NOVEMBER. "Do they know it's christmas time at all". Well, you're talking about people in predominantly Muslim countries so I'm going to go ahead and say "No, or maybe they don't care".

The one ray of hope for me is that some misguided executive will hold to the formula a little to strictly, and advertise a THREE DAYS ONLY LAST-MINUTE SALE with last's year's number one: the theme from Donny Darko, "Mad World".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's hilarious to 0.3% of people

This is one of those shibboleths, isn't it?

PHP made by the men of Westernesse

Have you ever wondered who in Middle-Earth you most resemble? I mean, really wondered? Perhaps you've gone so far as to take automated internet tests, but are dissapointed by their repeated tendency to fall into a few simple mistakes.
"Are you tall?"
I'm 175 cm and 80 kg. I guess that makes me a hobbit?
"Do you use a bow?"
No, I don't use a bow. I'm an electrical engineer.

The good news is that I have refound something that allows me to give hope to man.

We put a lot of effort into this. It's manufacture is a precious memory for me. We drank a few beers, sat on the floor, talked about the good times and classified 25 figures from Tolkien according to how materialistic we thought they were.

Being huge geeks, this test is firmly rooted in the books: If you get Gimli as your result that means we think you're dour, passionate, and have a clear life plan. It does not mean that we think you have a beard and are able to be thrown.

Me? Well, I took it immediately on completion in 2005, and I took it again just now. My top result is unchanged: Legolas Greenleaf. In retrospect, I think the fit is suprising good.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


There are a lot of thhings that can make a man'd life seem worse than it is. Maybe he's scheduled for a biochemistry lab at postgraduate level when he hasn't studied either biology or chemistry since 16. Maybe he thinks he's lost the beard-comb he got out of a piñata last Cindo de Mayo and consequently looks like one of his less neat mythological heroes. Maybe he's looked at his calendar and realised that he doesn't get to sleep past eight until the 21st. Maybe his lists are too verbose, I don't know.

My problem, though, is that my shower has aspirations.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I'm going to start a club. It's going to be called "Studying for a second Masters in something fascinating in a town that I don't like and additionally I have reservations about the course structure". Apart from myself, I have potential members in a Canadian steel-town and the West Riding.

When the club become obsooloete in the autumn of 2007, we make a pact to all study a PhD at the same university, somewhere that has good Biophysics, Energy and Judaism centres, and we can move in to a castle together. We could make a sitcom about two gals and a guy in their 20-somethings sharing good times and having adventures. It'd be about how traditional intelectualism adapts to the Lo-I-have-wrought-a-new-world masculine arts of engineering and the scary face of bioengineering. It'd be Friends meets Three's Company meets C. P. Snow's The Two Cultures. I know it would be a little high-brow, but I could pretend to be gay. That'd make it more marketeble, right? Right?

Network Executives: Call me.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Paper Poppies

The 11th of November, 1918, was the end of the Great War. Today is Remembrance Sunday, so people here are wearing poppies. Why poppies, you ask? Well, they're prevalent in Belgium and Northern France, and they grow best on ground that has recently been torn up. At one time they were associated with ploughed land.

For a long time something about this tradition has hit me the wrong way, but until today I couldn't put my finger on what it was. As is often the case, it was shown to me by opposition with a tabloid paper. HONOUR OUR FALLEN HEROES it read: and that's exactly it.

The lost souls at Passchendale, Antietam, Mafeking and Faluja were not heroes: they were victims. They did what they had to do and in return they got it right in the neck, often literally. Sometimes what they did was neccesary and other times it wasn't, sometimes they were brave and honourable and other times they weren't, but I don't think you'll go far wrong by assuming that they all, always, wished that it could have turned out differently.

Somehow the poppy seems like a rallying flag, insincere in the worst possible way. I worry that we'll honour the dead the same way that 1918's Treaty of Versailles honoured them: by guaranteeing them plenty of company.