Equally Divided Europe

UPDATE: This is a new version (8th September 2014) – six country names have been changed and one capital has been moved. I think it’s probably still not finished, though – so please feel free to share any ideas about how it should be changed.

Last year there was a brief craze for maps of parts of the world divided into parts with roughly equal population. The best was a map of the 50 US states, which was partially intended as a proposal for electoral college reform. European versions so far keep the basic concept, but lack character. What I wanted to find was a version that at least tried to draw lines related to language, history and culture – one that at least had properly thought-through names and was worth more than an odd glance.

I couldn’t find one, so I decided to make one.

First I went to the Wikipedia page for Europe, took the population of Europe – 739,165,030 – the number of countries – 50 – and divided to get 14,783,300. Then I set to working on dividing up the land into chunks of approximately that amount. I thought it would take a few hours, but now it’s six months later and I’m still not sure if it’s done. I wasn’t working on it the vast majority of that time, of course, but have kept returning to it.

A few points before we get to it:

1. I can imagine that this will make some people very annoyed, so just to reassure everyone – this is in no way an actual proposal, and if it was carried out it may well lead to some of the bloodiest wars in history.
2. The original is based on an algorithm. Unfortunately this kind of uniform regional population data is unavailable for Europe, and I wouldn’t know how to start even if I had it. Population is therefore taken from Wikipedia, and should be treated with a pinch of salt.
3. It’s not really finished, and there are some bits I’m not happy with at all, but have no idea how to fix right now. So please leave me some feedback if you have any ideas on how to change it.
4. I really have no time to explain all the names, but it’s not hard to find out where any of them come from.

So, here it is. Click for big.

Equal Europe 1.6w

…and the details. This is just here to answer any easier questions about what’s made of what. Once again, click for legible.

Equal Europe - Key 1.6

Any comments / input are very welcome. Updates may be slow though.

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Long-distance Childhood

I grew up 5500 miles away from my wife.
For her birthday, in a Stalinesque re-writing of history I’ve been editing myself into her childhood photos.

No laughing at my poor photoshop skills, please.

Here we are at two years old. I wanted to match the colours but V prefers it this way.

mix 2

Here we are at three. This one’s a little small as I scanned it in an era when lower resolution pictures were expected.

mix 3

Aged seven

mix 7

Aged ten. This one took the longest by far.

mix 10

Aged 15. Quite pleased with this one.

mix 15

Aged 21. Yeah, this is a bit silly. Also, no foot.

mix 21c

…and aged 21 too. This one’s better, my picture is captured from a video.

mix 21b2

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Arbitrary Number of Shorter Sounds From The Most Recent Orbital Period of The Earth (AKA “27 Tracks from 2013″ )

I seem to now be in a steady routine of mostly ignoring new music from January to November, then digesting it all in one lump in December. This year I’ve been using the ‘Mincer’ technique to get through a thousand or so tracks.
Now it’s 2014, I have 27 tracks left, all seem to be entirely essential, and I’m posting them here in no particular order.

There are linked videos for most of the tracks, a mostly-complete spotify playlist here, and for a limited time only you can download mp3s here.

Here we go, then:


Julia Holter – Maxim’s I

We’re not in any sort of order, but I thought it good to start with what I might have put top if we were.


Janelle Monáe – Dance Apocalyptic

It’s taken me a while to get into Janelle Monáe, but 2013 was the year. Why wasn’t this a huge hit?


Charli XCX – Take My Hand

Apparently my most-listened artist of 2013. Still don’t get the appeal of ‘You (Ha Ha Ha)’ – this is great though. (NB – Duncan, can you hear the witch house in there?)


Pulp – After You

…somewhat inevitably.


Cause4Concern – Headroom (Audio VIP)

A pretty lean year for drum & bass, but here’s some satisfactorily nasty stuff with a reassuringly silly sci-fi dialogue sample at the start.


Petula Clark – Cut Copy Me

Yes, that Petula Clark. I’m as surprised as you are.


Melt-Banana – The Hive

A pop song.


Rudimental ft. John Newman & Alex Clare – Not Giving In

Another pop song.


Vampire Weekend – Step

Once again, I really don’t want to like this as much as I do.


Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

Favorite lyrics of the year.


Pusha T – Numbers On The Boards

This wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the bit at 1.31 where it almost goes into another bit, then doesn’t.


Sky Ferreira – You’re Not The One

Downloaded her album on a whim, didn’t like it at first. I was wrong.


Jai Paul – Str8 Outta Mumbai

This wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the bit at 2.22 where the woman’s vocal comes in.


Fred V & Grafix – Goggles

I love the low-budget videos Hospital Records are putting out for seemingly every release now.


Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal

This is getting a lot of attention, but I love it for the same reasons I love the track above. Which has a very different listenership.


Grizzly Bear – Will Calls (Marfa Demo)

A demo, a b-side? Really?


Julia Holter – Hello Stranger

Only Julia Holter gets two tracks.


Gerardo Ortiz – Dámaso

I don’t really have any idea what this is.


tricot – おちゃんせんすぅす

Some Japanese girls showing us what math-rock should have sounded like all along.


Tessela – Hackney Parrot

Youtube commenters are not sure if this is “breakbeat house” “post-dubstep junglecore” “UK Bass with amen breaks” “future garage” or “a modern take on hardcore”


Mumdance & Logos – Wut It Do

Shamefully difficult to find a playable link to this.


The Mole – Lockdown Party (Dj Sprinkles Crossfaderama)

Longest thing on here, could listen to it for hours though.


David Bowie – Where Are We Now?

This has been growing on me all year, while everyone else has been going off it.


The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?

Retro can be good.


My Bloody Valentine – New You

Comebacks can be good too (seems to be a theme of 2013)


Kanye West – New Slaves

I am not immune. Love the SNL version, but I missed the sample at 2.47.


Boards of Canada – Reach for the Dead

Still going, still great.



I also liked these tracks, only not quite as much:

Beneath – Duty
Breach – Jack
Charli XCX – So Far Away
Charli XCX – What I Like
Chris Malinchak – So Good to Me
Classixx – All You’re Waiting for
Daft Punk – Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams)
Daft Punk – Motherboard
David Bowie – If You Can See Me
dBridge – Move Way (feat. Skeptical)
Demdike Stare – Collision
Dizzee Rascal feat. Robbie Williams – Goin’ Crazy
Dominique A – Rendez-nous la lumière
f(x) – 첫 사랑니 (Rum Pum Pum Pum)
Factory Floor – Fall Back
Fis – DMT Usher
Four Tet – Kool FM (Champion Remix)
Frederic Robinson – Mixed Signals
Frederic Robinson – Theme Park
Fuck Buttons – Brainfreeze
Intocable – Te Amo
Janelle Monáe – Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu)
Kanye West – Black Skinhead
Kowton – TFB
Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Day
Lady Gaga – Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly)
M.I.A. – Bad Girls
M.I.A. – Come Walk With Me
Majical Cloudz – Childhood’s End
Miss Kittin – Bassline
Nowakowski – They Get Up
Paramore – Still Into You
Perfect Pussy – I
Pet Shop Boys – Love Is a Bourgeois Construct
Powell – A Band
Sky Ferreira – Boys
T.O.P – Doom Dada
Thundercat – Heartbreaks + Setbacks
Tinie Tempah – Trampoline (feat. 2 Chainz)
tricot – おもてなし
Wiley Feat Chip – Reload
Young Galaxy – Pretty Boy (Peaking Lights Remix)
Youth Lagoon – Mute
Иван Дорн – Невоспитанный
サカナクション – ミュージック


Ok, that’s all. See you this time in 2015.

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Hong Kong Tram Timelapse Video Thing (Again)

I’ve been editing videos from a few years back, trying to get to grips with the massive backlog, and I thought I’d have a go at fixing something I made when I returned to China in 2009 – a timelapse video shot from the front of a tram across Hong Kong Island.
The original version was ok in terms of general concept, but the juddering effect of the tram’s movement made the thing difficult to watch. In order to fix it I spent an hour or so messing about with the deshaker plugin for Virtualdub and then another hour masking the resultant odd framing in Sony Vegas, brightening up the picture a little, making it look pleasantly odd.
The result is quite a bit better, I think, though it’s difficult to know if you’re improving things when you apply a series of minor changes one by one. Sometimes that just means you’re slowly ruining it.

Here’s the new video, then:

…and here’s the original, in case anyone wants to compare & contrast:

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Things in China – Sign #4 (not actually a sign)

I haven’t posted on here for more than two months (too busy with work / family / moving and writing efforts have been diverted largely to this) so I’m putting up a few funny signs as a stopgap. These are not really “Chinglish” – more odd cross-cultural creativity.

At the start of summer, on a miserable drizzly day, we went to check out the artists community at Songzhuang, just down the road, and came back with nothing apart from a doggy bag full of Dongbei food. This is the only photo worth sharing – an advertisement for an apparently fiercely patriotic artist who paints heroic scenes featuring Chinese leaders.

Paintings

This is my favourite – Wen Jiabao comforting orphans after an earthquake.

Mr Jiang comforts the orphans

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Things in China – Sign #3

I haven’t posted on here for more than two months (too busy with work / family / moving and writing efforts have been diverted largely to this) so I’m putting up a few funny signs as a stopgap. These are not really “Chinglish” – more odd cross-cultural creativity.

We’ve been going to a shopping complex called Solana quite a bit over the summer. One of the restaurants has this sign next to their outdoor seating area. There’s nothing much wrong with the English here, of course, I’d just like to know why they thought they had to make this sign in the first place. Was there a customer who insisted on talking on the phone outside during a thunderstorm when there are plenty of perfectly good indoor seating areas nearby? Was he hit by a freak thunderbolt which somehow missed the nearby high-rise buildings with lightning rods? Did his grieving relatives sue the restaurant? I’m sure you think this explanation is ridiculous, but I’m struggling to think of a more plausible one.

Cellphones Prohibited during Thunderstorms

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Things in China – Sign # 2

I haven’t posted on here for more than two months (too busy with work / family / moving and writing efforts have been diverted largely to this) so I’m putting up a few funny signs as a stopgap. These are not really “Chinglish” – more odd cross-cultural creativity.

This is the menu outside a food stall near the subway station I use every day. I like how they haven’t even bothered trying to translate anything – so the humour may be entirely intentional.

Big Big Big

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