Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Ever Felt The Need To Be Absolutely Right About Everything?

Well, maybe not absolutely. But this project to put Wikipedia on an iPod strikes me as the sort of the things to warm the hearts of pub bores the world over. No longer content to argue a point you can just whip about your iPod and show the current state of debate of the self-same point on the Internet.


Now, if only I had an iPod...

Monday, 27 February 2006

I'm Sure I Shouldn't Mention This

Hugh MacLeod seems to have perfectly caught my mood today. Not that he knows me or even of me (though he did comment here once — I was so proud).

A lot of Hugh's cartoons seem to catch a certain mood I can see in myself. Especially the ones about narcissists. I should probably worry about this...

Speaking of startling images, here are some pics of Daniel Craig that I'm not totally qualified to speak on, but if he's not the "pretty" Bond everyone seems to want he does bring some of what I believe is called "teh hawtness".

I realise this post will now bring me lots of hits through those looking for "Hugh MacLeod teh hawtness". So be it.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Sidebar Changes

Yes, because minor changes in how this Blog look is interesting...

I've updated the CSS to tidy up the sidebar on the right. A slight 3D look to the headers and the removal of the centering on the links, mostly. Plus "Looking for the Next Best Thing" gets it's own little box.

I've also hidden the archives. To access the archives just click on that word and they'll reappear. You know, just in case you really need to look through my old stuff.

Arctic Monkeys

At the moment, I like it. But after the novelty of hearing "problem" rhymed with "Rotherham" wears off will there be much left?

Also, it's nice to a see a pic of the Frog and Parrot in the CD booklet.

Missing the Point

There's been a website set-up with the specific aim of getting Daniel Craig kicked off his Bond job even before he's started. Their reasoning is this:
How can a short, blond actor with the rough face of a professional boxer and a penchant for playing killers, cranks, cads and gigolos pull off the role

Which, to me, sounds like a great training to be Bond. He is, after all, a killer, a crank, a cad and a gigolo.

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 5

Libertarianism. Apparently this is defined as "a philosophy based on the principle that individuals should be allowed complete freedom of action as long as they do not infringe on the same freedom of others".

If my close reading of this article in Hit and Run, the blog for Libertarian rag Reason, it seems to be what rich arrogant American college kids believe in until they're forced to go out and get real jobs and make real comprimises.

They have to be that. It's the only group I can imagine saying, with a straight face something like:
It's hard to imagine a defense for locking up a man for having ideas, wrong though they may be. Shame on Austria (and Germany, Canada, and all other nations who enact and enforce such illiberal laws).

America, of course, having no illiberal laws or any thing on the statute books that begins "Conspiracy to".

This is all brought on by the recent jailing of David Irving, ex-holocaust denier, for three years for his past holocaust denial. Why Austria might be a little touchy on the subject of holocaust-denial takes only a moments thought. And maybe later, when daddy pays for their Skiing holiday, they might take a jaunt over to Mauthausen, it's to be recommended, if nothing else the gatehouse was designed by Speer and it's very impressive. The video where the American ex-service man breaks down remembering what he saw when he liberated the place 40 years earlier makes an entirely different impression. Nazism isn't just a term you can throw round your chat room like so many other insults. It happened in Austria and Germany, and elsewhere, and the results are well-known. The idea that you can simply deny this is offensive as if the murder of millions was inconsequential enough that if say it enough times and we believe really, really hard we won't have to face up to the grim truth of man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Free speech does come with responsibilities, that that respect "free" might be a misnomer. Though we might want a state where we have the freedom to say what we like we also don't want people shouting "fire!" in a crowded theatre.

The main problem here, though, is the publicity this case is getting. Far better to have left Irving alone and let him fade into obscurity than acknowledge him at all.

Contract of Wifely Expectations

There's not a lot you can say about this except as Smoking Gun has it: set aside ten minutes--and prepare to be repulsed.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Whither whom?

Micheal Schaub over at bookslut divides speakers of American English into two kinds:
those who think the word "whom" is antiquated and pointless and should never be used, and insufferable pricks. (Hey, sorry. You people who get pissed off about "split infinitives"? Yeah, you guys suck too.)

The Boston Globe also seem to want to stamp out "whom" totally:
And the confusion is worsening, says Pullum, as whom heads off to join thou and ye in pronoun heaven. The current usage situation is ''devilishly complex," he wrote in a 2004 post at the linguistics blog Language Log. ''At least one linguist has decided there is no correct description of it at all."

So when Hough asks for help with the hypercorrect whom--"Can we make a start in stamping it out?"--I'm afraid the answer is, I doubt it. When Louis Menand and the New Yorker can get a pronoun wrong, anybody can get it wrong.

They both may have a point.

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

I Can Be Wrong, Too

I was quite expecting the British Government to back down and not ban smoking in public or at least to foist the watered down version on the people. Thankfully they didn't. Now, following in the footsteps of Ireland, Italy and some American states, there will be a blanket ban on smoking in public in England.

This may seem at odds with my opinion on the relaxation of the Drinking Laws (ie. let the people do what they want), but no-one ever died from passive drinking. Yes, drink in combination with other things (cars, say) can be deadly to people other than the drinker. Drink can exacerbate other problems (violent idiots are more prone to be idiotically violent - if you banned everything that could help a violent idiot cause more harm you'd ban kitchen knives t.... oh...) but, in and of itself, drink is only dangerous to the person drinking.

Also, there's plenty of evidence that drinking in moderation can be beneficial, something that can't be argued for smoke.

I guess though I only want the state to interfere in things that I don't personally enjoy, except I do like a cigar every now and then.

At least my position isn't anywhere as stupid as Simon Jenkins (see if you can spot all the falacious argumentation in there straw men, the motive falacy, bad analogies, etc):

The present government's double standard in these matters is glaring. It clamps down on the use of marijuana and other scheduled drugs, yet tolerates their mass consumption in its own prisons. It has just liberalised the laws on alcohol consumption, a public and criminal menace worse by far than smoking. It has relaxed the licensing of late-night pubs and is shortly to free casinos. Yet its oppressive safety legislation persecutes harmless church entertainment, public meetings and even steam railways. The reason is that this government is a soft touch to a powerful lobby but bullies a weak one.

I'm not sure how much wronger Jenkins can be, but, just to reiterate, relaxing the licensing laws has lead to less drunken crime, marijuana has been reclassified as a lesser drug for a number of good reasons and if the government is such a soft touch to a powerful lobby why didn't BAT, or whoever, manage to stifle this bill long before now?

Only a hair's breadth separates the nanny state from the police state.

The thing of it is, smoking hasn't been out-right banned. It's banned in public places. You can, if you want to, quite happily smoke as much as you want so long as you're not breathing that smoke over anyone who doesn't want you to. How that equates to a nanny state let alone police state is beyond me.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006


So it's finally here. Psychonauts, a game from the bloke who brought you Day of The Tentacle. Here's the box art:

Funky, no?

Anyway, my copy arrived yesterday and I managed to play from when I got home till about 12:30. I don't usually do that. In a lot of ways Psychonauts is similar to another brilliant game no-one played[1] Beyond Good and Evil, in that there's a large world to wander around and explore and find little hidden things in that separates the sections of frantic platform action. It's also quirkily designed and has a fun sense of humour.

Psychonauts, as the name suggests, is all about exploring peoples psyches. The main character, Rez, can jump into peoples brains and find out about their "Emotional Baggage" and what's locked away in their "vaults" while collecting "figments" of their imaginations and battling their "demons".

I'm not yet sure of the total plot. At the moment my character keeps exploring his own brain and then coming up against obstacles that require further training. But it's in the little things that this games excels. Most of the characters in the story are kids and, surprisingly, they act like kids. There are bullies, silly secrets, budding romances and daft games. They're all cute, but oddly real. The stories I've found in the vaults in peoples brains are told as a series of still drawings and all of them so far have been quite poignant. The individual interior worlds are all very different from each other, from the minimalist space of Nein to the groovy disco world of Vodello. There are mysteries in the spaces, too, I don't know if it will be explained, but Rez is scared of water due to a gypsy curse, but in his psyche there's a big boat covered in cobwebs.

The gameplay itself is pretty standard plaform stuff. Running, jumping and combining your different powers (mind blast, levitation etc.). That sort of thing. There are end of level bosses that have that one weakness, etc. It's also occasionally frustrating. Vodello's mind in particular features a lot of jumping and rolling around that has very little margin for error and you can spend minutes doing the same thing over and over. You don't particularly care, though, as the story and the characters keep you going and the frustrating parts seem mostly few and far between.

So it's definitely good for at least 4 hours non-stop play. It's witty and well-designed and if enough Europeans buy it you'll make Tim Schafer happy and he'll make more like it.

Buy a copy today!

[1]Psychonauts is only just out in Europe, it's been out in the US for six months or more. There are financial reasons for this. They aren't that interesting.

Monday, 13 February 2006

They're So Cute When They're Angry

Feminist Myths 101
Feminists think emasculating shots of half-naked men in polka dot panties are funny.


Wednesday, 8 February 2006

New Drinking Game

Via The Minor Fall, The Major Lift (I'll admit now that that blog was the inspiration behind the naming of mine) comes a Mick Hucknall piece in the Observer.

The drinking game is this: every time you feel compelled to mutter "twat" while reading the article take a shot.

If you're not completely pissed by the end of the second paragraph you are Mick's publicist.

Still Not Hating To Say "I Told You So"

Actually I was wrong in one respect, I thought there might initially be more binge drinking and problems associated with that when the licensing laws changed in England. But as for the change's effect on Law & Order it seems I was right.

One good thing about this is that it does seem to be a step towards proving that if you treat people like responsible humans then they'll behave like responsible humans.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Oolite For Windows

First there was Elite, one of the first open-ended games and a great waste of time on just about every 8-bit machine including, of course the ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro.

There wasn't a great deal for quite some time after that. Sure there were attempts. Elite II, First Encounters and Privateer, but they all had their problems. The first two were very buggy indeed (though worth a quick look through the JJFEE re-engineering you can find at various places on the net) and Privateer was merely good with some nice videos.

A couple of years ago Christian Pinder took a crack at using the original code for Elite and translating it into C so that he could slap a modern front end on it and we could all fall in love with the game again. He pretty much succeeded with Elite: The New Kind, even enlisting Ian Bell (one of the original creators of Elite) to improve the AI on a mooted sequel Elite: The Dark Kind. He succeeded too well, though, and when someone took his code and ported it to the Palm Pilot so that he could charge money for it, David Braben (the other creator of Elite) had no choice but to get involved.

Ostensibly to protect his copyright, Braben demanded that Pinder not make his port and source code available anymore. I don't know all the facts here, but the upshot was that Pinder felt enough put out by this that he stopped work on any Elite versions and went off to perfect his martial arts skills instead.

At around this time another attempt at an old school Elite-type game was started. It was called Oolite and was available for Mac only. It sure did look pretty:

It has, at long last, been ported now to Windows. It has been for a while actually, but until recently you had to install a development enviroment in order to get it to work and had to be very careful where you put everything. No longer, though. Now Oolite comes with it's own installer. There's nothing to stop you. Hop along to this page and download the installer now, you won't regret it. It looks good, feels about right and they've added a docking buoy to make that bit of the game even easier (though the thing to remember is that on Corolis stations the docking bay always faces the center of the planet). They've also updated the basic Elite so that you can take on passengers fly different ships and do certain missions as well as the basic trading. So go! Give it a try.

Things That Make Me Smile Part Two

OK so that Batbrick thing turned out to be a bit not so good when the box art came out. Though the Batmobile looks OK, I just expected them all to look a little more solid.

Anyway this has a good pedigree even if it's just a badly scanned pic from a magazine, but just look at all that thigh Lego Leia's showing...

Monday, 6 February 2006

Good Advice

In a follow up of sorts to a comment made by Steve about one of his patients, there's all sorts of people linking to the thread "Things I Learn From My Patients" on the Student Doctor Network. There's a very American slant to a lot of the advice, however this entry may be universal:
Never, ever leave flashlights, shampoo bottles, beer bottles or any long, circular object on the floor because someday you will fall on it and it will somehow, work its way up your rectum.

Spot The Difference

I stole this from Manolo's Shoe Blog (who's gonna steal it back?):

Friday, 3 February 2006


Kung Fu Monkey smacksdown Jason Apuzzo. Possibly the most viscious, funniest thing you will read all week.
Goddamit, he's right! Charlize Theron for North Country is in here! This entire category has been co-opted. Look, Keira Knightley in the socialist manifesto Pride and Prejudice! Fiery narco-feminist Judy Dench playing an old English lady who runs a theater in Mrs. Henderson Presents! Reese Witherspoon in WALK THE GODDAM LINE! Did you see that? It was about how God and love saved Johhny Cash from drugs! BASTARDS!

ETA: Speaking of ol' Johnny Cash, turns out one of his most iconic moments was manufactured.

Thursday, 2 February 2006


I'm not sure of the total veracity of the stories about bags or cans of peanuts bearing the warning "May contain nuts".

There is, though, a good reason for this. Peanuts are not, technically, nuts.
Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the fruit of the peanut is a woody, indehiscent legume or pod and not technically a nut.

That is, they are more pea than nut.

Speaking of warning labels, Googling for peanuts "may contain nuts" did bring up a rather cute article in The Times on seemingly daft warnings you can find on products. It had the following list of favourites:

Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly
Child’s Superman outfit

Do not turn upside down
On bottom of a tiramisu

Warning: Not intended for use as a dental drill
Household DIY drill

Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands
Swedish chainsaw

This product moves when used

Child’s scooter

Use this door only when entering/exiting
An office door in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

(inspired by Robot Wisdom)

Just Because

Toon Chop Souey

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Little Bit O' Politics

According to The Independent a recent poll has found Jack the Ripper the worst Briton of the last 1000 years. I assume that the poll is of dead Britons.

If it isn't, why the fuck isn't Margaret Thatcher in the top spot?

Jack murdered and mutilated somewhere between 5 and 20 prostitutes.

ruined lives and communities throughout the UK. She may not have done anything ritualistic with the entrails of the Mining Industry, but that's only because it wouldn't have gone down too well on the Nine O'Clock News.