Friday, 31 March 2006

And I Realise.. I'm Going Home

Just for a couple of weeks, so be forewared that blogging will be light to non-existant during that time.

I hope to be back after Easter peddling much the same rubbish as always.

In the meantime, miss me if you like.

Crying Won't Help You...

... Praying won't do you no good.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Blogging The Blog

I think my theory that Comment Is Free is an attempt to get the Guardian owners to pay their editors more is getting more apposite by the day. We can skip lightly past Steve Rose's shock —shock I tell you— in finding out that if you try and discuss Israel in a public forum then, no matter now sensible your comments are, someone will misrepresent your argument and call you all sorts of horrible names. It's really to be expected of people who never experienced Usenet before coming to Blogging, the sort that believes that "grepping loon" is a probably a kind of rare bird rather than an all-too-common irritation.

No, today's "They Didn't Really Say That Did They" moment is provided by Catherine Bennett. Her article is entitled "No wonder Britain is so charmed by Bill Clinton - he's the perfect hero for a nation of cheats" and it just, essentially, goes over that from a couple of different angles. Uh huh, oh yeah! She's just accused all of Bill's fans of only liking him because they all secretly, or not so secretly, want to have their balls drooled on by an intern.

What Catherine can't get her head around is that Clinton, who was known, pre-Presidency, as a philanderer, was a philanderer when he was President and no-one in Britain seems to care much. And, really, why should they? Compared to other recent, dry-balled, Presidents he wasn't too bad at his job. And it also seems fairly obvious that he's an intelligent, articulate, charismatic speaker, so why wouldn't he be a big hit at the Hay Festival?

Perhaps if he'd been branded with a capital "A" and shunned by all right thinking people, then Ms. Bennett would be happy.

Believing The Hype

With just one album under the their belt, the British band Arctic Monkeys is already being hailed as one of the greatest U.K. rock groups of all time.

From NPR.

A couple of fun songs, some cute lyrical touches and lots of nods to their Dads' record collections isn't really enough to make them a great rock group, is it?

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Loving The Guardian

Because, it seems, The Guardian likes nothing more than annoying Americans on the Internet they've recently started Comment Is Free. It's something like The Huffinton Post without David Mamet or Harry Shearer. Be sure, however, that George Clooney doesn't write for either of them.

Comment Is Free's other function seems to be providing a valuable lesson in why journalists need editors. There have been any number of inane or muddle-headed posts and quite a few of that old standy by, the "Blogs are lame, or so I thought" posts.

Yesterday Madeleine Bunting wrote possibly the most stupid thing I've seen in the Guardian since I stopped reading AL Kennedy. She asks "what has the Enlightenment ever given us?"
I need some help. I've been getting increasingly disturbed at the way in which the Enlightenment gets invoked by the self styled 'hard liberals' as if it amounts to their tablets of stone. Something didn't seem to be adding up to me when they waxed lyrical about the Enlightenment legacy of rationality, secularism, belief in progress, the rule of law and the basis of all we know and love in western democracy and individual human rights.

Ah yes, let me re-state that "Apart from rationality, secularism, belief in progress, the rule of law and the basis of all we know and love in western democracy and individual human rights what has the Enlightenment ever given us?"

Apparently, going on about all this rationality stuff is actually a "hard liberal's" way of belittling the less rational. That is, some Muslims want to know why liberals keep on going on about freedom from tyranny and can't they see this upsets us?

The most hilarious bit is where, after saying "some of those rationalists were quite religious, anyway", she asks:
why do people think an understanding of rationality which is over 200 years old is useful now?

No, really! She's got her shiny new ignorance whereas these stuffy "hard liberals" are relying on something thats over 200 years old! It's, like, so out of date, ya know?

Anyway, the good thing about Comment is Free is that other journalists can feel free to roll their eyes and then rip their colleague a new one. In this case Andrew Anthony brings it on:
Bunting requests a justification of rationality, yet how is it possible to make an argument for reason other than through reason, the very thing that she suggest is out of date? It's as if she has said, I don't understand or recognise English, but could you explain why I should, and could you do it in English. What's the point of making a case for making a case if you're making it to someone who doesn't accept that making any case is valid? Or any more valid than religious edict?

Good fun, indeed.

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Things You May Have to Read Twice

Vibrators made the job much easier, though some early ones ran on steam, she says, requiring the doctors to shovel in coal.

From Good vibes: A hysterical perspective on sex toys at the Philadelphia Inquirer via Fark.

Monday, 27 March 2006

Saturday, 25 March 2006

Damn Right I'm Disappointed!

The Guardian takes a quick look at Musicians who turned out to be Scientologists. Essentially it mentions Issac Hayes and Beck and then spends a while shaking its head ruefully.

I don't know quite why Scientology in particular causes this reaction, but I'm reminded of Bill Hicks words on artists who do adverts:
"Here's the deal, folks. You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call forever. End of story. You're another corporate shill, you're another whore at the capitalist gang-bang, and if you do a commercial there's a price on your head, everything you say is suspect and every word that comes out of your mouth is like a turd falling into my drink."

It describes exactly how I feel about Beck now.

Friday, 24 March 2006

Downloading Is Killing The Porn Industry

Mother Jones has a thought provoking list of instances where Intellectual Property has run amok. My eye was drawn to this one:
42% OF ALL VIDEO files shared online are pornographic. No porn-sharing cases have yet been tried in the U.S.

Via Boing Boing.

In Praise Of Bangs

Roy over at alicublog has a great post on Lester Bangs, although he then goes on to praise concerts from the past because everyone was loaded at them so they must have been better than anything today, which seems a stretch too far to me. The bit that stood out to me was this:
When he loved artists, like Lou Reed and Richard Hell, he rode their asses mercilessly just for the snap- or smash-back; he asked Reed questions like, "When you recorded Berlin, did you think people would laugh at it?" Who would ask Reed anything like that now?

Well, no-one would ask Reed that now for fear of being lectured on the greatness of Reed and how, as an interviewer, you couldn't possibly understand, but the flip side of that is: Who would you ask something like that today? Well, I'd ask it of U2, probably, though my question would more likely be "When you recorded your latest craven attempt to get your fans back, did you think people might not buy it?" which self-evidently isn't quite the same thing.

It's hard to think of any popular band for who the question would make any sense. The Darkness or Robbie Williams would tell you that was half the point, Radiohead or Coldplay wouldn't have thought that someone might laugh at them and plenty of other bands just weren't very much to do with the actual recording process. So your answers would, in all probability, consist of "Of course, dearie", "No!" and "What's an album?"

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Sing If You're Happy That Way

Fresh from the the debacle of saying James Blunt isn't that bad really Tom Robinson has a thoughtful post on how some music just sounds better if you don't heap a load of production over it:
How often have we witnessed some astonishing performer and rushed out to buy their album - only to be bitterly disappointed when it sounds nothing like the transcendent live experience of the day before? The conventional approach is to recruit a conventional band of musicians to lay down a backing track as the hapless songwriter strums his or her way through the song, then layer the whole thing up with other instruments. Tasteful electric guitars usually produce the stodgy even consistency known as soft rock. For folk rock sprinkle liberally with mandolins and fiddles; add sax and a few open electric piano chords for jazz rock. There's also the (quite unrelated) jazz trio approach, where the artist's own playing is placed centre stage accompanied only by the woody thud of an upright bass and unobtrusive sound of drums being tickled with brushes somewhere in the background.

I agree, though this does sound a bit like the "Support Act CD" problem. There can be any number of reasons why a band might sound great on the night and none of those reasons have to have anything do with how the music actually sounded -- go over to the Internet Archive and download some bootlegs if you don't believe me, there are plety of concerts there that must have been fantastic to be at, but in the cold light of day are not that great -- and at that moment you hand over your tenner for the Support Act's CD you probably have less idea how it's going to sound than you did before you read their name on the poster outside ticket.

Monday, 20 March 2006

Cooking For Dummies

The article in the Washington Post Cooking 101: Add 1 Cup of Simplicity is not, apparently, a dig at Jamie Oliver, although plenty of American reviewers don't like him or his books that much. No, it's about how cook books have had to simplify their instructions because many wannabe cooks don't have the assumed set of basic skills that they might once have had:
"Thirty years ago, a recipe would say, 'Add two eggs,' " said Bonnie Slotnick, a longtime cookbook editor and owner of a rare-cookbook shop in New York's Greenwich Village. "In the '80s, that was changed to 'beat two eggs until lightly mixed.' By the '90s, you had to write, 'In a small bowl, using a fork, beat two eggs,' " she said. "We joke that the next step will be, 'Using your right hand, pick up a fork and . . .' "

I would, though, have liked more examples of why this dumbing down has occured as the following suggests that there are some seriously confused people out there:
At a conference last December, Stephen W. Sanger, chairman and chief executive of General Mills Inc., noted the sad state of culinary affairs and described the kind of e-mails and calls the company gets asking for cooking advice: the person who didn't have any eggs for baking and asked if a peach would do instead, for example; and the man who railed about the fire that resulted when he thought he was following instructions to grease the bottom of the pan -- the outside of the pan.

I do cook and fairly well at that. I remember having lessons at junior school and at comprehensive: have these stopped or are they optional? I also would do rice or pasta for meals my Mother had pre-made for when she wasn't going to be home before my brother and me. And, yes, I messed these up from time to time through inattention or wrong proportions or bad timing or whatever, but steadily you get a feel for how long things should take and how much care they need. Though even today I can get distracted (damn Xbox) and overcook pasta, but the essential idea that much of cooking is about timing I learnt from doing these simple things first.

So it seems to me that the problem is that people have neglected some basic cooking skills at an early age, burnt rice and sludgy pasta are part of the learning curve no matter what age you start, but now the TV tells us we should be able to throw together a sumptious banquet from whatever we have handy in the fridge, with maybe a couple of hours spent down at your local organic market, and those combined give you the burning oil above.

Via Accidental Hedonist.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Feeds I Read

Yes, it may very well be a slow day.

For those who are interested, and it may just get me a few hits by linking to so much, here's a list of the RSS Feeds that I subscribe to with their own descriptions. There's good stuff here and it probably says way too much about me to have them on public display like this, but here goes:

3quarksdaily
An Eclectic Digest of Science, Art and Literature
RSS Feed


Accidental Hedonist
Food, Travel, and other Irrelevant Irreverence
RSS Feed


alicublog
While alicubi.com undergoes extensive elective surgery, its editors pen somber, Shackletonian missives from their lonely arctic outpost.
RSS Feed


BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition
Visit BBC News for up-to-the-minute news, breaking news, video, audio and feature stories. BBC News provides trusted World and UK news as well as local and regional perspectives. Also entertainment, business, science, technology and health news.
RSS Feed


Blog of a Bookslut

RSS Feed


Blogslot
The blog accompaniment to The Slot: A Spot for Copy Editors
RSS Feed


Boing Boing

RSS Feed


Bryan-Mitchell Young's Popular Culture Gaming
Welcome to popularculturegaming.com. I am a phd student at Indiana University and my research centers on an ethnographic approach to studying videogames and videogame players. I can be reached at jccalhoun at either hotmail or gmail (and just for the record, j does not stand for john!) -- Bryan-Mitchell Young
RSS Feed


Creating Passionate Users

RSS Feed


Cynthia Rockwell
Wild Sound
RSS Feed


Dark Horizons News
All the latest production news from the world of film and television
RSS Feed


Dilbert
Unofficial Dilbert RSS Feed by TapestryComics.com
RSS Feed


Gamasutra Feature Articles
Gamasutra Feature Articles
RSS Feed


Gamasutra News
Gamasutra News
RSS Feed


GameDevBlog
Jamie Fristrom, game development consultant: management, code, design.
RSS Feed


Games * Design * Art * Culture
Blog of the CEO of Manifesto Games; concerned with games, game design, game studies, game culture, independent games, preserving game history, and ensuring the sustainability of innovation games into the future.
RSS Feed


gapingvoid
cartoons drawn on the back of business cards by hugh macleod
RSS Feed


GreenCine Daily

RSS Feed


Guardian Unlimited
Intelligent news and comment throughout the day from The Guardian newspaper.
RSS Feed


Guardian Unlimited Football
The latest Football news from Guardian Unlimited.
RSS Feed


Guardian Unlimited: Comment is free

RSS Feed


Guardian Unlimited: Gamesblog

RSS Feed


Guardian Unlimited: News blog

RSS Feed


Guardian Unlimited: Organ Grinder

RSS Feed


Guardian Unlimited: Technology blog

RSS Feed


I find your lack of faith disturbing
another screenwriter blog
RSS Feed


James Wolcott

RSS Feed


Lawyers, Guns and Money
Family. Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.
RSS Feed



music filter

RSS Feed


Poplicks.com
Pop and Politics with a tasty candy coasting.
RSS Feed


robot wisdom weblog
http://www.robotwisdom.com/ via Wytheville Community College
RSS Feed


SCI FI Wire
The News Service of the SCI FI Channel.
RSS Feed


SFX - Live RSS Feed
Live Feed from SFX
RSS Feed


soul sides
music for rhythm addicts
RSS Feed


Tea Leaves
creativity x technology
RSS Feed


TeeVee
Their government trained them to kill -- now they're killing time writing about television.
RSS Feed



The House Next Door
A long, strange journey toward a retrospectively inevitable destination
RSS Feed


The Huffington Post | Raw Feed
The Huffington Post Raw Feed
RSS Feed


The Intersection

RSS Feed


The News Blog
A daily update and review of the news blog.
RSS Feed


The Rude Pundit
Proudly lowering the level of political discourse
RSS Feed


WHEDONesque
Blogging the Jossverse. BtVS, AtS, Firefly, Ripper, Fray.
RSS Feed


World O'Crap
A daily diatribe about current events, bad movies, pop culture, Ann Coulter, etc.
RSS Feed

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Issac Hayes Hands His Cool Back

This article says just about all I want to say on it. Issac Hayes has decided that South Park has gone too far in ridiculing religion. That the exact moment he decides this is the moment when they have a go at Scientology, his religion du jour, is surely a coincidence.

Matt Stone pulls no punches:

I never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

A Painful Truth

Via Making Light comes a compelling rant on how it does always turn out like the cliché would have it:
The saying "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" is a lie.

The truth is this: "What doesn't kill you is going to fuck you up really bad, for a really, really long time... and you'll be lucky if you ever get it back together again."

I would disagree only partly. And that would be to say that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger is true in certain circumstances, it's how vaccinations work, as an example. And I might add that what doesn't kill you can often give you a fine anecdote somewhere down the line. But I see where Mark Allen's anger comes from and can only nod my head at his greater truth.



By the way, yes it does seem that this is a week of shorter, pithier posts cribbing from either Making Light or Robot Wisdom. I would crib more from 3 Quarks Daily, too, but because all the posts there have been great there's been nothing that I felt I could add. So if you haven't already, you should definitely give it a read today and then subscribe to their feed.

Monday, 13 March 2006

Sometimes Less Really Is More

According to a report on CNet News:

In a grocery store experiment, a table loaded with 24 types of jams got many visitors, but sales were ten times higher when only six jams were offered. In a study of the 401K plans at 1,500 companies, participation in retirement plans dropped 2 percent every time ten more investment choices were added to the mix. In speed dating, participants had a greater chance of hooking up if they met six, rather than twelve, people in a session.


Via Robot Wisdom.

Friday, 10 March 2006

Making A Story Out Of Nothing

Creationism to be in GCSE papers

The headline sugests that Creationism is being taught as equal to evolution, but the article itself suggests that pupils are being asked to look at the "controversy" over evolution and how that reflects on science.
"Candidates are asked to discuss why the opponents of Darwinism thought the way they did and how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence," he said.

"Creationism and 'intelligent design' are not regarded by OCR as scientific theories. They are beliefs that do not lie within scientific understanding."

It seems to me that this is actually good science. You look at opposing theories and you are shown how one theory came to fit best the data that we have. So long as it is presented that way.

I would say, though, that it's actually a radical interpretation of this bit:
The National Curriculum Online website says for science at Key Stage 4 (GCSE level): "Students should be taught how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence (for example Darwin's theory of evolution)."

Mostly because Creationism has nothing to do with "interpreting empirical evidence", it's all about faith and with faith you don't need any evidence.

Sopranos Preview

Lucky git Matt Zoller Seitz has seen the first couple of episode of the new Sopranos (I'll have to wait until the European DVD release). He has this to say:
For now, suffice to say that Chase and the gang appear to have surveyed the TV landscape, concluded that shows like "Deadwood," "Battlestar Galactica" and "Lost" raised the creative bar for series drama, then decided, "Fuck it, we're better than any of those clowns -- now watch us prove it."

Phew!

Thursday, 9 March 2006

The Communist Party

I should wait till I have enough for another Short Shorts, but this made me laugh, so I had to share.

Via Making Light.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Universal Cocksuckers!

So I've got through my Deadwood box-set. Great stuff. I may give a fuller review once I've watched it again.

One thing I will mention, though, is that this is yet another vanilla Universal release no extras what-so-ever. This made absolutlely no sense with season one as the region 1 (US) version had commentaries and a couple of documentaries giving a historical background to Deadwood, you can see why they left this out for the European release because all Europeans have an encyclopedic knowledge of that era of American history...

Anyway, more fun is to be had with season two beacuse despite not having any commentaries the packaging does list the commentaries you could listen to if you bought the Region 1 version.

Whoever is in charge of this sucks cocks by choice....

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

I May Never Eat A Carrot Again

From Overheard In The Office:

Doctor #1: I always say, "Carrots are like sandpaper for the colon."
Doctor #2: Yeah, see, most people I know just eat them.

Via Robot Wisdom, indirectly.

Because My Hits Haven't Been Low Enough Recently


Yeah, so my new phone comes with a camera... Here I demonstrate a fun trick, with the right lighting and stubble I can nearly make my double-chin disappear. Also it shows how scarily accurate my South Park caricature is.

Also notable here is Orson Welles peaking in just behind my ear. A terrible public domain release of Mr. Arkadin, as it happens, but Orson never-the-less.

Monday, 6 March 2006

Cocksucker!



Yes, that's right Deadwood Season 2 arrived on my desk today.

My vocabulary will be unfortunately disrupted for the next week or two.

Something To Brighten A Monday Morning

Natalie Portman rapping. She shouldn't give up her day job, but, damn!, it's funny.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

Unnews: People Lie. All The Time.

This article is mostly about CVs and it claims that 47 percent of resum├ęs contain "significant inaccuracies". A bit low I'd have thought. Anyway it goes on to say:
In his research, Feldman conducted interviews with students in which he asked them to appear "likable and competent.'' Afterward, he reviewed the truthfulness of what they had told him.

The results? The average student told three lies every 10 minutes. The stretchers ranged from having won various awards to the guy who claimed he had just landed a recording contract.

"When we want to try to be likable,'' Feldman says, "one of the tactics we use is to lie. You shade things to put them in the best possible light.''

You do wonder if the writer or the researcher has ever been to a pub, club or just any social event, ever.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Hypnotic

Skip the intro and go straight to the bouncing booby simulator. Really.

And the iBuzz (possibly worth it for the music). Via Cynthia Rockwell.