Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Short Shorts: 6

Sometimes you can't find a link for love nor money, but today The Morning News, in particular had loads, you should probably go there, read the Prince thing and then check out the Headlines bit. I particularly liked:

  • Never hug a Swiss cow, hikers told. "Do not scare the animals or look them directly in the eye. Do not wave sticks. Give a precise blow to the muzzle of the cow in the event of absolute need," it advises. Good advice in so many situations.

  • The lost art of film editing They don't make 'em like they used to. Films don't have time to just stand and stare anymore.

  • Top 20 Gayest Video Game Characters Apparently this is all over the net at the mo' and with good reason. It's hilarious. The gayest character I've played is probably Willow in Buffy: Chaos Strikes back...
  • OK that's enough TMN. Jay Is Games has just announced the winner in its Casual Gameplay Competition so if you feel you're not skiving off enough it's worth checking out that and the high quality non-winning entrants.

  • Why Kinky Is Wrong seems to be saying Kinky Friedman is sometimes reactionary while appearing to be progressive. A swift read of any of his books would probably proof enough. But isn't it part of his charm? (via Making Light)

  • A Random Number Survey Testing how random humans really are.

  • Why are sex words our worst swearwords?It's listed in our highest security class of obscenity, along with three synonyms for penis, two for vagina, two slang terms for oral sex, two variants on animal waste products and one expression that employs the F-word in an oedipal context.


So I'm halfway through the second season of Battlestar Galactica and it occurs to me that the producers missed a trick. If they'd somehow found a way to give Lucy Lawless and Michelle Forbes a scene together, I do believe my latent fanboydom might have exploded all over my TV.

Xena and Ensign Ro. Together at last. Mmmmmm....

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

The Teacher Prince

The Morning News have a cute article on lessons to be learnt from Purple Rain:
1. Shaming and hazing is hot courtship
2. For a man to succeed, his woman must not. She really just wants a boyfriend and isn’t that talented anyway, so it’s cool
3. It’s OK to abuse a woman if you write redemptive music afterwards

On one level you do wonder if gently ribbing a 22 year old movie is almost the definition of "too little, too late", but then the nostalgia kicks in.

The lessons I learnt from Purple Rain were:

  • I'll never be that skinny

  • I'll never ride a bike that big or purple

  • Guitars sure are phallic

(Though according to Edward Tufte, via Robot Wisdom, perhaps I shouldn't bullet that list)

Dead Deadwood

Matt Zoller Seitz reviews the last proper episode of Deadwood and you can't help but feel a little sad.
The closing shot of last night's Deadwood episode was never meant as a series-ender. But that's what it was, and for a number of reasons, it was both appropriate and troubling: Ian McShane's Al Swearengen kneeling on the floor of his office, cleaning up a bloodstain.

Still there's the end of the Sopranos to look forward to. Battlestar Galactica is going strong. And The Wire is doing interesting things. I hear The Shield is getting better all the time, too, but Sony in their wisdom have decide that no-one in England wants to watch more than the first two seasons

OK, it may just be me, but doesn't it seem wierd that three of the best series currently showing are a Western, an SF drama and a Gangster story -- the other two I mentioned are cop shows, but there have always been good cop shows. It seems that the old genres are getting a fresh start or maybe it's just that they have good producers who want good stories and real human interactions and that the setting is just a backdrop for those stories.

Friday, 25 August 2006

Quick! Someone Arrest Christopher Brookmyre

Chris over at Splinters has a link to a story about someone on a flight from Luton to Berlin getting a book, freely available at Waterstones, confiscated because it may or may not have had a mention of al-Qaida in it.

Let the book burning begin...

Speaking of air travel I'm not sure where to start with Ryanair. Not content with simply making as much money as they can from their customers, it seems even people who don't fly with them will be making for a contribution to their profits.

David Tennant Does Not Wear Ladies Underwear

He claims.
"They were Calvin Kleins, I swear to you! I'm staring at them right now. Okay, granted they have a little red border around the top, but I can promise you they are neither lacy nor womanly. They are MAN PANTS."

Fooled Again

The Guardian had a headline today Thatcher says sorry but forgiveness seems a distant prospect. My first thought was "too little, too late" and my second was "what's this doing in the football section?".

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Your Daddy Kills Animals

Until your daddy learns that it’s not “fun” to kill,
keep your doggies and kitties away from him.
He’s so hooked on killing defenseless animals
that they could be next!

From those lovable people at PETA comes a comic designed to help children help their father to stop fishing. There's much to enjoy here. I like, in particular, how Daddy has a skull and crossbones on his cap.

Does anyone else feel a strong need for Sushi now or is it just me?

Via Making Light.

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Preparing Kids For Adulthood

The Guardian[1] takes a swift look at some truly terrible TV.
The fact that Heil Honey I'm Home, an ill-judged sitcom that pitched Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun moving in next door to a Jewish couple, failed to make the top 10 should serve warning of the horrors that lurk within a new list of the worst TV shows of all time.

They end, though, with this:
Thomas the Tank Engine was best, or worst, placed children's show, portraying "a workplace riven by class envy where bitching, brown-nosing and backstabbing are the norm".

So is it a bad show for showing kids what their working life is going to be like? Was that supposed to be some big secret like the true identity of Santa Claus? Were we all supposed to pretend in front of the kids that work was a happy fun place to be where everyone just got a long? Sorry I must have missed the memo.

[1] Actually it's a Radio Times story, the Guardian is just reporting on an article in the Radio Times about a program on TV. I found it through Mediawatch on Football365 who make pretty much the same joke I do. That, in a nutshell, is how most blogging works.

Monday, 21 August 2006

It Gets Earlier Every Year

So, the Premiership Football season, or "the season" as Richard Keys has it, and already I find Andy Gray and the aforementioned Keys tedious beyond belief.

Partly this can be attributed to the fact that my team, Leeds United, are still in the Championship and neither Keys nor Gray are able to understand that football outside of the Premiership actually exists. Keys in particular getting out the slogan "the season starts here" after I'd already seen Leeds play on the TV (and Vorwärts Steyr at Vorwärts Stadion, but they can be forgiven their ignorance of the lower levels of Austrian football).

Gray, who once seemed a passionate pundit if a little overloaded with catchphrases, has turned in to being merely a shill for the Premiership and Sky's coverage of it. Being one of the old boys he can't quite bring himself to criticise any footballer, but on catching something even slightly amiss with a linesman's decision he'll bring all of Sky's IT deparment's expertise to bear on the problem with electronic recreations that must have conspiracy theorists the worldover drooling with delight.

That, in the face of all that, Keys is an even shriller corporate shill must be an achievement worthy of some kind of prize.

It's not that I particularly despise either of them, it's just that I'm sure it took much longer for my tolerance of the pair to dissappear last season.

Friday, 18 August 2006

What Would Bill Hicks Do?

The Guardian takes a look at why Bill Hicks is still as popular today, perhaps moreso, as when he died.

Apparently there's a Edinburgh Fringe show, Bill Hicks: Slight Return, in which Hicks is brought back to life in 2006 by writer and actor Chas Early. The main question here being why don't they just hire Denis Leary and be done with it.

As someone who has probably started too many sentences with "It's just like that Bill Hicks bit..." this looks all good to me. Though they do bring up whether Bill would like all the dead Bill worship:
Given this provocateur persona, wouldn't Hicks have been dismayed by the cult that now surrounds him? Early's play asks that very question. "And I think he'd say, 'What is it with dead comedians? Haven't you got enough live ones to go around? Why isn't anyone moving the story on?' I think he would be annoyed."

Early also points out that Hicks could be prickly:
"It's become easy to turn him into a saint," says Early, despite there being "elements of his comedy that were difficult and in many cases unappealing". Some audiences inevitably felt hectored by Hicks's vehemence, and the fainthearted struggled with the more lurid sexual content.

Though, for me, that is part of the appeal. There's a video of Bill losing it with a heckler or two at a show in Chicago that's difficult and almost scary to watch. It's also very funny, rude and possibly the most visceral stand-up you'll ever see. You do get a sense that there's something like that in him in the available CDs and DVDs, too. That some nights he'll just push an audience to see how far they'll let him go and also to see how far he could go and still keep most of them with him.

One problem I do have with Hicks is not really a problem with him as such. The superficial message of his comedy is "do drugs and watch for UFOs and the world will be a better place", which is, no doubt, a large part of his appeal to a certain section of his audience. I don't think he believed anything so simple and would probably be derisive of those who looked for answers in his comedy. He seriously believed we should all just get along, but I doubt he had any concrete ideas on how to make that happen.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

London Changing

A while ago I blogged about a gallery The Morning News was hosting called Changing New York which featured pairs of photos taken in the same place but separated by decades.

At the time Ten-Bob Dylan asked if there was a London equivalent. I couldn't find one. And I haven't quite yet, but this is picture of early fifties London and its 2006 twin make a single compelling example.

Via Making Light.

Monday, 14 August 2006

Uninstall Condition

I've recommended The Daily WTF before. It's incredibly geeky, but occasionally it looks up from the depths of the code-face to take a glance at the user interface. They have a regular update called The Pop-Up Potpurri. This week someone submitted a pop-up that would have me uninstalling the software immediately afterwards:

I do get where that is coming from. In a past project a certain search string would send the user to a page that contained a dictionary of swearing that I'd written to help some Dutch students, it also took some side-swipes at Lotus Notes. And there have been times when being told that something goes wrong with a project when a user tries to do something it clearly wasn't designed to do, then I really want to tell the user "don't do that then". It is entirely possible that the developers are trying to be cute or funny. It's not working.

Friday, 11 August 2006

Star Trek Inspirational Posters

(Via Fark)

Not helped by the fact that the first poster isn't funny and the hit rate of funny to just plain bad is very low, this collection of Star Trek Inspirational posters can occasionally hit the spot. I liked this one:

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Don't DO That!

Imagine my surprise when I saw this headline in The Grauniad today:

'No plans' for Thatcher state funeral

I'll not list all my conflicting emotions about this, but then it turned out she's not actually dead yet. Talk about a letdown.

The article concludes:

One of the few former prime ministers to receive a state funeral was Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington and a hero of the Battle of Waterloo. He died in 1852, after many years in the cabinet and a brief stint as PM. In 1965, Winston Churchill was also afforded a state funeral to honour his leadership during the second world war.

I'm not sure if anyone should be judged solely by their greatest enemies, but I make that Napolean, Hitler, Arthur Scargill... Or countries defeated: France, Germany, England.

Monday, 7 August 2006

Einstein: Ladies Man and Poet?

Via Making Light comes an article on Science and poetry and how there is poetry in Science even if poets don't quite believe that. And if they do believe it it's because someone once had a go at explaining quantum mechanics to them.
Here’s a handy guide: if a person tries to explain away an unusual claim in terms of quantum mechanics, he or she is almost certainly bullshitting you unless the subject being discussed is a) colder than anything you will ever encounter, b) faster than anything you will ever ride, or c) too small to be resolved using a light microscope.

It concludes:
The world has had enough poetry that scorns measurement and verification. The world has had enough quantum mystics. There is a difference between knowing what you’re talking about and making shit up on the fly, and Schroedinger’s cat has nothing to say about that second one.

It's worth reading the whole thing as I haven't really given a full taste of it's flavour here, speaking of which the off-hand insult to British food is quite uncalled for.

Friday, 4 August 2006

CD Trashing. It's The New Book Burning

Via Music Filter comes a story about an American church destroying "mountains of rap CDs, DVDs and other paraphernalia affiliated with the hip-hop culture, claiming it is a bad influence on their children."

A church member, Steve Kelly, said:
"It's a culture of hypnosis, brainwashing kids into mimicking degrading values"

And I agreed with him until I realised he was talking about hip-hop:
" It's all about, you know, selling drugs, getting money, cheating on your girl."

Topics that wholesome groups like The Beatles, say, or The Eagles would never address, of course.

Bit Of A Binger

The BBC are all up in arms about binge drinking again. Apparently it's grim up north.

Binge drinking is defined as "double the daily recommended level in one or more sessions a week" what the article presumably assumes you know is the daily recommended level of alcohol. It's four units. Double that is eight meaning that binge drinking is 3-4 pints of beer or a bottle of wine in one session. In East Dorset only 9 percent of the population claim to be able to manage this once a week. They either have no clue what they're drinking or the survey actually shows that people in East Dorset are the biggest set of liars in England.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said the government was working hard to combat alcohol problems: "We are working hard to raise awareness about alcohol misuse and ensure that treatment is available to those who need it."

Here's one idea for combatting alcohol problems. Try having realistic definitions of what binge drinking is so that we can see what the real problem amounts to rather than simply tarring every regular drinker with the same brush. Four pints is not a binge, it's more like a prelude to a binge.

Thursday, 3 August 2006

Hey! That Sounds Like A Good Name For A Band!

As I may have mentioned I'm currently singing in an acoustic/delta blues trio. We've not quite got enough songs to go live with yet and it's still a bit rough at the edges, but inevitably the issue of a band name came up. I had three goes, two I got while watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and one bad pun that I dreamed up one night:

  • Shinbone

  • Before Come The Drunks

  • Plenty Of Johnson

I also looked at a list of new or odd phrases and got this list:

  • Torch Party

  • Whiskey Plank

  • Cow-dust Time

  • Moose Knuckle

  • Dodgepot

  • Muffin Tops

  • Tramp Stamp

  • Skunk Eye

  • Diesel Therapy

  • Bring The Wood

So now I'm totally confused...

Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Sex: A Recent History

Via somewhere I've totally forgotten right now -- I just got distracted, trust me C# can be a bit of a git to get your head around -- somes a big list in Harpers of Events Related To Sex from August 2000 on. Some are humourous:

2005 Oct 20
A 14-year-old Washington boy was charged with sexual harassment after hanging around outside a school homecoming dance dressed as a penis.

Some are scurrilous:
2003 Nov 8
Prince Charles denied the latest rumor about his sexual proclivities but failed to mention what he was accused of doing. Newspapers in Britain, where libel laws are very strong, have been unable to print the substance of the rumor, though they have repeatedly run the same photograph of Prince Charles standing alone in a field with another man.

And some are just a little wierd:
2001 Oct 2
The British Potato Council was embarking on an advertising campaign to make potatoes sexy; the ad agency Naked Communication was retained to promote the potato's qualities as an aphrodisiac

Lego-y Goodness

Via Robot Wisdom comes some really rather cute Lego ads. I liked the one below most, but the others are just as good.