Friday, 30 March 2007

Hurt by Kermit

Nine Inch Nails by way of Johnny Cash covered by Kermit. Oddly creepy.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Freema's Dialogue

Freema Agyeman stars as The Doctor's new companion in Doctor Who this Saturday. Just in time, the Guardian has an interview with her:

There are rumours of a relationship between Martha and the Doctor.

There's a kiss in the first series but it's not what it seems. The Doctor has a plan and she's a pawn in that. The Doctor's relationship with Martha is very different to the relationship he had with Rose. I think Rose was unique in the sense that she loved him and he loved her back and it was more than just a hint, it was deeply emotional. Martha meets him at a time when she realises he is a man with a broken heart and perhaps thinks she might go some way to mend that initially but their relationship develops in a different way and takes a very interesting route to get there.

When 3-0 just Isn't Enough

It's strange that England won, not perhaps with the glut of goals expected, and won comfortably but the fans, myself included, were just not impressed. Once again it seemed to be a one-man effort to restore England's pride and, in absence of Beckham, Steven Gerrard finally decided to show his class. The overriding memory, of course, is of the first half. England looked uncertain, their passing was off and they had trouble keeping the ball against an amateur side. Compared with spirited displays from both Ireland teams England portrayed themselves as both lazy and arrogant.

The most annoying thing, however, is that nothing can really be learned from this match. Playing players in their proper positions works, Dyer adds something when brought on late on, even Championship-level strikers can score against Andorra, things we should have known already and yet are still oddly untested.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007


3Quarks Daily link to an article about an atheist revival or something, anyway the excerpt a bit that says:
"Dawkins doesn't know a thing about religion," said Brian Malley, a lecturer in the University psychology department's culture and cognition program. The lights in his office were off, and it was dark enough that one couldn't tell if he was being entirely serious. "There's reams of research about what religion is actually like."

I've seen this attack on Dawkins before. They ask: How can Dawkins attack religion when his theology's a bit muddled? Then they go on a mention Aquinas and some other theologians and stick their bottom lip out in the name of Christianity:
I would like to see Dawkins take Christianity as seriously as he undoubtedly expects Christianity to take Darwinism. I would also like to see him spell out fully the arguments as to the incompatibility of science (Darwinism especially) and religion (Christianity especially).

I imagine Dawkins takes Christianity as seriously as he does all other religions. I'm not fully versed in his arguments, but I take it he's starting from the position that there is no god and working forward. From that perspective his being well-read in any theology has as much relevance as his fluency in Klingon. He's declaring God does not exist, I doubt he has any position, nuanced or otherwise, on how many angels you can fit on the head of a pin.

There is no need for science to be incompatible with religion (Christianity especially), but it seems to me that in the developed world the biggest attacks on science come from Christians. Science, though, is a process that is built to be compatible with the facts as we know them (and, yes, this does give it huge scope to be wrong), promoting religion as incompatible with science would therefore suggest that some religious people are incompatible with facts.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Categories of Pain

Via Robot Wisdom comes one man's experiences with pain and how he would put those pains in a scale:
A single [bee] sting hurts, but only enough to be mildly annoying. The pain last only around 20 minutes. In my limited experience of stings it's about equal to a horsefly bite, or a (non-fatal) box jellyfish sting. It's not nearly as painful as a South African fire ant bite, which I now very studiously avoid.

The story of the Doctor testing the sting of a jellyfish will have you squirming in your seat, however:
20 minutes after being stung on the beach, they began to feel the venom’s terrifying effects. Chilla Ross began screaming, "Let me die." Nick remembers vomiting "as Dad carried me upstairs, then I was lying on a bed swallowing painkillers. I felt pretty terrible"—so terrible, in fact, that he found himself "thinking that dying mightn’t be a bad idea." But he survived, as did Ross and his father.

Speaking of Wine

The New York Times says it's OK to cook with cheap wines, and in some cases preferable. It even seems to be that if you can't bring yourself to drink then perhaps cooking with it is the best solution:
Over all, wines that I would have poured down the drain rather than sip from a glass were improved by the cooking process, revealing qualities that were neutral at worst and delightful at best. On the other hand, wines of complexity and finesse were flattened by cooking — or, worse, concentrated by it, taking on big, cartoonish qualities that made them less than appetizing.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Not Just Here For The Nasty Things In Life

In a repeat of last Xmas' exercise Hugh MacLeod is advertising his clients Stormhoek wine by offering 40% discounts (on all wine) at Threshers. So, go, download, print, buy, enjoy!

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

It's Not The Americans Who Have The Irony Deficiency

AA Gill goes to New York and finds only himself:
The most reprehensible and disgusting of all human things; the self-made, knowing English eccentric. Eccentricity is the last resort of the expat. The petit fou excuse for rudeness, hopelessness, self-obsession, failure, and never, ever picking up the check.

Monday, 19 March 2007

The Third Gig

So, yes, St Pats went just fine. Eamon was happy but I think that had more to do with the cricket (Ireland beat Pakistan) and the rugby (Wales thrashed England) than The BluesBerries.

The band, however, were on blazing form. It was a tough room because we were the free entertainment and people were coming more to drink Guinness than watch a trio work steadily through a bunch of thirties blues styles. People enjoyed it, though, and when the hat was passed around they show a surprising amount of appreciation. I was in good voice so even some of the songs that bother me —Long Tall Mama, which I find awkward for no good reason and Canned Heat, which is at the highest of my "range"— went without a hitch. My patter was a bit hit and miss, though I was proud of the line about St Patrick forcing the snakes out of Ireland, snakes that then spread across Europe to get jobs as barmen.

The super-secret special Irish song that we had prepared was The Flogging Mollys' It's Been The Worst Day Since Yesterday. The song has always been something of an Irish pub favourite even if we did have to change it somewhat to fit my style, the Mollys fans in the audience did seem to enjoy it though.

All in all an excellent evening, hopefully I'll have some photo's to show pretty soon.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Fringe of a Binge

It seems yet another report has come out showing that England is a nation of binge drinkers. Once again binge has been described as five (5) drinks, which means that just about every time I drink, I binge. Every football match I watch is capable of pushing me over the edge (pre-game drink, first half drink, second half drink, post game analysis drink).

Some of the stats suggest, though, that either someone's drink a huge amount of alcohol to make up for any amount of teetotalers or the rest of Europe is lying about how much they drink. See, a quarter of England's population admit to binge drinking, one of the highest, and yet the article concludes:
Europe remains the heaviest drinking region in the world, with the average adult consuming about 11 quarts of pure alcohol annually, or the equivalent of the alcohol content in 1,400 beers, according to figures provided by the Commission.

Now, 1,400 divided by 365 is roughly 4. So the above paragraph is saying that the average European drinks 4 beers a night. Obviously 80 percent of them are very careful about it because if they slipped from drinking exactly 4 every night they would move from "average" to "binger".

Just like every time before the idea of binge drinking has been defined as to be almost meaningless and, as such, useless in helping those with genuine problems.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

In Case You Were Wondering

Yes, this week is the Tenth Anniversary of the first airing in the US of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And, yes, everyone else is writing about it and I was obsessed with BtVS, Angel and Firefly for such a long time that I should really do a piece. Well, I'm waiting for the UK first airing which is when I first saw and, well, a lot of what's being written this week is putting me off doing anything at all about Buffy.

It seems everyone owns a little bit of the Slayer and they've all got these precious favourite moments that need sharing. Some times my enjoyment of something finds it hard to survive meeting the fandom of that something. Plus with the UK first airing being 3 January 1998 I've got plenty of time to put my thoughts in order...

Monday, 12 March 2007

Feeling Randy

Via The House Next Door I found an article on Randy Newman entitled the Sincerest Cynic and subtitled "Randy Newman, great American songwriter?". That there question mark very nearly put me off, but the article is a, yes, sincere attempt to remove it by pointing out that Randy is misunderstood by just about everybody. Leonard Pierce, the writer of the article, also puts Newman in some fine company:
In many ways — his geographical location, his mastery of dated-seeming pop forms (the piano roll, the Tin Pan Alley flash, the rag, the walking blues), his rough, unlovable voice and his affinity for singing about tramps, scumbags, drifters and losers, he deeply resembles two other men who deserve inclusion in the ranks of Great American Songwriters — Tom Waits and the late Warren Zevon. More cynical and less dissipated than the former, more sincere and less aggressive than the latter, he still shares with them a jaundiced view of his fellow man tempered with an almost universal understanding, an ability to place himself in almost anyone’s shoes and make it sound like the most natural thing in the world.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Going All Meta

It struck me that "Is there anything it can't do is?" is something of a snowclone. It's derived, for me, from a Simpsons quote about donuts (not beer as I first thought[1]) but a quick google shows that there are many things with seemingly endless qualities:

Duct Tape
The Internet
Global Warming
Peanut butter
Sticky tape
Ice Cream

[1] It seems Homer doesn't talk about beer as much as I imagined. This page has 19 quotes from the Simpsons on Beer of which only 7 are attributed to Homer and the most famous one, "Here's to alcohol, the cause of—and solution to—all life's problems", is about alcohol in general. Strange, especially as "Homer no function beer well without".

Television: Is There Anything It Can't Do?

A man who was cleared of murder when outtakes from the HBO comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" put him at Dodger Stadium when the crime occurred will get $320,000 in a settlement with the city.

From The Mercury News via Fark. The article concludes:

Catalan was not a fan of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" before his time in jail.

"He is now," [his attorney] said.

I'd be surprised if Larry David isn't already working this in to a subsequent episode.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Blues News

So it seems that not just being content with cheering the Cheeses and crashing other peoples gigs, I sometimes have to do my own concerts. This time The BluesBerries are playing at the Irish Pub in Steyr on March 17, St. Patricks Day, from 8 until 10 or thereabouts.

Expect the poster to look something like:

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Reasons I Don't Understand America Part 14

Complaints about Prince's shadow guitar looking like a penis at the Superbowl.

Once again you hope against all hope that this is some kind of parody and that some where in America there isn't a worried parent wondering if seeing Prince stroking his guitar has made his son gay...

Monday, 5 March 2007

Well If That Doesn't Get Rid Of Him Nothing Will

The Prime Minister wined and dined celebrities at the taxpayer’s expense at his country residence, Chequers. Guests included Esther Rantzen, Trevor Brooking, Elton John and Des O'Connor

Although you might also feel a little sorry for him. At least they have all just about earned their celebrity status, at least compared to some "celebrities" these days. But that's a rant for another time.

The tidbit above comes from the Times under article entitled 59 things that would have stayed secret. As I understand it the Government are moving to restrict the already partly restricted, if I read my Private Eye correctly, Freedom of Information act and the information above would fall under the new restrictions. It seems in our "Information Age" information is the last thing the Governments wants us to have, even trivial things:
Humphrey, the Downing Street cat who mysteriously disappeared in 1997, had not been put down but had been sent to "a stable home environment where he can be looked after properly"

Of course, in with trivial are things that make the Government look bad and certain oddities that Blair, or whoever, feels a little embarrassed about:
Tony Blair spent nearly £2,000 of taxpayers' money on cosmetics over six years

You have to believe, though, that having this stuff out in the open is infinitely preferable to having it hidden away under some misguided idea of the public good.
The Freedom of Information Act has been enthusiastically embraced by the public, with 121,000 requests a year, costing £35.5 million. The Government has estimated that the changes will result in a 19 per cent drop in requests.

So the Government saves £7million and some face, but the real cost is, yet again, a small but significant freedom.

Friday, 2 March 2007

I Miss Home Sometimes

Police have condemned a crowd in Mexborough, right next to Conisbrough for those who don't know, for urging a man to jump off a multi-storey car park according to the BBC.
Pc Mark Dyson, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "It was incredibly frustrating to see this happening when we were just trying to help the guy.

"It might have been a bit easier to understand if it was teenagers messing about but these were adults shouting things like 'jump' and 'get on with it'.

"When you've also got people shouting things like this out of vans driving past it's terrible really.

"What would these people have thought if it was one of their relatives up there?"

Pretty much the same, I'd expect.

Cheeses And Changes

Due to popular request (well one person asked me anyway) I've put Little Baby Cheeses on the Blog Roll on the right, I've also added a couple of local venues and a permanent link to the Zevon site along with a couple of my favourite music blogs. A Doncaster Rovers site has been added to the Football links, too, just under Leeds, but soon to be above them it seems to me.

Speaking of the Cheeses they had a gig at the Eagle and Child in Conisbrough recently and someone running the risk of accidentally videoing all sorts of illegality recorded the concert for posterity. You can find part of it, LBC doing Hidden Threat, on the Cheeses MySpace page. Cracking stuff!

Bored Irish Coder Reinvents Bike Sideways


A commentor on the site puts this more eloquently:

150 years of development of the current bike has given us ultra lightweight, fast, full suspension bikes made from steel, aluminium and even carbon fibre. These bikes work brilliantly, hence making this sideways bike a totally pointless exercise. This story will the first and last time we ever hear about this ridiculous machine.

That said it would be cool to try it out, though.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Eat It

The Guardian has an article about being a meat-eater living with a vegetarian, which may come as a shock to no-one and, true to the sandal-wearing, Volvo driving, soy based product drinking stereotype, it does tend towards the lecture just a bit:
Our society's over-reliance on cheap animal protein, and the subsequent boom in intensive or battery farming, has been at the heart of nearly every food scare during the past 20 years. This has led to the rise of the farmers' market movement and a boom in the sale of organic and free-range meat. Even fast food is getting a makeover. If they haven't appeared already, guilt-free burger joints and sustainable chippies are coming to a high street near you. While most ethically concerned people choose to spend more money on meat or fish, and to eat less of it, few have given it up. Only a steady 4% of the population has been vegetarian for the past 10 years.

There's probably a cut-and-paste section in the Guardian's Styleguide where you can recycle this article into a new one using three others from the past two weeks in ten minutes. What makes this story stand out, though, and therefore be link-worthy is that it starts off with two very funny anecdotes that I shall be repeating as soon as possible in the nearest bar (I realise they are probably quite old and I may be that last person to hear them, but they made me laugh):
A famous London restaurateur once boasted that he loved taking calls from vegetarians. "Do you have anything for us?" they would ask. "Yes," would be his reply. "Contempt."
[...]A vegetarian asked a cookery writer [on a radio show] how she could liven up her lentils. "Add bacon," came the answer.