Friday, 20 April 2007

Holiday

Yes, faithful readers it's that time of year again when I go back to England and visit the family. Two weeks this time, so expect posting to be light to non-existant in that time. It's not that I won't have some Internet access, it's just that I'll have access to bitter, fish & chips and curry. As well as friends and family that I haven't seen in a while, too.

My bro's got a couple of gigs going on that I fully expect to be at. If you are in Leeds and/or Donny when the Cheeses are playing please come along. They promise to be great nights.

So, miss me while I'm gone won't you.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Fox News Sink To A Low (Possibly A New One)

The meanest, most spiteful obituary it's ever been my displeasure to watch. I'm not sure what Kurt Vonnegut did to Fox News, but it wasn't hard or loud enough. If Fox ever had any dignity surely this is the last of it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Wii Elbow

It seems that Nintendo's Wii is helping kids to be a little more active, but it's also leading to complications...
"To play a Wii tennis game, for instance, they need to build up a fair amount of speed to hit the virtual ball. They wouldn’t play two hours of conventional tennis, yet they are doing that with this game — and that is bound to result in some injuries."

Since the Wii’s popularity has risen, so too has the number of websites cataloguing the injuries linked to it. Sites such as wiihaveaprob-lem.com list dozens of difficulties incurred by users, many with accompanying photographs of the damaged body parts. One girl, for instance, suffered a dislocated knee after playing on the Wii in inappropriate footwear.

Collisions are another common hazard. Flailing arms can sometimes inadvertently smack into lamps, furniture and competing players.

It seems that children playing inside will occasionally break stuff. Who knew?

Against All Odds

The Guardian wants us to feel sorry for Phil Collins because some bloke who was in Sigue Sigue Sputnik and a bunch of others are defacing his records for Children In Hunger.
Really, isn't time we cut the bloke a little slack?

No, sorry. I can't quite manage it.

Monday, 16 April 2007

On Seatbelts

Over at Making Light Jim Macdonald has a post telling you exactly why you want to wear a seatbelt. You might want to wear one while reading it:

Let’s talk briefly about being thrown clear, because it happens more often than you’d think. Unrestrained driver: side impact. Vehicle spins. Driver goes out the window. In one case I recall, the driver was half-way out his window when the vehicle rolled over on top of him. That was the second-most grotesque scene I’ve ever been to.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Not That I'm Going To Start Supporting Them Or Anything, But...

Wow!

Some time slightly before this game and after watching an incredibly dreary 0-0 between Arsenal and Newcastle, I was of the opinion that more excitement was to be had in the lower leagues especially after two televised displays of great football from Leeds and Donny, and the Sunderland-Saints match being a lot of fun, too.

Sometimes, though, you are reminded why these players are paid all that money and Man U's demolition of Roma was a joy to behold. It was like all the team were lining up to have a shot at "Goal of the Competition". And it was great to see Alan Smith in such fine form.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Mee...ow!

John Patterson of the Guardian sharpens his claws to get some slashes at, errrm, Jane Marsh, J-Lo, Hilary Swank and Halle Berry going as far as to demand that the last two, since they've been in quite a few stinkers since the got an Oscar, give their prizes back. Also caught in this drive-by are Bruce Willis, Matt Damon and Kevin Costner. He reserves the last of his anger for the man who was Rocky:
I can just see the Academy Awards' head honcho or The Man from Price-Waterhouse snapping Sylvester Stallone's best screenplay Oscar in front of him, and really enjoying the sight of a tiny man crying in shame. I'd pay good money to see that - who wouldn't?

Not Just "Not News" But Wrong, Too

Being a slow news day or something, The Sun found a bunch of scientists who were willing to pontificate on the perfect bacon sandwich. As always with these stories there's a formula, as if something like individual taste can be so easily defined, and it's this:

N = C + {fb(cm) . fb(tc)} + fb(Ts) + fc . ta

Don't worry about what the letters stand for. They stand for nothing you'd want to judge a bacon sarnie by, just listen to the scientists themselves:

Dr Graham Clayton, who led the research team, said: "We often think that it's the taste and smell of bacon that consumers find most attractive.

"But our research proves that texture and sound is just, if not more, important."

"It also", another scientist failed to add, "helps if it looks nice, too"

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Given The Name Of My Blog And Everything

I should probably mention that Warren Zevon is keeping very busy now that he's dead. Two albums have come out this month for the first time on CD. The Envoy, which contains the track Looking For The Next Best Thing, and Stand In The Fire, which I consider one of the great live albums the energy of it is just overwhelming.

The Envoy has a couple of stand-out tracks and it's certainly good to have on CD, but there's something about Zevon's songwriting in this period that seems to trade on clich├ęs and past glories occassionally becoming, I don't know, downright twee. For all Hunter S Thompson's love of Hula Hula Boys (and mine) it can't stop it from being just a bit silly. His, surely, drunken lurch through Wild Thing is an unexpected treat, though.

Stand In The Fire is Zevon live with a band. Really live. He's almost a force of nature. Later in life he just toured on his own with a handful of instruments and the document of that, Learning To Flinch, shows a reflective Zevon taking a stroll through his back catalogue of great songs. There's no such reflection on Stand In The Fire Warren just struts through some of his rockier stuff with great abandon.

Also released a remastered version of Excitable Boy, the one with Werewolves of London on, which has four bonus tracks along with a much clearer, cleaner sound that breathes some new life into a classic album that's worth listening afresh to.

Lies, Damn Lies And Wine Prices

The Guardian looks into how supermarkets and off-licences price their wines and doesn't like what it sees:
One wine importer, who asked to remain nameless for obvious reasons, is more open still: "I often find myself touting a £7.99 wine that will actually sell mainly at £3.99. The idea is that people will believe it might really be worth something in between those two prices - perhaps £5.99. It's not. It's worth £3.99 and not a penny more." In other words, anyone who pays full price for it is being very badly ripped off.

Oddbins gets a nod for not having promotions at all:
One retailer is trying to break the deadlock. Last summer Oddbins decided to sell all its still wines at the same price all year round. "Previously, a third of our wines were promoted," says head buyer Emma Nichols. "We worked out the average price, asked suppliers to meet that all year round, and dropped our prices accordingly. It encourages people to shop by taste rather than by promotion. The idea is that people can buy what they want, when they want, and at a fair price. And I can spend my time doing what I love: hunting out small wineries doing interesting things, rather than organising promotions."

But this approach, it seems can confuse some wine buyers. If they aren't getting some incentive, it seems, they'll stick to what they know.

Meaningless Evil

Micheal Bywater reviews a new book called "THE LUCIFER EFFECT: How Good People Turn Evil" by Philip Zimbardo in the Times, the book itself looks facinating, but Bywater makes this point:
Google "evil" – a word so empty that it should surely have withered away – and up come 136m hits in a third of a second. Tony Blair swore to confront evil wherever he found it. George W Bush would be lost without the word: his name is co-googled with it more than 2m times.

It's something I've said before. When every little nasty thing that happens becomes "evil" then evil has not meaning.

I believe Christopher Hitchens has said something similar about "offensive". Nowadays rather than merely disliking something or being mildly annoyed by it we can't seem to have a negative opinion about something without having to describe that something as offensive. It's an odd debasement of language that such powerful terms come to mean so very little. It's not that we can somehow reserve these words, "evil" and "offensive" will always get bandied about whenever there as disagreement, but I think they should be questioned where found.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

PowerPoint Sucks

Now with Scientific Proof!

Music Industry Seems To Make Smart Decision Shock!

The New York Times reports that at least one guitar tab site should be back on-line soon:
Last year popular sites like Olga.net, MxTabs.net and others — where users post tablature, usually called "guitar tabs," for rock songs — suspended operations after the music publishing industry threatened them with copyright infringement lawsuits. Under the new initiative, MxTabs, which is owned by MusicNotes, will share an undisclosed portion of advertising revenue with music publishers, who in turn will give a portion to artists.

This looks like good news to me and only the truly curmudgeonly would deny artists their share of any advertising revenue, assuming it gets to them, anyway.

There are a couple of odd things about the article on close inspection and one is that it seems that publishers probably could make any money out of selling tabulature anyway, at least not with the range that the amateur sites have so it seems as though they are using others hard work as a source of free money, so business as usual then.

And that, in a way is the other odd thing, the people getting paid, the publishers and the site managers aren't actually doing a great deal. The kids in their bedrooms transcribing their new favourite bands' latest track are treated almost disdainfully and yet it's their work, accurate or not and debates on creativity notwithstanding, that's making money for everyone else.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Gloss Finish For Donny

Doncaster Rovers picked up their first major trophy at the weekend. It was quite a match, even the Guardian agrees:
This was the 46th and last football cup final to be staged at the Millennium Stadium and there were some beforehand who suggested the fact that it featured two mid-table lower division teams must render it a damp squib. But it turned out to be one of the most memorable occasions of them all, a five-goal thriller which ended with Doncaster Rovers, who nine years ago were at the bottom of the Conference and all but of business, scoring in extra-time to win the first major trophy in their history.

I'm still not exactly sure what the Johnstone's Paint Trophy is, but congratulations to Donny!