Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Airport Security Man Is Wrong

Not the most shocking of headlines but this article shows why giving the sort of person who wants to be a security guard too much power can be a bad thing.

Via Making Light.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The News Is Wrong

Crunks 2009: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections has many eyebrow raising entries and at least one pixellated penis to boot.

My favourite might well be:

Daily Mirror (U.K.):

ON 17 July 2008 in our front page article “Ron the Lash” we falsely reported that whilst recovering from an operation to his ankle Cristiano Ronaldo had “gone on a bender” at a Hollywood nightclub where he splashed out pounds 10,000 on champagne and vodka and threw his crutches to the ground and tried to dance on his uninjured foot. We now accept that Cristiano did not “go on a bender”, did not drink any alcohol that evening, did not spend pounds 10,000 on alcohol, nor throw his crutches to the floor or try to dance.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Nominative Determinism Near Miss

According to this article, the head of sales at American Airlines is Chuck Imhof. Surely he should be head of security.

More on Nominative Determinism.

Friday, 11 December 2009

The Banks Are Wrong

According to Barclays boss Bob Diamond, if we tax the bankers they may very well piss off elsewhere (quite where, seeing as bankers aren't that welcome anyplace else, isn't hinted at, maybe they'll all go and stay at Phil Collins' place in Switzerland).

So, we either claw back some of the money we threw at the banks to keep the economy afloat or we lose a bunch (wunch?) of craven, venal incompetents. Smells like victory to me!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

John Adams Is Wrong

So, I finally go around to watching the acclaimed HBO mini-series John Adams (also Recount and Generation Kill, that's some strange distorted look at the USA right there) and it turns out it's all lies.
But the handling of the renewed Adams-Jefferson correspondence, the defining act of both men’s retirement and probably the greatest epistolary exchange in American history, is far worse. Here is what the series shows: Abigail Adams dies in 1818; John’s old friend Benjamin Rush urges that he write to Jefferson about his loss, hoping the two elder statesmen can provide each other with comfort in their final years; Adams does so; Jefferson’s first reply is dated to 1819; the correspondence flowers, friendship is renewed. This sequence is wholly invented, and simply appalling. Rush was indeed instrumental in renewing contact between Adams and Jefferson, but he was definitely not available to counsel Adams after Abigail’s death in 1818: Rush himself had died five years earlier. Rush had, in reality, worked carefully to bring the two former presidents back into harmony, but his efforts had culminated in 1812 – it was then that the Adams-Jefferson correspondence actually resumed, and Abigail herself was personally involved in the exchange for its first six years.

Hmmmm.

And, again, hmmmmm.

Fairly recently, while visiting England, I caught a program called "The Long Walk to Finchley", sort of Thatcher - The Early Years, which was all manners of wrong from the ground up given that the remit was, seemingly, to make That Woman sympathetic (and have Ted Heath lusting after her). Highlighting the many ways in which TV drama looking back only 50 years can fudge things (and outright fabricate others) in the name of the story.

But we should know this, part of Doctor Who's remit has always been to tell "historical" stories, but no right thinking person would believe that these were a true history. Kids, I think, intuitively grasp this. Adults, it seems, are fooled by it having HBO on the front and the date popping on screen every so often. Just as wikipedia is OK so long as it is only the starting point of your research, TV Dramas can give you the broad strokes of a man's life. Necessarily drama reduces people to certain aspects of their character and only a limted number of viewpoints. Citizen Kane shows how people change when viewed through the lens of other people and Welles himself has been many things to many biographers.

Going back to John Adams, there were many points where it was obvious some sort of ellision was taking place -- the wordier the conversation, I'd guess, the more likely it was an exchange of letters. There was also the oddness of the Adams' front porch abutting a road that only ever seemed filled historically important traffic. You can come up for dramatic reasons why that might be (good or not).

That said, I do feel a little more knowledgable about the American Revolution now, but I will still base my actual knowledge on something more concrete than a TV show. Specifically, my three playthroughs of Day of the Tentacle and endless games of various iterations of Colonization.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

I've Missed So Much

When I get more in to the rhythm of my new set-up and posting from home a little more often then, hopefully, I'll be able to bring you fresh, hot links but as it is some of the following might be a little stale (if you read the same blogs I do):

Now Still Playing...

Actually, I've finished my first playthrough on Dragon Age: Origins. I thoroughly enjoyed and I'm going to work my way through the Origon stories one-by-one some time soon (and maybe write a more fleshed out review) if I don't get too distracted by something new and shiny (Call of Duty Classic looks interesting as does Assassin's Creed II).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Now Playing Dragon Age: Origins

Time flys when you're trying to become a ranger.

Some reviews have said that the graphics in Dragons Age: Origins aren't that impressive on the XBox. Suggesting that on other platforms the graphics march out of your HD tv and smack you round the head with a 2 by 4. Actually, some of the tress in some scenic parts are kind of flat and there's still that uncanny valley thing going on.

There's a slight feeling that this is Mass Effect skinned to look like Lord of the Rings, this is not really a bad thing.

I'm only in the early stages yet, I've just become a Spectre Grey Warden after my human noble family was betrayed and my parents killed. DA:O parcels out the story in little snippets, while heavily suggesting there's a larger world (does anybody read more than a couple of codexs?), keeping you to a fairly linear path in the beginning. There's nothing particulary new here but it does it all very well.

One of the first quests involves killing large rats and the game is cute enough to comment on that.

Currently, I actually want to do all six of the openings just to see what is different, but I'll wait until I get stuck in my first playthrough. I tend to find with RPGs that at some point I do feel like getting everything out of them, but with one playthrough being 20+ hours the greater feeling is that enough is enough.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Still Playing Catch Up

But you should probably go and play Small Worlds, it doesn't take too long and it is quite beautiful in a minimalist way. There's even a hint of a story or, at least, you can interpret it in such a way that it makes some form of sense. It's well worth ten minutes of your time.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

I Predict This Motel Will Be Standing Until I Pay My Bill

The Morning News links to a Newsweek article about some bad recent predictions. See if you can predict which of your favourite ones are on it.

Coming in at number 6 is the death of irony. Which wasn't a prediction and was wrong the moment it was said anyway. Ironically it was uttered by an American a nation whose sense of irony tends toward the suspect (not that they can't do it or understand it but there seem to be any number of literalists over there with too much access to the public).

The end of irony was, of course, a reaction to 9/11. That the Guardian had Chris Morris lampooning the media reaction to 9/11 mere days afterwards was obviously just a death spasm. Irony didn't even ironically survive, it just kept going in the face of any number of people wanting to be all po-faced about it. How could people laugh at time like that? Well, some people are sick but quite a few more use humour, dry sarcastic humour as much as any other, as a catharsis and that wasn't going to go away, just like history didn't end in the '90s.

Mad Men Simpsons Mash Up

The Guardian links to five Mad Men parodies, some better than others, but I sure do hope that someone makes a t-shirt out of this (minus the writing):

Behind The Times

But this is worth a visit if you haven't already been sent there by no end of other blogs. The New York Times has a very well done gallery of Berlin then and now, with a slidey thing so you can see just how clever it all is.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

It's Been A Sci-Fi Week

After watching Star Trek I downloaded the latest mission pack for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed to my Xbox 360. It's one level set on Tatooine in, yet another, alternate universe, one where Vader's Apprentice bested Vader at the end of Force Unleashed.

It was too short, I tend to play these things on "Casual" nowadays as I just can't get twitchy enough for the harder levels of these things (I'll tell you about my afternoon playing multi-player Gears Of War one day, a game I thought was a sneak-along...). It took me about an hour to finish, so for a tenner it wasn't much gameplay.

But...

You get to fight Boba Fett, crush Jabba's Rancour and brutally murder Obi-Wan Kenobi. One of the "achievements" involves throwing Jawas into a grinder. If the original game had this much wit and verve for it's whole length then it would have been a classic.

Mini DVD Review: Star Trek

For various reasons I tend to get fan feedback on SF movies before I get a chance to see the actual movie itself. So I got the feeling that there was a sizeable minority of fan-boys out there that were adamant that Star Trek wasn't "Star Trek". Possibly there were mutterings about canon and inconsistencies with established histories.

Hmmm.

I enjoyed it. Galaxy Quest may now officially be the second best Star Trek movie. What probably surprised me the most is that I felt most of the broad comedy actually worked. If I had complaints they would that that the Enterprise was a bit of a secondary character overall as was Bones who, as in the original series, should be the soul part of mind, body and soul but here was mostly just bemused.

Somebody Make This Now

It would make my Xmas shopping so easy.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

They Do It On Purpose You Know

The Daily Mail has always pandered to its core readership and on the Internet that pandering just seems to get worse. What else to explain this article which even Fark derided the central argument as "The trouble with a scientific argument is that it relies solely on empirical facts".

Hilariously the article even auto-violates Godwin's Law. Possibly even going on to prove Poe's Law.It should probably be up for some Internet award. Perhaps AN Wilson is trying to compete with Jan Moir.

I am slightly back, by the way, and trying a new "blogging from home" get up. I hope to keep it up, if only to get more use to this keyboard...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Still Here

I actually have a good reason for light posting this month: a pulmonary embolism. Fun.

Anyway I should be back somewhere near full health soon and should be back to full posting sometime after that. More info when I have time not devoted to recuperation and sleeping.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A Prayer Before Shagging

A handful of links.

  • Because saying "Oh God" repeatedly during just isn't enough.

  • Artists respond predictably, but beautifully, to the Disney/Marvel Merger.

  • A bit of NSFW-ness that made me smile from This Isn't Happiness.

  • DeathSpank. Some details on one of Ron Gilbert's latest projects (and it looks mighty fine).

  • Feral Houses in Detroit, via Boing Boing.The trees are slowly taking America back.

  • The English Laguage takes a pummeling from Sid Waddell. "Steve Beaton, he's not Adonis, he's THE donis", "The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in with a portion of chips, you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them" and so on...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

And On It Goes

Now, apparently the Government want to ban people from licensed premises for up to two years if they've been a bit unruly with the drink.

Great. Pubs are closing at the rate of something around 5-10 a day and the Government wants to take away their best customers. They also want to take away the glasses.

Well, of course you want to make drinking less popular because people who have obviously never been to a pub in their life don't really like the idea of it. This being the UK the tale isn't quite as joined up as you'd like. Here's an article from an admittedly biased source that claims alcohol consumption is falling in the UK and has been for a while:

Other key indicators of overall UK alcohol consumption are:

• Alcohol consumption was six per cent lower in 2008 than in 2004 – 8.9 litres per head against 9.5 litres per head

• Consumption has fallen by 4.6 per cent since the introduction of the Licensing Act in 2005, resulting in a saving to the economy of £2.3 billion over the last three years.

• The current reduced level of consumption in 2008 could save the economy £8.0 billion over ten years, according to the Government’s own figures – even without any further decreases in consumption.

• Of 20 countries where comparable data is available, the UK ranks only 14th in alcohol consumption per head – well behind consumption levels in France and Germany.


I would put good money on this decline being sharper in certain areas and that what's preventing UK consumption dropping further down is the rise of the middle class wine drinker, who probably sees nothing much wrong in his bottle (or just half, if he's careful) of wine a day with dinner.

It seems to me that when you create big soulless city center pubs whose only function is to swap as much alcohol for as much money as they can make on a weekend, that it is inevitable that you are going rub all sorts of socially disfunctional people up against each other, many the sort of person who shouldn't be rubbed at all.

That closure rate means there's less choice and what's being closed are those pubs that have been squeezed by whichever middle-management chisellers bought them up after the Government decided that the breweries had a monopoly (something Private Eye have recently decided to point up, too late, so I guess Ian Hislop's favourite local must have fallen foul of Enterprise Inns or whoever). The soulless franchises are there for different reasons and, so, become the norm.

This leads to the odd idea that people are drinking less, though more in one go, in fewer, though bigger, pubs. Which actaully seems to point to a problem. That problem isn't the glass the pint comes in but a series of goverment policies that have lead to the hounding out of smaller, local pubs in favour of larger chain pubs, it is thus logical that the answer to that problem is to investigate the glassware.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Cows Are Out To Get You

A post to scare my Mother:

The deaths of no fewer than four people after being trampled by cows in the past two months has prompted Britain's main farming union to issue a warning about the dangers of provoking the normally docile animals.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Drugs Don't Work, But Placebos Do

If you, like me, are fascinated by the Placebo effect, then you'll be glad to know it's getting stronger or, perhaps, merely stranger:
By the late '90s, for example, the classic antianxiety drug diazepam (also known as Valium) was still beating placebo in France and Belgium. But when the drug was tested in the US, it was likely to fail. Conversely, Prozac performed better in America than it did in western Europe and South Africa. It was an unsettling prospect: FDA approval could hinge on where the company chose to conduct a trial.

Colours make a difference too. If you're looking for a pick-me-up then make sure you get the red placebo.

Also, I should really have heard of the "nocebo" before, despite finding that neologism quite ugly:
It also works in reverse to produce the placebo's evil twin, the nocebo effect. For example, men taking a commonly prescribed prostate drug who were informed that the medication may cause sexual dysfunction were twice as likely to become impotent
.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Poster For An Upcoming Gig


I've got a template now and I'm not afraid to use it.

These photos were, mostly, taken at the last gig in Doherty's by Robert Unterfurtner. I've processed them a bit to give the main images something of a burnished quality. I'm not sure if I've overdone it by adding "drop-shadow" to the names, though, it seems very 90's but it does give the lettering some weight. I guess not all faddish things are bad...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A Question I May As Well Ask Here, Too

Is Ireland trying to become the worlds first Theme Country?

I guess it was partly the itinery -- Dublin, Knowth, Giant's Causeway, etc. -- but just in the way English pubs in the country became Country Pubs, Ireland seems to have slightly over done it on the horse brasses and ploughman's lunches to become, well, "Irish".

Not that it's a bad thing. There were many ways that Ireland reminds you it's not England. A complete lack of pork pies, for one and the fact that every pub had the same four or five beers. There's Guinness, of course, with the occasional Beamish to back it up, Harp, Carlsberg and Bulmers (or Magners) with an American beer, too, Bud or Coors mostly. In every damn bar that I went in, with the exception of Porter House in Dublin (well worth a visit, that place), it was exactly the same. Given that a decent pint of Guinness is its own reward I couldn't grumble too much, but some sort of CAMRA style action is sorely needed.

Speaking of sorely needed, only one place I went to the toilet at had a bog brush. Surely a nation where a thick black drink is their tipple of choice has to see that there is something wrong with this. Much flushing (possibly a bar I visited -- and the Dublin bars did seem to want to get together and form a poem The Flowing Tide, the Winding Stair etc.) is no substitute.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Me 'n' Me Mum


Apparently I can either smile or have my eyes open in a photograph, but not both.

And here's one of me with the BluesBerries, looking just a little less "chinny" than last time...

Friday, 24 July 2009

Cuteness Explodes

Lego Toy Story. I'm not going to buy any of this because my apartment couldn't handle the cuteness. But tell me this picture didn't make you go "awwwww".

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Back From Hols, For The Moment

Posting will be back to regularly slipshod as soon as possible, meanwhile, here's a pic to keep you going.

Also, am I the only person to find it odd that this British "report" on how making your own sandwiches can save you money is illustrated with a very Austrian leberkase semmel (which is mostly likely bought from a shop)?

Monday, 6 July 2009

Some Videos

A couple of things caught my eye recently and one or two of them may not have been blogged so much:

On the Jack Black problem, I also liked Kung Fu Panda very much. Perhaps he's better as a voice over artist where you can't see his perpetual mugging and the animators tone him down a lot.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Austria, Second Most Violent Country In Europe

According to the Daily Mail, from this report, the UK is the most violent country in Europe, with Austria coming second. Meaning, I guess, my life is slowly becoming less violent. I should perhaps move to South Africa next, despite, er, it not being in Europe. Here's the chart:

I'm not sure when Canada was part of Europe either, but when you've got a point to prove I suppose these things don't matter.

Interestingly, and slightly under-reported in the article, the UK comes 13th in Europe in homocides and if I had to choose between a beating, robbery or being shot to death I guess I'd choose being robbed then being beaten with death a somewhat distant third.

It also gives something of a lie to that South African thing:
While the UK ranks above South Africa for all violent crime, South Africans suffer more than 20,000 murders each year - compared with Britain's 921 in 2007.


Hmmm.

As for the Austrian thing, the Overseas Security Advisory Council, which is something set up by Americans to protect Americans abroad says:

The crime rate in Austria is among the lowest in Europe. Violent crime is infrequent and is rarely directed against Americans. Most criminal activity is focused in large metropolitan areas.


And the American government takes the same tack:

Austria has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, and violent crime is rare.


The odd thing here is that the figures in the above report taken at face value do bear some of this out. In Austria, in 2007, 133,546 incidences of violent crime were reported in a country with a population of 8,210,281 does give you around 1600 violent crimes per 100,000 people or, approximately, 7 or 8 per day in Linz and one per day in Steyr. Anecdotes aren't evidence but I doubt anyone in Austria believes this.

This may be, though, because:

Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence.


Now that I can believe in. Austrians may not commit much crime, but they sure are willing to report it.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Useful, But Somehow Wrong

So, I'm almost ready to join that whole home Internet revolution malarky. Mostly by getting my X-Box on-line in the next few weeks. I've already been allowed to try it at work, so I am now the proud owner of the latest Sam & Max game (and it's great), and I like the idea of just downloading things to my 'Box from my couch rather than that pesky Amazon/walking to the shops thing.

One thing I found out straight away is that the console also uploads stuff, so any time I want I can check out my gamer achievements whenever I want. I'm not entirely sure why I find this slightly unnerving, but I suppose always being able to know whether or not I've done the "Absolute Power is Kind of Neat" achievement on Civilization Revolutions is what the Internet was built for.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Used Ass Dealer

You know, I suspect that more context would explain this, but, really, I prefer to be mystified.

Via the inscrutable, but beautiful, this isn't happiness.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Another Victory For Common Sense

Portugal has the most lax laws on drugs in Europe, or at least since 2001, when it abolished all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, it has. As expected by everyone not involved in the War on Drugs this has turned out to be a good thing.

[It was] found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."

Monday, 15 June 2009

Egging Griffin

Crooked Timber has post on whey it is every right-thinking British person's duty to throw eggs at Nick Griffin whenever he's seen in public.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Good News Everyone Redux

Apparently trying for more come-backs than the Zombie Jesus, Futurama will return to TV.

I shall commence patting myself on the back for keeping on buying the DVDs, even though the quality may have dipped slightly on the third one (nerdy I'm more than okay with but there's a limit).

That's Good Cos Your Tits Aren't Up To Much

So my excuse for not blogging this week is:

Angina!

Possibly "acute" if you want to the use the punchline provided above.

Thankfully, this was "angina tonsillaris", or tonsilitis.

You know, a week in bed isn't that much fun when you can't do much else. I have so much stuff to catch up with, of course.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

All My Friends Are Monkeys

Ron Gilbert talks about the future of the Monkey Island games. So what? You may ask. Isn't that all he talks about? Well, it's not all he talks about, but this time the future's bright!

There's the re-release tarted up version for XBox 360 and some other hardware coming from Lucasarts and there's a new episodic adventure coming from Telltale Games that will, hopefully, eventually be ported to the XBox.

Also, Ron goes back and plays the first game and reminisces on what he got right, what he got wrong and what we can learn from both. Great stuff!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Pr0n Without People

A great idea let down by not-so-mad photoshop skills. Totally safe for work. Unless your work frowns upon slightly drab pics of random pieces of furniture...

See also: Danish 70s Interior Design Porno Style

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Vast Minorities

Making Light recently linked to this cartoon in Cracked adding, in the title, that the "online version of Cracked is surprisingly witty". Quite true, I've been reading it for the last few months semi-regularly, so go and spend some time perusing their lists. There's a few gems in there.

Friday, 22 May 2009

10 things you didn't know about orgasm

You know if you aren't hurriedly clicking over to this video simply because of the title, then I'm not sure why you are reading this blog. It's funny all the way through, but it's worth staying to watch the Norwegian video giving tips to farmers on how to arouse thier sows while artificially inseminating them. Really...

Monday, 18 May 2009

The Blue Beanie

The Blue Beanie is a simple, well designed and very pretty Samarost clone. You can almost win by clicking randomly, but the puzzles are quite simple and have their own logic. It's beautifully presented and makes an enjoyable ten minute diversion.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Do you KNOW who I AM?

"I have 25,000 followers on Twitter"

Deserves to be the new "Lurkers support me in e-mail".

But it's OK, he was only joking...

Cricket News To Come

So, ASK├ľ Cricket Club Steyr were thrashed. We still enjoyed the day and, through a series of coincidences, I was the first player for CCS to bowl against another team.

Quite the honour.

I will have photos soon for you all. Velden CC is quite spectacularly situated, so hopefully there's some suitably dramatic shots.

Also I should have more news on the Bluesberries. We have had a couple of decent gigs in the last month and we have another one in St. Valentin this weekend. We've just got to get the wierd lull in the second set worked out and then we'll be able to progress.

Yet One More Reason Not To Clean Up

Rotten office fridge cleanup sends 7 to hospital
Authorities said an enterprising office worker had decided to clean it out, placing the food in a conference room while using two cleaning chemicals to scrub down the mess. The mixture of old lunches and disinfectant caused 28 people to need treatment for vomiting and nausea.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar

So says Prince, possibly because they aren't offering him enough money, but publicly because, it seems, he wants people to actually learn how to play the guitar Prince will not be appearing in any version of Guitar Hero anytime soon.
"I just think it's more important that kids learn how to actually play the guitar," Prince said.

"It's a tough instrument - it's not easy. It took me a long time, and it was frustrating at first. And you just have to stick with it, and it's cool for people who don't have time to learn the chords or ain't interested in it. But to play music is one of the greatest things."

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

!?

The Grauniad has a fun article on the renaissance of the exclamation mark!

Personally, I'm with Terry Pratchett on this.

How False Rumours Cost Lives

The good people at Making Light have flagged up this article on how false rumours can cost lives. It's an interesting read and full of good advice, my favourite is:
Does the person believe in other highly improbable theories, like the Time Cube, extraterrestrial lizards controlling the world, creationism, homeopathy, the idea that vaccines are ineffective and a conspiracy of silence among all doctors to poison our children, or that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim? Maybe their judgment isn’t very good.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A Little Something Obvious

One of my presents this year was a complete box-set of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. I know it's a really obvious thing to say but apart from the styles (the clothing, being all suits, haven't faired badly, but the hair is occasionally dated), the oddly flat camera lighting and one or two little references (the trades unions have some power) this could have been made yesterday. In fact I'm pretty sure some of the scandals in it only happened last month.

I'm surprised the BBC haven't thrown John Simm (now I mention it I think he'd be a good Sir Humphrey), David Morrissey (Bernard?) and, say, Paterson Joseph (as Jim Hacker, though actually you could probably put any of them in any of the roles) at it for a thoroughly modern update.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Resumption of Light Posting Expected Soon

"Ah that would be a resumption. You know what happens when you make a resumption. You make a fool out of res and umption!"

Just a bit of an odd week last week. I guess I had no time. I was having too much fun with Guess Her Muff (which has links that are Not Safe For Work, but the main content is OK), if ever there was a blog that deserved to be turned in to a book... It's probably not that one, but it sure is hypnotic, after a couple of entries it becomes less about nekkid ladies and more about how good your guesses are.

I got a whole bunch of cool things for my B'Day and absolutely nothing that was in anyway uncool. Great stuff. Steve asked me what I thought of Merlin so I guess putting it here is as good a place as any.

Well, the obvious thing to say is that it's totally solid post-New-Who family entertainment. It has a talented charismatic young cast anchored by a few older types (Richard Wilson, Anthony Head and, blimey, John Hurt) who look to be having some fun with it all. The dialogue is occassionally a little stodgy with a lot of "destiny" talk, but is the main sets a nice tone that manages to be modern without being knowing or campy and is often witty. It actually helps that this is a young Merlin and Arthur as it means they can make mistakes and, you know, grow. Their youthful wrong-headedness, arrogance, etc. slowly being stripped away while more honorable qualities get revealed, meaning that it doesn't feel as static as something like Robin of Sherwood (this week: heroic Robin heroicly saves the day with his band of heroes).

As it's the BBC, the budget can't quite match the ambition and, though the CG isn't exactly embarrassing, the creatures never actually seem actually interact with the humans.

One thing that surprised me is that Merlin, the program, is not too afraid of death. It starts with a beheading and any number of minor characters pop their clogs before the end of the season in sometimes gruesome ways.

If I had to sum it up I'd probably say it was like a very British Xena and I'd mean it in a good way.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Normally You'd Just Get A Special Unlockable Character

According to the Telegraph a man in Gloucestershire found Ecstasy in a game manual for a preowned copy of GTA (IV I guess, the article isn't specific). Look here it says:
Richard Thornhill said the consequences could have been "horrific" if the tablets had been found by his son Jamie, or by his daughter Danielle, 16.

[...]

"I have two children and my son plays Xbox all the time. He could easily have opened the box and found them.

"I dread to think what the consequences would have been if he had. He is only 12. He could have died."


You should also look here, at the bottom left:



So, he's a cheap, lazy father who is quite happy to give his children age-inappropriate material.

Mr Thornhill, 34, a tool hire company manager


Three too many words.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

How To Dismantle U2

No Rock & Roll Fun takes a big chunk out of Paul McGuinness, manager of U2, for applauding the French for their appaling new "creation and internet" law.

To be honest McGuinness doesn't help himself with lines like:
[I]t is about the future of a new generation of artists who aspire to be the next U2

You know what he means, but, seeing as U2 seem to have milked all of being U2 dry and settled into near-self-parody and virtual irrelevance, this isn't quite the prospect it once was.

Anyway, NRRF goes through all that and has the best lines. Including:
Paul McGuinness, manager of Dutch property company U2

And:
Still, someone from the U2 organisation flattering a right-wing President and telling him that his flawed ideas are, actually, signs of genius. That's something you don't see every day.

Ouch.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Yet Another Call To Legalise Drugs

The Guardian points to a new report from Transform (Transform Drug Policy Foundation bill themselves as UK's leading centre of expertise on drug policy and law reform).

They say:
The UK Government specifically claims the benefits of any move away from prohibition towards legal regulation of drug markets would be outweighed by the costs. No such cost-benefit analysis, or even a proper Impact Assessment of existing enforcement policy and legislation has ever been carried out here or anywhere else in the world. Yet there are clear Government guidelines that an Impact Assessment should be triggered by amongst other things, a policy going out to public consultation or when ‘unintended consequences’ are identified, both of which have happened with drug policy in recent years.

So, Transform set out to do as much of a cost-benefit analysis as they could. Using, as far as I can tell, the Governments own figures. They came up with the following numbers:
The net annual benefit of a move from prohibition to legal state regulation and control of drug markets would be:
Scenario a) 50% fall in use, net benefit = £13.943 billion
Scenario b) No change in use, net benefit = £10.834 billion
Scenario c) 50% increase in use, net benefit = £7.724 billion
Scenario d) 100% increase in use, net benefit = £4.616 billion


That is, if drugs were legalized and controlled by the Government and use of Heroin and Cocaine subsequently doubled (there's evidence that when cannabis was briefly reclassified as a Class C drug that that usage among 16-24-year-olds actually fell). The Government would be £4 billion better off, which could probably go someway to paying for AIG's next big party.

I really don't have the time or the expertise to question Transform's sums, but that looks like a good deal to me...

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Second Only To Lego

This might be one of the greatest Star Wars merchandising ideas ever.

It's my birthday soon, so if someone wants to buy me an inflatable x-wing now's the time!

Tendence Groucho

I seem to remember that before the current crisis a number (well perhaps just one) of economists were of the opinion that only a close reading of Karl Marx could explain Capitalism in its current state (and especially the bankers version of it) with any kind verisimilitude.

Somewhat later Christopher Hitchens has had a similar thought:
I learn that the pride of American capitalism has seized up and begun to rust, and that automobiles may cease even to be made in Detroit as a consequence of insane speculation in worthless paper "derivatives." Did I not once read somewhere about the bitter struggle between finance capital and industrial capital? The lines of jobless and hungry begin to lengthen, and what more potent image of those lines do we possess than that of the "reserve army" of the unemployed—capital's finest weapon in beating down the minimum wage and increasing the hours of the working week? A disturbance in a remote corner of the world market leads to chaos and panic at the very center of the system (and these symptoms are given a multiplier effect when the pangs begin at the center itself), and John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, doughty champions of capitalism at The Economist, admit straightforwardly in their book on the advantages of globalization that Marx, "as a prophet of the 'universal interdependence of nations,' as he called globalization ... can still seem startlingly relevant ... His description of globalization remains as sharp today as it was 150 years ago."

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Something Worth Saying Over And Over

The Atlantic has an article explaining, in so many words, how America behaved exactly like all those emerging nations it has a tendency to look down on and got themselves in to exactly the same sort of mess that leads countries to ask the IMF to bale them out. Full of good stuff. Especially this little bit:
A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true. [...]

Of course, this was mostly an illusion. Regulators, legislators, and academics almost all assumed that the managers of these banks knew what they were doing. In retrospect, they didn’t.


Of course these bankers who didn't know what they were doing are now trying to convince people that they are the only ones who know the system well enough to dig us out of this mess. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Tim Schafer: Legend

As part of his eternal self-promotion (and he deserves what ever recogition he gets), Tim Schafer has released a mini Escape the Room type thing in the style of the classic Lucasarts adventures. It's called Host Master and the Conquest of Humor and is worth the ten to twenty minutes of your time it takes to finish it. Fun, funny and rewarding -- all the things an adventure game should be.

Update: I've just got my monthly quota of hits here looking for a walkthrough for the above. I don't want to do that, but I will give some hints.

  • The description of each item often has a subtle hint.

  • Looking at something after you've used it will occasionally get more information.

  • If it's dirty, it probably needs cleaning.

  • Some things aren't used to bright light.

  • Almost all objects have a different response to the different commands, so just because one doesn't work on something doesn't mean another won't.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

PG Porn Again

I'm sure I've linked to this before when they did the first one with Nathan Fillion. They've just done another PG Porn with some guy from TV shows I don't watch, but, as far as I can tell, they are pretty much spot on parodies.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Notes And Such

So I have a fun Saturday coming up. "Team Training" at nine. Cricket at two. Markus' at six to start the Linz gig by nine.

Luckily Sunday is free.

Cricket training was excellent last Sunday. It was nice to have our own space for two hours and not be worried about being moved on by some seventh league football teams' third youth teams trainer. My legs have just about recovered. I was a bit worried, but everyone I've spoken to has been the same. "No pain, no gain" I guess...

Which is all to say, yes I'm v. busy at the moment.

So, here, take a look at this stuff:

  • Austrian Cricket Association. An attempt to boost their page rank... CC Steyr's mini page, too.

  • Bruce Campbell at the AV Club (from a while ago, but Bruce is always good value).

  • Bars of Black & White A minimalist, but well made, escape the room game.

  • This Is Why You're Fat Pics of foods that manage to pack far too many calories onto one plate. The gross outweights the droolsome by quite a large margin.

  • What Buffy can teach us about difficult levels in games. To be fair (ish) they got it a bit more right with the second game. I remember the first one I need a walkthrough and invincibility to finish. The second one I just needed a walkthrough (mostly because the camera was so bad that at one point there was no way of seeing a certain opening...)

  • The Bikeshed Problem Procrastination at its finest.

  • Different drummers tendancy to speed up displayed in graph form. I'm not sure this proves any thing, but I found it fascinating.

  • Nathan Fillion at the AV Club (from a while ago, but Nathan is always good value).
  • The Economist: Prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution

  • Smell like The Shat.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Photos From The Unplugged Irish Gig


The Bluesberries in Widescreen.


All solos should be this much fun.



Won't someone please tuck in my shirt.



Beer. Foamy.



You talkin' to me?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Laughin' Len Live

Surely part of the thrill of a current Leonard Cohen concert is whether the 74 year-old might, er, croak while urging us to stuff the last tree that's left up the whole in our culture.

His singing voice actually seems more of a slightly breathless rasp than before, just a touch thinner than I remember, on this NPR cherry picking of his recent concert at The Beacon Theatre, but it certainly suits the songs well.

Monday, 2 March 2009

From The "Don't Give Them Ideas" File

A barely satirical swipe at Ryanair in response to the news that they are considering charging a pound for inflight use of toilets.

Via BoingBoing.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Going Down In History

For a while now the Guardian has had a regualar feature called Reel History that assesses the historical accuracy and the entertainment value of films inspired by true events. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford gets an A- for accuracy, for instance, while only garnering a D for entertainment, which is a little harsh and it manages to be one of those reviews where the reviewer wanted to watch a different movie:
Too often, the monotonous voiceover recounts events which sound a lot more interesting than anything happening onscreen, while the audience is left watching endless shots of snowy fields and rickety furniture. Jesse James remains a distant figure[.]

All of which seemed to have some point to me rather than being reasons to mark it down.

Anyway, it's quite amazing that they hadn't got around to U-571 before now as at seems exactly the sort of movie the format was built for: A movie about a moment of British Heroism that has been handed over to Americans to make it more Box Office friendly. As if that wasn't enough:
Obviously, at some point during pre-production, someone asked the question: "But how can we make this film even more ridiculous?" Fortunately, the answer was readily to hand: cast 90s poodle rocker Jon Bon Jovi as the chief engineer.

So, plenty of reasons to hate this movie. But the reason I'm posting about it here is for this line:
The director actually has the audacity to end on a title card dedicating his film to the memory of the real sailors who captured Enigma machines. Yes, that same memory he has just desecrated. This is exactly the most tasteless gesture the film-makers could have made.

Ouch!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

£50 Million In Heroin Is Only £100,000 (Also Not Actually Heroin)

Ministry of Defence propaganda and the Afghan drug war
So operation DIESEL, in reality, resulted in the finding and destruction of somewhere in the region of 1300kg of unprocessed opium and an a quantity of the chemicals required to process opium into heroin. A few quick sums: According to the UNODC the 'farm-gate' price for opium in Afghanistan in 2008 was $85 a kilo, and these DIESEL stockpiles were presumably not far from the Helmand farms on which they were produced. 1300 x 85 = $110,500, in other words, opium worth approximately £78,000 to the Taliban, at this point in the supply chain.

Were this 1300kg of opium to have been turned into low grade heroin (and we can reasonably suspect that this was what was going to happen), on the basis that it takes around 10kg of opium to produce 1 kg of heroin, it would have produced around 130kg. If the ‘street price’ of a kilo of heroin in the UK is estimated to be around £50- 75,000, then 130 kilos would earn you somewhere between £6.5 and £9.7 million. A very large sum of money certainly, albeit nowhere near £50 million.

It does make you wonder what drugs the MoD is on.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Prawo Jazdy: Road Menace

Mr. Jazdy was wanted by the Garda for over 50 motoring offences in Ireland, until it was pointed out that:
"Prawo Jazdy is actually Polish for 'driving licence' and not the first and surname on the licence."

Pure Genius.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Yet Another Post-Gig Claim Of Greatness

Well, we were great. All the 'Berries were on form. The Marki had any number of fine solos. Walter kept the all the pieces at just the right tempo. Hannes made "Dead, Drunk & Naked". I was glad to get through the whole thing with my voice intact.

The games room at Doherty's Bar isn't huge (I'd guess we got about 30 in — not packed but good enough) but singing with no amplification was a bit daunting. I managed it though. Having to belt out the songs didn't exactly suit all of them (a few songs really need more of a croon and the Tom Waitsy bit in Vanilla Pudding is diffcult to do without close miking) but some of the songs we did we as good as they've been. I personally thought we'd never done a better Prison Grove.

The only really wrong thing I remember was had an odd hesitant moment from me at the beginning of Dead, Drunk & Naked.

Our new song, "Love's Grown Cold", was a blast and just the thing to pep up the second set.

All in all, a fun night.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Happy


Me and new friend (and temporary member of Cricket Club Steyr) Emlyn. I post this only because I don't think I've ever looked so happy in a photo.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Yet Another Gig Poster


Yes, it came from Obamicon.me which I suppose sort of makes me a hack, but in Austria where that image isn't really in the public consciousness it makes me a poster maker of very great speed...

Monday, 9 February 2009

Cricket

I have lots to say about this, too. But for now just marvel at the crassness that is my campaign to get more people interested:

Yet Another V. Busy Post

Really, I'm just working my socks off...

Which is bad because I had a huge rant about just when you thought banks couldn't get any lower they find a new low, then start digging.

Friday, 30 January 2009

A Little Something For The Weekend

I've posted about a game called Blocks With Letters On in one of my previous link posts. A couple of weeks ago (yes, I've been busy) I found out, through the incomparable JayIsGames site, that they'd made a sequel cunningly titled More Blocks With Letters On. And, indeed, it is more of the same, only slightly different with a couple of extra goodies to make it just as compelling as the original. Just like the original the fun fizzles out on some of the longer, more involved puzzles (level 18 is particularly sadistic in this regard but it's quite the sensation when you beat it) but it's good brow furrowing stuff most of the time.

I also found on Jay's site a series of point-n'-click adventures with fantastic animation, corny (but good) humour, the occasionally fiendish puzzle and mulitple endings called the Several Journeys of Reemus. Great stuff, though it's probably best to start with the preview adventure The Visitor.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Gig Poster


This is the poster for the BluesBerries next gig. I'm fairly proud of this one. Though I may have ripped off this:

Though I like to think I've added something. Subliminal boobies.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Karaoke Rage

There's a whole other post (a series, probably) on how everything is a "rage" these days, but this article on Karaoke Rage in Slate tickled me. Not so much for the insight -- people can can precious about music and being a drunk exhibitionist doesn't help your impluse issues -- but for the examples. One in particular:
And in Asia, there's been a string of karaoke-bar stabbings and shootings, including a horrific incident in Bangkok in which eight amateur singers were murdered by their neighbor, reportedly due in part to his hatred of John Denver's "Country Roads."

Now, I've never murdered anyone over "Country Roads", but I live in Austria, so the chances for me to do it are quite high. In fact if I were to snap it would probably be that. Or "Summertime".

Friday, 23 January 2009

Microsoft Not Totally Evil?

I'm so behind on all things at the moment. Apparently Microsoft have released something called Songsmith (it generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice, so the blurb says) and the fun thing to do is to take a vocal track from someone famous and have Songsmith destroy a cherished favourite. Obviously you then have to upload it somewhere to show just how bad MS and some old band singer are.

Except...

Well, except I really like this version of Wonderwall.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Literally

As if to prove not all football fans are illiterate, comes the story of hoax player Masal Bugduv and some sly Irish humour.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Freedom Of Speech Only For The Hardest

Over at the Guardian there's a discussion of how much abuse is too much for a footballer. The general rule seems to be if you're being racist or homophobic you've definitely gone too far (and if you're being both then you're probably a Spurs fan abusing Sol Campbell - and, yes, saying you'd like to see a black man hanging from a tree is racist).

Some ask if we should chant abuse at footballers at all. In a perfect society, probably not, but it doesn't help that you can imagine these vocally abused footballers crying themselves to sleep every night on a huge pile of money.

One commonplace is this sort of comment:

In my view the standard for any reasonable human being (OK that excludes quite a few fans I grant you) should be that anything you say whilst sitting/standing anonymously (cowardly even) amongst thousands of your ilk, you should also be prepared to say to the target of your views if you were face to face with him in the street whilst accompanied by your mother and your small child and what you say/do is not going to get you arrested.


Which, to me, suggests that if you are a sociopath or psychopath, or perhaps just hard and uncaring[1], then your range of free speech is much greater than the normal person. This doesn't seem right.

Personally, I don't care about bad language that much. It's an intensifier. Surely if you're calling some one "useless" or a "useless prick", say, it should be the "useless" part that hurts. If you are just shouting "prick" at a footballer, then perhaps it is time to reconsider (unless you're shouting it at the disappointing Harry Kewell, in which case go right ahead).

[1] Actually, it occurs to me that if I told some footballers what I thought of them to their face, my mother might join in.

Ooo, These Grapes Are Sour!

Dirk Benedict has much to say about the new BSG. A movie site, Big Hollywood, has given him a platform to say it.

You wish they hadn't.
One can quickly surmise what a problem the original Starbuck created for the re-imaginators. Starbuck was all charm and humor and flirting without an angry bone in his womanizing body. Yes, he was definitely “female driven,” but not in the politically correct ways of Re-imagined Television. What to do, wondered the Re-imaginators? Keep him as he was, with a twinkle in his eye, a stogie in his mouth and a girl in every galaxy? This could not be. He would stick out like, well, like a jock strap in a drawer of thongs. Starbuck refused to be re-imagined. It became the Great Dilemma. How to have your Starbuck and delete him too?


It's that whole bad tooth thing. You really want him to shut up and, well, you could just close the browser but just as you can't stop prodding at that tooth...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Changes

So, I've moved over to a new Blogger template, which sort of makes the page look just like any other blog, oh well...

I just wanted to add gadgets I guess and now I probably have less functionality than I did before.

I'll add all the old links back soon. Honest.

Flight Info

Over at Making Light Abi Sutherland posted a list of useful sites offering various information about flights and airports. I've just checked out Sky Scanner and I must say that I was very impressed with it. It's got a simple, easy to use, interface and the results seem to be very thorough (to get to Leeds Bradford from Linz, the flight goes to Dublin first, obvious, I suppose, but not something I'd thought of). I'll definitely give it a try next time I go back to England.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Posts Will Be Coming Soon

Two weeks off, even at Chrimble, sure does seem to build up a back-log. I haven't forgotten you, dear readers, I've just been busy catching up here at work before I can send out yet another filler Short Short item. I must try and do a couple of longer things in the next month or two.

So here's a couple of things any way: