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

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.


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."