30 December 2005

More lists from the interweb

Pop over to kottke.org for "the best links of 2005" - there is bound to be something in there of interest to you should you have a pulse.

Virgin's turn with the DRM

Not sure how accurate this picture is, but if true looks like Coldplay / Virgin might be in for some DRM schtick a la Sony.

Britain, Uzbekistan, torture and the Americans

The Times and the Craig Murray story on torture - if you haven't read it yet, go here. Alternatively, go to Craig's website here.

29 December 2005

BBC Reports 7% slide in CD sales in US in 2005

Au revoir CDs, you served us well but now your time is over. If only the allofmp3 server wasn't down I'd suggest you pop over there to view the future, or at least the near future.

Swap your CDs for an iPod?

Does this seem like a good deal?

45 CDs = 512 MB iPod Shuffle
65 CDs = 1 GB iPod Shuffle
85 CDs = 2 GB iPod Nano
110 CDs = 4 GB Nano
130 CDs = 30 GB iPod
175 CDs = 60 GB iPod

These are the swaps available from a new service in the US - details here. I like it. There is no answer to the first commenter who asks if the service takes AOL CDs.

Sony gives e-books another try

Sony is trying again with a new e-book thingammy along the lines of it's last disaster, I mean beautiful product, the Librie - read all about it at BusinessWeek online, here. Sounds promising but wait, is that the sound of DRMs (DRMs - drums - geddit?? Oh never mind). Anyway, if it works, if it is reasonably priced, and if the "books" you get are yours to keep, it might be worth a punt.... In fact, I'd love it to work as something like this would, I'm sure, be beautiful if done well, and Sony, despite their ever-growing list of cock-ups (DRM, rootkits, any of their music software packages, mp3 incompatibilities....), do give good product.

28 December 2005

More Predictions for 2006

A counterpunch to those predicting things for 2006 (see below), Blake Ross includes in his list of ten the thought that:

Yahoo, accelerating its bid to dominate the social space, will announce that it is buying the actual societies of 32 cash-strapped governments. Citizens will be allowed to link their existing names to their Yahoo accounts.

New Year Animaux

I do apologise for not leading you to this hippo, two kittens and a marmoset (?) earlier, but here they are at rathergood.com, just in time for the new year.

Two More Reasons to use Allofmp3.com

A very good post by David Berlind at ZDnet on why DRM is killing music: He asks how you:

"Buy someone a specific song through an online music store the way you might buy someone a CD?"

And how, "down the road, when there are no more CDs and all music is bought online, [do you] pass your life's music collection onto someone else when you die (the way you can pass on LPs and CDs today)?"

Of course, you know the answer already - you can't. EMI, Sony et al working on a solution? I'd posit not.

27 December 2005

Blogging Mania

Is the Scobleizer about to explode? Not only is he very upfront with his opinions about what MSFT should be buying next (and we're not, of course, talking about a stationery order), but at one stage he was posting ever few minutes on pretty much everything he was reading elsewhere - all good and exciting stuff.

The Joys of Theocracy, Part 801

While not helping to jail Chinese journalists, Yahoo news is reporting that Saudi telecom has prevented SMS voting for a popular talent show because it is (wait for it - OK, all together now): "a crime against Islam" (anyone with any ideas on anything popular and fun that isn't against Islam and doesn't come from the 12th century, please write in). Wahey. Right, now, please could we import the show from Lebanon, air it on British tv / cable / whatever, and then get prosecuted under the proposed insitement to religious hatred law? I so so want the government to see the error of their ways but this appears increasingly unlikely.
BTW, check out the nails on the guy on Yahoo's photo - ugh.

Future Sense

Inspired in part by this and this, here are my 10 predictions for (mainly UK-centric) digital happenings in 2006:
1. Google will buy into satellites.
2. Downloading music will continue to boom, both legal and illegal, but illegal will be on the upswing again. Music companies will continue to diversivy - there may be a leaked memo or two indicating that, near the top, they realise the game is up.
3. The internet and your mobile still won't mix owing to high charges for the combination - business use will grow but individual consumers will be nonplussed.
4. TV on your mobile will grow but very slowly - the hopes of the giant telecomms for a big uptake for the world cup will be dashed.
5. Riya will finally launch ... to mixed reviews.
6. Your granny will work out how to use a mobile.
7. None of the big tech companies will stand up against China's human rights abuses - plus ca change...
8. Interest in blogging will peak.
9. A small search startup will badly dent confidence in Google's core business.
10. Mrs Lemon's will remain a niche interest.


Surftail removed - site should download properly now. A shame the widget had to go as it was very useful - perhaps it can be reinstated when it is a little less buggy.

23 December 2005

Holiday Hiatus

Blogging lite over the next few days as Chrimbo kicks in hard. Back when time allows with a slew of new stories and more commentary than you can shake a stick at. In the meantime, Happy Holidays to both my readers.

A to B in NYC

Would it be easy to make this for London you think? An interactive subway map for NYC, you click on one point of the map as your starting place, another for your destination. Quick as a flash animation (actually a whole lot quicker), a route springs up showing timings, subway lines and walking directions. Fab.

Ding Dong Merrily You're Nicked

From the BBC:

Nine police officers disguised themselves as Victorian carol singers to carry out a drugs raid.

The Dorset Police officers were dressed in cloaks and
top hats and were carrying lanterns when they arrived at their intended
target in Weymouth.

Apparently they made a number of arrests. As I have always said, when it comes to Victorian carol singers, shoot first and ask questions later.

Surf Tail Tracker

The little device that indicates how many people are on the page isn't working still and may have gone into permanent meltdown - again, apologies if this page isn't finishing loading. I'll see what I can do to fix it / find out what's gone wrong. In the meantime, more credit to Performancing for Firefox - a great extension.

Maybe France instead of Canada?

Sacre bleu (has anyone in France ever said that btw?), the French are trying to "legalise downloading" according to Bloomberg.com europe (link busted - sorry). Apparently a group of ministers has reacted against a proposal to make filesharing a crime similar to counterfeiting and has come up with an....

.... amendment, which is attached to a bill on intellectual
property rights, [which] states that ``authors cannot forbid the
reproduction of works that are made on any format from an online
communications service when they are intended to be used
privately'' and not for commercial use.

22 December 2005

To Blog or not to Blog?

'Fraid I can't find who wrote this but it is an encouraging essay suggesting that you should blog. I have my doubts (see below - oh, about April I guess?) but this little essay suggests that it is worth persevering. The guy is called Steve and is a programmer (for Amazon?) - I can't find out more than this at the moment but do read it if you are blogging, thinking about blogging, or thinking about packing in blogging.

Rings around Uranus

Only really on here for the title. Sorry (see below re: Lachryma Christi for explanation).

Thought for the Day

How much smarter are you than your job requires you to be? If you find you are in multiples of two or above, time to change. Even 1.5 and you should be looking around for something fresh. Moving at 1.0 is best of course, but may not look so hot on your CV.

You Are On't Telly Mr Smith

Holy monkeys things are getting bad. I think I'm going to have to move to Canada while my cardiologist says I still can. Take a look over here at the Independent's story about all car journeys in the UK being recorded and kept (I guess that is just kept actually - they are already recorded) for 2 years. Nice.


I look and I look and I can't find the html code to remove from my template to get rid of that stoopid Site Surfer thingammyjig. Apologies again for the interminable loading of page.
While I am here, may you learn something from me: never post when you have had more than one glass of Lachryma Christi.

21 December 2005

Freaky (via Boing Boing)

A human head, skinned. Or at least, what one imagines it would look like. At panocamera.com.

Rolf Zwei

Today's Rolf pic - of him, of course, not by him. Conjures up images of my parents sideboard and soda water dispenser almost immediately, though in truth this is due to the writing, not the Rolf

Laughing at Monkeys

OK, we all say something made us laugh out loud but we are often reaching for an effect. This, however, from The Sneeze (additional link right (and damn these parenthesis(e?)) really did. Now that books are being made out of blogs, I think Steve must be about due a contract.

20 December 2005

20th December 2005. South Bank 2. Just after 6ish.  Posted by Picasa

20th December 2005. South Bank, 6ish.  Posted by Picasa

Performancing for Firefox

Lovely little tool. Very lovely. Seems to work right out of the box. Do as the dude tells you here and away you go, instant blogging. Expect this blog to get much quicker and more up to date. And expect Microsoft to have to work doubly hard on that ie7 we keep hearing about. This, like Riya, makes me smile.

Sadly it has turned a bit panty and I am sometimes getting error messages (error #3 Object:object if you are listening guys). Still, it is a beta release so bugs are expected I guess. Watch this space - when it works (so far most of the time), it is beautiful.

Narnia Cakes

Not sure I get all the refs - a bit too USAvian - but this video raises a smile (cut the canned laughter next time tho' boys).

China, Yahoo, Microsoft, Airbus, Italy....

Wonderful comment chain here on Margot Wallstrom's blog (she being Vice-President of the European Commission or some such - not exactly sure but I suspect there is a huge salary attached). Anyway, I wholeheartedly support her views re: business and it's immoral links with China, but the counter arguments about the EU falling over itself in its rush to sell arms and the like to the Chinese government are equally valid. A shame Margot doesn't rejoin the pigeons after she's put in the cat though - come on Marge, how about a response to the commentators?

19 December 2005

Inspiration for Sale

Seth's hosting a conference. Expensive? I don't suppose it is in the long run.


There is, as ever (well, as often), a great shafting to be had from the truth over at gapingvoid:

There's something about working for a large company that often alienates one from the concept of "Free Will". Starting a corporate blog just highlights the fact.

[NOTE TO SELF:] Some people thrive in "Slave Mode". Whatever. Nobody cares.

Queen Rolfed

19th December 2005 Rolf's Queen. One can't help liking Rolf can one? Not unpleasant but equally, of course, not startling. One wonders what Tracey Emin might have done, or that fule who made the boat out of a shed and then made it into a shed again.  Posted by Picasa

Comment left on last post (link removed)

Apologies to you, jj, if you happen to be someone who writes in exactly the same style as a spam bot. Otherwise, how about, in future, you look for some CONTEXT. Heard of that have you? For pity's sake - I hate cooking, I'm crap at it, and I would never in a million years join a cookery club. If I had brain damage I might go to your site and see what sort of viruses I could pick up there but, as it is before and not after christmas my brain is working reasonably well so no, I won't be going to cookery school.

jj said...

Hi Patrick, I'm looking for a companion for a cookery school. I've joined this site (cookery school). Where else could I contact other people who may like to join a cookery school?
Many thanks

18 December 2005

18th December 2005 Currently bookmarked blogs. The list changes frequently but there are some on there that have had a long shelf-life. Not included but regularly used is Boing Boing.  Posted by Picasa

Look away now

if you are of a PC disposition. Otherwise, here is my contender for Funniest Opening Line to a Joke 2005:
"A blind man walks into a lesbian bar..."
Sadly the rest of the joke doesn't live up to this entrance and needs a rethink. Suggestions welcome.

Post-Christmas Party and it is ....

eyes lphits, as someone once rather charmlessly said. "Tired" doesn't begin to describe how I feel today. You know the sort of thing - you can't string a sentence together and the thought of getting horizontal under the covers hangs eternally before you like a mirage. Hey hoo.
BTW, this is for N&L who have a tom making their own cats' lives miserable - Cats International - your cat problems answered.
Now, where is the Resolve?

17 December 2005

How much??

So AOL is worth $20 billion? Who'da thunk it?

Gameboy ad

Amusing video here for Nintendo Gameboy Portable. The device isn't my bag (frankly there is no room in my life for gaming), but this does raise a smile.

Mrs Lemon's: An Apology

Sorry if your view of Mrs Lemon's isn't finishing downloading - there seems to be a problem with the site surfer tracking software which hopefully will be resolved soon.

Sunday evening and it's still not fixed - maybe it is a weekend thing? Here's hoping. Site Surf will be removed and reinstalled tomorrow if the problem persists.

Digital Format Film: Simultaneous Release

Some interesting thoughts on the impact of digitalisation of the film industry here - wired magazine talks to Steven Soderbergh.

Dodds' Blog Block

This whole Dodds' blog thing - I'm not sure. I've been looking around and, well, the news ain't good. Someone out there, presumably a distant relative, blogs about time zones...? Early days, but I'm Concerned.

It's a pop-up wholemeal miracle

Go on then, just this one - da Vinci on toast.

16 December 2005

A Couple of Points

Quiet weekend for the blog coming up - expecting the chimney sweep tomorrow (apparently you have to provide your own small child these days), party in the evening and thus Sunday will be small and low key, if you know what I mean. And tonight? Well tonight has involved "going out" - blimey, remember that? Therefore, my apologies for the lack of fresh delectation. You could try this little oddity if you wish, but there are no guarantees it will be your bag.

15 December 2005

Blogger Web Comments

I like this - you visit a site and the code spins into action and tells you what bloggers have been saying about said site. Not always the most up to date (try it on here and you will see what I mean though thanks for the kind comment) but entertaining nonetheless - increases the ability to procrastinate in a manner similar to StumbleUpon and you surely know how bad that is for you....

Hot to Trot

Everyone likes a list - where is such-and-such, why is so-and-so on here and not so-and-so, how can that be number one and so forth. So take a little trip here for true listmania.

Oh dear, more Politics

From today's Guardian comes this:

The government came under renewed pressure in the Commons today amid "widespread public disquiet" about allegations that the US is using UK airports to transfer prisoners to be tortured abroad.

As members of the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition put a series of detailed questions to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs launched fresh challenges on the issue.

At question time yesterday Tony Blair said it would be "completely absurd" to investigate every US government plane which flew into the country.

Which is nice. It wouldn't be "completely absurd" to look for non-existent WMD for months on end though. He really has got to go what with the torture- goodbye Tone - we have had enough of you.

15th December 2005 - the other side of the bridge.  Posted by Picasa

14th December 2005  Posted by Picasa

14 December 2005

Another Plug for Pandora

Can I suggest you get down here immediately so as to hear some new music you may like? Honest, what's not to enjoy? Currently Europap is the thing for me.
(BTW, have not been back to that music locker thingammy in a while - will update you if I try it again or leave a comment if you have some experience of it).
(Parenthases - do you think I have a problem?).

Drink Driving: Shock News

So, the London Evening Standard (no link - they are hateful. If you live in the South East of England you will know them as the paper that encapsulates the Little Englander mentality and hypocrisy better than any other - think a parochial Daily Mail but with a special slant that enables taxi drivers to agree with their editorial line. If you don't live in the UK count yourself lucky you have never had to read the paper - hardly anyone here does except commuters desperate for anything to amuse them on South West Training to be a Train Network or, occasionally, by those who forget that the teaser headline "TV Star Dies" actually refers to an ex-Eurovision band member from Albania or "My Drug Shame" covers the time Kirk Douglas' second-cousin-once-removed took more than the recommended dose of paracetamol) had a headline tonight saying that some research somewhere showed that one in three drivers drinks and drives. This is either (a) complete and utter b*****ks; or (b) good news as it means that drinking and driving is a hell of a lot safer than we had hitherto been led to believe as so many people are doing and yet there is so little carnage.... I suggest you can guess which of these scenarios is likely to be correct. And I further suggest you carry on ignoring the Evening Standard. In fact, I apologise for bringing it up in polite company in the first place.

14th December 2005 Proud day at the LSE.  Posted by Picasa

Other Dodds' blogs

Searching for my brother's blog (which he continues to hide out of a sense of both mischief and modesty), I came across Leigh Dodds' blog, Lost Boy. (You can see what's coming - more as and when).

13 December 2005

Unlike Anything

So, the design awards: Here, at 0, we have Mrs Lemon's. Here, at 100, we have Glassdog.


I'm not sure it would be strictly necessary, but I would LOVE one of these - a 39 megapixel camera. Sure, why not?
(via Gizmodo - check out this for an idea of what you might be able to achieve, then look at your own pictures, or mine for that matter, and weep).

"South West Trains are Rubbish" shock


Quelle surprise (for South West Train employees, that is French for “what a surprise”. It is generally used in an ironic way. If you have trouble with the word “ironic”, speak to your timetable composers). Since stopping giving the rebates on ticket prices owing to their exceptional performance over the last five years (if your definition of the term “exceptional” means hitting targets about 90% of the time – try telling that to a manufacturer of brake units for cars, let's say, or traffic lights, boilers, aeroplane engines...), guess what has happened to the trains on the SWT network? Of course, that’s right, they have improved their efficiency…..
Actually, no. Since they stopped it has, of course, all gone to hell. It must be great working for a company where no one gives a flying shite about anything but when they can knock off and go home, although I suspect in the long run employees might, just occasionally, feel a nagging sense of guilt and that this probably accounts for their inability to empathise with their passengers (sorry, “customers”, though of course “custom” implies choice and there is none of that from where I’m standing which is normally on a cold and very overcrowded platform listening to some tosh about moving further down so as to create more space by the bagel bar).

12 December 2005

12th December 2005 I could have sworn the Standard said that London was going to be covered in filthy smoke from the Hertfordshire fire this evening....  Posted by Picasa

Too Lazy to Delete? Read on...

So, you get a txt from yr mstrss and someone interrupts you when you are reading it. Don't worry - you won't be found out if you employ this technology from Staellium that "destroys" (I like it - it doesn't delete it, it annihilates it) the message after 40 seconds or so. You may not think you need it but by goodness one day you will be glad of it.

11 December 2005

British and American Torture - more evidence

Craig Murray has more on the torture that Europe, America and just about every other country seems to condone here. We are living in worse times than we imagine.

Petrochemical Explosion in Hemel Hempstead

Further to my earlier post, seems that the noise from the fuel going up could be heard in the Netherlands. The BBC has some amazing pictures including an aerial shot of the pollution caused - this won't, of course, do much to help the situation viz global warming.

Russian Urban Gymnastics

This has to be one of the most amazing things I've seen since beginning Mrs Lemon's. A video of a Russian (?) guy climbing, running and jumping over a series of decaying and destroyed urban landscapes to a rap soundtrack. Doesn't sound much? Don't believe it - and don't give up when the picture quality dips after a couple of minutes - keep going and you will see something amazing. If you don't click on any other link here, do click on this one. I hope he is signed up by someone soon.
BTW, if you are struggling to see the video when you get there because your connection is too slow, now really is the time to upgrade your connection - developments over the coming months are likely to further enhance what is already a wonderful medium. Go here for information about broadband providers. Go on - honestly - now is the time!

Woman walks into a pub

and asks for a double entendre so the barman gives her one. Ha ha. Happy Sunday. (BTW, woken by an explosion about 50 miles away this morning - not often in your life you can say that - more about it here).

Groundhog Predictions

OK, so, just before bed, a quick prediction: tomorrow's Observer will have Christmas cookery by the bucketload and an article telling us mortals where various Actors will be spending their hols OR their bestest Chrimbos ever ("Well, you know, we were like in the foothills of the Himalayas staying in this gorgeous little hut darling - no facilities at all and we had to wait for the servants to boil the bathwater - can you imagine?! But it was postively fantastic for my skin darling, I mean, I'd never looked so good. Anyway, thank God your readers wouldn't be able to find it / afford it / have the necessary connections to get invited."). Then there will be the present lists, something about where to go to get away from it all, how rampant consumerism is making us all sad, and what you should be drinking at office party / cocktails do / Christmas morning drinks..... Aaggh.
Update: Sunday
Big xmas food supplement and David Tennant (who?) in the magazine... I rest my case.

10 December 2005

Toture: Hypothetical Justification

The Moral Maze on BBC R4 tonight looked at torture and whether it is ever justifiable. Towards the end of the programme someone came out with that hoary old chestnut "if you knew that by torturing someone you would get information that would save X number of lives, would you be justified in using it?" Seems to me that the answer to this question is, of course, yes, BUT, equally obviously, these circumstances cannot ever be proven to exist in real life. Therefore, the attempt to justify torture fails in this instance since the circumstances under which it is being considered cannot ever, a priori, be known to exist. It also follows that if these are the only circumstances under which torture is justifiable, torture cannot ever be justified.
Clear? OK, as you were - off you pop in your never-ending search for diversion.I'll be along in a minute myself.

Extreme Modding

Blimey, have a look here for some wonderful woodwork and insane dedication to the world of computer modification. (Extremetech).

Old News Part 3

More news of the disappearing old media and their renaissance in the new, the Daily Mail group is apparently selling their interests in local papers and buying up web companies, at least according to the Guardian.

Shrub in Trub?

Mmm George could be in trouble over this one you think? Americans don't take kindly to their flag or their constitution being traduced in any way and yet the Shrub has apparently been calling the Constitution a "goddamned bit of paper". Allegedly. Watch this space....

Safety, safety everywhere.

So, farewell then, Routemaster buses. We will miss you. We were not persuaded by the nonsense we have heard this week such as that on Radio London when it was suggested that 1 in 10 people couldn't get on or off you safely. [Erm, right, that would be because a large part of the population is under 7, another part can't travel on any form of public transport safely, and another part are the sort who won't go in a car unless it has 18 airbags and doesn't go over 9 mph. Rant safety rant everywhere rant bicycle helmets rant non-opening windows rant go and live in a rubber room rant rant rant. Clearly I'm going to have to go and lie down].

Israel comes to Richmond Waitrose

10th December 2005 It is, of course, always a good idea to carry your AK when Christmas shopping in London. Perhaps the kid is worried they won't have any Jarlsberg and he'll have to get to waving his Persuader around so as to sort it out.  Posted by Picasa

9 December 2005

Pottered Off

Time for Harry Potter to GIVE IT A BLOODY REST WOULD YOU? Or is that just me?

8 December 2005

Staying Dry: The Sea Otter's Story

Did you know that if you pull a sea otter who has looked after his fur out of the sea he will be dry in about 30 seconds? No? Well, you do now.

Care for a Dodgy Dotcom Sir?

According to a story at the BBC, more than 5% of net domain names are taken by dubious and shadey characters who may use said sites for nefarious purposes. So Be Careful Out There! In light of the recent conference in Tunisia, however, what is even more interesting is the following:

As well as looking into owner information, the GAO [Government Accountability Board] also investigated the procedures for correcting fake data.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has the role of overseeing the net's domains and recently attempted to tighten up the policing of owner data.

However, the GAO found of the 45 reports on dodgy domain data that it submitted to Icann, 33 were unchanged after 30 days.

Makes you wonder if ICANN want the Chinese and Iranians to take over the web as they have indicated they are inclined to so do. Dear non-existent please save us from that eventuality.

7 December 2005

Disappearing Media

Lee Gomes at the wall street journal seems to be getting worried about his job, dismissing tech blogs as so much puffery. Interesting that he doesn't care to link to any of them so that people could make their own minds up.


Ah me, I must apologise for the recent lack of pics on here. Unfortunately the weather has been a bit pants, other work has been keeping me busy, and I have been lacking in the Department of the Muse. However, I shall try and shake myself up a little and post some more of those 3meg curiosities that made yesteryear so fulfilling. Watch this space. In the meantime, what about popping over here for more serious photographics.

Men Can Multitask

If you don't smile can I suggest someone checks your pulse? From today's Guardian comes a nice story about what men get up to whilst micturating, with Stuart Jeffries observing that he had recently seen a man on his mobile whilst at a urinal:

Aren't men amazing? Earlier this month - at the same urinal - another man was multitasking in an even more inventive manner. If you're in the middle of eating, look away now. He was urinating with one hand and brushing his teeth with the other. A colleague came in and the pair had a very long conversation about advertisement ratios before the colleague observed: "So. Brushing your teeth at the urinal?"

"Yep. I find it saves time."


"Not an issue."

6 December 2005

Lost Dog

I like this, a mobile for your dog from Petsmobility. If you lose your dog you can both call him / her or, better yet, anyone who finds them has a hotline back to you. Indeed, if you train him well enough, maybe he'll call you to come fetch him.

Goodbye Dirty Fingers

An interesting piece here on the coming demise of the newspaper - Jeff Jarvis is on brilliant form. A short quote from a long post:

From a business perspective, we need to stop whining about readers moving online. If that’s what they want to do, then go with them, damnit! The biggest challenge is to train advertisers that online is more valuable than print because more people are there..... I believe we will, sooner than we know, start seeing print as an added cost burden maintained primarily becuase advertisers value it more than readers.

Do go - it is visionary stuff.

European Torture

This is a story that needs the widest possible dissemination. From Craig Murray's weblog:

December 1: The British Guardian reports that over 300 CIA flights have landed at European airports and that CIA planes visited Germany and Britain over 200 times, if chartered flights are included. According to the NY Times, there were 94 flights in Germany, 76 in Britain, 33 in Ireland, 16 in Portugal, 15 in Spain and Czechoslovakia each and two chartered flights that made stopovers in France. French officials say they had no knowledge of the clandestine flights.

With them or against them?

If you fancy a bit of waterboarding, a bit of rendition, don't worry - your government probably already suppinely supports it. No wonder so many Muslims appear to hate the West and the hypocrisy found here.

MPs Pay Demands

MPs pay – does more money (they have asked for 22%) attract a better calibre of staff or just a greedier one? Would nursing attract a better calibre of staff if nurses were paid a starting salary of £43,000? What, I wonder, would it do for the profession if breadheads, to use some sixties argot that I really rather wish I hadn't, were the main applicants? Does this argument hold any water whatsoever? By logical extension, we would have the best government in the world if our MPs were getting hundreds of grand a year. I think we know that that wouldn't be the case.
(While we are on the subject, I have an "angry from Surrey" scheme that I wish the BBC and others would implement but which they never will. Namely, that all persons on news and current affairs programmes, be they presenters or interviewees, should have their interviews prefaced by information about their annual salary / earnings / share dealings. Thus when Sir Digby bloody Jones comes on and bangs on about how bureaucracy is holding back British industry we would be able to ascertain just how much he has suffered because employees don't want to return to Victorian working practices).

BPI / RIAA: why we love them all

Saturday's Guardian ran a story about musicians wanting more from the cost of a download. No surprise there, but what was telling was this:

Composers and songwriters are arguing in the UK copyright tribunal that they should receive 7p to 9p from every track downloaded from the internet, instead of the current 5p. The demand, issued by the Music Alliance, which works on behalf of composers, is being made to counter steps by the record companies' association, the British Phonographic Industry, to cut their earnings to 2p per download. They want the record companies to disclose the amount of money made from downloads, arguing that their pay rise could be recovered from record company profits rather than customers.

So the record companies don't actually disclose how much they make from downloads? Marvellous. And they are saying that downloading is destroying their industry. Please, do get over to allofmp3.com as soon as you can and help with the mercy killing.

Arboreal Badger anyone?

Trek over to Borneo, or visit the BBC, and you can pick up some information about what appears to be a new mammalian discovery.

5 December 2005

Rough Justice?

From an NSPCC newsletter:

Andrea Bone, who was convicted of culpable homicide for not stopping her boyfriend from killing her 13-month-old daughter Carla-Nicole in 2002, has had her conviction quashed. The appeal judges accepted that Bone was too intimated by her violent boyfriend to intervene.

Source: BBC Online

(1) Would a man ever get away with this?
(2) I imagine Carla-Nicole wouldn't much care for the argument that her mother was "too intimidated" to intervene.
(3) Did Andrea go to the police immediately afterwards?

I don't know - this doesn't seem right.

Modern Life: Too Much Information?

A couple of recent news stories - a prize to the first person to point out the diliberate mistake:

As many as 1 in 10 preschool children may be suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses, according to child psychiatrist Professor Adrian Angold.

Source: Guardian

A modern child's life is filled with unnecessary monitoring and mollycoddling from over-protective parents, says writer John O'Farrell, who presents Backlash: Paranoid Parents.

Source: BBC Online

4 December 2005

Scrabble Online

Want to play Scrabble online? Then I'd recommend the ISC - not a very visually polished interface but the longer you play the more you appreciate the elegant design that has made the site so simple and satisfying to use.

Beautiful Song

Beautiful song and video here by Pepe Deluxe. Note - there are a couple of other videos on the same site but they are in Quicktime format so, losing the will to live, I gave up before the end of the 72 hour delay while they loaded. This one, Lying Peacefully, is in another format the name of which I know not but which seemed to perform admirably (i.e. genuinely quickly).

Bluewater vs Eternal Life

Chatting to M today and we thought that perhaps the death of religion needs to sink in a bit before we as a society start looking around for something more fulfilling than a sale at Next. Maybe the increasing uptake of goats and midwives are the first stirrings of something better.


Is it just me or do you also switch off and internally roll your eyes when someone mentions their star sign?

3 December 2005

"World is Round" shock

"Xbox 360 sells out in hours" the BBC tells us, which must rank up there with "sun due to set tonight" as one of the non-stories of the day / month / year. Of course it did - Microsoft will have under-supplied dramatically so as to create some buzz. It's the same old nonsense - news sites printing what the corporations want them to print.

and the winner is....

So I've been fiddling with Pandora's box (ooer missus) and with that locker thingammy. The former is rather marvellous (like having a radio station that plays more than one song in a row that you like and without the same advert repeated 31 times an hour), the latter less so. It is early days of course and I'd love to see mp3tunes succeed as the concept is sound - the execution hasn't impressed yet though. Re: Pandora - do use Firefox so that once started you can go elsewhere via tabbed browsing and still listen (does anyone outside of an office still use IE?).

More Music

And speaking of music, if you like mashups you could do worse than go here for a vast selection of musical wonders (apologies if you've known about this site for years - I'm playing catchup).

DRM Dangers

Still buying CDs? Well you could do worse than checking out this list from the EFF of CDs they believe have nasties installed by the manufacturer that you might want to avoid. Alternatively, do try allofmp3.com and see what you think.

2 December 2005

Ta Ta to your Mobile Tariff

Not sure if these are legal, but engadget commenters have a number of ways of getting out of the remaining months of any mobile phone contract you are locked into.

You Might Still See It In The Desert

Is this the ugliest building you've ever seen? A ski "resort" in Dubai.

Scarey Santa

2nd December 2005 Doesn't do him justice but here is a shot of the giant inflatable and frightening santa from the end of our road where he helps sell Christmas trees. Not sure what is going on with that 'tache.... Posted by Picasa

Pandora's Box Your Ears

Just signed up to Pandora (the freebie account - i am both a cheapskate and cautious - zonga may flow their way if it proves to be aurally amusing) and initial impressions are good - nice sound quality, no breaks in transmission, easy to use, simple interface, no mess.
The idea is you choose a starter track you like (in my case Walk Into the Sun by Dirty Vegas, though I had to start again as this proved a bit of a false lemming) and similar songs are served up to you thereafter 'pon which you pronounce judgement, gradually freeing wheat from chaff and giving the programme an idea of what to play once it starts choosing music for you. All clear? No? Well head thee off to the site for a go yourselves you lazy b****rs.
There have been other attempts at this but the ones I've tried haven't been wildly successful so here's hoping.

Update: Some hours later and it is still doing its job - keeping me ears happy and serving up a mixture of the tried and the novel. Favourite tracks you can store on a separate page. Keep this up and they might wean me off allofmp3.com.

2nd Dec 2005. What's with the grass table?  Posted by Picasa

PSP TV (kind of...)

What is it with Sony? They launch what sounds to be a very good service (read all about it at mobile whack)and then they go and ruin it, just as they did with their ebook, by making the data you watch and enjoy on your PSP self-destruct after a short while. Now of course h4ckers will find a way around this, but why are Sony doing it in the first place? Appears their new Welsh CEO isn't going to do much to change their gameplan that increasingly alienates even long-term fans of their products. It really shouldn't take anyone working there longer than five minutes to see that their DRMophilia is harming their image all over the world (and this before the rootkit scandal that is going to run and run). The first big multi-media company to break ranks and say "OK, it's over for traditional methods of copyrighting digital media - let's go a different route" are going to make a serious amount of cash and put themselves ahead of the field for years to come. Other companies might well try and stop them but if a company like Sony put their own works out in the wild with little or no restrictions on copying the results would, I'm sure, be amazing.

RIAA Bullying

Things are getting out of hand in the States as the RIAA cripple, or attempt to cripple, more and more technology devices such as this device from Sirius which looks a beauty but which is being cut down to size by the media moguls (story via Engadget - link to right). As I wondered before, where were the UK music execs in the early 80s when the miners were on strike to protect their jobs as the industry and geopolitical realities changed? I imagine they were going to gigs and doing a bit of Kate just as they always had.... Well the days of reckoning are here for them now and while of course one has some sympathy for workers whose jobs are going down the swanney, one also has to suggest that they WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE and get on with working out how they are going to take advantage of the huge benefits digitalization is bringing. Everyone is having to change and Canute-like demonstrations still seem to be needed in the boardrooms of EMI, Sony and the like.

1 December 2005

The Little Beasts are Agitated

Interesting and perhaps unlikely story from the BBC about a pack of squirrels attacking and killing a large stray dog in Russia. Being in what sounds to be fairly isolated woodland, it doesn't appear that crack cocaine is the driving force this time. Maybe squirrels are getting rattled at the thought of going quietly as humankind destroys the planet? In fact they are probably practising for D-Day by jumping hospital employees (as noted below) and killing dogs - the real news begins with the death of the first human. We had a cat once.... oh never mind.

30 November 2005

Listen to your music anywhere

OK, just one more. Now, how about you are at your parents fixing their computer and you fancy listening to that track that's been driving you demented with happiness these last few weeks? Or you are at work and want to hear Man on the Moon? Well now, it appears that what you have been waiting for is this - mp3tunes.com (via Boing Boing). Basically an online vault for all your music (yep, all of it - unlimited storage). Currently a paid for service (though how long this will last is anyone's guess), the music lawyers will no doubt be down on this with a vengeance. Still, the idea is out there - it can't be long now before it gets to stay.

Update: Downloaded the free version but can't really see the point - seems to have zero storage capacity - can that be right? I have emailed the site and will post an answer here when I get one, though I am warned this may take from 3 to 5 days. With zero storage online, what is the point of a free option? Something about "sideloading"?
To quote from the FAQ:
The Basic MP3tunes Locker [i.e. the free version]includes webloading, sideloading, MP3tunes Oboe Software Suite, and streaming inside iTunes on the Internet at a medium quality bit-rate (56k).

[So if you don't use iTunes you get another means of playing your music through Oboe, you get "sideloading" and you get "webloading" - is that right?]

So what are "sideloading" and "webloading"?

Webloading allows you to input a URL of a song location from another site to your MP3tunes locker. The file will be saved and you can then stream it from your locker.

Sideloading is done via our Sideload Partners websites. These websites provide a link next to a free mp3 available for download so you can easily load the track with just a click to your MP3tunes Locker.

So webloading means you can stream from your locker without returning to the original site - reasonably handy I guess, though hardly worth jumping for joy about. And sideloading seems to be a way of saving a download online rather than to your computer - woopee dee.

I hate to be a party pooper and one shouldn't knock something that is free, but basically the only decent option seems to be the paid for one...I will post more here soon about this as I love the concept and hope the execution is better than it sounds. I'm tempted by the pay option but have been burnt before by online services (such as Wippit music downloads - Elvis and Frank Sinatra anyone?).

Update#2: Seems some scepticism is in fact merited - over at Lifehacker the poor press is building up...

Update#3: If you are going to "sideload" or whateverTF they call it, be prepared to wait. And wait. Have just tried to load something into the locker but given up as the wait was too long. So farewell, then, mp3locker - may you come back in another form (anything but beta).

Update #4: Working a bit better today - well, just working I suppose. Anyway, the little arrow next to tunes you can slip a link into your locker for is useful - a bit slow at first, but that may have been my getting used to it.

Fursuit Mania

OK last one this evening I promise (sort of). Do check out this link to an old (last century) story from Marie Claire regarding people they call Furries but whom we, gentle and educated reader, know should be referred to as Fursuiters. Scroll down for the pic of the couple on the sofa (watching TV?) - most definitely worth a 1000 words.

Poetic Leanings

While we have some visitors here, what say you to a bit of poetry? No, I thought not. Embarrasing for all concerned, including, in most cases, the poet themselves.

World's First Face Transplant

As reported here by the BBC. Well yes, it would be an interesting story, but without the face itself we're all left wondering.....

Update: Yes I know, privacy and all that. Of course she isn't going to want any publicity. Nonetheless, however, be that as it may, notwithstanding, regardless and whatever you may say, I still contend that without the face the story isn't up to much. What we need is a before and after. And no, that isn't an invitation to the paparazzi, more a comment on human inquisitiveness (is that a word?).


Five minutes after posting the p0rn entry and traffic is growing . Sorry if you are one of the disappointed - leave a comment and I shall respond.

Lost Items Found

Here's a nice piece of what could be vapourware: a device that locates your lost wallet / keys / cat / whatever. No details on how it works (RFID anyone?) but it looks interesting. The device begs the obvious question of course (all together now): what happens if you lose the Locator itself?


Just checking to see if the above post title has any effect on traffic....
And now, to take things as far from the title as possible (sorry if you are here for real p0rn, try googling "latex," "spanking" or "trouser monkey"), I have to announce the sad demise of the aforementioned pedometer. Five quid was clearly only enough trouser weight to garner a machine that would last six weeks. Still, I'll have a look at the figures soon and give you the averages (steps, mileage, weekend vs weekday, work vs time off and so on and so forth - admit it - you can't wait). Giddeeup lad!

404 Not Found

From the Firefox download page:

Not Found

The requested URL /products/download.html was not found on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat) Server at www.mozilla.com Port....

Presumably 1.5 is a success then.....

29 November 2005

A while ago at Erdigg Hall. Did I show you this already? Apologies if so but I have altered the contrast since to do the flower justice. And a quick q: why can't there be this level of detail in all the pictures I take?  Posted by Picasa

A short while ago... This pic captures the quiet loneliness of Stockholm as winter approaches.  Posted by Picasa

Terror Bites

There is talk (and there is Talk) of the effects on society and the individual of enabling said individual to walk around said society with terabytes of personal storage at their instantaneous disposal. "Where were you today at lunchtime?" says your wife / the friendly policeman. "Why I was here dear / Sir," (fumbles for Start button on Omnipresence MediaPlayer and keys in 1332-1407hrs). "As you were Sir / that's nice dear. I was here, saying goodbye to Martha."
The thing is, with the current shower in power, the OMP will, ere long, be obligatory. All in the name of "safety" and "you're with us or against us" of course, just as there are no bins at stations any more, flying is a chore, this website is monitored and stored, and there are 2.1 million CCTV cameras in London.

27 November 2005

Fine Wine

The trouble with Oyster Bay (beware - music-equipped flash intro)is it is so dang pleasant to drink - cut grass, melon, a hint of mint... before you know it you are half way down the bottle and wondering if Sainsbury's is still open.

Not Lost in Translation

I missed this when it was first out, but it seems that sunglasses with the ability to translate what foreigners are saying to (or more usefully, about) you into your own language are on the horizon. As that man said, the future is here, its just unevenly distributed. So from now on, no more going into bars in Wales (and it is always Wales for some reason) and being unable to understand the comments being made about your big-city-ways when the locals slip into their mother tongue. No, from now on you'll understand everything, including such phrases as "why is that fule wearing those ugly-looking shades in the nighttime?".

Snow isn't falling

Despite what you might read elsewhere (500 motorists - are passengers also "motorists"? - trapped by 0.5 inches of snow on Bodmin moor in Cornwall), the whole country isn't snowbound. Indeed, I'd love to see some snow here in west London - just for a coupla hours, you understand, enough time to get some shots at Kew Gardens then a quick thaw and back to global warming.
Now, as you were.

25 November 2005

Land of the Unfree

Aren't you glad you don't live in the States where you can't ride a bus without showing your ID? And I don't mean if you haven't got a ticket. Nope, you need ID just to travel to work. How long before it is like that here? A single raised middle finger to terrorism is rapidly having to encompass Government in its scope.

Boris Johnston

After his performance tonight on Have I Got News For You, I think we have seen the next Tory Prime Minister. No, no, honestly. Think about it - a genuinely funny and intelligent PM - not something you'd normally consider of course, but then look at history - maybe it is time for a change.

Aural Wonder

If you haven't already, your appointment with Stabiliser is well overdue. Do listen - they are fabulous.

24 November 2005


Because I haven't had anything on here about fursuiting for a while, I thought I'd give you this link. Honest to godless, it is bizarre isn't it? And recently I've even begun to wonder if it isn't a little sinister. But then perhaps I need to get out more.

What Trouser? Magazine

With a USA version, "What Pants?".
Really. Trousers. They are the bane of my life. Some of the well know problems include length (too short normally), strangely decreasing waist size, shallow pockets and too tight a thigh area (I'm talking men's trousers here btw - no clue what goes on for mes dames). Some of the lesser known problems involve them being too hot, having too short a zip (go figure) and stain resistance treatments (which not only make them look cheap but add to the aforementioned heat problem - interestingly, as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as a pair of trousers that are too cold). What is needed for the perfect pair is as follows:
1. Correct waist size (obviously) - tending towards the generous is the best.
2. Correct length (tending towards the too lengthy is the rule here).
3. Deep and plentiful pockets.
4. Loose around the nethers and thighs.
5. Toe end shape is fashion-dependent - i.e. a slight flare fine at the right time, ditto straights.
6. Correct temperature - cool is best.
7. Dark in colour is good, light less so (they tend to highlight any sequelae to the heat problem).
8. Natural fibres of course.
Now, you'd think that it wouldn't be that hard to meet these requirements but believe me, a lifetime of looking hasn't provided me with anything like a stable supply. Generally I end up wearing about two pairs for months on end, interspersing them with other less successful purchases that after a short time head off to the charity shop with a cry of "don't darken my trouser draw again!" So if either reader has any suggestions viz Trouser Heaven they'd be very welcome.

Much maligned

It appears I may have been a little unfair on my phone-radio (phoneradio?). It has been functioning relatively well of late and tonight I was able to listen to a marvellous programme on R4 where guests suggest to that comic whose name I have forgotten (who went round the world meeting others with the same name as him - you know the one I mean) their invention ideas. The winner tonight was a guy who suggested that your microwave is connected to your music collection and it randomly picks a track that lasts exactly the same time as that you have set to cook your meal. If the time is too short (say, 30 secs), then it does a "beat the intro" quiz; alternatively, if you are cooking something for 20 minutes it would choose four or five tracks that add up to exactly that length of time. Quite brilliant. It would save you continually turning off the microwave and testing your food only to eventually get fed up and nuke it way beyond sensible limits by turning the power on full and eating a large tub of yoghurt while you wait, muttering "serves you right" to your fisherman's pie as it bursts into flames inside. C'mon, you know you've been there...

22 November 2005

Stomach Flu

Just what is "stomach flu"? Is it the trots by another, SFW, name? I think we should be told.

Dog, World's Ugliest, Dead

It is true - you can read about it here. And, truly, he was ugly. So RIP then Sam - may your post-mortem form be more comely.

Guantanamo Bay

If you live in the UK and can get a copy of the New Statesman (not one of my normal reads I'll grant you), do have a look at Clive Stafford-Smith's piece on Guantanamo. Very well written and raises many questions Bush and dear Tone have failed to hear, let alone answer. The prisoners there have been held captive now for four years without trial. One of a number of interesting ironies Stafford-Smith points out is that the soldiers in Cuba greet each other with a little homily about their first duty being to defend freedom.
Surely these prisoners should now either face a trial or be set free? Holding them forever is, of course, only going to increase the terrorist threat the world faces, not decrease it. But then Bush thinks he needs to look strong I guess. It isn't working though George, is it?

Rm 101: 31 to 51

British Gas. I thought I'd give them a sizeable chunk of Room 101 all of their own because they are used to operating like that. I am sat here at 1250hrs having been in my cold house all morning waiting, you guessed it, for an engineer to call. An engineer who was to call between 8 and 1 today. Five hours. On a work day.
I phoned their number a few minutes ago to see if I could find out what was happening. I was annoyed but remained, I like to think, polite. Points arising:
1. The operator took my name and address and then said she couldn't update me because her system was down.
2. Despite her system being down she somehow knew that the engineers in "[my] area" (Surrey? London? England? Western Europe?) were delayed owing to an "exceptionally high level of calls" (read: we overbook routinely as it saves us having to pay engineers to sit around doing nothing - customer scum can go swing).
3. I asked why it wasn't possible for someone to ring to say the engineer was either (a) running late or (b) not going to come. She said that she was sorry no one had done this and that it was probably due to the large number of calls they had received (suggestion to British Gas: go look up tautology). I have an alternative suggestion: could it be that you neither want to ring because of the expense nor care to bother because customers are scum and are your last priority?
4. I asked to speak to her supervisor. She said that this wasn't possible until after 1300hrs when the engineer would actually be late (NB: as I type this it is 1258hrs and you'll be astonished to learn the engineer still isn't here).
Right, time to post. 1300hrs on the nose and, good heavens, the engineer isn't here. Anyone take any money at 10,000,000 to 1 that the engineer will appear this afternoon? I thought not.

21 November 2005

Dean Gray's "American Edit"

The Dr Who theme here should almost certainly be no. 1 at Christmas or there is no justice. From a mash up album based on American Idiot by Greenday. Fantastic.

Update: Cease and desist notice passed on to site by record company and links gone - anyone wanting a copy can email me and I will send (copy of the track that is, not the C and D notice).

20 November 2005

Low Tide at Richmond

19th November 2005.

Blogger Buggered

It's all gone to c**k hasn't it? No service from "Hello", no service from Blogger in terms of uploading pics, and all bookmarks on Firefox have disappeared. No way of knowing who or what is to blame but I suspect the ever-slowing Firefox browser. Once again I am off to search for something reasonable that runs faster than a tortoise on mogadon and is safer than downtown Baghdad.

Fox Goes Free in Charlton, Sussex

Stayed here last night and would strongly recommend it - very good food and good value. Also, a "pub" pub, not just a restaurant that happens to look like a pub - while the food was superb, there was also a pub atmosphere with people drinking at the bar and so forth. Then today a short walk in the Sussex Kush - sunny, no wind, sheep and laughter, in particular at the thought of "Duvet Days", with A. and I saying that we would have taken our yearly allocation (we were imagining two days) by Jan. 3rd....

17 November 2005

Not been to 101 for a while...

Number 30 "Portable personal radios". Yep, the new phone has one. Nope, of course it doesn't work. Why I ever thought it would is my own damn fool business. Once burned sometimes doesn't apply when you have an optimistic (hey, bear with me - poetic licence and all that) outlook and less memory than you average guppy.
Here's the drill: Walk to station - not too bad, some static, but you get the gist of what people are saying. Platform - static mostly until you move to a spot with better reception ten minutes walk from where your train comes in. Train - nada but noise. Turn from radio to music and sigh. Fiddle with phone - wonder for the fiftieth time why Sony won't allow you to delete the crap they put on it (music, pictures, games - some will go, some won't. Why they think anyone would want to listen to "Sunshine" for more than a nanosecond is difficult to fathom, and surely none but the dumbest would use the pictures...). Settle down and stare out window (non-opening of course - the dumbest rule the roost here too).

15 November 2005

iPods (well they haven't been mentioned in a while)

Saw an original iPod today - the white cased, low-screen res number - and it looked like a brick. How time flies in the digital world.

UN summit on the internet.

From BBC news, more about China and others wanting the US to give up "control" of the internet domain naming system.

"The rest of the world doesn't want to see US hegemony here, in large part just for symbolic reasons," says Jonathan Zittrain, Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University.

"So there's one set of countries, anchored by Iran, Cuba and China, that would like to see some process by which governments of the world have a much larger hand in controlling the shape of the internet."

Check out the list of countries who’d like control – fun eh? You can imagine what sort of internet they would create.

There is more here about the fact that Tunisia, where the summit is taking place, is hardly the most suitable country in the world for such an event given its own history of censors

13 November 2005

90 Days posting: an apology

What can I say? I was a bit annoyed. Apologies if you were offended. Liberties have to be taken seriously however.
10th Nov 2005. Also at the Southbank, these are some of the cables supporting the London Eye - beautiful.  Posted by Picasa
10th Nov 2005. Near Waterloo. Orwellian, I thought, and yet in a good way... Posted by Picasa
6th November 2005. Near home. One of my first pics with new phone and not really noteworthy except as a record of the ongoing convergence of various digital devices - in a few months / couple of years I'll look at this as a relic of a primitive age no doubt.  Posted by Picasa
11th Nov 2005. No, it wasn't really cold enough to merit the hat but I didn't feel able to leave it behind as we were in Sweden in November. Besides, global warming will make such an item an historical relic ere long, I'll be bound...  Posted by Picasa
11th November 2005. One of the must sees in Stockholm - the imposing and ghost-like Vassa. Beautiful. This is the stern viewed from beneath the water line.  Posted by Picasa
11th November 2005. Stockholm in b and w.  Posted by Picasa

10 November 2005

90 Days

For what? Decoding? Well get some more computer experts, get them better programmes, more up to date machines. To translate stuff? Well get more interpreters. To wait for people to break and give false statements? We know these are counterproductive and, of course, immoral and a betrayal and denigration of the whole of our society. What, EXACTLY, are the 90 days for? If you don't have enough people working on the case and it is taking too long, GET MORE PEOPLE. Why is it that the only solution is the one that panders to the effing Sun and it's horrific ilk. We live in a land already commandeered by sad sacks and f**kwits who read the mail and think that a comic has the right idea about how to go about getting by in the complex modern world. Thank non-existent god that sense at least prevailed in this instance. WE DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN A TOTALITARIAN STATE THAT IS WHY WE ARE AGAINST ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM IN THE FIRST PLACE TONY. LISTEN TO THE COUNTRY. Of course there are likely to be more bombs in the future - what will be a true example of the phlegmatic and stoic nature of the British people will be a sticking to the principals of freedom and democracy, not kowtowing to the lowest, thickest peoples opinions because that is what Murdoch says we should do. The next terrorist outrage won't be a sign that we should have gone for 90 days, it will be a sign that the Islamicists are still scared of freedom, still scared of dying and passing into what the sane understand is a godless void.

9 November 2005

Terrorists in China?

From BBC news:

Chinese police have warned that Islamic militants could be planning an attack on luxury hotels in Beijing in the coming week, the US embassy has said.

The authorities pledged to investigate the threat and take appropriate action, the embassy said in a statement.

The warning comes 10 days before US President George Bush visits Beijing.

China is often accused of exaggerating the threat of Islamic militancy to justify its crackdown on groups such as its Uighur minority.

Now, that sort of thing would never happen in the UK would it? I mean, today's question to Emperor Blair about whether there was evidence of a single case of a terrorist who would have been convicted on evidence found after ninety days in custody and his failure to answer it - nothing there indicative of exaggeration of the terrorist threat being a problem in the UK. No no no. Tone is right, lock 'em up, don't bother with any of that time-consuming trial nonsense. It is the freedom of the state to lock up innocent people that we need laws to defend. How I bet Tone wishes he lived in the good ol' USofA where, of course, you don't even need to test the principle in law, just cart off your suspects (including minors) to Cuba where you can do what you like with them.

8 November 2005

French Goats

From a story in today’s Guardian about the riots in France come questions about whether the riots are a result of the French political model:

No matter where they come from, all French citizens are identical in their Frenchness.

It is a fine principle born of the ideals of the 1789 revolution. But it has practical drawbacks. For example, statistics based on ethnicity or religion are illegal in France; no one knows how many residents are of Arab or African origin, how they perform at school compared with white pupils, or what percentage are jobless or in prison. If analysing a problem is halfway to solving it, it is not a good start.

Apparently those in government, including the now infamous Sarkozy, Minister for the Interior, who had suggested before the riots that affirmative action was needed for certain groups, were shouted down as promoting “un-French” and “anti-republican” ideas. Nothing is straightforward is it? I’d have been all in favour of the illegality of collecting stats as it appears a wonderful idea in the abstract; however, in practice it does appear that maybe it isn’t such a good thing, not least because when things improve, if you are not already collecting data you cannot show this to be the case.

Anyway, if you needed further evidence that nothing is simple, take another story from the same paper about the goats that everyone is giving for Christmas / birthdays / weddings and so forth. Apparently this too is far from a simple, feel-good win/win scenario. Who they are going to, lack of vets, lack of large farms, jealousy …. Apparently you can’t just airlift a few flocks (herds you fool, herds!) to Uganda and let them loose. “Getting it right involves detailed, local, committed investment of time and resources and an almost masochistic appetite for a challenge.” It all makes one tired of being human sometimes - Sarkozy isn't a right wing fool, giving goats to poor people doesn't guarantee anything, and treating everyone the same isn't always a good thing. Ah well, back to the drawing board.

6 November 2005

What to Watch on TV

Fantastic. To take the grind out of choosing what tv to watch, the Parents Television Council (a US based organisation but here in the UK we do get some of the same programmes so it is worth us checking it out too) has a guide of the best tv and the worst. Of course, being as they are a sort of collective Mary Whitehouse on steroids, it is the latter you should be taping, the former avoiding. Nip Tuck and The Family Guy come in for particular opprobrium so do make sure you stay in for those (the last episode of the Family Guy I saw was in fact very moralistic, outlining the perils of cocaine abuse - very funny too, of course, but moralistic as well - I'd have thought the PTC would have given it some credit for this but apparently not). Something called Supernatural currently heads their list of worst tv - not heard of this myself but then I spend most of what was formally tv time on the web so that isn't surprising - if I get the chance I'll check it out.

Alternatively, there's Michel Houellebecq's view:

"As a teenager, Michel believed that suffering conferred dignity on a person. Now he had to admit that he had been wrong. What conferred dignity on people was television." (from Atomised).


Do go here for a fine new service whereby you can listen to interesting remixes and the like without having to actually download them or start up the dread realplayer or WMP (you know, that software you downloaded some time ago and now cannot delete?). I'd strongly recommend GWB doing White Lines, so to speak.

less legacy, more innovation

It sounds as if Robert Scoble has got a little frustrated with his employers of late what with this blog entry . He's worrying on about how MSFT doesn't thrill those people who are using the web to change their lives and find new things to do with their time, new ways to make money and interact with others. I don't know if he is right to worry just yet - Apple and Linux and the rest, though still there, aren't yet eating away at the OS userbase in a meaningful way: people will use diesel cars, but petrol still rules the road in most circumstances. What might be galling for someone with his vision is working for a company that is dull and safe when there are so many other interesting things happening elsewher. However, there is a need for dull and safe in the computer world at the moment. There will be a time when "innovate or die" will come true and when revolution will cast out the old guard, but is that time now when there is still a generation for whom computers are scarey and to be avoided? These people own a lot of the world's capital at the moment. Maybe it won't be until they move on and the new generation, the one that understands the freedom and power that the atomisation of society and the digitalisation of culture / knowledge brings, come truly to the fore that MSFT will have to change or face its vanquishing. How far away is that? Ten or fifteen years? If things go exponential with Web 2.0 maybe not that long.

4 November 2005

Crack Mad Squirrels

So, they are in Brixton, right? The squirrels that have lost the plot and with it their sense of propriety - finding discarded wraps of crack, they eat them and quickly become crazed mammals in search of their next hit. Urban myth of course...
Well maybe not - a colleague at work was telling me today about a squirrel jumping all over her as she walked through a park near Kings Cross earlier this week. A young lad nearby told her that he had witnessed this behaviour on more than one occasion, telling her that he believed they ate crack they found stashed in nearby gardens. The beauty of the tale is that apparently the dealers, finding their supply deleated, then go out and shoot each other suspecting their mates of theft.....

3 November 2005

An interesting story by Bobbie Johnson over at the Guardian which mentions our old friends Yahoo! and their delightful habit of helping to jail Chinese journalists. He points out that a few years ago Yahoo! kicked up a bit of a fuss about having to stop selling Nazi paraphernalia because it happens to be illegal in France. Apparently Yahoo!'s defence was that freedom of speech supercedes local laws. Try telling that to Shi Tao when and if he gets out of jail. Please remember - do not use Yahoo! until they sort themselves out viz human rights abuses.And give thanks to the non-existant that you don't live in Shanghai or it's environs.
3rd November 2005. On Waterloo Bridge no. 2.  Posted by Picasa

2 November 2005

The Map

I don't like it - it is too big, it is too garish and it has to go. When I have time it will be removed and discarded. In the meantime, why don't you have a look here where I guarantee this little Ruskie will cheer you up no end you miserable lot.
2nd November 2005 Near Fenchurch St station, 6ish.  Posted by Picasa

1 November 2005

Sometimes old ones are the best.  Posted by Picasa

New Addition

The map on the right of Mrs Lemon's was added today (link beneath should you want your own) and shows in red those countries I have visited. I have included Mozambique despite having only been driven through a part of it (the Tete (sp?) corridor) because it was a very long drive, whereas I haven't included Belgium because though I was driven through there too it was a short drive at night.
I'm told the countries I've visited constitute 14% of the world's total number so there is scope for plenty more travelling in the future. Years ago I vowed to do one country for every year of my life but I'm afraid a love affair with Italy has put paid to this recently and Vancouver Island may do for a few more countries next year (can it really be so expensive to stay at the Wikaninnish Inn?).
Anyway, the map is in lieu of the fact that I cannot write and I am trying to make up ground yet at the same time undermining my own self-esteem by suggesting that travel somehow makes one a more interesting individual. It doesn't of course - character, personality, spirit and courage do that and of those I am finding myself a little lacking at present.

31 October 2005

17,000 dead children according to the BBC

I expect God / Allah / Jahweh / whoever is very proud of himself for this - 17,000 children dead in the quake in Pakistan and India. Of course, though, the problem isn't with god, it is with me - I don't understand his mission / his mysterious ways / his giving us free will / his "intelligent design" (doh). But hang on, if he can sit by and let this happen (he can't, after all, intervene for some reason), doesn't that make him evil, or at best indifferent? So why would one want to worship him except out of a fear of hell? And since when has fear been at the root of love? Doh2.

30 October 2005


This is very interesting (via the Guardian's online blog). A service that offers the opportunity to search for pictures of people. Though in Alpha and invite only (I've applied and I'm hoping...), it spells the beginning of image searching not by tag (so 2004), but by matching parts of images themselves. Now, it might be clumsy - as I say, I haven't seen it yet, so who knows, maybe it isn't - but I imagine it will get better. And when it does? How about these ideas:
1. Searching through your photos on your computer. So far, so good - you look for all the pictures you have of your mate Suzie or your dog Frank and you make up a nice little album.
2. You move off your computer onto the net and do the same search. Interesting. Maybe you come up with some doppelgangers for yourself or your friends / family / pooch. Maybe some of the material you find is compromising...
3. The State decides it wants to search for someone, Mr X. It looks for him not only on the web but also on all the surveillance footage it can get, first in stocks already shot, then live. Then you have one more piece in place for a system that can get to know your whereabouts at all times (mobile triangulation / TC recordings / internet usage / Oyster card / credit card / car insurance black boxes....).
riya looks innocent and looks like it was born of good intentions - and I personally would love to have a go - but the pieces of the Orwellian eye are coming together quite fast now. I happen to think that the advantages of the ongoing digitalisation of society are going to far outweigh the disadvantages, but that will remain true only if a rein is kept on governments, and only if freedom of information comes to signify more than than at present, particularly here in the UK where it is virtually empty of meaning. And here we are relatively lucky: much as I would already hate to be living in North Korea or China, for example, it isn't hard to imagine things getting much, much worse for their citizens in the near future.
15th October 2005 Here's another Venetian number - inside the Biennale, outside the German exhibition.  Posted by Picasa