Saturday, September 06, 2003

The inevitable

England and Scotland win, Ireland draw, Wales lose. I'm just hoping that England manage to finish on top of the group as Scotland, Ireland and Wales all look set for places in the playoffs, and you just know we'd end up drawn against one of them. And as England only scraped past a fired-up Scotland in the Euro 2000 playoffs, it'd just be far too much tension to handle.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Something for the weekend...

Bare Your Bum at Bush!

This is why we do it:

From Leto:
Do you know the thing that keeps me blogging? Apart from the fame and fortune? A complete and utter contempt for the last post I made, whatever it may be. So I have to post again to push the last post down the page and then I have to post again after that to push the new last post down and on and on it goes.

Which is why being away from my computer drives me slightly insane. I know my last post is sitting there mocking me with its crapness. "Haha! I am last post! I sit here, at the top of the page, where everyone can view the full splendour of my bollockliciousness and you can’t touch me! Remember me and weep." And I do.

Pointless toys

I've not got much of a use for it, but just the pure Bond-esque nature of the Gibbs Aquada makes me want one.

A boost for the Lebanese film industry

It seems that Beirut is being threatened by a giant lizard, just like Tokyo regularly is. (Via Anthony)

Looking through an oceanic mirror

New piece on Fistful of Euros - Transatlantic Trends, a brief look at a recent sutvey on attitudes in Europe and the US.

Thursday, September 04, 2003


Ivor Crewe, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, had this to say about student debt:
" "A graduate who starts off at £18,000 a year in London will be paying back £5.30 a week – which is a couple of pints of beer."
I used to work at the University of Essex, and unless inflation has really kicked in there over the last couple of years, I'm sure the bars aren't charging £2.65 a pint. Come to think of it, I can't really think of any decent pubs in Colchester that charge that much. And I'm pretty sure you can find places near Universities UK's HQ in Holborn that don't charge that much. So the question has to be - where is Ivor Crewe drinking nowadays, and is he aware he's being ripped off?

The positive side of Faliraki

My first Fistful of Euros post - Creating Europe through tourism? - is now posted for your reading pleasure. Go on, tear apart my optimistic conclusions, you know you want to.


The Monster Raving Loonies finally have some competition for 'least amusing by-election candidates' as Aaron Barschak is one of the 18 candidates for Brent East. Can someone please tell him his fifteen minutes are up?


The Life section in today's Guardian has an interesting little article on religious scientists, while the news section lets us know how they can pray for Iain Duncan Smith. Unfortunately, as The Guardian's website is currently undergoing technical difficulties I can't link to either of them.

Update: Site back up, links now added.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Strip 4 Shelter

On Friday 19th September, the homelessness charity Shelter is having another Strip 4 Shelter day, asking people to wear a football shirt to work and donate the equivalent of 90 minutes of their salary to Shelter. It's just given me an idea, which I'm going to send to them - as the Brent East by-election is the day before, wouldn't it be a nice idea for the newly elected MP to join in by donating the first 90 minutes of their new salary as part of the campaign?

The birth of freedom?

I've mentioned the Free State Project before - the effort by American libetarians to get 20,000 of them to move to one state and 'legislate utopia', as Chris Bertram put it - and they've now hit their first target of 5,000 signed up members. This means that they're now deciding on which state they're going to move to from a choice of ten, and then the announcement of which state they've selected will be made on October 1st. Ought to be interesting to see what wins - looking at some of the other information on the site, it would seem that New Hampshire is the favourite, though somewhere like Wyoming or Delaware might garner enough support for an outsider victory.

The real fun comes after that of course, when they all start moving to the state. Enterprising bookshop owners in the selected state may want to start stocking up on their Heinlein and Rand soon.

Wesley Clark

I mentioned the possible bid for the White House from General Wesley Clark a little while ago, and I'd just discovered The Clark Sphere blog, which is promoting his candidacy. There's some interesting analysis there as well, especially what seems to be the unspoken assumption amongs some of the writers that, if he runs, his main opposition for the Democratic nomination will be Howard Dean with candidates like Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards etc not perceived as havign much of a chance.

Clark's expected to make his announcement as to whether or not he's running on September 19th, so he still gets another rcouple of weeks of 'will he/won't he?' coverage.


This is one of those little political peculiarities - Sir Malcolm Rifkind has failed to get on the shortlist to be the Conservative candidate for Windsor. Now, I know little about the internal workings of any local Conservative Association, but I can't help wondering just why they thought 46 other candidates were better choices than the former Foreign Secretary. Any suggestions, or anyone with insider knowledge?

Torino One

Asteroid has a better than one-in-a-million chance of hitting Earth in 2014. OK, it's only 1 in 909,000, but that's a higher probability than the average Lottery player has of winning the jackpot in any given week.

New blog

I've joined together with a group of other bloggers (David Weman, Iain Coleman, Scott Martens, Jurjen Smies, Matthew Turner and Tobias Schwarz) to create a new blog - A Fistful of Euros - which has just gone live and has it's first few post already up. It's a blog for discussions of all sorts of European issues and I should be posting there regularly in the future - my first post for it isn't completed yet, so you've got a great opportunity to go visit now before I lower the standards. I'll still be posting here as well as there with my usual jackdaw-esque mixture of whatever happens to interest me at the time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Back to Brent

As one of the few bloggers to be discussing the Brent East by-election (though only in a halfhearted kind of way) here's Democracy For Brent East - the website of independent candidate Harold Immanuel.

By their Burberry shall ye know them

Alison asked me for my opinion on this Guardian article about football hooliganism, which specifically features a group of hooligans who claim to be Wolves fans. My thoughts were pretty much along the lines of these, expressed by a Wolves fan on a mailing list I'm a member of:
Better still, arrange an event in a big, sealed room between all the "firms" and let 'em belt seven bells out of each other to their hearts content - before throwing away the key. Those of us whose knuckles don't scrape along the floor when we walk can then get on with watching the footy.
Which seems like a good enough solution to me.

However, there is one small positive you can take from the article, and from what I've heard elsewhere about the hooligans, and that's that their links to the clubs they purport to be fans of are getting more and more tenuous thanks to the efforts made since the 80s to keep the hooligans out of grounds. As the article states, all the members of 'Diamond's Crew' are banned from entering football grounds across the country and they no longer see their mission as being to 'sort out' any fan of the opposition, just the other 'firms'. That they don't even wear any club colours anymore is mentioned in the article, and it seems that they've moved on from the 70s and 80s concept of defending the 'honour' of their club to defending the 'honour' of their 'firm'. Indeed, one could even see them as being interested in defending the 'honour' of the town or city they're from and the football club is only a manifestation of the local identity. Certainly, from what I understand, most (if not all) of these hooligans are from an area local to the club they 'represent' - there aren't any glory hunting hooligans.

It does seem that they're travelling down the same route as the Dutch hooligans, where the fight is the important thing, not the sport it's leeched itself onto. It's often been the case there that holligans will gather miles away from any match for their fights, often while the match between 'their' two teams is taking place. In a way, they're getting close to the 'sealed room' suggested above. If a bunch of people want to get together for some kind of mass Fight Club in the middle of nowhere on a Saturday afternoon, I'm not really sure if we should be stopping them. It's just when they drag the reputations of thousands of true football fans through the mud with them that they're doing real damage.

Off the bottom!

With the real Premiership taking a break next week for international matches, here's a quick update on the UK Bloggers Fantasy League. Starting with the most important news that I am now off the bottom having top scored in Week 4, thanks to Michael Owen and Harry Kewell. Meanwhile, the top of the table is turning into a very close battle with just 30 points separating the leader from 5th place. And who is the leader? British Spin's Real Politik, making a return to the top for the first time since the start, just holding on from Turned Out Nice Again Rovers and Deportivo La Yorkshire, despite Jez's mammoth 88 points in Week 3.

Medical marijuana

In one of those pieces of news that's shocking because you didn't realise it wasn't the case already, the Netherlands has given doctors the right to prescribe marijuana:
In a move that is certain to put pressure on other countries to follow suit, chemists began selling the drug for a price of between €40 and €50 (£27 to £33) for a 5g (0.18oz) bag.

Although that is approximately twice the cost of buying the drug in one of the country's 1,500 coffee shops, the government claimed that there was a huge difference in quality. (emphasis added)
Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?


This website went missing for a few hours last night and this morning, but (fingers crossed, touch wood etc) everything should be alright now - apparently my hosting company were doing maintenance last night, which cause the problems.

Anyway, this seems as good a time as any to remind you of my Livejournal account, which I switch to at any time when either Blogger or anything else is playing up and not letting me post here.

Monday, September 01, 2003

The end of the Seven?

With the death of Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn is now the only surviving member of The Magnificent Seven. In one of those odd coincidences, James Coburn, Brad Dexter, Horst Buchholz and now Bronson have all died within a year of each other. It's as though a chapter in moive history is coming to an end.

It's not easy being IDS

Your party is campaigning in a by-election which your own candidate has said you can't win, and then one of your councillors from the area defects to the other opposition party:
Charles Kennedy has welcomed the defection of a Conservative councillor to the Liberal Democrats, less than three weeks before the Brent East by-election.

The Liberal Democrat leader was in the constituency as the September 18 poll approaches.

He publicised the defection of Brent councillor Carol Shaw who cited Iain Duncan Smith's "weak leadership" for her decision.

She also claimed that the Tories had become "more divided and extreme" since Duncan Smith took over at Central Office in 2001.

Gritting teeth

James Graham has an interesting critique of some of the blogging angry brigade and, in passing, points out one of the flaws with the 'Charles Kennedy is an alcoholic' rumours:
However, much as I'd in some ways like the Charles-the-Alcoholic story to be true, there is unfortunately one other thing I know: Charlie is a bit of a media darling, and wherever media types hang out, there are plenty of paparazzi knocking about ready to pounce. The fact that after four years of intense scrutiny not a single one has managed to get a shot of Charles looking shit-faced, rather implies that, unfortunately, it is probably just salacious media gossip.

It's 2003, not 1903, right?

A number of US newspapers are not going to print next Sunday's Doonesbury because it uses the phrase 'self-dating' as a euphemism for masturbation. OK, so my first thought was 'lucky sods, at least they get the Sunday strip most of the time' but it really does seem to be getting awfully prissy about something that really isn't going to offend anyone but the professionally offended or people who aren't really going to be reading Doonesbury anyway. Still, the author of the article managed to slip in what I think is a nice little joke in the first line:
An upcoming "Doonesbury" comic will address masturbation, and U.S. newspaper editors are grappling with how to deal with it.
(via The Great Communicator, who will not be censoring it from her Livejournal friends page)

Sunday, August 31, 2003

New blog alert

Thanks to James Graham, I've discovered that Peter Black AM is the latest Liberal Democrat blogger, which probably makes him the first member of the Welsh Assembly to blog. I met Peter a few times when I was living in Swansea, and he was just plain Councillor Black, so I hope he'll understand that I'm speaking as a friend when I say 'do it with some proper blogging software and comments!'

Time travel via email

A couple of weeks ago, I received this email which was so bizarre I kept it, intending to blog about it one day:
Subject: Warp Watch needed


I am going to need a new DWG unit, prefereably the rechargeable AMD wrist watch model with the GRC79 induction motor, four I80200 warp stabilizers, 512GB of SRAM and the menu driven GUI with front panel XID display. I'm a time traveler stuck here in 2003.
Upon arriving here my dimensional warp generator stopped working. I trusted a company here by the name of LLC Lasers to repair my Generation 3 52 4350A watch unit, and they fled on me.

I will take whatever model you have in stock, as long as its received certification for being safe on carbon based life forms.

In terms of payment:
Payment can be made in Galactic Credits, Platinum gold, or 2003 currency upon safe delivery of unit.

Please transport unit in either a brown paper bag or box to below coordinates on Friday August 22nd at (exactly 4:00pm) Eastern Standard Time. A few minutes prior will be ok, but it cannot be after. If you miss this timeframe please email me. Nobody will be at those coordinates prior to 3:45pm EST, (so do not transport before then).

Item is to be delivered at beginning of Lagrange Street in Winchester, Massachusetts which is directly across the street from Stratford Road located at: Latitude N 42.44852 & Longitude W 071.14651 and the Elevation is 90 feet.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SEND IT SO THAT THEY CANNOT REDIRECT OR BLOCK IT??? If in doubt do not transport actual unit until your method of transfer can be confirmed as a success. You just might need to send a intergalactic courier to deliver item safely to me.
It is best if you send a intergalactic courier to deliver, this way you can be certain the unit arrives ok, However If you are certain that you have the means to teleport unit in a safe manner please send a (separate) email to me at: only after unit has been safely delivered with payment instructions.

Brian Appel
And now, via Blogdex, I've found this Wired story that explains what it's all about. Just another of those bits of weirdness that makes the internet what we know and love.