Saturday, December 13, 2003

Christmas thoughts

First, thankyou to my Secret Santa - a very good selection.

It was my office's Christmas party last night. Today I'm just ever-so-slightly hungover, with a really sore neck. When I'm drunk, I really need someone to remind me that it's been a long time since I was 19 and trying to headbang has painful consequences the day after.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Things only Google can decide

I'm with Jesse on this one. It all comes down to who's electable and who's unelectable.

Nostalgic coincidence

As some of you may have noticed over the last couple of days, there's been a bit of a student politics nostalgia-fest going on over a few blogs, which has included me and Spin remembering our time at NUS Conference in 1993. Now, one thing I remember from then (and I'm pretty sure that my memory has placed it at the right conference) was a guy called Andrew Tessier standing for National Treasurer, who put in a storming performance with his speech and answers to the various questions, getting the delegates actually excited about something for once. Then, just before the voting he withdrew, not because he'd suddenly decided to join the RCP but because he'd already been elected as Convenor for NUS London (if I recall correctly).

So, I remembered that the other day while thinking back to Conference and then today, I follow this link (via Topical Fish) and find:
Liberal Democrat Andrew Tessier easily defended an ultra-marginal Westcotes seat at Leicester against a Labour challenge.
I wonder if it's the same person? A quick Googling and look at the Leicester City Council page didn't shed any light, but it would be a weird coincidence.

Can't get there from here

A slightly different Tube Map, found via Green Fairy. Kind of like The Great Bear, but funnier and slightly more twisted.

While we're on the subject

The stage adaptation of His Dark Materials is delayed because of technical problems. Luckily, my tickets are for the end of February, when it will hopefully all be worked out.

And on the subject of Tolkein, check out the reaction of Landover Baptist Church when they got to be amongst the first to see Return Of The King:
Three hours into the movie, after patiently waiting for a 300-foot Jesus to descend from the clouds and begin dismembering and Kung-Fu kicking the living hell out of unsaved people, the shocking truth that the devout audience had been hoodwinked into watching pagan, Christ-hating propaganda was finally revealed.

Cross-Party agreement

I'm with Anthony (and Johann as well, though he's more 'anyone but Tolkein') on this - vote for Philip Pullman tomorrow!

Of course, what's interesting is that they've closed the voting, and will reopen the phone lines at 9pm tomorrow for the final part of the Big Read. Now, this is pure speculation on my part, but might they be attempting to stop a runaway win by Lord Of The Rings? Might the only votes that really count to determine the winner be the ones cast tomorrow night? It's what the BBC now do with Sports Personality of the Year - the mass write-in/email etc vote beforehand determines the top six, but the winner is determined solely from the votes cast on the night for those on the shortlist. If they follow that example, then it's all up for grabs again and your vote counts.

It's not that I've got anything against Lord Of The Rings (I'm eagerly awaiting going to see Return Of The King next week), it's just that there are better books (both in and out of the Big Read Top 21) that deserve to win more than it.

Update: OK, looks like I was wrong. Looks like it's just that all forms of voting other than phones have been stopped until tomorrow, then phone voting stops at 9pm. But there's some real bad news for anyone planning on watching the programme tomorrow night: 'Comedy troupe Reduced Shakespeare Company will perform skits based on the books.' Well, I guess it's nice of them to have a clear indication of when it's safe to leave the room and make a cup of tea without missing anything that's actually entertaining.

Changes

There are going to be some changes here over the next month or so. Last night, after complex negotiations, I was able to put into place the first stage of the process that will lead us to What You Can Get Away With v2.0 Nothing's going to be any different just yet, but expect an announcement sometime in the New Year.

We now return you to your regular programming.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Fantasy update

It's clear to me that British Spin's recent absence was obviously spent motivating the players in his fantasy league team, as he's now returned to the top of the UK Bloggers league. He has a lead of twenty points over The Moose and AFC Wibblington, with Jez and Deportivo La Yorkshire, continuing to hold third place, pushing me into fourth.

However, just as the battle between Wolves and Leeds for who can be the worst side in the Premiership is attracting all the attention (OK, pretend it is), so too is the basement battle of the bloggers. The Pomo Pornstars XI still hold 12th place (though Team Chic Sentry's 11th placeseems to be getting further and further away ever week) but the late-starting Riverside Dogs are closing down the gap every week and are now less than 140 points behind.

You can still join in the league, should you so wish (and make the Dogs happier by lifting them off the bottom) - click here and put a team together, if you don't have one already, then click on 'join a private group' and enter group ID# 23975 and password 'orlowski'.

If you can remember it, you weren't really there...

Or something like that.

It turns out that I've been in the same room as British Spin. OK, by 'room', I mean 'main conference hall at the Blackpool Winter Gardens' and back then there was no such thing as weblogs. And it was in 1993, not 1992, so I got that wrong as well.

But then, I always figured that Spin would have been one of the NOLS apparatchiks who sat in the balcony, raising their hand at the right moment to let Labour Students know what they should be voting for. Just in case they'd forgotten what they believed in, of course, not because they couldn't be trusted to make up their own minds.

Christmas shopping tips #1

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

More RCP memories

Following on from my mention of the RCP yesterday, Jamie (of new blog Blood and Treasure) has some reminiscences of his own about dealings with them at the old Polytechnic of Central London (is that now part of London Met, formerly London Guildhall, or am I getting my old Polys confused?) (Update: It's now the University of Westminster)
The RCP had another unique feature. They were the only sectarian communist group on planet earth with a dress code. Like bouncers of the revolution, they would only admit people wearing smart casual clothes to the cause. I believe this was something to do with winning the suburbs over to Marxist Leninism. It certainly made them odd to talk to in general social situations, as though they had joined the RCP as everyday people and then been told to imitate their normal selves as a conscious act of revolutionary practice. They marketed themselves, which must have facilitated their eventual move into corporate public relations.

Going once

The Independent is having a Christmas charity auction again, which is one of those things that makes me wish I had more money than I've got. And while I could probably resist bidding on having Yasmin Alibhai-Brown cook me a curry, or getting Mark Steel to come round and not be funny in my house, as opposed to not being funny on stage, the one person on there I think is really worth spending a lot of money to have a day with is Will Self. So, anyone got a spare £500 quid or so they could give me? I'd auction off a day with myself to finance my bid, but 45p and a bag of crisps isn't going to get me off to much of a start.

Of course, part of me wonders if there are any... let's say 'mischievous' instead of 'malicious'...people who'd pay large amounts of money for a day/night with someone they disagreed with just to heckle them. If I've just placed that thought in someone's head, please pretend it didn't come from me, I couldn't handle the responsibility.

Anti-This War Now

Daniel Davies explains it yet again:
Specifically, my taste was to wait until 2004, when we might have a different American government which wasn't quite so zealously devoted to the project of cocking things up. This is why I never qutie understand why the pro-war crowd, left and right, seem to think that injecting the phrase "Bush is a moron" into the debate is in some way unsportsmanlike, unmannerly or evidence that one's opposition is partisan or not serious. It's an entirely germane point in considering the costs and benefits of a war whether or not it's being run by a moron, and it is by no means established that the option of a war not run by a moron was completely out of the question.

North of the border

Writing in the Guardian, Professor Richard Holt of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture (now there's somewhere I'd like to study) at De Montfort University, explores a different perspective in sports reporting:
Compare the press reactions to Wembley 1966 and Sydney 2003. The Scotsman's leading headline of August 1 1966 ran: Lyceum to Change Play Policy. An Edinburgh theatre's choice of plays was clearly more important than anything else. There was no mention of England's victory anywhere on the front page and no picture until page 11, which showed "the West German football team hailed as the 'real world champions' on their return".

The Herald put this triumphal image of the West German team on the front page, confining England to a couple of columns and a photo on page four. "Team spirit gains England the Cup," ran the headline, reflecting the widespread Scottish view that England lacked creativity. "Flair" in football was Scottish.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The silent majority

Just a thought - yesterday, somewhere in the region of 750,000 people packed the streets of London to celebrate England's victory in the Rugby World Cup. However, given that the population of England is almost 50,000,000, I'd say that it's a clear sign that most British people are opposed to the ideas represented yesterday. In fact, one could claim that they're objectively pro-Australia.

'And so I must withdraw from this election'

Inspired by George Monbiot's piece on the Revolutionary Communist Party/Living Marxism/Institute of Ideas/Spiked/Whatever name they're going under this week, Alister Black has some memories of seeing the old RCP in action at NUS Conference.

I can remember encountering the RCP at my first NUS Conference back in 1992, where they were standing in just about every election, all with the same speech which I remember someone characterising as 'why we must protect the Serbs from Western aggression' (this was in 1992, remember) and all ended with something on the lines of 'the only way to change this to change all of society, NUS is part of society and thus cannot change it and therefore I withdraw from this election'. It was quite impressive the first time, less impressive the third and quite irritating the tenth, but by that point someone had discovered that a shop somewhere in Blackpool sold these little kids' toys that were effectively long sticks with little snappy jawed things on the end. By the time of the last few RCP candidates, the hall was filled with people raising these any miming along to their speeches with them.

Alister also has a great quote, for the 'I wish I'd thought of that' file:
You can read the doublethink online at the Spiked blog. I'm not publishing the url, you have to choose to find it.

Scary people

Jesse of Pandagon has discovered the strange world of Adam Yoshida (and so, it seems has Instapundit)

Good to see that this ultra-patriotic hyper-American (who just happens to be, erm, Canadian) has found something slightly more constructive to do with his time than selling Kiss My Ass Osama thongs and annoying the people of soc.history.what-if.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Bun with no gee

Someone's done a bungee jump without a rope. I'm wondering if 'ropeless bungee' could well become the next phase seeing as how he survived - I know people who are into bungee jumping and various extreme 'sports' and it's the sort of thing that would appeal.

OK, crank up the hyping machine...

Look! Look everyone! There's a blogger in the Telegraph! This must mean that the long inevitable process by which all media is dominated by bloggers is slowly underway and soon no one will ever read anything that's not been blogged first...

What's that? It's just a letter by a blogger and he doesn't mention The Power Of The Blog! (tm) at all? Oh well, carry on as normal...

Bye bye, Troubled Diva

But, he leaves with a little bit of truth for you all to ponder: "having a successful UK weblog is roughly the equivalent of being at #38 in the Albanian singles chart"

'And the flood came and destroyed them all'

Excellent article by Ken Macleod on the pro-war Left, the anti-war Right and why he's part of neither group.

Update: Permanent link now added (thanks to Dave)

Sunday, December 07, 2003

'London is worth more than a Mass'

For those of you who are interested, my first original post to soc.history.what-if in a while.