Saturday, April 17, 2004

One minute late

My local train company has recently been merged into the new 'Greater Anglia' franchise One Railway, which is obviously one of those names devised by a marketing company.

Now, the service doesn't seem to have changed at all since they've taken only, though that's mainly because they're suing exactly the same staff and rolling stock as Great Eastern and Anglia were using before, but I've noticed one problem with the name. My local station, and I think most of the stations in this area (and probably the country) have an automated announcement system which makes announcements of the sort:

The next train from Platform x is the xx:xx (train company) service to (destination)

Which doesn't cause any problems until you have a train going at 20, 30, 40 or 50 minutes past the hour when it becomes, as it was last night:

The next train from Platform 3 is the 20:20 One service to London Liverpool Street which, of course, actually sounds like: the 20:21 service to London Liverpool Street.

Admittedly, it's just a minor quibble, but might cause some embarrassing moments for passengers and station staff when people miss trains by a minute or so. But then, I doubt the marketing consultants - who were probably paid a ridiculously large sum of money to come up with the name - ever travel by train with us plebs, so what do they care?

Celebrity blogging

I was thinking - given that Michael Grade wants to "serve the licence-paying public right across the UK", wouldn't it be good if he started some kind of blog or online diary when he starts his job as BBC Chairman? It would be a good way for him to be in communication with public and help to give people an idea of what the Chairman actually does aside from Governors meetings.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Divining some kind of truth from multiple sources

Iain suggested this, and I'm bored so I'll try it. Here's a group of answers, picked up by just following a few links, from the page 23, sentence 5 meme, all grouped together in an attempt to make some sort of sense out of them all:
Others believe that American interests in the region have been harmed. They did not employ the construction, 'Me Thinks', for instance. Now, how does our mapping, defined by doubling the distance to the nearest corner, look arithmetically? Note how the energies of the two starting orbitals separate or spread apart when they interact to form the two molecular orbitals.

In all of Lantania's schools it was taught that the annexation of the volcano by the Gunduwians had been an act of banditry, and that the first duty of every Lantanian was to train militarily, hate Gunduwia with all his might, and prepare for the inevitable and desirable war, which was going to bend Gunduwian arrogance and reconquer the volcano. It is rather to determine whether such a class exists at all. By the fourth century they had long since adopted writing and a government of stable laws. In 1847 the government tried and failed to stop The Times publishing correspondence between Lord Castlereagh and representatives of Imperial Russia on the Polish Question at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

How can the whole thing begin to make sense? Do you suppose the Imperium could expose its shakiness in this manner? But, if we are not careful, we shall see thousands turning in this tribulation to the Enemy, while tens of thousands who do not go so far as that will nevertheless have their attention diverted from themselves to values and causes which they believe to be higher than the self. Partly because of unhealthy conditions in the Tidewater, where undrained swamps produced malaria and where medicine was exceedingly primitive, few people reached old age. Now, the King's foreign minister, the Marquis de Torcy, had informed him that not only was Law back without a passport but that 'his intentions are not good' and that 'he is serving our enemies as a spy.

"Look," Rich Armitage responded, "we told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if this happened it's their ass."

"All right, I tried," I said, and fingered it out and forked it over. Aristotle's political philosophy isn't exactly startling, but it avoids the utopianism of Plato's Republic.

A zeppelin has a rigid structure, whereas a blimp is non-rigid. But we need a more exhaustive and exclusive and discriminating definition of it, or recognition of it. Often, a cryptographer will remove all the spaces to make it harder for an enemy interceptor to intercept the message. The new Jacob is secular and smart, the name has been sanded down and all its biblical varnish gone. We can be sure, however, that the great extant Aristotelian works are not, in contrast to the Platonic dialogues, finished pieces of writing meant for publication.
(Answers from - and not necessarily in this order - me, Iain, James, Chris (and his comments), Norm, Emily and her comments, Ben, Kerry, Sarah, Michael, Chris, Sara, Will and Dave.)


Went to see Shaun Of The Dead tonight, and I can definitely recommend it to you all as a film well worth seeing. I'd do a full review, but I'd only echo the comments several other people have made, so here's an amusing tangent instead.

Simon Pegg, the eponymous Shaun and co-writer of the film, has described the film as a 'Zom Rom Com' (or even 'zomromcom') - a zombie romantic comedy. In one of the idle moments at work the other day, we were discussing how many other parts you could add to that while still keeping the rhyming intact. For instance, a gay version would be a 'Hom Zom Rom Com' etc

Well, I've come up with a ten word version: an Australian film about a gay monk called Thomas, played by the actor who portrayed Clouseau's boss in the Pink Panther movies, whose English mother is romantically involved with a zombie in an ancient Iranian city with hilarious consequences. Or, a 'Hom Dom Tom Lom Pom Mom Zom Rom Qom Com'.

Anyone with nothing better to do with their time is cordially invited to try and come up with something longer...

Thursday, April 15, 2004


More support from Bobbie and James. The total value of the fund now stands at whatever we can get on eBay for a Simply Red CD and a copy of The Xenophobe's Guide To The Swedish. Might just be enough to get a bus ticket, I suppose.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Quick public service announcement

Anthony Wells has moved from Livejournal to Typepad. If you want your links and bookmarks to still work, it's probably a good idea to update them.

Developing the PCSHF meme

The Peter Cuthbertson Summer Holiday Fund now has a brand spanking new logo graphic for you to use, should you wish to spread the word. Thanks to Matt T for doing his bit for the cause, and contributing the infamous Simply Red CD to the collection.

I'm John Kerry and I may or may not endorse this choice

Those of you interested in the Vice=Presidential options open to John Kerry may find the Washington Post's Veep-o-Matic fun to play with.

But those of you interested in good old fashioned campaign tactics will probably find this story more interesting:
"In the past four years, America's national debt has reached an all-time high," the ad's narrator said. "And who's responsible? You are. You're sitting there eating a big bowl of Fritos, watching TV, and getting fatter as the country goes to hell. You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Over a series of images of America's senior citizens, the narrator of another 30-second spot says, "The Medicare drug bill is a triumph of right-wing ideology masquerading as moderate reform. The pharmaceutical-drug and insurance industries are tickled pink. Guess who's paying for it? You. Congratulations, moron. I'm John Kerry and I approved this message."

The Bush-Cheney 2004 camp recently began airing an anti-voter ad in 20 major urban areas nationwide.

"Are you going to vote for a candidate whose campaign promises would cost America $1.9 trillion over the next decade?" the ad asks. "Of course you aren't. You aren't going to vote at all. In the last election, half of you didn't even show up. So, on Nov. 2, just spend the day right there at your dead-end office job, talking to your coworkers about your new sweater and e-mailing your friends photos of your stupid 2-year-old daughter you shouldn't have had."

The ad concludes: "You make me sick."

The law of fives and a 23 mean the Illuminati are probably involved somewhere

From Chris and Dave, who both got it from Norm:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions

Unfortunately, the nearest books to me right now (I'm at work) are an A-Z Master Atlas of Greater London (of which page 23 depicts East Barnet and Whetstone) and a Philip's Navigator Britain Road Atlas (of which page 23 shows the southern part of Sussex (from Uckfield and Heathfield down to Seaford and Eastbourne) but neither of them have any sentences.

So, it's into the bag for Against All Enemies and the fifth sentence on page 23 is:
"Look," Rich Armitage responded, "we told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if this happened it's their ass."

Rapidly recontextualized jokes

I was watching Sliding Doors on TV last night, which I'd never seen before. It's a nice little movie, but there was one bit of the script that had its meaning altered by events since the film was released.

James (John Hannah) is telling Helen (Gwyneth 'look at my lovely English accent' Paltrow) about how, when he was eight years old, his first love abandoned him because she was too obsessed with a certain pop star. Now, they could have used many pop acts from the 70s there - David Cassidy, the Bay City Rollers, the Osmonds etc - but instead they chose to use...Gary Glitter. Jokes about eight year olds leaving someone for Gary Glitter managed to develop a slightly different slant about a year after the movie was released.

The power of the blog, pt 94

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Johann Hari might want to consider getting a new byline picture for his Independent columns and today he has a brand new one! (Though, as Matt notes, it does make him look just a little like David Aaronovitch's Mini-Me) (Update: Matt now has photographic evidence (pdf file) of the link between David and Mini-Aaro)

Newspaper editors read this blog and quake in fear at what may occur if they fail to heed my edicts, obviously...

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

No more worries for a week or two

This post from Matthew Turner got me thinking, especially when he mentioned Peter Cuthbertson referring to Sweden and the Netherlands as 'degenerate hellholes'. Now, given that David Carr's trip to Brussels seems to have opened up his eyes a little, how about we try and do the same for Peter.

Now, Peter's a student and, as we all know, students aren't known for having vast sums of money available for frivolous travel (all of their travel is serious and degree-related, I'm reliably informed, and all that drinking is just to relax at the end of a long day's studying) so isn't it about time we bloggers helped one of our own?

That's why I'm establishing the Peter Cuthbertson Summer Holiday Fund (PCSHF for short) with the aim of sending Peter on a tour of Europe this summer, so he can investigate for himself and let us know if the continent really is full of 'degenerate hellholes' for the rest of us to avoid or visit, according to taste. In an ideal world, the fund would raise enough to send Peter off on his travels in full Cliff Richard style, travelling in an old London Transport Routemaster with a group of cheepy chappie mates, but if you can't all be that generous, an Inter-rail ticket's not that expensive and ferry tickets to the Hook of Holland start from some very reasonable prices.

So, who wants to donate to this worthy cause?

Update: Those of you who don't want to contribute to Peter's holidays might want to consider my Plan B instead - raising enough money to send one, some or all of Matt T, Chris Brooke, Dave Weeden, Harry Hatchet, Johann Hari or James Graham on this cruise (found via Pandagon) - you know it'll be fun.

Monday, April 12, 2004

So so proud

I'm now Google's #1 for the term lapdance weblog.

'Would you like me to lapdance for you?' he asked in an Alan Partridge style.