Saturday, May 15, 2004

Why celebrities shouldn't be allowed to breed, part 874

Apple? What sick and twisted mind sends their child out into the world with a name like Apple?

Goodbye, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodnight

James Graham becomes the latest blogger to take an indefinite hiatus. Looks like I need to start auditioning for a new member of the First Eleven...

'A motivational speaker for compassion'

Via The Great Communicator, the above quote was used to describe Kurt Vonnegut, who's written something new for us all. A sample doesn't capture the full-throated Vonnegutian wonder of it all, but here's one anyway:
I was born a human being in 1922 A.D. What does “A.D.” signify? That commemorates an inmate of this lunatic asylum we call Earth who was nailed to a wooden cross by a bunch of other inmates. With him still conscious, they hammered spikes through his wrists and insteps, and into the wood. Then they set the cross upright, so he dangled up there where even the shortest person in the crowd could see him writhing this way and that.

Can you imagine people doing such a thing to a person?

No problem. That’s entertainment. Ask the devout Roman Catholic Mel Gibson, who, as an act of piety, has just made a fortune with a movie about how Jesus was tortured. Never mind what Jesus said.

During the reign of King Henry the Eighth, founder of the Church of England, he had a counterfeiter boiled alive in public. Show biz again.

Mel Gibson’s next movie should be The Counterfeiter. Box office records will again be broken.

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.

Why are you still here? You should have followed the link to read the rest by now.

So, farewell then...

To the broadsheet Independent - from Monday, the paper will be available in the tabloid compact version only. Will this hasten the advent of new-sized editions of the Guardian and Telegraph and, perhaps more intriguingly, will the Independent on Sunday follow suit?

There's precedent for a Sunday and Daily editions to be different sizes - the Sunday Express was broadsheet well into the 80s - but the IoS seems to be preparing for a possible change, with just two sections - News and Sport - remaining broadsheet, while everything else is now tabloid or magazine size.

And, because it seems like a good idea, and I want to be able to boast about my prescience should it ever happen, wouldn't Josh Marshall make a great columnist for the Independent?

Doh

Tom Tomorrow and Mark Kleiman try and explain something that's seemingly confusing some people.

Law, order and protests

The Yorkshire Ranter has a good post about potential fuel blockades:
The weird days of September, 2000, with their closed petrol stations, plotting and sense of national hysteria were like that not because the fuel protestors had vast mass support but because the government was asleep at the wheel. A limited bunch of Welsh right-wing wing nuts camped about refinery gates, but the government missed it for the main reason that it happened in the north, far from any politically legitimate concern. London was barely affected, and at first not at all. I remember most of all the strange inactivity of the powerful - there were plenty of legal pretexts to arrest anyone who physically barred the tankers' way out, but nothing much seemed to happen. In the end, the right things were done, of course. A combination of a direct challenge to the blockade (at Grangemouth refinery) and trimming (the end of the fuel-duty escalator) sorted the matter. That is how power-political problems are solved without war. It took a long time, though, for government to get a grip, a gasping vacuum of authority in which wild talk about plots to subvert the Labour government helped no-one. And the government's capability to deal with a civil-defence/crisis management problem was badly shown up. The grim winter of train wrecks, foot&mouth and floods that followed only underlined that.

Of course, part of me wants to see another 'fuel crisis' just in case someone in the media bothers to ask the Tories why they're happily supporting the protestors (one of the ones from last time is now a Tory AM) who are disrupting the orderly flow of business and the running of the country. In time of war, no less...

But I doubt that would be asked.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Hi, I'm Kim, come see my kewl new website

More of Tomorrow's News Today

Anthony has news of some potential developments - rumours of a couple of by-elections and a possible fuel strike.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Ask, and Google shall provide the answer

'How liberal can you get?' someone questioned. I came third, above the official Liberal Democrat website. I'm strangely proud of that achievement.

Update: See the comments below for some more things I may or may not be.

Tomorrow's headlines today!

Via Matt, this week's Sunday Telegraph:
X% BELIEVE BLAIR SHOULD RESIGN NOW

Or something similar, at least. Any guesses as to what X will be?

On a lighter note...

I've got a new post on Fistful about the Eurovision Song Contest.

Seven days in a different May

Sidney Blumenthal mentioned this in his Guardian column today, and it's quite an interesting paper: The Origins Of The American Military Coup of 2012

It's not meant as prediction, but it's an interesting look, from within the military, at the dangers involved in expanding the role of the armed forces into what have previously been civilian areas. It's not too long, and worth reading.

2+2=?

This will probably turn out to be nothing, but American blogger Digby has discovered a potential link between the search for WMDs (remember them?) and Abu Ghraib.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

John Kerry: Certainly not worse

The Onion suggests some Kerry campaign slogans.

Today's weather in hell: snowy

You know, I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, but these are fast becoming strange, strange times:
when you say you're the good guys, you've got to act as the good guys

Via the unmissable-right-now Josh Marshall, who has an equally good alternate phrasing of the same point:

being the good guys is about what you do, not who you are

Whose fault?

D-squared's back, all's right with the world, go read:
All I can really say is good God. I thought it was bad enough being me. I'm now imaging what it would be like to be someone who regards me as a hopelessly impractical optimist, far too inclined to give politicians the benefit of the doubt, and to be honest it's quite the Joseph Conrad moment. Hell.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Behold the power of the blog (again)

Interesting article in the Boston Globe about bloggers getting press credentials to the US party conventions this summer. (via Pandagon, and both Jesse and Ezra are featured in the article)

To me, it shows an interesting difference between US and UK political blogging. Quite a few British bloggers went to the various party conferences last year, but all went as participants and delegates, rather than with journalistic credentials. I'm sure it'll be the same this year, with probably the same people attending. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but it'd be interesting to see if a British blogger could get press credentials to one, some or all of the conferences, and what a more 'independent' blogger's view of the Conferences would be.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Things we learned today...

It's very hard to add an American driver onto British car insurance, apparently because they have a habit of suing the insurance companies when they return to the US. (Or so I was told by my insurance company today, anyway)

All Blogovia is divided into three parts

Following Chris Brooke's suggestion, it's too easy to highlight examples of rubbish and nonsense at the moment, but Josh Marshall is as splendid as ever:
For myself, it's not so much the horror of what we're seeing itself. Certainly, history is littered with far greater outrages. But how exactly did we find ourselves on the doling out end of this stuff? Morally, how did it happen? And in simply pragmatic terms, since this was a grand gambit for hearts and minds in a region awash in anti-Americanism and autocracy, how exactly did we get here? More than anything, a self-inflicted wound of this magnitude just leaves you speechless.

For someone who considers himself in many ways a hawk and who did and does believe in American power as a force for good in the world (most recently in the Balkans) it is difficult to describe the depth of the chagrin over watching the unfolding of a story which reads in many ways like a parody of Chomskian screeds against American villainy.

Sometimes laughter is the only solution

I think he said something about “China’s commitment to human rights” and I laughed so much I missed the rest.

Dave Weeden on Blair's press conference

Over before it's begun

I was going to suggest that this picture needed a caption competiton or something similar, but Matt Turner's already won the competition (pdf file) before it begins.

Changes

Normal service will be resumed as soon as we've determined just what normality is.

Apologies if anything's looked a bit weird round here this morning - I've been playing with some of Blogger's new features, and they don't seem to work very well - or at least, they eat up space on my server like a horde of angry locusts - but hopefully things will be back to normal now.

Spanish GP review

Yawn. Oh dear, these are starting to get rather dull, aren't they? It's quite sad when they only things that stick in my memory from yesterday were from the pre-race show.

First, Jim Rosenthal's interview with Sachin Tendulkar, which should be released on DVD as a bonus disc to go with Knowing Me, Knowing You. It was truly Partridgean, toe-curlingly embarrassing ('Sachin, you're known as a driver of the ball, but what about as a driver of a car?' was the sort of question that was being asked). I was expecting Rosenthal to suddenly start asking Tendulkar either about his groin strain or just 'what's your favourite road?'

Then, there's Martin Brundle's encounter with the King of Spain which was just weird. It seemed as though Juan Carlos knew Brundle and would have been happy to talk more, but Brundle wasn't that interested in talking to him - all rather strange.

The race itself - ooh, someone other than Schumacher led for a while! - was looking rather 2002-esque, complete with everyone else seeming to lose interest. Something tells me that the main battle of the year is going to be for third place in the drivers championship and second place in the constructors championship, which could bring out some interesting battles between BAR and Renault as the season goes on.

OK, and the rating for this week:

Good Race: Ferrari (people are going to start thinking that the team is called 'Good Race Ferrari' at this rate, Renault, Sauber
Average Race: BAR (a sign of their improvement is that this would have been a good race for them last year), Williams (though it's a sign for them that this would have been a bad race not long ago), Toyota, Jaguar
Bad Race: McLaren, Minardi, Jordan

Next time: Monaco. Back in 1992, Mansell's attempt to win 6 in a row faltered here when he couldn't pass Senna - will Schumacher face the same fate? Will anyone care?

Sunday, May 09, 2004

It's all words round here nowadays

I'm with Dave on this one - 'Keyboard commando' is much better than 'chickenhawk'.

One more heave

Matthew Parris has an interesting comment piece in The Times, suggesting that Bush should be re-elected just so the neo-conservative ideals can be comprehensively disproved (via Crooked Timber, where John Quiggin discussed a similar idea recently). Worth reading, and it also has a very good summation of a certain pro-war (sorry, 'pro-liberation') position:
A simple and moving idea resonates through all these words. It is the idea that the principles we now hold are, at the most profound level, universal. Other peoples, other cultures, other nations hold them too — or would, if only they were given the chance. Show them the light, and they will follow. Through the prism of this theory every system of government which fails to uphold our own values is seen as a perversion of natural law, a denial of essential human nature, and at war with the real (if unconscious) wishes of its own citizens.

The removal of such systems of government, if necessary by force of arms, and the installation — if necessary by force of arms — of governments which resemble our own, become, to the liberal interventionist, only superficially acts of coercion, for he is lifting from people an alien yoke. If this is not how they see things today then tomorrow they will, they must. To the liberal interventionist, the thought never occurs that Saddam Hussein might have been a product of the whole Iraqi people and their history, as well as an imposition upon them. They think that he was only an imposition and in their hearts the people know it. Remove him, thinks the interventionist, and they will love us. If at first they do not rise and hail us then another heave is called for: one last heave.

Elsewhere