Saturday, June 05, 2004

Either stupid or abnormally gifted

Can you solve the puzzle of the petals round the rose? You may get it very quickly and wonder what the fuss is about, or take several hours (like Bill Gates) to work out what's going on.

I can't tell you the solution, though I do know it. All I can tell you is the name may be significant and every answer is either even or zero. Some say that the more intelligent you are, the quicker you solve it. I got it in under a minute, so they're clearly wrong.

(via The Great Communicator)

Conspiracies

Why worry about the Bilderbergs, when there's this frankly more evil group to worry about? You think the popularity of the Atkins Diet, with all it's steak-promotingness, happened by accident?

Today on Kilroy: I want to be paid for doing nothing!

Just in case you were in any doubt as to what you get when you vote for Robert Kilroy-Silk and the swivel-eyed loons:
Not, of course, that he will have to go to Strasbourg and do the boring stuff. "I'm not going to be bogged down by the European parliament," he told one reporter this week. "I'll spend as little time there as possible."

Because they're fighting for democracy...except when it takes too much of their time to do any of the work associated with it.

Googlebombing, googlewashing, whatever

Some of you have probably heard this already, but searching for 'Leicester South by-election 'on Google currently returns some odious racist website quite high in the results.

Replace the link with your own party or newspaper article of choice, if you wish. It all helps to push the ignorance down the page.

Funny.

Here's a good use of that old internet thingy...BNP propaganda remixed to point out where it's wrong and/or just plain insane. (via that Bloggerheads geezer, so no doubt you've all seen it all already)

Friday, June 04, 2004

Victories for common sense, Part 2

(Or, behold the power of my blog, number 876)

The crack-induced brainfade at the RMT has disappeared and they've now called off next Thursday's planned Tube strike. It'll be interesting to see if it has any lingering effects on the Mayoral elections, though.

But, to prove that swivel-eyed lunacy still reigns supreme in some quarters, we've learned today that the UKIP's latest infamous supporter is Jonathan 'liar and a cheat' Aitken. This, of course, is the same former jailbird perjurer who wanted to be a Conservative candidate just a few months ago...but I'm sure that played no part in his decision.

Anthony and Will discuss this some more, and I guess the only debate is on who's going to be the next member of the political Z-list to announce their support for UKIP?

Update: As I mentioned in the comments at Anthony's, it's just occurred to me that the most likely UKIP supporter would be a broadcasting legend, a renowned name in his local region, a man experienced in radio and television, but shunted to an obscure show on local radio because politically correct BBC bosses couldn't take his style. Unfortunately, Alan Partridge is a fictional character.

Words, they mean nothing

Just to follow on from Wednesday's little rant, those tough, uncompromising, take-no-prisoners fuel protestors have, er, backed down. But they've got some real concessions from the Government...if you call a promise from Gordon Brown that he'll think about maybe not increasing fuel duty in September a concession rather than a fobbing off.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Suddenly, it all makes sense

Matthew Yglesias unleashes his brain the size of a planet and explains it all:
As in physics, where quantum field theory and general relativity coexist uneasily, we yearn for a grand unified theory of Bushism that would put the two halves of the agenda together. Now, at last, with the revelation that Ahmad Chalabi has been passing intelligence information to the regime in Iran, the opportunity presents itself to construct just such a unified theory. The truth, hard as it is to accept, is that Bush is an Iranian agent.

I, for one, welcome our new Iranian overlords. (via Chris Lightfoot)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Linkylove

Things you should go and read, if you haven't already:

The Poor Man continues to make the rest of us hang our heads in shame when we consider our own attempts at humour. He even gets a Tech Central Station column.

DSquared gives us the One Minute MBA and how an expensive business school education showed him why the Iraq war wasn't going to work.

And Chris Lightfoot gets more communication from a political party that some people believe to be quasi-fascist.

To the barricades! (but don't forget your wallets)

The next couple of weeks should offer a couple of interesting, and contrasting, tests of political reactions. It's going to be interesting to see how many of the people who condemn strike action by tube workers suddenly getting all misty-eyed about the power of direct action when asked to do the same to the fuel protestors, and vice versa of course.

Firstly, there's the RMT Tube strike on election day next week which instantly becomes this year's number one on the political 'and how much crack did you have to take to make that seem like a good idea?' chart. Let's face it, out of the candidates for Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone's their best friend (well, amongst candidates who stand a chance of winning somewhere other than Bizarro-world) and, as Anthony Wells points out today, calling a strike on election day is basically giving Simon Hughes and Steve Norris twovery big sticks to beat Livingstone with for the next seven days. The RMT score 10 points for letting the public know of their legitimate grievances and lose several million for failing to engage their brains at any point along the line.

(And as someone suggested to me in an email this afternoon - giving what everyone said after Spain's elections, if people don't vote for Labour on June 10th, does that mean the Unions have won?)

Then, of course, there's the fuel protestors who are threatening to throw their toys out of their pram and supposedly cause chaos across the country all in the name of their own selfishness. Hopefully, someone within the Government will have taken notes after 2000 and remembered that the supposed 'power' of the fuel protestors came about only because the oil companies - who in other countries have no qualms about arranging for people obstructing their business to be shot - panic when they see three fat blokes sitting outside their depots and refuse to send their tankers out. You know, someone more cynical than good old idealistic optimistic me might think that they were deliberately causing the crisis, using the protests as a convenient smokescreen, to get the government to lower taxes so they could raise their profits. But that would be far too cynical, right?

And should these protests come about, would it be possible for one journalist to ask all the protesting farmers why they're complaining when their agricultural fuel is vastly cheaper? And when they complain about the costs of transportation after it leaves the farm, could someone explain just why the supposedly hyper-efficient free market, which solves all problems, thinks the best way to distribute food is to send the same produce on several hundred miles of criss-crossing journeys across the country?

Yet agin, it seems that stupidity and selfishness are going to win the day. Oh, doesn't it make you so proud to be English?

Quote of the day

From Chris Lightfoot:
Libertarianism is just trolling applied to real life

More of the truth, found only in fragments

Gert describes a large part of my, and I suspect many other people's, CD collection, though I don't own the actual album she's referring to:
I quite like this album, but I suspect that if it wasn't in my collection, I wouldn't miss it.

It seems to me that all record collections can be divided into three: the stuff you never want to get rid of and continually listen to, the stuff Gert describes above, and the stuff that's so hideously embarrassing you don't want to take the risk of throwin it out, giving it away or taking it to a second hand shop just in case someone sees you with it.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Takuma owes me a tenner or a European GP review

Why does he owe me £10? Because last week, after collecting my winnings from Monaco (thank you again, Jarno) I had £2.50 left in my Hills account which I used to back him each-way at 40/1. So, when he was in third place and challenging for second, I was on for a bonus £10 until he decided to try overtaking when it just wasn't possible. Must be quite annoying for the team as well, as the pace Button had later on showed that Sato could probably have waited and taken Barrichello later on.

One of those races where the accidents are of more interest than the racing, and it's always fun when someone takes out their own team mate. Of course, it was especially fun that Ralf managed to take out a Toyota on his way out of the race. I'm sure that's going to aid his negotiations for a drive there next year. Personally, I'm thinking that it's becoming more and more likely that he's not going to get a drive next year. Williams seem to be thinking of two new drivers, and at the moment a Coulthard/Da Matta combination looks more much better for Toyota than one of Ralf and someone he doesn't object to.

As for the race itself, well it was pretty much over as soon as Raikonnen got into second place and let Schumacher get away. He was perfectly entitled to, and it's good to see that McLaren have finally got some pace back, even if their reliability remains utterly appalling, but it meant we missed out on the straight fight between the Ferraris and the BARs that could have been pretty interesting. Button didn't quite get the breaks, but he'll be glad of yet another third place which keeps him ahead in his championship battle with Trulli, but sometime soon they're going to get a win. BAR seem to be going well on the circuits where Williams did well last year, so they might be worth watching in Canada next time out.

Anyway, time for the ratings. We'll have the quick ones this time:

Good Race: Ferrari (well, what else did you expect?), Sauber (Fisichella for Williams next year?), Jaguar (one wonders how motivated Webber will be to score points in the next couple of races, if they might keep him there next year)
Average Race: BAR (would have been good until Sato's brainfade), Renault (need more horsepower, but still got nine points), Jordan (starting to get in touch with the midfield), Toyota (unlucky with Da Matta, but Panis ran well)
Bad Race: Williams (must be tempted to go home until next year), McLaren (look like they have gone home until next year), Minardi (look like they might finish a race a year behind the leaders)

Now it's a couple of weeks off and then the back-to-back North American races.

If we all do it, it'll really annoy them

Chris Lightfoot's been threatened with legal action by the English Democrats after referring to them as 'quasi-fascists'. Well, we had one of their leaflets delivered the other day and I have to say that I thought they looked pretty quasi-fascist as well. Anyone else?

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Well, Norm's appealed for more cricket blogging so I'll throw this story into the mix: a suggestion from within the ICC to change the structure of international cricket.

I've suggested before that the problem with much more competitive nature of Test cricket nowadays is that none of the bigger sides will take it easy against the smaller ones because of the chance of losing world championship points. While one hopes that Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and (eventually, I'm sure) Kenya can improve the level of their play in the way Sri Lanka did, it does make sense for them to play more games against teams of the same relative ability as them, rather than just getting regularly hammered by the bigger sides.

An idea I've suggested before that might help the developing nations is to have Test nations that aren't included in the World Championship. That way, the big sides could still play five day matches against the smaller ones - giving them the experience of Tests - but they'd be able to use developmental or 'A' sides without worrying about losing ground in the Championship.

However, the problem with the plan is that it requires votes at the ICC to go ahead, and I can't see that happening. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh aren't going to vote for their own demotion, and there are enough of the 'elite eight' who'd worry that one bad game could get them demoted them from the top division. However, there could be a compromise of an 'elight eight plus one' whereby the champions of the Division Two nations could be promoted up into the top division to join the others, rather than replace them.

And on the other hand...

While I'm sure various people will be going on about today being Tax Freedom Day, I'd just like to remind you all that we've still got almost five months to go the (much more important, in my opinion) Work Freedom Day.

A splendid resource

Here's something that I'm sure a few of you will find an interesting resource: the new dKosopedia, a Wiki created by members of the Daily Kos community that's intended to be a resource of information about US politics.

I've not gone too deep into it, so I'm sure there's stuff in there for you to complain about should you want to look for it (but it's a Wiki, so you can also change it should you wish) but it does seem to be a good idea and a good place to go for specific information about US politics. For instance, I can't see when I'd ever need it, but I'm sure having a complete list of the members of Clinton's Cabinets in one place on this entry will be useful to someone.

It's interesting to wonder whether amidst all the noise we make about how important blogging is to the showing the power of the internet, the real future of the net might be in wikis instead. Perhaps inspired by the success of Wikipedia, more seem to be cropping up, and they provide a very good way of collecting together the knowledge of lots of people on a subject in a very efficient way.

Now, I'll probably regret saying this, but anyone interested in creating one to cover British and/or European politics?

Theology 101: Is it a parable or a very subtle joke?

Seeing this post about Alanis Morrisette's 'Ironic' on Crooked Timber reminded me of a theory about why the universe is the way it is I had while watching Dogma the other night.

God, as we know, is Alanis Morrissette (this does not, however, mean that Alanis Morrissette is God). Legions of philosophers have discussed the situation and realised that Alanis Morrissette isn't really aware of the distinction between real irony and things that are just annoying. Now, if we assume that God has a basic Alanis Morrisette-ness, we can also attribute to God an inability ot distinguish between irony and things that are just annoying. Hence, bad things happen because God thinks he/she/it/them (delete according to your superstitious preference) is/are actually being ironic (at least as he/she/it/they understands it), not just causing bad things to happen.

From this we can deduce that either God doesn't understand irony, or that the humans concept of it differs from the divine one. A further thought is that this may merely be confirmation of the earlier Gahan Hypothesis: that God's got a sick sense of humour.