Saturday, August 21, 2004

0.08

Considering that it was in a race that lasted for just over six minutes, is this one of the closest Olympic victories ever? I make it 0.02% of the total time of the race, equivalent to winning a 100m sprint by about 1/500 of a second. Even at Marathon length, it's only about 1.5 seconds.

For people too drunk to find the remote control

Seemingly based on the mistaken belief that the main appeal of Sky's Soccer Saturday isn't the live football scores but the ability to watch other people watching TV live on your own TV, Channel 4's latest assault on its reputation as a provider of quality television is Flipside TV, where you can watch an assortment of below-Z-list celebs watching TV live and talking about what they're watching. I believe the BBC will be sending videos of this out to anyone who complains about their addiction to repeats of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air with a note saying 'stop complaining or we bring in our own primetime version of this.'

Friday, August 20, 2004

Juxtaposition

A good sporting afternoon today, with much flicking between the 1km time trial at the Olympics and Steve Harmison taking the West Indies apart with both bat and ball, capped by the great sequence of flicking over to Channel 4 after Chris Hoy had secured gold to see Brain Lara holing out to Ian Bell. Quite splendid, in fact, especially after so many years of nonsense and rubbish.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Many a true word spoke in jest

Discussing parodies like this one, Gene at Harry's Place writes:
personally I think I could do a funnier one myself

Suddenly, all those 'the only sensible option for the Left is to support the right-wing authoritarian reactionaries in Venezuela' posts make sense - they're parodies. Though I have to admit to preferring Harry's Place before it slipped into the 'left is right' parodic mode.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Saving you the trouble of having to read them

In the course of yet another good post (it must be something to do with not posting every day like some of us), Chris Lightfoot comes up with the Shorter generic Oliver Kamm post:
slightly obscure cultural reference, portentous tone, grammatical sniping, the inevitable bitching about a Liberal Democrat, and a rhetorical attack on Soviet communism, only fifteen years too late

Meanwhile, Daniel Davies goes a-Pollarding while Chris Brooke discusses Andrew Ian Dodge. But, as I mentioned to Matt Turner when he pointed out this page to me, it makes perfect sense when you consider that it's merely escaped from its rightful home here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

You know it makes sense

OK, just this once go pay a visit to the Conservatives' home page. See that poll in the bottom right corner? Go on, vote for 'blogging' and let's see what happens. (via Anthony)

In brief

Presented as a public service, the Shorter Oliver Kamm:
Because I say Britain will never be a totalitarian state, you shouldn't worry about the civil liberties implications of anything the Government does.

Look! Over there! Terrorists!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong

I went to Speaker’s Corner for the first time yesterday. Obviously, I’ve been through that part of Hyde Park several times before, but this was the first time I’d been there at the ‘peak time’ of Sunday morning. It’s an interesting place to spend a couple of hours, but you can’t help but feel that much of the real interest of going there has gone and that now you’re participating in what’s little more than a freak show.

The first thing I heard as I walked up from the subway probably helps to give the flavour of the place. I’ve read various bloggers and commenters complain about the Olympics over the last few days but this was perhaps the first time I’d heard someone complain that they’re a plot by the Freemasons as part of their ongoing Satanically-inspired plans to send all our souls to hell. I’ve met a few Freemasons in my time and I have to say that none of them seem to be much more than the stereotypical ‘mafia of the mediocre’ who find organising just one night’s dinner and dancing a huge task, so the idea of them organising the whole Olympics seems rather incredulous to me. But then, why let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory? Though wouldn’t it be nice if, just once, a conspiracy nut admitted that an event had just happened rather than being organised by the Freemasons/ZOG/giant alien lizards/the Andrew Flintoff Fan Club (delete as appropriate)?

But even that was a diversity of argument seldom encountered from the other speakers, most of whom were merely exhorting the throng to accept either Jesus or Allah as soon as possible to escape damnation. There was a fair streak of misogyny amongst them though, with a couple sounding almost as though they’d stepped out of the pages of The Screwfly Solution, veering close to the ‘women are the source of all evil’ line.

I think the problem with Speaker’s Corner is that it’s been pretty much abandoned by the serious political speakers and abandoned to the religious zealots and conspiracy freaks. There was someone from the Socialist Party there, and judging by the quite impressive wooden pulpit he had to speak from they must be regular attendees there. He also showed an impressive willingness to discuss issues with the crowd rather than just shout bible quotations at them or ignore those who had difficult questions.

Now, I could make the argument that in this brave new world when we can have arguments with blogs rather than all travelling to Hyde Park that Speaker’s Corner is an irrelevance, some combination of tourist trap and Care In The Community, but I still think it serves some kind of purpose. We can scoff and laugh and heckle at the people who stand up there and speak, but they have the bravery to do so to face the world and say ‘this is what I believe, now tell me what you think’. The idea of a speaker standing on his soapbox (though they seem to have been replaced by stepladders nowadays) to appeal directly to a crowd does appeal to my sense of political history, a reminder of a time when people went out to discuss things face-to-face without any computer screens between them.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to get up and speak there, but I’ll probably return to Speaker’s Corner again, just to see how much it changes from week to week, how many people are regulars, and how many one-timers. Besides, it’s fun to heckle, and there are enough occasions there to make you smile – my favourite from yesterday was the assertion that people of the Mediterranean countries have no need for Viagra for they have olive oil. This was followed by the speaker taking a swig directly from a bottle of it. It takes all sorts, I suppose.

Some people quote her as an authority on subjects other than insanity

The Independent interviews Ann Coulter, who comes out with another divorced-from-reality quote:
"That's not the question. The question is not, 'Are all Muslims terrorists?' The question is, 'Are all terrorists Muslims?' And the answer is yes - every one I have to worry about."

I can only assume she's never visited Oklahoma City then, or maybe given her previous statements, she doesn't regard that as terrorism:

Then she said: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

What a charming lady.

Now there's a surprise

Venezuelan President Chavez claims victory in the referendum as his opponents claim it was a fraud. And if the result had gone the other way, we'd probably see the same story, just with 'Chavez and 'the opposition' swapped around.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The blue dye doesn't suit him, but the goatee's quite effective

Bored? There's entire minutes of fun to be had building a better Bush.

Bad timing

It's a shame that Peter's just gone on a holiday from blogging as I'm sure many of us would love to hear his views on the new Tory policy on sex education:
Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary and a Tory moderniser, will underline the change of tack by visiting a clinic run by a charity for lesbians and gay people in Manchester this week.

Dismissing calls for US-style abstinence education which encourages teenagers to pledge to remain virgins, Lansley said yesterday that a national network of school nurses - giving unbiased advice about sex - would be introduced if the Tories won power. He also backs moves to issue over-the-counter tests for chlamydia, one of the most common infections which can cause infertility...

The plans may upset family values campaigners and more traditional Tories, who argue that both sex education and more readily available sexual health services only encourages teenagers.

Great minds may think alike, but then so do others as well

First, via Jesse at Pandagon, there's this book to make sure your children know exactly what to think:
"Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! A Small Lesson in Conservatism" is a wonderful way to teach young children the valuable lessons of conservatism. In simple text, parents and children follow Tommy and Lou on their quest to earn money for a swing set their parents cannot afford. As their dream gets stuck in Liberaland, Tommy and Lou’s lemonade stand is hit with many obstacles.

Liberals keep appearing from behind their lemon tree, taking half of their money in taxes, forbidding them to hang a picture of Jesus atop their stand, and making them give broccoli with each glass sold.

Law after law instituted by the press-hungry liberals finally results in the liberals taking over Tommy and Lou’s stand and offering sour lemonade at astronomical prices to the customers.

And then via Labour Watch, Blood and Treasure and Chris Brooke we discover that even adults need reprogramming sometimes:

Groups of 25 people will commit themselves to two full Saturdays, as well as homework in the form of reading key texts on Labour’s history — including works by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown — to serve as the basis for discussions of personal morality.

I understand that each loyal party member will be given their own personal copy of 'The Thoughts of Tony and Gordon' in a small book, perhaps with a red cover.

When the group discussion moves on to policy, the “facilitator” steps in and guides the discussion back to deeper and more philosophical themes, she said.

“We talk policy, but sometimes we talk with political ignorance, so we come at things with a knee-jerk reaction, not knowing if it fits with our values or not,” she said.

“This re-energises people’s political idealism — they do care. Everyone who’s done it says it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.”

Yes, how much easier it is to know your values when you've been instructed indoctrinated with informed of the essential principles of Blairite-Brownist-Blearite thought. And remember, if you don't think it's the best thing you've ever done you won't be permitted to leave the training centre can always come back and do it again next week until you do agree.

You will agree. Oh yes you will.

She is now trying to organise more funds so that the programme can be spread nationally. “I think every single party member should at least be given the option of doing this,” she said.

And those that turn down the option of spending two days listening to the deep political musings of Paul 'The Thinker' Richards... well, let's just say that their names will be recorded for future reference.