Saturday, September 11, 2004

New releases

There's an interesting article on Wikipedia about the 1954 TV adapatation of Nineteen Eighty-Four starring Peter Cushing. It seems there's someone quite knowledgeable about Nigel Kneale (who adapted the book for TV) writing for the site as there are good articles both about him and his other work, such as Quatermass, on the site.

I can remember seeing the adaptation back in the 90s when the BBC repeated it one night on BBC2. As well as being a very powerful adaptation, helped by some excellent performances especially by Cushing (as Winston Smith) and Andre Morell (as O'Brien), it's also a fascinating example of a kind of TV production that one doesn't see too much any more in that stylistically it has as much in common with the stage (not least in the fact that it was performed live, not prerecorded) as it does with film and it's an interesting document of the evolution of television presentation.

But, the most exciting line of the article comes at the end:
The production is due for a home DVD release in the UK in December 2004, as a fully-restored print with several extra features.

Well, that goes straight onto the Christmas list, then.

"I hate Sebastian Coe!"

I'm quite sure that Allergy magazine is real, but there's just something about the name of its editor - Charmaine Yabsley - that reminds me of The Day Today. Of course, that's true of much news nowadays, but this is edging a bit close to the Celebrity Jam Auction:
She's got Coronation Street actress Nikki Sanderson on her asthma; sisters Kelly and Katie on losing 11 stone after identifying their wheat intolerance and Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman with her favourite gluten-free recipes.

Solved mysteries

For those of you who care, it turns out that Atrios isn't Gene Lyons or Sidney Blumenthal, or even (as I saw suggested once) a woman. He's... the same age as me. Damn.

Friday, September 10, 2004


Favours more government handouts for welfare cheats.
Is soft on crime.
Will raise your taxes.
Can't be trusted to fight terrorists.

And no, it's not a Labour leaflet from Hartlepool. Answer here.

The Robert Kilroy-Silk Appreciation Society

I think Anthony's a bit too busy celebrating the Conservatives' victory in Millwall to have noticed this bit of swivel-eyed lunacy - Paul Sykes is threatening to stop funding UKIP unless Robert Kilroy-Silk becomes the party's leader (also covered by the BBC). It does seem that publically Sykes has said he doesn't attach strings to his donations, but his statements do seem to amount to him standing by a large pile of campaign funds and saying 'that's a nice war chest you've got there, it'd be a shame if anything happened to it'.

And so the UKIP civil wars flare up just a little bit more. Personally, I'm hoping for an actual split between the two factions (Knapmanite and Silkist?) with each one claiming to be the 'real' UKIP, claiming the others are impostors and trying to get them excluded from the European Parliament and replaced with their own supporters.

Just a minor error

Spotted on Reuters:
In LONDON item headlined "Cricket-Zimbabwe win toss, bat v England - Champions Trophy", please read in headline and story ... Zimbabwe won the toss and will bowl against England ... instead of ... bat against England

Everything is fine

If you are at home when the attack does not take place because it cannot take place because everything is OK, do not attempt to leave. In particular do not come into physical contact with any persons, especially government employees, who will be busy ensuring that everything is fine, as doubtless it will be. They perform this duty most effectively while still in possession of their epidermis. Also do not touch the water supply, which is also fine.

Loss of eyesight is temporary and will cease to be a problem within six to eight minutes of exposure, or ten to twelve minutes for those of a hardy constitution. The government suggest passing the intervening time putting your affairs in order or writing a will, in Braille. This is nothing to worry about, and a simple look around you, without leaving the building, will reveal that your neighbours are doing exactly the same thing. Some of them may also be resting, perhaps slumped on the pavement or hanging out of car windows. Rest is important when faced with no risk of a disfiguring and prolonged death.

There's more over at Rum and Monkey, explaining just why there is no pressing need to panic.

Make money fast!

There's currently over $900 available to the first person to ask this question to George Bush. (via Electrolite)

No, I probably couldn't run the country

Watching Crisis Command on BBC Four, I've been pondering the idea of the fun that could be had with an episode that featured bloggers in the hot seat. It'd be fun, I think: Tim Ireland trying to set up a crisis blog (after all, is it really a crisis until it's in the Blogdex Top 10?), someone from Samizdata insisting that the free market is the only way to solve the crisis, Harry blaming Stoppers for the problem, Chris Lightfoot drawing up graphs to illustrate the options while Matt Turner makes humorous comments about what's going on. Or maybe having a blogger amongst the experts is enough.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Later, the researchers went on to study where bears defecate

One in four students 'sleeps in lectures'. I'm surprised it's that low, to be honest.

Shocked, shocked, I tell you

Writing in the Mail (and sadly not available online) Amanda Platell informs us of the shocking state of today's 20somethings. Apparently, many of them are still at school and having to be taught about safe sex:
Girls barely out of their teens are being taught at school how to use condoms

Bad writing or bad editing, do you think?

Because satire never sleeps

Not only is there a new Onion out today but I've also found (via Bazzfazz) this - an updating of 2001's 'Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is now over'.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Those of you reading this who use Livejournal might be interested to know that a feed from this site is now syndicated on LJ here (under user name 'nickbarlow', funnily enough), so you can now add that to your friends list should you wish to read this blog without having to go through the hassle of visiting this site.

Separated at birth

Just noticing the pictures of Andrew Flintoff here and here gets me wondering: is someone planning a British remake of Twins with him and Boris Johnson replacing Schwarzenegger and De Vito?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Get yer ASBOs out

Where is Tom Watson now that Hartlepool Labour Party need him the most? Surely the scourge of 'yobs' everywhere would have cracked down hard on this?

Trivia question

This came to me last night, and I'm sure many of my readers will work out the answer in a few nanoseconds, but let's see:
Which film features Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Doctor sharing a flat?

Farewell to the alternative

I wasn't surprised or shocked by Andrew Smith's resignation from the Cabinet - there'd been enough briefing against him in the press for the last couple of weeks that it was only a question of whether he would jump, or merely wait to be pushed - but I'm a bit annoyed by it, because it's probably ended another of my (infallibly inaccurate) political predictions.

You see, I saw Smith as being the John Major of New Labour. He'd seemed to have risen without trace, the sort of person who'd got into the Cabinet without anyone else really noticing - you had the feeling that there were likely members of his close family who didn't realise he was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. I could foresee a situation in some post-Blair world where he, like John Major before him, could rise almost effortlessly to number 10 when the feuding backers of all the other candidates exhausted themselves tearing the others down, leaving him the last man standing, the compromise, the man who offended no one ready to take the prize.

Oh well, time to find another semi-anonymous member of the cabinet then. Prime Minister Paul Murphy, anyone?

Monday, September 06, 2004

The news agenda

Something I noticed today was that every paper, even the Sport, had a Beslan-related story on the front page. Except the Mail and the mini-Mail Express, of course, which led on taxes and no doubt how that's going to cause a fall in house prices.

The missing words

From the sports news, as Graeme Souness quits Blackburn to join Newcastle:
"I hope people can understand my reasons for leaving Blackburn. I think I'm ready for a big challenge and they don't come much bigger than this."

"Well, they do", he didn't go on to add, "but no one on Merseyside will talk to me after I sold my story to the Sun."

And if Newcastle beat Middlesbrough or Sunderland while he's manager can we expect to see him planting a flag in the turf of the Riverside or the Stadium of Light?

The family man

So Alan Milburn's 'more time with his family' turns out to amount to about 15 months, which I think is slightly shorter than Norman Fowler managed with his before going back into Government. But, it's good to know that fatherhood has let Gordon Brown see how important time with the family is, as he wants Milburn to keep spending time with them - or his "consultancy advising a company specialising in the health service". Which makes you wonder just what Milburn was referring to when he said
I was lucky enough to be able to choose to trade time for money

Still, the important question Milburn will have to answer before coming back is that one asked to all Labour people by Tubbs Watson now - are you local?

A question of character

If you happen to know who this man is, why not contact the NYPD? Unless, of course, you think it's alright for him to kick a protestor when she's already lying on the ground being held there by three Secret Service agents. (via Sisyphus Shrugged - see also Talk Left)

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Something to aspire to

Can you do enough to join the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill as represented by the Shrillblog? But then could anyone match up to the shrillness of Giblets?
Clearly John Kerry is not living in the future! He is stranded way back in the present, when we still needed "troop strength" and "special forces" to hunt down "terrorists"!

George Bush is more interested in the threats of tomorrow, which oddly enough look strangely like the threats of 1980: thousands of intercontinental missiles comin' across the sea from commie nations, possibly such as North Korea and France. Our only defense against them? A missile shield that will one day, in the future, fail only about eighty to ninety percent of the time!

Again Giblets is not impressed! Giblets is living even farther into the future, in a time when terrorism and pinko-tyranny are both irrelevant! Giblets demands that we spend 1.8 trillion dollars on an array of massive space lasers pointed outward to defend Earth against the onslaught of immense insectoid invaders who will strike from beyond the asteroid belt! Giblets will not allow the tyrant Bug Emperor to lay its death spores in our atmosphere - and the whiney pleas of those stuck formulating "today's" foreign policy to secure the former Soviet nuclear stockpile will not get in his way!

Once more Giblets outdoes George Bush at every turn! Whose vision is grander? Who not only bypasses today's wars to fight what we think are tomorrow's, but gives tomorrow a pass for sometime next week? The answer is clear: Giblets!

Via the almost-but-not-quite-as-shrill Editors.

Absurdity piled on absurdity

I know the whole honours system is slightly absurd, but the Independent on Sunday has an interesting article on the consternation Kelly Holmes' double Athens success has caused for the Cabinet Office:
The extraordinary success of double-gold winner Kelly Holmes is causing consternation in the Whitehall unit that hands out honours.

According to an unofficial rule thrashed out after the Sydney Olympics, the 34-year-old national heroine should receive a CBE in the New Year's Honours.

However, the "senior honour", one rank below a dame-hood, is considered too generous for an athlete who has only just been given an MBE, the most lowly honour....

The so-called "Sydney formula" means that medal winners are moved up one rank for each gold they win. Holmes's two medals mean that she should leapfrog an OBE and be made CBE. The formula also means Matthew Pinsent (pictured) is almost certain to be knighted for his fourth gold medal in Athens. However, even this is problematic, since Whitehall is eyeing nervously the prospect of Pinsent winning a fifth gold in Beijing.

It's lucky for the Cabinet Office that our successful athletes are in the sports where winning multiple medals (of any form) is highly unlikely - consider that Holmes was the first Briton to win two golds at single Games in many years (indeed, Bradley Wiggins three medals - one of each - was the equal best performance ever by an individual British athlete). If we had any really successful swimmers or gymnasts - two Olympic events where multiple medals for individuals are commonplace - then the one step up for every gold rule would soon lead to some very interesting results. A British Ian Thorpe or Michael Phelps could result in the Cabinet Office having to find a vacant Duchy.

Never let the facts...

Harry asks:
Ask yourselves when was the last time gunmen filled with hate fired into the backs of fleeing children? When was the last time that women and children were herded into buildings, treated with callous inhumanity and then slaughtered?

El Salvador, 1981:

When the soldiers arrived in the village they found, in addition to the residents, other peasants who were refugees from the surrounding area. They ordered everyone out of the houses and into the square; they made them lie face down, searched them and asked them about the guerrillas. They then ordered them to lock themselves in their houses until the next day, warning that anyone coming out would be shot. The soldiers remained in the village during the night.

Early next morning, 11 December, the soldiers reassembled the entire population in the square. They separated the men from the women and children and locked everyone up in different groups in the church, the convent and various houses.

During the morning, they proceeded to interrogate, torture and execute the men in various locations. Around noon, they began taking the women in groups, separating them from their children and machine-gunning them. Finally, they killed the children. A group of children who had been locked in the convent were machine-gunned through the windows. After exterminating the entire population, the soldiers set fire to the buildings.

The killings were carried out by the Atlacatl Battalion:

A rapid-response unit created, under U.S. pressure, for counter-insurgency warfare. In a contemporary account, Americas Watch said that "Created, trained and equipped by the United States, the an elite grouping within the Armed Forces" [AW AYOR page 127] The Atlacatl was the showpiece unit of the U.S.-inspired reorganization of the Salvadoran military during the early 1980s. Commanded by the dashing Col. Domingo Monterrosa, Atlacatl was the headline grabbing unit of the army.

Dr King:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.