Saturday, November 20, 2004

It's hard work

Johann Hari has an excellent profile of Charles Windsor (and you just know that the usual suspects are going to be pissed off by Hari referring to him that way) which gives some interesting information on his working habits:
Nor has Charles put in much of the work he claims women like Day must show if they are even to contemplate "rising above their station". James Callaghan, the Labour former prime minister, tried to find some meaningful work for Charles in the mid-1970s. Callaghan suggested that Charles take a job in Whitehall or the Cabinet Office, or as a member of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, to extended his understanding of government. Charles refused to do the job unless he could enter at the absolute top. A Channel 4 investigation into Charles's work schedule in 1998 found that he worked, on average, just one and a half days a week. Buckingham Palace figures are misleading because they brag of hundreds of events attended by the prince a year. They fail to mention that as many as five events can be crammed into a day - leaving the rest of the week free.
Of course, because he used a variant of the magic words 'political correctness gone mad', various people (who really ought to know better) have been queueing up to defend him while telling us how wonderful it is that a rich person with nothing better to do with his time does some work for charity. It's quite illuminating to see who's standing up to take the side of multi-millionaire beneficiary of the ultimate accident of birth against a woman who suggested that maybe qualified members of his staff might appreciate the chance to train for a better job.

Liberating copyright

Any of you who are bored and not sure what you want to do with the few weeks leading up to Christmas might want to peruse The Manual (the KLF/Justified Ancients of Mu Mu/Timelords' guide to making a record) and see if you too can have a number one single the easy way.

Today's modest proposal

If we're going to be banning smoking in public places on the grounds that it's bad for people's health, can I suggest we also introduce a ban on people going into churches on the same grounds? I can already see a nice bit of overlap (or 'synergy' as the marketing people would call it) between the church and the tobacco companies - once you've convinced yourself that smoking doesn't cause cancer, believing in the giant invisible friend in the sky is going to be pretty easy (and vice versa, of course).

Anger management

One day Alex Ferguson is going to retire and they'll need a manager to replace him, one who'll keep up his history of an even temper and a healthy respect for the referee and his decisions. Here's a candidate:
The boss of a small Moldovan club has been fined $2,000 (1,080 pounds) for driving his jeep on to the pitch and trying to run over the referee after a disputed penalty. ...

"I've had enough of these refs, they are so corrupt and biased that you just can't stand still anymore. You have to do something to stop this," the media quoted Macovei as saying on Friday.

"I didn't punch or threaten him (referee). I just drove my car on to the pitch to protest against that penalty and drove away after a few minutes. I didn't harm anybody."
Arsene Wenger is not yet reported as having 'not seen' any supposed infringement of traffic regulations.

The bonfire of the vanities will commence at 9pm (8 Central)

You may have heard that there's a new film about the life of sexual researcher Alfred Kinsey (called, aptly enough, Kinsey). Now, it seems that the film will have sexual content and so an American TV station is refusing to carry adverts for it - not because the adverts themselves contain sexual content (they don't) but because of the subject matter of the film they're advertising.

And once we've won the battle to stop any media showing anything that's even remotely sexual, I'm sure we'll be back to the Golden Age where nothing bad ever happened to anyone.

Friday, November 19, 2004

A Malthusian crank

James of Dead Men Left saves me the trouble of taking a pop at the latest piece of forelock-tugging reactionary twaddle published by the supposed leftists at Harry's Place - because if the message of the left is anything, it's 'know your place'. And in the process, he reveals another 'Marcus' of a decidedly reactionary bent though if he was writing today, we'd no doubt be told he was a 'realist' and 'someone who gets it'.

Sponsor me! Sponsor me! Notice me!

Just heard on the radio that Fathers4Justice members (including the one who climbed on Buckingham Palace) have handcuffed themselves to Margaret Hodge MP - the Children's Minister - in their latest protest. Suddenly, probably because it's Children In Need day today so there are people all over the country doing silly things, it's all clicked into place for me. All of F4J's stunts tend to involve fancy dress, turning up where they're not supposed to and making a nuisance of themselves while their mates stand around and laugh and everyone else just wonders what the hell is going on.

They're just a student Rag group, aren't they?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Hunting ban in three months time

I guess that means we can rule out an election in February.

Touching the Void

There were a few bloggers (see the Yorkshire Ranter, for example) discussing Touching the Void after it was shown on Channel 4 a couple of weeks ago, so my few American readers might be interested to know that it's being shown on PBS this Sunday night - as I discovered from a Salon advert while writing this Fistful piece. Well worth watching.

Even a stopped clock

It's a strange argument that finds me on the same side as Charles Clarke, but this appears to be one. While I can't help but wonder if someone within the Labour Party thought 'quick! opportunity to attack the Royal Family! Now's the chance to show people we're still radical!', as Dave points out you can't help but notice that the comments that sparked the row sound rather like Melanie Phillips, which makes it even more fun to see the Education Secretary dismissing them as 'very old fashioned'.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

'What Mr Blunkett was trying to say is...'

Forgot to link to this earlier, but Spyblog has a nicely annotated version of a recent Today interview with David Blunkett.

Hours of fun

Via Perspective, comes not only a rather amusing set of religious toys but the very useful Vision of Britain website, loaded up with all sorts of statistics about the country and various areas within it, all waiting to be pulled out to support your next argument. Good news already discovered there is that where I live is above the national average for people with no religion but we've got a way to go before we catch up with Aberdeen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

One for Political Betting?

Now we know that there are likely to be only 8 new 'super casinos' opening in Britain, will some enterprising bookmaker open a market on where they're going to be?

Monday, November 15, 2004

And it's all true. Probably.

Proving that there are now blogs about just about any subject you can imagine, take a look at What Is Happening To Me?, the rather funny story of a man who was recently bitten by a werewolf. And to distinguish him from all the other lycanthrobloggers out there, he also has a dead guy who speaks to him through an iPod.

And today's question is: just what percentage of people who read it will think it's a true story?

Statements you never thought you'd read

Via TBogg, and probably more proof for my theory that we're living in the Onionverse:
The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals

Make way for the man with big balls, courage, strength and indefatigability

There's a Bill Hicks routine (track 4 on the Arizona Bay album - you can hear a little sample of it on Amazon) about how the officers accused of beating up Rodney King got acquitted - 'well, if you play the tape backwards you see us helping King off the ground and sending him on his way' and that sort of thing. I get the feeling that George Galloway's lawyer may have been listening to it while he tried to think of a strategy for the libel trial against the Telegraph:
Mr Rampton said Mr Galloway had only met Saddam on two occasions.

"The first time was in 1994 when, as he himself freely admits, he put his foot in his mouth by making some remarks which were open to interpretation - and needless to say were interpreted - as some kind of fawning praise for Saddam Hussein's personal courage and strength.

"It wasn't what he meant to say, it was not in his mind to say, because he had no respect or admiration for Saddam Hussein whatsoever."
Jesus, what balls!

And the Google shall set you free

Via Bloggerheads: Go to Google (it also works on Google UK, even with the 'pages from the UK' option) type in 'opportunist' then click 'I'm feeling lucky'.

Door-to-door atheism

One thing I've often thought would be fun to do for a laugh is to go round and knock on the door of Jehovah's Witnesses and (in the event you actually find them in) then try and talk to them about atheism. One could even carry around copies of New Humanist and The Blind Watchmaker instead of the Watchtower and the Bible.

Of course, the good thing about not having an imaginary friend is that there's no pressure on me to do anything like that, so I can just muse on it as a idea rather than have to go out and face the scorn and incomprohension on the doorstep. Plus, there's the job of actually finding where Witnesses live, though reputedly round here many of them live in the same street as their Kingdom Hall.

Still, that brings me on to this article (found via Randy), about an American missionary's experience of trying to proselytize in the Czech Republic. Having just avoided a rather-depressed looking American Mormon missionary (as always, I would have liked the argument heated discussion, but I was short of time) in the street last week, I found it quite amusing:
Because of the more Christian mindset at home, it is a constant struggle to understand the Czech mentality. They are bitter people who have lived through painful decades of darkness. They do not want to believe in a God who they think was not there for them during the darkest hours of their history. They are educated and intellectual people. They do not want to believe in a God in whom they see no scientific evidence to prove His existence. It is their bitterness and their pride that will not let them take that leap of faith needed for a relationship with God.
Yep, it's all down to their 'bitterness and pride' rather than rationality and ability to observe the world around them. I can't help but wonder if this article was edited to remove "Facts? You can prove anything with facts!" from within it.

From a British perspective, I've discussed this issue with friends before, and most people I know can't really understand why American churches (especially the Mormons) send so many missionaries over here. Obviously we understand that they're over here to try and make converts, but there's a sense of 'why do you want to come here? We've already got enough religious nutters of our own knocking on doors and accosting people in town centres.' There's also, I think, a difference of opinion over what a missionary is - rather than someone knocking on doors in leafy streets, there's a lasting colonial imagery of British missionaries beating a path to the heart of Africa. Of course then you get into the whole Evangelical issue of only being saved by faith rather than by works which I think runs contrary to the British expectation - even though we're a mostly secular country now - that Christians lead as much by example as by preaching.

Still, I'm sure they'll continue to keep coming - I often see groups of Mormon missionaries at Liverpool Street obviously all about to travel somewhere (the Netherlands, maybe?) - and maybe we're having our own effect on them by making one or two of them think 'hold on, maybe they've got a point. What if this all is a delusion on my part?' I can but hope.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Because Google is clearly a tool of the pro-European conspiracy

Guess which political party has made it to number 5 on a Google search for swivel-eyed loons? Though if Google results are truth then it does mean that Anthony, Dave and myself are more swivel-eyed and loony than them.

Time to party like it's 1993

At least this time Michael Howard didn't proclaim 'Back to Basics' recently, but just like the 90s the News Of The World has revealed a Tory MP's affair and forced his sacking from the (Shadow) Cabinet. Of course, it becomes a bigger story than it would be for almost any other Tory MP because it's the media (and bloggers') favourite Boris Johnson.

Anyway, you can get links to all the newspaper stories here, and even though it's Saturday night, the bloggers are already on it - Tim does a quick compare and contrast with a similar story, Boriswatch is angry, and Matt questions if it was a sacking matter.

Going back to Tim's point, it's interesting to note that it's the Murdoch-owned News Of The World that's allowed itself to be the weapon of choice in this little round of damage for the Tories. An indication, perhaps, that Rupert's continued backing of Labour as the election approaches isn't going to be as tepid as some expect.

Puppies, flowers, sugar, spice and look out - terrorists!

Doctorvee catches David Blunkett in the midst of an argument with himself:
Labour's campaign at the next general election must be based on hope, not fear, the home secretary told a Labour gathering on Saturday.

But David Blunkett emphasised that tough security measures were needed if people were to feel safe.

Labour must "promote our policies by persuasion, not panic", he told political think tank Progress.

Plans for ID cards and enhanced border security are part of moves to prevent such panic, he said.