Friday, December 31, 2004

A reason to look forward to the Summer: Frida Kahlo at Tate Modern, 9th June to 9th October.

Whoops, I say I don't have much to say and then it turns out I have some.

British Telecom is undecided over whether to get involved with the Government's ID Cards scheme because it's uneasy about how it looks from a PR point of view.

Josh Marshall puts it well, when you don't have anything to say about a tragedy it can be mistaken for indifference. Latest reports from the Indian Ocean disaster put the death toll at 124,000 with 5 million survivors at risk due to lack of food, water and shelter. Donations can be made here.

So, with the new Freedom of Information Act, what are the Government going to do? The Guardian have applied to see Lord Goldsmith's recommendations about the legality of the UK supporting the US's transformation of Iraq into a lightly steaming crater. The FoI Commissioner may decide it's not in the public interest to release those files. This would mean that FoI is a joke. The FoI Commissioner may decide it is in the public interest to release those files and the Government might use their veto to override him. This would mean that the FoI Commissioner is a joke. Or, though it would be extremely unlikely, the files get released. They'd be unlikely to have anything that dangerous in them as they are written by a lawyer, but the Government sitting on them for so long would make them look like a joke. Well, more of a joke.

Personally, I'm voting for option one, after Hutton and Butler we really shouldn't expect part of the establishment to turn against it and it's already fairly well known that the FoI act is pretty useless except perhaps for those at a local level who are campaigning against a development or something similar.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Not blogging too much over the festive period, I have that traditional bloggers thing of 'Do I really want to spend so much time writing stuff for this when only me and one other person read it anyway?'. Still, whilst I deal with my blogsistential doubt, check out Living in a Tube Map, which encourages us to be a tourist in your own city. I may well do this in the New Year. [via Going Underground]

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Well, this was utterly predictable. This time, the beaten Presidential candidate in Ukraine is the one refusing to accept the result. Maybe they could do the best of three?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas, hyuk hyuk hyuk!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas anyone who celebrates it! [via Linkmachinego]

Banned Aid. NSFW! [via B3ta]

Thursday, December 23, 2004

At last!
You're most like Ginger! I'm sorry your picture here currently sucks. I'll work on it. . . . yeah, that's your mantra, too. Everything can wait.

Sorry your picture is lame. I'll fix it later. (You can relate, right? "I'll do it later" is your mantra!) Here's hoping your current sweetie is mature enough to withstand your inevitable "we're moving too fast, getting too close!" freakout. Are you seeing a therapist yet?

Which Dyke of 'Dykes To Watch Out For' are you most like? (beta version)
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No, but I probably should be. And where's this 'current sweetie'? [Looks under sofa]

I too, would like to be wrong next year

Watching The West Wing season two where they introduce Ann Coulter's bubbly little sister Ainsley Hayes is a bit irritating when you realise, yes, self-critique of the liberal values the show is built on is all well and good, but when the show works from such a premise as Dixon of Dock Green, that everyone in the Government is working for the good of their community, that if there's any nasty people in there it's but a very small minority that'll get rooted out, when you have lines such as this delivered, with no irony:

AINSLEY: Say they're smug and superior, say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders, but don't call them worthless. At least don't do it in front of me.
The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent is good. Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots.
[after a moment, with tears in her eyes] And I'm their lawyer.

I mean, for fucks sake! Grow the fuck up! Republicans are corrupt, Democrats are corrupt, Labour are corrupt, Conservatives are corrupt.

'We've still got the theory of gravity, let's not blow it'

And Santa nonces children.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Some Christmas bootleg cheer: Meet the Beastles.

Yay! We finally found it!

Well that's a rational response. Jewish settlers protesting Israeli plans to relocate them from their settlements have started wearing Star of David badges similar to those Jews were forced to wear by Nazis in the 1930s.

While Bush insists, yet again, that life for Iraqis is better than under Saddam, a female victim of the Hussein regime says women had more freedom then than now. American support for Bush's handling of the War in Iraq is ebbing (pdf file). This is the bodybag effect though, he can point to winning the election last month as the only proof he needs that he's doing a good job. But while everyone concentrates on Rumsfeld, the ACLU is saying Shrubya personally signed off on torture of Guantanamo inmates

Shiteyes Blunkett does not get a clean bill of health from enquiries into his conduct. Is it just a pure coincidence that Tony bLiar was off being heroic and the first British Prime Minister in 80 years to visit Baghdad as his former Home Secretary (eeep!) was found wanting? The reports stopped short of saying outright that Shiteyes lied, but that's only because the man doing the main enquiry found that most of the documentation was mysteriously deleted from Home Office records and no-one he talked to at the time could quite remember what they were doing at the time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

People are stupid. That's the only reason I can come up with to explain the news in the Guardian today that Poll shows 67% think ex-minister did good job and The overwhelming majority of the public say they would approve of David Blunkett being brought back into a Labour cabinet after the general election, according to the findings of this month's Guardian/ICM opinion poll. Quite how this man commands any sympathy at all after the way he's carried on since becoming Home Secretary in general and in the last few weeks in particular. The idea of Blunkett rising from the ashes of his career in a Labour third-term is ghastly.

The media are also stupid. After promising us a Labour rebellion and a close call on the ID Cards vote it was passed 385 to 93. Some rebellion. A load of MPs went shopping rather than stay for the vote. I suppose I must be stupid, for expecting MPs not to be so craven and to decide on a position and stand to it.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Suprnova and Torrentbits have gone dark, Slashdot suspects the hand of the MPAA. Still at least I was able to download Aaargh It's the Mr Hell Show! and Outfoxed in time.

The Government refuses to release advice from Attorney General on whether ID Cards will invade people's privacy or human rights. Of course, there's a perfectly innocent reason for this...



Sunday, December 19, 2004

Note to self: Psychogeographical Markup Language. [via Die Puny Humans]


Silent Night
You are 'Silent Night'! You really enjoy Christmas, and you like your Christmases conventional. For you, Christmas is about family and traditions, and you rather enjoy the rituals of going to church at midnight and turning off the lights before flaming the plum pudding. Although you find Christmas shopping frustrating, you like the excitement of wrapping and hiding presents, and opening a single door on the Advent Calendar each day. You like the traditional carols, and probably teach the children to sing along to them. More than anyone else, you will probably actually have a merry Christmas.

What Christmas Carol are you?
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David Blunkett now seems to be developing Thatcher-like levels of self-delusion. The Observer reports Blunkett has convinced himself he's a simple working-class lad brought low by the evil rich, as though anyone at the top of New Labour could seriously be considered to be working class any more. He also believes the investigation into his fast-tracking of the visa isn't going to turn out well as he's telling everyone that Kimberley Quinn has 'bewitched' the civil servant investigating. Oh these evil American millionaires, they just have to bat their eyelids and good honest British men like David and Alan are bewitched.

Interestingly, Senior Whitehall sources accused Blunkett of running a 'regime of fear' in which officials felt intimidated into doing his bidding, reflecting allegations understood to have been forwarded to the inquiry. Hmmm.

Also, set your videos, Channel 4 intend to broadcast documentary questioning the veracity of the bible on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Say No to London 2012 is an Anti-Olympic Games for London Bid site. Anyone interested in one of the guided walks around the proposed site? I was thinking of possibly 23rd January or one of the two February dates but need someone to hold my hand...

The 14 defining characteristics of fascism.

Several thousand people including former and current soldiers marched through Edinburgh in protest at plans announced this week to merge the six Scottish regiments into one super regiment.

"... Because it's not like there's many jobs going up here." As his sign didn't go on to say.

Little Green Fascists link approvingly to an AP story that 44% of Americans apparently believe that the rights of American Muslims should be restricted. Of course these are people who hear the old adage but are confident that they will never reach the stage of "then they came for me and there was no-one left to speak for me".

Friday, December 17, 2004

Why Women Live Longer Than Men [via Sore Eyes]

It ain't just Diebold... Triad Systems rigging the count in Ohio?

Aah, here comes the Government with their detailed and carefully argued rebuttal of the Lord's ruling on their imprisoning of terror suspects. 'They're wrong' says Jack Straw. Phew! Well that's that then.

The foreign secretary insisted it was for Parliament, and not judges, to decide how best Britain could be defended against the threat of terrorism.

If I commit a murder I'm going to use the Home Secretary's reasoning to insist that only my Mum is in a position to decide what punishment I should get. That way I'll have my backside tanned and I'll be able to get on with my life.

I'm sure this new Hollywood project will take pains to be as accurate to the historical record as such films as The Patriot, U-571 or Saving Private Ryan.

Unanimous ruling by law-lords judge David Blunkett in power to be the 'real threat to the life of the nation'. Initially Charles Clarke seems determined to hold fast to Blunkett's policies of destroying democracy in order to save it, we'll have to hope he gets a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas next week.

And Human Rights Watch criticise trials for Saddam Hussein and his henchmen as having "serious human rights shortcomings" and lacking "fair-trial protections". Surely Bush must be considering giving up the pretense of being a democracy? It would make his life so much easier if he admitted to being a tyrant.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

New Home Secretary, ahhh, will I ever get bored of those words? New Home Secretary Charles Clarke vows to continue with legislation for ID Cards. Well, that's ruined my mood.

Phoenix Woman spells it out: Ever wonder why the leaders of the anti-choice crowd have historically opposed both abortion AND birth control? Because the real issue isn't about saving babies, it's about making sure women can't have sex lives like men's.

Two odd things from the latest Time Out... railing against panto... 'If we want to see men dressing up as women, we'll go to Brighton' Really? ...And a survey on sex habits has Rob, 32, from Norwood, who pays to be abducted in his lunch hour. If I had to work in Norwood, I'd be paying for someone to abduct me, and I wouldn't be fussy about when it happened.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bye-Bye Blunkett! The BBC are reporting that the inquiry into the visa application for his lover's nanny has found out that he'd sent a message to the relevent people saying "no favours but please speed this up" so, effectively, meaning he'd lied to everyone in saying he'd not asked for any special favours. Happy day. Now we have to hope his ID Cards follow him into the rubbish bin of history.

It's like a special present for the end of my holiday- Shiteyes Blunkett has resigned. Hurrah!

Following something I wrote about the other day, Professor Anthony Flew, still an atheist.

And something I wrote on Barbelith in answer to the question 'Do You Believe in God'?

To answer the original question, I'm, as ever, perched extremely stylishly on the fence, this time between agnosticism and atheism. When it comes to the various flavours of God a la organised religion I'm an atheist, I see organised religion as political tools for domination and subjegation. Of course, they could be these and one of them could still be right so my position here is one of faith and also a calculated two fingers to their God if It exists. After the Last Battle I'll be sitting with the dwarves in their hut neh?

When it comes to a non-religious type of God I'm more agnostic. It amused me that when I discovered gnosticism through The Invisibles and related discussion that this was similar to what I was thinking in my early teens, along the lines of if there was a God He neither had any hand in development on earth any more and was deaf to/didn't care about our prayers. He wasn't aware of our existence or was constrained from contact, he was a Doctor Who alien scientist or some MPD victim we dreamt into alwaysexistence. I felt that it was quite possible for something to come and start life off but had probably left before we were evolved enough to think up a name for Him.

I've found theism a very useful tool for writing. When I was planning my 100 book, 5 year epic storyline it started off with unnamed cosmic forces and I quickly realised it was a storyline about God and anti-God. The oldest story. With that realisation a lot fell in to place, including my dissatisfaction with organised religion and Christianity.

Then I gave up the writing.

From the bizarre to the ridiculous...

Blunkett embroiled in second visa claim. But what's really bizarre is the second part of the story about Blunkett singing a song to MPs at a Christmas dinner. It's The Office all over again isn't it?

Freedom. From afar, the painting offers a likeness of Bush, but when the viewer gets closer they can see the image is made up of chimpanzees or monkeys swimming in a marsh.

What, no British Library? More than a million books at Oxford University's expansive Bodleian Library, including rare first editions, are to be scanned by the search engine Google and posted online for readers around the world... Other establishments taking part in the project announced yesterday include Stanford and Michigan Universities, which will digitise their complete libraries, as well as the archives at Harvard and New York Public Library.

"Put down your A-K and drop your bazooka, I have a weapon you can use this Hanukah." [via Venusberg]

Dance Dance Resurrection. "Parents! Are you worried about your teenage son or daughter frequenting unwholesome arcades, associating with the dregs of their peer group, and spending all their allowance on games containing bloody murder, sex and profanity? This game will bring the love of our Lord into the lives of these children, who otherwise would continue down the videogame path straight into the claws of Satan, and also bring a little much needed cash into your treasury - 25c of every dollar spent in one of our DDR machines will be paid directly into your Churches' account!"

Personally, I'm holding out for Dance Dance Insurrection, where at the start of the film Picard, Worf and Data start singing Gilbert and Sullivan and then DON'T STOP. Highlights include "I am the very model of a modern Starfleet Admiral, I'm cowardly, blustering, treacherous and venal", and the moving death-dance of the redshirts will have you in tears.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The leader of the British National Party has been arrested as part of a police inquiry following the screening of a BBC documentary.

In July, the BBC documentary Secret Agent featured covertly-filmed footage of BNP activists. Mr Griffin is the twelfth man to be arrested following the documentary.

David Blunkett, he's a white complete dick who's a sex machine to all the Tory chicks, yesterday made the wild claim that ID Cards could have saved the lives of the cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay last February. Turns out this isn't the usual load of nonsense about how those that work illegally at the moment will magically start working legally when ID Cards come in.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Quest for the Oily Grail.

Tory party decides to back ID Cards. Next up, Michael Howard insists "I can't see why our party isn't more popular".

Britons growing 'digitally obese'. As opposed to 'obesely obese'?

And to cheer up Patrick, Famous atheist gets God. It's actually quite a respectable shift, he still doesn't believe in an afterlife, he doesn't believe that God is who any of the religions say he is and he's 81, so any religious types who fancy their chances better get to him quick. I'd love a bit more information than what is given in this report because his reasons for converting to believing in intelligent design (creationism with a GCSE in Single Science) do tend to be a bit 'is that it'?

Guantanamo inmate claims torture still occuring. I suppose all that's left is for Bush to put out pictures of him shitting on the Koran and we can go straight to thermonuclear holy war.

A touching story of a gorilla wake. As the person who pointed out to me wrote: "Creationists will be able to use this to prove humans and apes aren't related, nobody got drunk and none of the female gorillas complained about what was said about 'our Mam' when she was alive."

My emo nickname is nose wiped on sweater.
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Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

My Historical Tyrant name is Pol Pot Pinoche.
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My new name is now (and forever) is Kill the Kittens.
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My magical Potterized name is Ron.
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What?! The bastards!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Is the United States about to introduce Clause 28? But not just in schools, in all public spaces. And not to protect children, but to, supposedly, protect everyone.

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. 15th Anniversary Edition by Morrison and McKean.

God, was it really 1989 when this first came out, when I first bought it? I was a callow thirteen at the time, what was I thinking? I certainly didn't understand much of the story or of the artwork by the inimitable Dave McKean and to be honest, there's still a lot I miss now. Luckily for this anniversary edition it's reprinted with the script, with notes by Grant Morrison himself. And therein is the problem.

Say what you want about Morrison but he really seems to have bad luck when it comes to collaborators. Specifically in the case of artists taking the script and not drawing what Grant tells them to draw. Now sometimes Morrison may not make it easy for them, there are those pages by Ashley Wood at the end of Invisibles 3.2 that Cameron Stewart had to redraw for the trade paperback version, perhaps that was a case of an artist who hadn't necessarily followed the series having to draw something that Morrison was describing semi-poetically rather than what he actually wanted to see. It was a tough gig and I think the Guide says that Morrison wasn't always around at this time to talk to artists on the phone. But then John Ridgway has the next page and clear instructions what to draw and just doesn't bother.

It's a bit like that here. I suspect there's interoffice politics that we don't hear about at play but if we assume, as we are led to, that this is the approved script that Morrison gave McKean to draw, and that what McKean drew was what was accepted and published by DC as 'Arkham Asylum', then McKean, who I really, really like, fucked up. Big time. All right, so obeying a direction to draw second-rate villain Clayface as 'AIDS on two legs' might be difficult but for a story where allegory and metaphor are vitally important, for McKean to not draw them is, well, I'm not sure what the best term is to describe it, negligent? His style, while it suits the mood of the piece fails on pretty much every other level, directions over depictions of body language and symbolism are just ignored by McKean. Without these keys to pieces we don't have much to understand.

Take the Maxie Zeus scene, Morrison describes how it is the room in which Arkham kills Mad Dog Hawkins and that Maxie is mainlining electric current and using it to sexually abuse/arouse a guard. Not that you don't see any of this in what McKean draws. Similarly, when Arkham looks at drawings his daughter has done, Morrison writes how important it is that McKean shows these drawing are of a man with two heads and a man with a wolf's face. Now, if we look at what is drawn, we see something which might be a man with a wolf's head, but not two-face. The script says that Arkham's wife is four months pregnant when they are killed (to reiterate her status as mother in the female triad in Arkham's life). Now drawing a four month pregnant woman might be tricky but McKean doesn't even try.

I could go on through, pointing out all the times when what McKean draws ignores directions in the script. Arkham Asylum looks fantastic (though why DC didn't take the opportunity to bind this better than the original, we still have text disappearing into the centre of the book), but the script would show the reason the story is perhaps not the greatest in the world is not for want of Morrison trying.

Green Tea
Green Tea...
You are Green Tea!
Strong and very smart you prefer peace to violence and very rarely take action if it involves confrontation. But you make up for this with your keen insight and understanding of the world and people around you, you have a very mysterious nature. Many people see you as laid back and that may be true but you are very intelligent and make good decisions.

What type of Tea are you? {-With Anime Pictures!-}
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How Would YOU Take Over the World?

Jake Shears 2004.

Shiteyes in the plop for his injudiscious remarks about other ministers. I remember in Yes, Prime Minister that Jim Hacker always said it's more important to keep the Government rather than the public happy, because the public can't do much until the next election, the Government can organise a vote of no confidence in a few days. Which means that Blunkett is probably safe, sadly. It seems to be only the serious papers for grown-ups that are still following this story, the BBC's attention is elsewhere, the NotW is talking about some Z-List Eastenders star's dicky tummy, The Sunday Mirror is talking about Christmas arrangements at the home of media muppets Bosh and Pecks, so most of the public will soon forget all about it.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

It's confirmed that Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned. That scratching noise you can hear is Shrubya taking notes.

The Homosexual Agenda exposed! [via Plasticbag]

Friday, December 10, 2004

What's the point of putting out a film of a book with the central themes of a despotic Christian/Catholic church and the overthrow of God if you're going to change the name of the Church and make it not God that's overthrown? It just seems like a pointless exercise. Why not just go the full Comic Strip Presents 'Strike!' and have Al Pacino playing Will, Meryl Streep playing Lyra, John Inman as Iorek the Armoured Bear, etc etc.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I read Bad Signal, mainly because if you strip away the bluster and bullshit, two things which no half decent writer should be without, Warren Ellis has some good ideas. But the poor dear sent out an email today to justify complaints about the interchangeable nature of some of his characters, they are the ones that often chain smoke, drink too much, swear as much as the editor will allow Ellis to do, are mavericks that buck the system... see Pete Wisdom, Spider Jerusalem, Elijah Snow, Jenny Sparks, Colonel Bukovic... Often one of the first things they do on turning up is to find someone to give a speech to to show how much of a hard-arse they are. It gets irritating when you've read more than, say, one title that Ellis has written.

I happen to like writing driven people with one or two personal vices and the ability to speak with half a grain of wit... but according to my recent email
I'm being lazy when I do that and should be writing more PLANETARY or putting more fight scenes in ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR.

Are people saying this to him because characters which are the same are generally considered a bad thing? Is it because of him? No. it's because the vanilla comics fan [has] become ascendant online. Poor baby. We really don't deserve him.

It's nice that in these times of trouble the BNP are doing what they can to keep the country's morale up: Furious BNP racists walked out of their own Christmas party - because the DJ was black. A member of the far right group blundered by hiring the entertainer over the phone without meeting him first.

Official Bob Garner said: "There was a bit of a cock-up. The chap who booked him didn't realise. The DJ sounded white on the phone." Labour MP Martin Salter said last night: "This just shows they'll never be a legitimate political party. "They're just poisonous bigots who think they can tell the colour of someone's skin from the other end of a phone line."

As opposed to the bigots in his own party who, because one bunch of people who defined themselves as belonging to a religion that wasn't Christian flew planes into buildings killing a lot of people (including members of their own religion), demanded that every member of that religion living in this country had to publically denounce terrorism?

A report from someone who says they worked at The Telegraph at the time they libelled Galloway. [via Jews Sans Frontieres]

Oh, those wags in the Home Office. They will have their little joke. In this report they slip in an absolute beauty.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Opposition should wait until the inquiry has reported before they decide that David should resign.

"Like anyone else, he is entitled to the presumption of innocence."

Laugh? I nearly voted Tory.

Tories finally get with the program and call for Blunkett to resign. But to do so in this manner is akin to Clair Short dithering about whether to resign or not over the Iraq war and then come away with no credibility at all (and it's not like the Conservative party has massive credit at the credibility bank right now). They are not suggesting he should step down because a bitter access battle with a former lover over the paternity of two children he believes he fathered while cuckolding (and if nothing else, it's so great to be able to use a word I thought I'd never use again once I finished studying Shakespeare at school) another man might distract him from the business of guiding through legislation to take away the country's few remaining rights. Nor are they, at this late juncture, suggesting that someone who's committed adultery and fathered children is not right to hold a position of moral leadership in this country. But by having people on their own side like Teresa May insist personal morality is not an issue in this, then insist that David Blunkett should resign, even if his little Butler-tastic internal inquiry with a very small remit, finds him guilty or not, well they don't really have much of a leg to stand on. If they painted a broader picture, taking all his crimes and misdemeanors into account, then they'd have a case. But of course, they're not putting much effort into attacking the Home Secretary because he's only been caught doing what they were all caught doing in the 1990s and in his policy platform he's the best Homse Secretayr they've never had. They want him there to continue a Conservative policy agenda in a Labour government.

Much more disturbingly, last night I dreamt I worked for George W. Bush. I was at an open-air dinner in a courtyard at my old school. A disabled man on a moped/electric wheelchair had just gone past our table with a horn that was continually blaring when suddenly a massive wind blew up from nowhere, sending us all scattering inside. I lived on the site and went back to what was apparently my flat. Inside was a courier with a dinner set gift for the President's wife. The note said that it was from a super-hero team I knew doesn't exist. So I took the note (the wind having gone by now) to the Presidential appartment, another building on the school campus. I found my way to where Shrubya and Mrs Shrubya were sitting. They seemed rather stiff, as if they had just received some bad news, and she didn't seem much happier when I gave her the note but she told me to bring the dinner set to her. However, when I got back to my place I found my posessions were being impounded by the Department of Homeland Security for investigation for suspicious material and that I was suspended while this was going on. When I complained and said I would resign so I could take my stuff and leave the trooper loading the cart said that in that case they'd arrest me and send me to Camp X-Ray with 'all the other dissidents'. It was as I was looking past him to see there were lots of appartments being emptied in to Government vans that my alarm went off.

I have been watching a lot of The West Wing recently. I guess that, even in my dreams, I don't believe the American people would vote in a left-wing liberal to office.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Shiteyes Blunkett launches Operation: Save my Own Arse, prepares to blame flunky for his former lover's nanny's suspiciously quick visa clearance.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I'm not sure if this is a rant I've only directed towards my father last weekend or whether I've already posted it here, so you might have heard it already. The news that the death of the video recorder is nigh is possibly alarmist but also alarming. And I'll be worried until I hear that Recordable DVDs are properly here and reusable DVDs work without a loss in data quality (I don't keep up to date on techy matters but the last I heard there was a difficulty in making DVDs reusable due to the problem of making a permanent laser beam non-permanent). And I'm worried because, much as I love my Sky + box and have recorded and watched a lot more since I got it than in the month previous on my video and NTL box, I'm concerned on the effect it has on our freedom and control over what we watch and see.

At the end of last month I read The Anarchist in the Library by Siva Vaidhyanathan. What was interesting was his reporting on the battle between the Napsters and the Groksters and the American record companies, the Sonys et al. I'm paraphrasing but at one point Vaidhyanathan pointed out that if the record companies in the eighties had forseen the Internet and what was going to happen at the end of the nineties they would never have persuaded us to give up our vinyl in favour of CDs, because CDs have no copy protection at all, which is why I could, if I wanted to, transfer the Beatles album I'm listening to right now onto my computer and thence the Internet.

I get to store a certain amount of information on the hard disk of my computer before it's full. I can store twenty hours of programming on my Sky + box before it's full. I can transfer stuff from my Sky + box to video tape but if in three years time my video recorder were to irretrievably break down I might not be able to replace it. Then I face the prospect of only being able to keep the twenty hours of television that I like the most. When the twenty-first hour of must have telly comes along, something that I want has got to go. When I had a working video recorder it could go on to a tape. Now I've lost it, unless the production company or distributer releases it on DVD.

Recording a TV program is piracy. Piracy that no court would convict us for, unless we copied it for someone else, but piracy nonetheless. What Vaidhyanathan's book made me realise was that the companies that produce some of our music, the tv programs, the radio, all forms of media, want to remove our storage devices, or leave them in fixed-sized forms like hard disks. Getting rid of the video recorder is a plus to the Foxes and the BBC Worldwides and, if the video recorder can die before recordable DVDs really work then you'll bet they will be sidelined and TiVOs pushed as the video replacement.

What happens then? The end of new CDs. The end of new DVDs. The iStore shows us the way. I can already buy Norton Antivirus 2005 as a download from the Symantec website, which I did when I upgraded. What I didn't pay attention to at the time was that if I'd gone and bought the CDs at a store then I wouldn't have had to effectively pay for the product twice when I had my fun with reformatting the hard disk back in August. But this will be the equivelent of how things will be. You won't get to pay once to buy something and then not have to pay any more. Want to hear the latest Coldplay album? Simply pay ten Eurodollars. Really like track four? Pay another one Eurodollar to hear it again. Halfway through a song and you want to repeat a few lines to work out what's being sung, or identify a sample? That'll be ten Eurocentimes per five seconds of song per time it's repeated. And the next time you fancy listening to that album? That'll be another ten Eurodollars. There will be no more free lunches. Once they get rid of the videos, CDs, DVDs ,recordable or not, they'll go for the hard-disks. Under the guise of 'choice', you can buy a movie from SKy Movies and have some decision about when you actually watch it. You'll be able to watch The Simpsons whenever you want to. You'll be able to watch the Nine O'Clock News at six a.m. if you really want, but you'll have to pay. With greater choice comes a greater bill.

When a video is full you can simply buy another video. You can't do that when the hard-disk is used up. Should I read anything in to the fact that when my Sky + box was installed the technician showing me the basic functions admitted he didn't know how to copy something from the hard disk on to a video? It's surprisingly annoying compared to the ease of all the other functions, if you want to record something on to a video you have to watch it, you can't record the video while watching something else (I'm ignoring the fact that you don't have to watch the TV while it's copying to a video, I mean that while I can record something to the hard disk and watch another TV channel at the same time I can't record to video and watch another channel). Conspiracy theorists might like to ponder that maybe it does this only to make you consider it's not worth copying stuff to video and thus free up space on the hard disk.

Short form rant? Give video recorders as presents this Christmas, they're the only way to stop having to pay for everything in the future.

Have I mentioned how much I love The Culture Show? It's not trying to speak down to the lowest common denominator and it's not going for the highest either.

Well, this sets me up for a Saturday at work: Robert Kilroy-Silk covered in actual shit.

This is just weird: American TV companies refuse to air ad for Christian church because it reaches out to various minorities, including the queer one.

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

Someone should remind the conservatives of this next time they complain about the liberal, leftist media in the States. The ad is here, and what is the gay content? One woman with her arm around another one. It's hardly HOT LEBANESE ACTION!!!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Oliver Stone supposedly keen to make film about Maggie Thatcher. Sounds no more substantial than the news that Michael Moore was going to do a film about BLiar.

It the first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender History Month, February 2005.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

This rocks harder than anything is legally entitled to: Global London. It's everything you want or need to know about multicultural London, from maps of the number of people who speak other langauges than English (and places that do translation), education, legal aid, embassies to just general information on different ethnic groups.

"People who don't like ID Cards are like women with PMT." Oops, sorry, they didn't say that either. But they were thinking it. Maybe. Anyway, while Shiteyes is busy being fitted into his Daredevil costume for the next Fathers 4 Justice stunt, one of his lackeys has been busy telling the world that anyone who is complaining about ID Cards is doing so because they're wrong.

At a Home Office press briefing in London, he said people would not be required to carry an ID card... "We're bringing together information about someone that is known to government or in the public domain, allied to biometric info. It won't contain medical or tax records, the bill precludes that. This is not a Big Brother database,"... Browne today said that ID cards are "no panacea - and we never said they were" in the fight against terrorism.

So, they don't help fight terrorism, you don't use them to access services and you're not required to carry them. They cost a lot. I see these as bad things (to be fair, I see most of these things opposites as bad as well). What exactly have I misunderstood?

Japanese senior-citizens who want to stave off senility can buy a little robot companion to keep their mind active with chit-chat and reminiscenses about the good old days being a fighter pilot. Alright, I made that last bit up. Frankly, it looks as smug and punchable as Zax. [via Slashdot]

Galloway wins libel case with The Telegraph. In retrospect, it may have been a tactical error for the Telegraph to try arguing that it didn't matter that their information was wrong.

Those Cobb County, Georgia, science textbook stickers in full.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The only people who have to worry are those who didn't get their French Vocab homework done...

If at first you don't succeed, cave in to the US? UN to back pre-emptive strikes in first major overhaul.

The rabbit from Donnie Darko tells me to kill.
I've pointed out the water stains on my wall to my landlord.

What do you see in there?

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