Saturday, December 31, 2005

It was the Bratwurst of Times...

Well, thank God that's over.

Christmas wasn't so bad, our family doesn't tend to act like it's in Eastenders or Shameless or one of those shows full of the so called working classes that you oiks seem to enjoy, but it's been trying. I went down last Sunday and was supposed to return on Wednesday, so as to have a chance to meet up with friends. Then we had the snow on Tuesday.

Great, Snow!

It was actually very light for us, no more than an inch. But it made my Dad decide not to drive, I checked the trains but the ones that run through Maidstone, where my parents live and I grew up, came from the east of Kent, which got hit harder by the bad weather. So I was stuck there until this morning. We had a day of snow that turned to rain yesterday which got rid of all the snow.

Feeding Time
Impressive Tree
The Old Forest in Winter
A Winter Graveyard

I went for a walk on Thursday, the first walk I'd taken round the village they lived in since I left it eleven years ago. I walked the route I used to do as a paper-round, the way I used to walk to school, and the way to where my best friend used to live. So little seemed to have changed in fifteen years. There's still a few horses in the field down Forstal Lane, they could have been there the last time I walked there.

Christmas Day at Dymchurch
Martello Tower at Dymchurch

We've got a little Christmas morning tradition in our family. It's all of two years old. We drive down to the coast and walk on the beach before heading to wherever we are having dinner. This year we drove down to Dymchurch, a couple of miles from Dungerness. We used to go down there for holidays, there wasn't much to do but sit on the beach, swim in the pool, and go on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch miniature railway. Of course, the place is uninhabitable for about ten months of the year because of the biting wind, so we didn't stay too long.

We drove back to Maidstone, we were having Christmas dinner at a pub near to where my sister and brother-in-law live. I can't remember if I mentioned but they are moving back to Coxheath in a few weeks. They'll be living at the south end of the village, my brother-in-laws parents live over the east side and my parents in the north. Ever since she got a car my sister has somehow managed to get progressively closer to where she started, before she drove she had a boyfriend up in Liverpool for a couple of months. They'd hoped to have moved in for Christmas but things got delayed for a couple of weeks when the buyer for their current place pulled out and had to be replaced by someone else.

After the meal, which was nice but nothing special, we collected their dog, Scrumpy, and went for a walk down by the river. The River Medway, when it passes through Maidstone, isn't that nice. It's practically black with silt, I wonder whether the few fishermen I see every time we drive past it ever catch anything that wasn't man-made.

The Downstream Millenium Bridge
Whatman Field at the Millenium Park
Whatman Field at the Millenium Park
Bandstand at the Millenium Park
Maidstone Millenium River Park

I had no idea the Maidstone Millenium River Park even existed, although it was developed only after I left the area. It's certainly nicer than the other park in Maidstone, Mote Park. Midwinter is not the best time to see it though, I'll have to go back in Summer.

And then we walked into the sunset and were never seen again...


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My sister's dog

My sister's dog
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Right, I'm off to the parents for the season, so I'll see you all after Christmas. Cheers!

Friday, December 23, 2005


Aparently the Dolphin's January Sale starts on Boxing Day. Isn't that, you know, still in December?

Deborah Lipstadt has many examples of anti-semitism in Iran. Far better than Melanie Phillips's manufactured outrage.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Originally uploaded by Siobhan Curran.


Piss-poor Punning From the Scum

Piss-poor Punning From the Scum
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

I'm not really annoyed by the homophobia (it's one of those grey areas where it's homophobia if it comes from a newspaper with a history and standing tradition of homophobia but not if it came from someone gay friendly, which MurdochSkyFox co obviously aren't) but the joke or 'aisle'/arse. They did the same thing advertising 'American Pie 3'.

Let's make it clear now, you cannot transpose 'aisle' and 'arse'! The two words don't even sound similar! That's like replacing 'Rebecca Wade' with 'vicious red-haired bitch who likes attacking men'. See, both factually correct but you couldn't pun it could you?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

British Library Exhibition.

This looks good. Beautiful Minds: Capture the spirit of Nobel achievement.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Some good news from the US as we approach Santa's birthday...

Judge rules against 'intelligent design' in science class.

"We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents," [U.S. District Judge John] Jones writes in his 139-page opinion posted on the court's Web site. "To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions," Jones writes.

And that's the key point, just because all the key points of evolution haven't been sorted out yet (and the Creationists would dearly like to shut all research down if they could) doesn't mean that it's worthless and it certainly stands up better than ID, which should be taught in religious studies classes if it must be taught at all.

It's beginning to look as if V For Vendetta is going to be the first film made from an Alan Moore comic that doesn't suck.

I always feel like, somebody's watching me (oh-oh-oh)

It's rather hard to get too excited over this USian brawl over the state wiretapping and spying on it's citizens, while privacy may be in the Constitution or whatever, in the UK it's not written in our unwritten consitution with non-invisible ink, so every few years we get to chuckle over news reports about how some incredibly right-wing MP like Peter Hain was once thought to be a dangerous Trot.

Still, Shrubya's defense, to basically take the position that the office of the President and the person holding that Office are Perfect in all Their Forms, is no defense at all. Shrubya seems to have moved beyond simply believing that God speaks unto him, into believing he is God, and therefore His Pronouncements are to be followed for the good of mankind. And yay, verily did Shrubya say unto the masses:

"As president and commander in chief, I have the constitutional responsibility and the constitutional authority to protect our country. Article 2 of the constitution gives me that responsibility and the authority necessary to fulfil it,"

And unto the doubting Thomases did he say: "To say unchecked power basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject," he told a White House press conference.

Because if a Perfect Being does it, how can it be bad? And his attacking of those reports that told the American public that they were being spied upon. How exactly is that helping terrorism? Is there a terrorist cell in downtown Manhattan saying "Damn, we were planning to drive trucks of explosives into Congress, but the one thing we didn't plan for was that the FBI had tapped our phones"? Perhaps one of the terrorists was planning to phone his Mum to fill her in on all the details of his Holy Jihad but thanks to this careless reporting will keep quiet instead?

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, whether Americans are more concerned with the unlikely possibility that the FBI are listening to their mundane conversations than with innocent people with funny names being tortured to death in places far, far away.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Helpful Mental Heuristics.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

So let's see. I have several episodes of Rome or The Sopranos I could watch. Several films too, not to count all the DVDs I have.

I've got several things I could watch on my computer too, not least The God Who Wasn't There, because while I wouldn't steal a car or a DVD I would actually Torrent a movie that I wouldn't see any other way.

I've got that big Jaime Hernandez book, LOCAS to read, or failing that dozens of books and comics. I've got the latest Bi-Community News which I haven't read yet.

I'm restless and scratchy which normally means a slump if I can't somehow keep my mind occupied, except it's like when you're falling asleep, you're not even aware that your eyes are closing, your breathing slowing... The scratchiness means I'm already on the event horizon of the black hole.

In that sense of desperation I'm looking at Library Thing with probably unhealthy interest. If you were to take part in this I suggest you turn off any central heating you may have and arrange for someone to interupt you every few minutes with questions and occasional abuse just to faithfully simulate what it is like to work in a public library. I can't see why anyone would really want to do this, but then I suppose it's like Delicious and Flickr, "ooh, see what interesting web-pages I've seen/ places I've visited, why not compare them against your own pathetic life and then go and slit your wrists?"

Crap, iTunes is playing A Silver Mount Zion at me. Thanks iTunes, you have succesfully anticipated what I really need to hear right now. I listened to the first part of Penguin's A Christmas Carol podcast, wasn't easy as they'd mixed it so low, even at full blast it was almost inaudible as I walked along the street. But I'd never realised how funny Dickens really was before. Of course, I'd read such bundles of laughs as Little Dorrit and The Old Curiosity Shop, but there really is a lot of humour in A Christmas Carol and also tragedy. What I don't get is why TV and film versions have never managed to bring this out before. They seem to concentrate on emphaising Scrooge's miserly nature to grotesque proportions as though the story were written by Tom Clancy or John Grisham and therefore lacks all humanity. At the start of the story Scrooge desperately hates his life but feels trapped and locked into his behaviour. He already wears the chains that Marley only took on in death, and who knows what Marley has to suffer in order to free the one man he considered friend? It's a love story too. Now I'm beginning to understand why Dickens was so great.

I'm going to bed. Wake me if there's an apocalypse.

It's The Passion of the Christ, the way Mel Gibson should have made it. [via B3ta]

Who's Been Smoking Crack at The Observer?

David Cameron stakes his claim today to be the voice of moderate, progressive Britain in a remarkable interview in which he says that the Conservatives speak for a 21st century generation of Britons who are non-ideological and want politics to be practical. In a revealing interview with The Observer, the new Tory leader jettisoned his party's hardline image on immigration, saying he welcomed those fleeing genuine persecution abroad.

And what does the great Liberal say?

There are some obvious problems with his appeal to Lib Dem voters. Most people who voted Lib Dem at the last election were probably against the Iraq war. He was in favour. The Lib Dems are a pro-European party. He is pronouncedly Eurosceptic. One of his few specific pledges during the leadership campaign was to withdraw Tory members of the European Parliament from the mainstream centre-right grouping in Brussels, which has already whipped up a storm with his MEPs and drawn fire from Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrat German Chancellor.

'The principles that the Conservative Party should apply are very clear: we think immigration is very good for Britain; we think that there are clear benefits in a modern economy from having both emigration and immigration, but that net immigration has to have a very careful regard to good community relations and the fair provision of public services. Those are the principles you apply, and then you have to try to come up with answer.'

The answer the Tories came up with in their last manifesto was a quota or a cap on immigration. Is that still his policy?

'We are reviewing.'

It could be ditched?

'All our policies are under review.'

He goes out of his way to strike a very different note about asylum seekers.

'I'm passionately committed to giving people who are being tortured and persecuted asylum, and that means not just letting them in, but taking them to our hearts, and feeding and clothing and schooling them.'

So, they are 'reviewing' their opinions on foreigners. The devil in this detail is what Cameron would believe counts as people being 'tortured and persecuted', a sceptical person might believe that this is still the pre-election immigration policy, just in more liberal-sounding language. With no mention of a special island to send them to.

What about foxhunting? Would he make hunting with dogs legal again?

'Personally, yes - I would.'

...'the constituency I represent is packed full of now rather frustrated fox hunters,' he says. He confirms that he been foxhunting himself: about 10 times, he reckons.

...'I'm saying to the Prime Minister: if you want these education reforms, you can have them. Be as bold as you like, because you've got my backing.'

...Cameron has given another ex-leader - Iain Duncan Smith - a job running one of the policy commissions, which will help him avoid having to make policy commitments for two years.

Gives him plenty of time to go on chat-shows and present himself as a nice bloke.

To be fair he seems genuinely committed to getting rid of the old fat white men of the Conservative Party and replace them with women and members of ethnic minorities but this just means he's a slightly progressive Conservative, not a Progressive.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Well, thank goodness we have Melanie Phillips, that's what I say. While most everyone has blamed white racist Australians for violence in Sydney last weekend she has fearlessly dug deeper to reveal the truth: It was all the victims fault. Yet, oddly, she never deploys this argument when some martyr-mad Palestinian suicide bomber blows up innocent Israeli schoolkids. Ideally she would be exiled to an island with Richard Littlejohn and Garry Bushell (actually, does he even write a newspaper column any more?) and British society would be immeasurably better for it.

The True Meaning of Christmas

I've finally got round to looking at the Christmas Radio Times and the TV stations have surpassed themselves this year. What a shower of shit! With the exception of the Doctor Who Christmas Special on Christmas Day and The Goodies Friday week there is absolutely nothing worth watching, unless you count the last episode of Little Britain in the hopes that they break down and start wailing "We're so fucking sorry!" twenty-nine minutes from the end. Still, it will give me a chance to clear the backlog of stuff I've got in the memory of my Sky box that I haven't got round to watching.

This am news. Sadly.

The British newspapers seem to be concentrating on the admission that Bush has been spying on the American people, well, they're easier to find than Osama Bin Laden. I was more interested in the fact that he was also defeated trying to change the law to make the PATRIOT Act permanent. When it was brought in, wasn't it supposed to be temporary and continually renewed, or am I getting it mixed up with British anti-terrorist legislation?

And what is it with leaders of countries that begin with 'Ira' that when faced with the only superpower in the world itching for an excuse to invade them they start playing 'chicken'? To be fair Bush would have demanded that Saddam Hussein castrate himself on national TV if that was needed to give the U.S. a pretext to invade, but for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to continually spout deranged Anti-Semitic slurs and myths, well he probably wasn't about to go on any trips to Austria anyway. It's hard to be sure but it's not like a key part of the job of Iranian President is to fit in anti-Semitism between midday prayers and sorting out the Iranian economy, this is extra-curicular.

Was Special Branch trying to destroy the Northern Ireland Assembly? They do have their origins in fighting Irish terrorism, but this, if true, would seem to be an attempt to keep themselves in business.

I'm dubious about the mutterings in the press this week about Charles Kennedy's leadership of the Lib Dems. True, outside of election time they don't get much of a substantial appearance in the press, but it's the same with the Tories. If they hadn't cycled through four leaders in eight years and got rid of the third of those by a concentrated whispering campaign, how much would we have heard of them?

And who could replace him? One of these jokers? Lembit Opik? Who people only know because he's married to weathergirl Sian Lloyd and is worried about asteroids hitting the planet? Michael Moore, who would probably be more popular if people thought he was responsible for Bowling for Columbine or Fahrenheit 9-11? Mark Oaten? Don Foster? Simon Hughes? These three have an advantage that people that watch the news will recognise them, although for the Lib Dems this may be a disadvantage, what with Charles Kennedy's nickname being 'chatshow Charlie'. Heaven forbid that the British public should recognise the leader of the Liberal Democrats! He's also increased the Liberal Democrat share of the vote, for shame!

The only likely candidate is Ming the Merciless but he's old enough to be David Cameron's Dad. Still, if you look at his official photo he looks pre-prepared for Madam Tussauds when he dies an rigor mortis has set in.

Finally, for now, an interesting report from The Register which would suggest the Government is getting ready to tie the right to vote to having an ID Card.

John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry in The West Wing, has died of a heart attack. Sad, sad news.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I'm thinking of going to this...

Public Carol Service
Click here for more information.

You are cordially invited to a public carol service in Parliament Square at 6pm on Wednesday the 21st of December 2005.

This inclusive service will contain both Christian and secular verse, and is expected to last no more than an hour.

Candles and song sheets will be made available, with donations going to Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

Please note that if you attend this carol service, it will classify as a spontaneous demonstration (of faith, hope, joy and/or religious tolerance) and there is a possibility that you will be cautioned or arrested under Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005.

Click here for more information.

It's certainly the only way you'd get me to sing (something which qualifies as both a Weapon of Mass Destruction and Cruel and Unusual Torture) Christmas Carols any more.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Other blogs give you cute animal pics, this blog gives you cute translucent underwater animal pics:

Baby squids!

Marley was dead...

Penguin are offering a free podcast of Geoffrey Palmer reading Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' in five easy to swallow portions.

God bless us, everyone!

A genuinely useful article on the virtues of 'defensive pessimism'. I've always thought that I'm an optimist in the body of a pessimist. I've just got to try and concentrate my darker impulses toward defensive rather than fatalistic pessimism, but then that'll never work...

Mmmmm, pretty.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I phoned my Mum to get the address for one of my cousins who moved a week or two, turns out they moved to Hemel Hempstead. What good time.

Meanwhile: Al Quaeda [sic] Threat Made Good As British Government Invokes ‘Official Secret Act’ After Hijacked Air France A300 Jetliner Destroys London Air Fuel Depot.

Just in case you're wondering, the report goes on to claim that Al Quaeda [still sic] is run by renegade elements of American CIA and Israel's Mossad, so if you're filling in your conspiracy bingo cards don't forget to tick the boxes.

Sorcha Faal appears to be a guy called David Booth. How odd.

There's something that annoys me about the events that occured in New York on the 11th of September 2001 being referred to in the British media as '9-11', but even worse is the slide towards '7-7' for our own terrorist attacks earlier this year. Whilst the former is understandable as it's how the U.S. have come to know the event, it's both ridiculous to do the same to our attack (thankfully it was on a palindromic day or else think of the confusion!) and insulting as the two events are on nowhere near the same scale.

Anyway, it appears we get to look forward to a report, they are being very careful not to call it a 'dossier', written by a senior civil servant telling us what happened on the 7th of July. We are getting this instead of a public enquiry, which some of the relatives and/or victims of the attack that day want but which the Government is resisting. And, at the moment, I agree. At the moment the fact that the intelligence services had just lowered the threat level assessment or that one of the bombers had been under surveillance in the past does not signal a government-wide cock-up on the scale of the U.S. Government prior to September 2001. However, what with the 'dodgy dossier', the Hutton whitewash, the Butler review, can we have any confidence that anything our Government chooses to tell us is accurate?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Yay! I am number three for naked hetero lads 18 lose virgin to a girl experience. This calls for some sort of celebration!

Aaaaah, reasoned debate

Quality journalism. After Polly Toynbee's 'Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion' last week The Guardian now gives us Zoe Williams equating anti-Christians with Nazis. Can't we all get along? Can't we all accept that they are wrong and I'm right?

I can't remember when I first read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe but if I hazard a guess at around 6 to 8 I'm probably right. I didn't know when I read it that it was a Christian allegory, or what an allegory was. I made it through all the books in blissful ignorance of this fact, except to wonder how Susan Pevensie could spend some twenty or thirty years in Narnia and then decide by the last book that it had all been imaginary.

It does confuse me that it's been so enthusiastically embraced by Christians as an advert for their side as, rather like That Penguin Film, when you look beyond the five-second précis it looks rather dodgy.

After all, it's all rather pagan. We have sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, but The Magician's Nephew gingerly skips over the messier points of what points of yer actual Christian philosophy exist in Narnia, there's no mention of the Bible and it's a safe bet that they didn't hear the news about Jesus. Aslan is a rather uneasy and contradictory mix of Christ and Christ's Dad, he creates Narnia in The Magician's Nephew and shuts it down again in The Last Battle, but in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe he's a weird Christ that not only has come at last but has been in Narnia before, making him sound more like an old actor who gets cameo parts in films every few years. He's active in the first few books but by the time of The Silver Chair does no more than let Eustace and Polly in and out of Narnia. The heroes of The Horse and His Boy get lightly mauled towards the end to punish them for the difficulties they placed on the families that raised them while Edmund gets away with a stern talking to by Aslan for betraying his family and speeding Narnia's decline into civil war.

Almost all the human beings by the time of The Last Battle have killed at least one person, yet they get into Super-Narnia. The dwarves are just grumpy so get an eternity thinking they are in a shed, and Susan 'more interested in lipstick and boys' Pevensie is just dead, and as she's not in Super-Narnia then the clear implication is she's going to Hell, which is a bit harsh for shopping at Boots cosmetics counter.

So, yeah, pagan. You have a decidedly pagan Father Christmas who is there to celebrate Aslan's return and so gives the kids weapons with which to fight and kill. You have Aslan who is already a powerful creature laying down his life for Edmund (something I do actually like about the story, whereas Jesus was laying down his life to redeem all mankind, whether they wanted it or not, Aslan is doing it just for one boy who has a sweet tooth), only to spring back to life exactly as he was before. Only in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader do you get, for no real reason, Aslan briefly masquerading as the Lamb of God.

Aslan also kills, namely the Witch in tL,tW&tW and then Narnia itself in The Last Battle, hardly Jesus-like. He is, quite explicitly, a magical creature. But because he's an allegory for Christianity, he's good magic. Because the books never explicitly bring in the Big Fella, I have to point out that Aslan is resurrected not by his Father, but by Really Quite Awesomely Deep Magics From Beyond the Dawn of Time. Harry Potter on the other hand, isn't an allegory for Christianity, so he's bad magic, despite the fact that his books teach us to look after, cherish and help our friends, that in the face of crippling depression and despair we should always have hope and that if you make a complete balls-up of things you should always make sure you know someone who has a watch that turns back time. By the end of his sixth book, Harry Potter has also killed less people than Peter Pevensie and has also chosen to put himself in harms way as many, if not more times. Similarly Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, helps his friends, fights for what is right, never surrenders in the face of overwhelming odds, never seeks glory for himself, didn't tick the box marked "I got my powers from God" and so is evil. It's all rather confusing.

The Witch is rather odd, in that she can't be mapped onto anything else. She doesn't really work as either Rome or the Jewish Church. The closest parallel is Lillith, though I'm not sure of her place in orthodox Christian belief. Sometimes a Witch is only a Witch.

And if the books are Christian allegories, where does The Silver Chair fit? Aslan's light is absent from the world, the kingdom is about to fall, Narnia seems at a lower ebb than when the Witch ran things. Is Eustace and Polly rescuing the bewitched prince akin to blinded Saul having his Damascene conversion to Paul? Or is more like a Roman God moving chess-pieces in order to set things right on his world's game board?

The Chronicles of Narnia are perfectly good storybooks, albeit riven with all the class, sex and racial opinions of their time, but banking on them to bring in a previously untouched load of children eager to hear about God is about the daftest thing since thinking that was what The Passion of the Christ was going to do. Kids will like or dislike this film and I suspect the only people to see the message in it will be those that knew it was there already.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Voice of God revealed to be Cheney on intercom.

North London Headline Crisis

North London Headline Crisis
Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.

But ninjas don't use guns!

And while we're all about the music, there was an interesting article about the Robbie Williams is not gay thing, pointing out that Robbie has never said he isn't gay, it's only his lawyer. And they also said that he was suing because he was accused of sex in a toilet, not of being a gay in Manchester's village, something which Paul 'Lily Savage' O'Grady has said that he would also sue over if he were in William's place. It's a shame that Williams doesn't appear to have said or done anything to counter this hypocritical 'ashamed to be gay' image that this case has made of him in the media.

Teh Mekano Set

The Mekano Set are amazing. If they were a sculpture they'd make The B in the Bang look like a sparkler on a damp afternoon in Putney. If they were an installation piece they'd be too big for the Turbine Hall. But no, they are here to save us from global warming and the failing Gulf Stream. Capable of death-defying feats that make the Charlies Angels films look like Open University, they are the true secret weapon in the fight against terrorism, open your hearta and acknowledge that you have been saved!

"This is what I need."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Well the top story in the UK today has been about the massive explosion at an oil depot in Hemel Hempstead (for Americans, Hemel Hempstead is south of Scotland), very early claims that a plane was seen crashing into the depot are what the police call 'a load of crap'. Anti-terrorist police are on-sight just in case so if any Argentinians are in the nearby area they'd be advised to keep a low profile.


Greetings my favoured children. I'm taking a well-earned break in the middle of Christmas card sending (thanks to Patrick for his one which turned up a few days ago). I feel like I've spent a lot of the last few days reloading music onto my iPod after taking the now foolish decision to start it all again. For some reason, probably piracy, you can't copy music from iPods back to computers, so before thinking that it might be sensible to just not worry about it, I can after all reach all my CDs from where I sit in front of my computer, I decided to wipe it and start again.

I've also organised myself with my podcasts. At the moment I'm getting the New Scientist 'cast, pleasant enough but hardly vital, Ricky Gervais on The Guardian's dime, Koan Bremner's Crossover, the BBC's 'In Our Time' podcasting experiment, Small World, which does suprise me when I find an interview with someone who runs an ice-cream shop near MIT to be really interesting, Gendertalk, which I've listened to for years. But Escape Pod is currently my favourite, a weekly half-hour of science-fiction, really beautifully done.

The odd thing about Lord of the Rings that I've found is that, since the movies, I've found it really difficult to read the books at night. I don't think I've found the books scary since I was about 10 and reading them for the first time, and I didn't find the movies frightening, except perhaps for that bit where Bilbo freaks out in Episode One. But book three, when Frodo and Sam are struggling across Mordor towards Mount Doom, I found that really hard to read the first time I read it post-movies, probably because it brought to mind those images from the last film. Peter Jackson said that there were lots of changes made that people didn't really notice, like the middle-aged Frodo of the books becomming young whipersnapper Elijah Wood in the films. Now it's difficult to read the books and remember Tolkien's intention was an older type of character.

The proper trailer for the Christmas Doctor Who episode is up at last. Rock!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Misty Morning

Misty Morning
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

Tales of the Half-Seen Riverbank

Tales of the Half-Seen Riverbank
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

If you've got any way of listening to an MP3 then I suggest you nip over to the Guardian and listen to the Ricky Gervais podcast. I never got into The Office or Extras but this has my laughing out loud as I walk down the street past the rough kids from the local Comp. Ricky and Stephen Merchant ganging up on Karl Pilkington's mad theories about sexual reproduction and monkeys are class.

"You know The Flintstones is only partly based on fact."

Steve Bell on Blair and Cameron's first Prime Ministers Questions

Steve Bell on Blair and Cameron on PMQs
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

That was fun. I wonder how long this anti-confrontational style will last, and how far Cameron can go promising Blair his help on unpopular subjects. After all, these are supposedly things Blair wants to bring in as his 'legacy' to the country before he hands over to Brown, does Cameron really want to help Blair on this? Or is it that it's okay to let Blair leave on a high as long as he just leaves?

The downside is that while Cameron has the aura of being untouched by the Thatcher era most of his table aren't, little Billy Hague is back, David Davies has been left in his post, Liam Fox has a job, so while the Conservatives might have a friendly and electable face for the first time in a decade he's got some unpleasant people behind him.

Cameron's memorable quote from yesterday is saying to Blair: "You used to be the future!", probably up there with little Billy Hague telling the Tory party in 1980s: "You're going to be dead in a few years!"

I'm really in to Man Stroke Woman. I was a bit wary going in as it looked like it might turn into a "Hey! Aren't women stupid! But not as stupid as men! Let's laugh at the stupid things men do when faced with women!" but it's thankfully better than that, it's a sketch show about relationships with added surreal points, such as the woman breaking up with her sobbing ex-boyfriend who can't make out what he's whining. And the BBC are putting up the episodes for people to watch over the Interweb as well.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sky News are replaying Thatcher's 'glory days', gah...

Come on, come on...

Thatcher 'feeling faint'.

I Wandered Lonely as an Air-Sea Rescue Helicopter

The Poetry Archive is building sound archives of poets reading their poems. Allen Ginsberg doing Howl, Rudyard Kipling doing France, it's a bit light at the moment but if it builds up some more it'll be great.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Fool if you think it's over...

Not a gay. AT ALL.

Robbie Williams IS NOT QUEER. He's not a bit poofy, a queen, an uphill gardner or a turd burglar.

He is however, a shit singer.

Thank you, I'm here all week, enjoy the veal.

Colleagues have gathered to pay their respects this evening as MP David Cameron's political career came to a close this afternoon. Once tipped for the very top Cameron tonight faces political oblivion after being elected Conservative Party leader.

"Obviously we're shattered by this," Said Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, also Cameron's campaign chief and chum, "We only entered for a laugh, and to put David Davis' back up. But even after leaking to papers about the drugs, not answering any questions intended to prove we have policies, making it clear we'd bring William Hague into a Shadow Cabinet AND saying we'd support Tony Blair at his time of maximum weakness we still won! I think this just shows that the Tory Party still isn't serious about returning to Government."

The news corporations have breathed a beary sigh of relief. Said a spokesman for the BBC; "Ever since Michael Howard spited us all by announcing a deliberately long contest we've been forced to devote hours to analysing the various Tory hopefuls and then giving time on screen to have Davis and Cameron witter on as though either of them would ever seriously be asked to form a Government. If we had a nuclear bird flu epidemic tomorrow the country would rather put it's fate in the hands of a cockroach than those two. At least cockroaches have never broken their word on taxes. But thankfully, now this leadership election is over we can stop giving up valuable X-Factor time to this shower of arses and get back to what the BBC does best: Attacking Labour!"

No-one from The Sun was available for comment because we'd arrived during daylight hours and hadn't brought them any virgins to eat. Michael Howard was similarly unavailable for comment though reportedly because he was recovering from suffering internal haemoraging from 'laughing at Davis being stuffed'. Anne Widdicombe said nothing of any importance, much as she had done ever since 1997.

BBC News have got a helicopter following David Cameron as he cycles towards destiny...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Before the film release gets into full-swing, there's a great article on the New Yorker website about current American Christianity and C.S. Lewis, and his use of religion in the Narnia books: Prisoner of Narnia.

Yet a central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey. The moral force of the Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had, say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner as possible—a donkey who reëmerges, to the shock even of his disciples and devotees, as the king of all creation—now, that would be a Christian allegory. A powerful lion, starting life at the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The International Language of Hypocrisy

On Friday White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the US does not violate human rights. "When it comes to human rights, there is no greater leader than the United States of America, and we show that by holding people accountable when they break the law or violate human rights,"

Excuse me?

You torture people, you hold them imprisoned outside the international rules for treating prisoners of war, you use weapons of mass destruction indiscriminately near population centres, you mock their beliefs. You're no better than those you fight.

According to the daily, Ms Rice will insist that intelligence co-operation between the US and Europe is necessary to prevent future terror attacks and call upon European governments to do more to emphasise this to their citizens. "The key point will be 'We're all in this together and you need to look at yourselves as much as us,' " one official said to the Washington Post, on condition of anonymity. "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Bring it on. Maybe if we air all the dirty washing we'll have a chance of finally winning a battle against terror. That's what you want isn't it?

Following on from what I said yesterday about Tate Britain, I would just add that if you're in the area and need food then Gourmet Buffet is a very good Chinese all-you-can-eat restaurant/takeaway just round the corner on Horseferry Road.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

No sooner have we got George Best, huge alcoholic and brief kicker of footballs, safely in the ground then it's a week of people going on about John Lennon, beard-grower and hippy. Here's an idea, can we stop pandering to the 45-55 year olds please? Can we stop going on about the dead and concentrate for once on the living?

At least until Thatcher corks it, obviously.

What I Did Done On My Holidays

Crimeny Crikey Oh-Riley, back to work on Monday. Where did all the time go?

So, Thursday, met up with Rogan Josh to go to The Royal Institution, the first time either of us had gone there and the first time we'd actually met one another for around a decade, having lost all kinds of contact except sporadic email since our days at school. Aaah school, one of our teachers committed suicide, our head had a heart attack on stage in front of us, we were an all boys school but, because we weren't a public school, didn't have younger boys fagging for the older ones. Or if there were I was never given the option to apply to have a younger boy attend to my merest whim.

Anyway. We were going to the RI for Science and learning in Islam –a shared legacy, not something we had a burning interest in, but we were both at a loose end. The lecture theatre is pretty much in the classical image, a small stage with steep rows of chairs on each side. The chairs were uncomfortable and the leg space limited, and while both guests knew their subjects neither seemed particularly expert in it, the questions from the audience at the end seemed either abstruse or pointless, and there was the traiditonal guy who didn't have a question but tried to ramble on at length with no real point to his wittering.

But despite that, I did enjoy it. I walked away feeling I'd learnt something, though I doubt I'll ever have an opportunity to make use of that information.

Today I succeeded in dragging my parents to Tate Britain and we went round the Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition. Having my Mum in a wheelchair was great as people would move out of the way to let us get at the pictures, and it also made me go slower and take more of a look at the portraits than I might have done on my own or with a more able-bodied friend. I don't think either of my parents were that impressed, finding most of the pictures too gloomy. Nothing really made them linger, though we did spend a while in the room with Degas' L’Absinthe. I think they enjoyed the more traditional portraiture upstairs. I also took a quick look at the controversial Chris Ofili The Upper Room exhibit. I did like it though I'm not sure exactly what the lumps of elephant shit in each portrait really add to it.

I'm going to have to go back if I want to look at the Turner Prize nominees, but I also want another look at the John Latham in Focus room which was great, especially his huge Full Stop, a giant black period (I'd link to a picture but for some reason the Tate have taken down that image).

You are Beaker!! You aren't a big talker, but you
get your point across. You are extremely
accident prone.

Which Muppet are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wonkette on George W. Bush's evolving vision for Iraq.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Crooked Timber take on Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Making with the pretty.

God knows I'm the last person that should be called upon to stand up and defend the Turner Prize, but wasn't Waldemar Januszczak (crazy name, crazy guy)'s attack on it on The Culture Show yesterday evening just the teensiest bit mean-spirited?

1. It's tacky.

Based on the, admittedly rather crap, Gordon's Gin 'Judge for Yourself' Tour which is going round a couple of railway stations and giving away free glasses of gin to people while they look at a small exhibition of the various artists. But isn't that rather like saying the British Library is crap because a small village library doesn't have a book you're after? OK, that's not one of my better analogies, but an argument against the Turner Prize starts by railing against a small part that has no connection to who wins the prize? It's not going well is it?

2. Winning the Turner Prize is no longer a good career move.

As highlighted by going through the list of winners and finding Mr 1992, Grenville Davey, didn't do much afterwards and now is a landscape gardener. Januszczak doesn't mention Rachel Whiteread (1993), Damien Hurst (1995), Chris Ofili (1998) or Grayson Perry (2003) because, after all, where on earth are any of them now? Januszczak also phones Davey for a chat, though seems quick to hang up when it seems that Davey neither regrets winning the Turner or blames it for his subsequent career trajectory.

3. It's unrepresentative of what's going on in British art.

I couldn't comment on whether this is true or not. They reckon Dr Johnson was the last man around who could have claimed to have read every book ever written by that point in time, and all prizes, awards and recognitions for everything will always leave people out either deliberately or by accident. It's like the Mercury Music Prize alwasy has one classical artist and some folk and then gives the award to either a rock group or an electronica group. Yes, I agree, what is shedboatshed doing in there? Unfortunately, I quite like Black Square.

4. It's a lottery as to who wins and who loses, there's never a convincing reason as to what makes the winner.

See question three.

I get the feeling that Januszczak could turn out to be my Richard Dawkins of the art world. If Januszczak keeps going on about the Turner Prize long enough then I may start to think it's worthwhile, in much the same way that Dawkins makes me feel more sympathetic to the Creationists. I'm going to Tate Britain tomorrow, I wasn't planning on seeing it but after watching that little piece I'm tempted to pop in and have a look at the nominees work.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Birds Are Gathering

The Birds Are Gathering
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

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