Friday, June 30, 2006

ASBO for DLR arms protester.

A LEWISHAM woman who climbed on a train to demonstrate against an arms fair has been handed an indefinite Asbo.

Did you notice that? Let's run through that again.

A LEWISHAM woman who climbed on a train to demonstrate against an arms fair has been handed an indefinite Asbo.

Wow. What did this threat to national security do?

She was among a group who joined a demo targeting the Docklands Light Railway and Silverlink services on September 14 to object to the staging of the Defence Systems and Equipment International fair at the Excel centre.

Remind me of that whole 'they hate our freedoms' speech again...

This blog by Amardeep Singh is fascinating. I'll definitely be spending time I don't have reading this.

So far I've only read the essays on Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, China Miéville’s The Scar, H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau and Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World and Early Bengali Science-Fiction.

[Found via BoingBoing]

Rapebear. NOT A film from Steven Spielberg. Both links from How To Write Screenplays. Badly. Ver' funny.

The Tories are having way too much fun at Bliar's expense. They're calling him the David Brent of politics ("he doesn't have a job any more, he's just hanging around the office") and offering £500 to whoever can most accurately guess when he goes.

Secondly, I expect we'll have a British version of Megan's Law announced soon. The working goes like this:

1) The Scum want it.
2) Home Secretary 'Judge' John Reid wants to be Prime Minister, possibly challenging Golden Brown depending on what the lie of the land is when Bliar finally goes.
3) John Reid has been cuddling up to Rupert Murdoch, evil billionaire tyrant and overboss of News International and The Scum.
4) Murdoch is reportedly open to backing the Tories at the next election.

The first teaser for the Transformers movie is up at their website. My inner six-year-old is very happy right now...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Did John Connor Die For Nothing?

It's a conservatives worst nightmare, what if the invention of robots brings a Communist revolution? What if that's the real reason Skynet went Terminator on humanities arse? And in The Matrix films Agent Smith wanted endless conformity, everyone the same, just like him.

Ahem, anyway... There seem to be some shortcomings to this essay. What happens to the human beings whose labour has been replaced by robots? It also doesn't address the increasing scarcity of materials on this planet, if we're already fighting over water and oil, what happens when we fight over the building blocks of civilsation? And what kind of intelligent race will we have made if they don't put themselves first when scarcity of material becomes so bad that robots have to choose between us or them?

With any luck we'll have blown ourselves up long before this becomes a problem.

Star Wars Episode 3 1/2: Monty Python Special. [via Wired]

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Now this does look interesting. Yesterday Charles Clarke, not bitter in any way, defended his period as Home Secretary and questioned whether Tony Blair still possessed the authority to lead the party. He lost his job, he's going to be pissed off. However Margaret Beckett did very well out of the reshuffle that saw Clarke booted, she became Foreign Secretary. So her saying Blair and Brown should organise a smooth transfer of power, even if she didn't mean to happen right away, is still pretty major stuff.

Scientist suggests 'immune response from mothers' makes men gay. The problem is this wouldn't explain lesbians or bisexuals.

David Brin neatly skewers Creationism with a look at alternatives to Intelligent Design.

Monday, June 26, 2006

George Best Died For Your Sins!

The shamelessness of this is muy amusing.

'Do you like soccer? Soccer's great isn't it? We all love soccer. The whole world loves soccer!...

But sometimes your team is a bit shit. Luckily, Team: God always scores!'

Good Grief!

Bring Me The Head of Charlie Brown. Watch it before the copyright police wake up.

Kirsty Wark interviewed Harold Pinter for Newsnight Review.

Philip K. Dick robot still missing. [via Boing Boing]

Friday, June 23, 2006

If you measure the passing of time by threats then before we were told terrorists would attack us we were told we were all going to die from having our brains dribble out of our ears thanks to vCJD which we'd get from eating cows which had been forced to eat the ground up remains of their kith and kin, despite their herbivorous nature. Well, that's another apocalypse that didn't happen, despite what any aliens visiting Britain when Princess Di popped her designer clogs might have thought, so scientists have reassured us vCJD can lie dormant for absolutely ages before making you think a vote for the Conservatives might be a good idea. Fifty years is a reasonable timeframe they think, by which time the Conservative Christians should have killed us all in order to bring around the Second Coming.

By the way, wouldn't acting to make things worse to hasten the Second Coming be trying to interfere in the plans of God and suggesting that He can be fooled into thinking He's overslept if the bombs explode early?

Here's an interesting article, using brute mathematics to approach an old question about extra-terrestrial life: If it's out there, how old could it be or, at what point during the universe’s history did it become first capable of supporting life?

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children attack a book they patently haven't seen, although as the book in question is Lost Girls by Melinda Gebbie and Alan Moore their reaction is understandable. As understandable as their sanctioning an author to write a sequel to Peter Pan in an attempt to maintain their copyright over the character that runs out next year.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Peter Ackroyd's Sacred Thames talk was interesting. I'm not sure if he hadn't fully prepared until the last minute or it's just that his natural performance style is rather wooden and one note but he stumbled over his words quite a few times and there were one or two long pauses while he fumbled with his notes. It's a problem that anyone who has seen his TV shows, on Dickens, London or the Romantics and real life can't disguise it with dubbing, retakes and fast camera shots. He seemed much more personable and alive in the Q&A after his speech, which suggests that it's the tyranny of the script that may be his problem, not his fluency.

He was talking about the relationship between the river and religion and spirituality, the old names that survive today, the possible derivation of London from Lud (a pagan God if I'm remembering him right?) and the river names, including Thames itself, through to Christian times, the baptisms in the river and the large number of churches built right on the very banks of the Thames. The area now occupied by the Houses of Parliament was a sacred holy place going back into prehistory. His current project is a book on the Thames, he seemed to come to a very sudden stop after about fifty minutes and somewhere in the early Middle Ages, maybe an indication of how far the book has got.

So all in all it was quite a fun evening.

Insurers have withdrawn the cover on their virginity taken out by three sisters in the event of the second coming of Christ... The cover was meant to pay for the cost of bringing up Christ if one of them conceived immaculately.

Looking forward to Peter Ackroyd at Tate Modern this evening on The Sacred Thames . Peter Ackroyd, guarenteed to be more butch than David 'I'm the Queen of England!' Starkey.

The Beeb in 'ill-advised headlines Number 35': US Church eases gay bishop stance. Conjuring images of someone saying "No, I can't stand like this any more it's doing my back in."

Meanwhile: MC Rebbe The Rapping Rabbi.

Dirty Work

Why are newspapers so dirty? Literally rather than figuratively. It's all very well for the Indy, the Grauniad et al to try and excite us by saying how they're going tabloid in size but not in content in order to make it easier for that small proportion of the readership that read them on their commute to read them, when are they going to do something so our hands don't look as black as a coal-miners when we get to the office? The Daily (Hate) Mail has been doing this since the late eighties if memory serves. Why isn't this practice more widespread? Was it found that to have ink that stayed on the page rather than your hands necessitated the slaughtering of cute puppies and Somalian refugees? Was the Daily Mail's ink specially harvested from the glands of Dame Barbara Cartland? It just amazes me that here we are, in 2006, we can kill a family of Iraqis from half a world away yet we can't keep the newsprint on tomorrow's fish and chip wrappers.

And that's another thing. When did fish and chip shops stop wrapping their goods in old newspapers? Did they ever? Was this just an urban myth? Where did they get the newspaper from? Was it a Unisex Chip Shop?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Yam News!

Fan-favourite First Season of Bush Administration Released on DVD.

Football: Mighty England crush Paraguay.

Have you got an ID card for your children yet?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

If you can understand this then my subsequent question is: Why are you wasting time reading my blog? The 'architecture' of Fight Club in lego.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Seven Degrees...

The attraction with The Oracle of Bacon soon becomes not trying to find someone valid with no ties to Kevin Bacon but trying to find some of those who have more than two or three links to the bugger.

There's also one for Arnold Schwarzenegger and one for Elvis.

It's another of those 'girl loses phone, people who find phone keep it for themselves, friend of girl sets up website for revenge' stories. Here. WRT the Myspace links, every Myspace page I've ever gone to has a photo as the back image. Do people not realise how difficult it makes their text to read? [via B3ta]

The tattooed lady must stay covered up. This just seems crazy, I don't understand why this company, Vertex, has such a problem with one of it's employees having tattoos but I'm sure most of us have our own stories about our employers inflexibility over some issue turning a molehill into a mountain. I remember the fuss when I started wearing make-up to work, as though it had a completely different effect on my non-female brain (and the bits relating to responsibility and professionalism) to that of my female co-workers.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Radiohead, whose last album was entitled Hail to the Thief, discovered after their recent performance in New York that one of the Shrubya infants had been at their show, complete with zealous secret service manhandling of other members of the audience when it came time to leave. So, Thom wonders, what should the band do in that situation, object on moral grounds, not blame the daughter for the sins of the father or just shut up and smile? I assume it's only because they aren't doing country and western that has stopped them being treated like the Dixie Chicks by the United States already.

Catford: It's Part in my Upfall.

honley colour

So this is 25 Horley Road, Catford. Catford would appear to be a place untroubled by excitement and adventure, tucked away in South-East London where you'd not notice it if you didn't keep your eye open as your train or car gets free of the black hole of Central London and heads for the open spaces beyond the M25.

This is one of the first locations we know my Grandfather's family, the Pycocks, lived in when he was young. We don't have a date for the photo above but it was annotated 'Possibly Stan and Anne'. My grandfather was born in 1906 and his younger brother Stanley in 1909, so it is probably sometime between 1916 and 1922, depending on how young Stanley is, if it is Stanley in the picture. My Grandfather, Lawrence, and Stanley had two younger sisters, Maude and Peggy. Peggy is the only one of the siblings still alive, up in Scotland. So if it is Stanley I'm not sure who Anne is, maybe whoever wrote the note mixed her up with Maude (who was born in 1914 so would push this more towards being taken around 1920) or she might just be a cousin or next door neighbour. The family, the Pycocks, moved around the area a fair bit, not penniless but not rolling in cash certainly. Neither Lawrence or Stanley would have been born in this house. And below is what it looks like today.

25 Honley Road 25 Honley Road

Well, it's been pebble-dashed, but the door archway is still there and, although the windows are now double-glazed the frames holding them look the same as before.
But there's more, a few streets away...

fordmill knapmill honley colour

Come out on to Rushey Green, follow it as it becomes Bromley Road, take a right on to Canadian Avenue then the first left on to Fordmill Road. Now we're in Bellingham, which started as a post WW1 housing estate. It's also where the Pycocks were living when my grandfather met my grandmother, Lillian Robins.

There is a family story that my grandmother's mother, Rosa, wrote to the Prime Minister post-war to ask for a house and this is what she got. Nice to believe but I doubt that there's any truth in the matter. Great Britain had to create 'a land fit for heroes' before the Depression kicked in and there would have been countless others in the same situation. But whether she did write to the PM or whether she filled in some forms at Catford Town Hall the Robins family were installed in 38 Knapmill Road, Bellingham, early in the Twenties.

Again, we can't be sure of dates. But my Nan is the tall girl at the back. That was their 'new house' then...

38 Knapmill Road 38 Knapmill Road

... and this is now. Other than the double-glazing and the satellite dish it looks no different than the picture, get that van out the way and you could pretty much restage that photo with another four kids. It the shame that the original photograph isn't wider, so we can see what's to the right of this house. As you can see it's the only building now with this strange two level thing going on, I'd like to know whether it was originally the end of a terrace of similar style houses or whether it always looked different to the buildings it was next to. Meanwhile, one street over, in Fordmill Road, the Pycocks were living. No old photos this time I'm afraid, just new ones.

66 Fordmill Road, Catford 66 Fordmill Road, Catford

66 Fordmill Road. Or at least, what stands there today. My Nan's home looked good for a building that's nearly ninety years old, though this looks more modern in construction. But in a building on this spot lived the other side of my family tree. I'm not exactly sure who knew who and when, the boys in both families might have been friends or the girls, they might have gone to the same school or my Nan may have caught my Grandfather's eye at church. Certainly my Nan wasn't looking for a husband, she saw herself as doing missionary work and going to foreign parts, teaching people to read so they could understand that they were doomed unless they read and believed the Bible. But thankfully for us Grandad prevailed, they got married and didn't move far.

winsford fordmill knapmill colour

If I had a bit more effort about this I might have tried to find out for you why there are two separate train lines that run through Catford, one heading for Black Friars, the other to London Bridge. When I set out on the Thursday morning of this trip, when I took these photos, I had never gone there before so had consulted the Transport for London website. It told me to go to Elephant and Castle by tube, then switch to the train for Catford Bridge. At first all seemed well, though on leaving the tube station the first time visitor to the area may need some guidance towards the train station, like an actual sign or something. The station seemed empty, while the platforms were fairly busy. But the signs said the next train would be going to Catford, then it was delayed, then it didn't seem to be going to Catford any more. So I went back inside and found a member of staff who told me the next train on that platform would be going to Catford but, when I got back up to the platform the information screens still disagreed. It all seemed irrelevant as there had been signal failures further up the line so no train would be coming through, regardless of where it was going.

By this point my Dad was waiting for me to turn up at Catford and we were about ready to forget the whole idea, but on looking at a train map I thought I saw an alternative route via Victoria. About forty five minutes later I had made it to Catford, probably by transferring on to the same train I should have caught at Elephant and Castle, but I was there. The two stations, Catford and Catford Bridge, are kept apart by a road running up between them, but the former consists of no more than the platforms, some stairs and a ticket office that appeared to be shut in an early Thursday afternoon, so it's not like these are two great transport hubs right on top of one another.

The point to this, for there is one, is that if you look at the map you'll see they neatly enclose the estate where my grandparents grew up like pincers. When my grandparents moved out they simply hopped east in to Winsford Road.

54 Winsford Road 54 Winsford Road
54 Winsford Road Winsford Road

This is the house in which she would live for around the next forty years. Number 54. Again, I don't have any old photos to hand but my Dad was on hand to point to the side gate to the garden, which he used to climb over and the front bedroom that was his when he was growing up. Once more the windows were new and the front door had been changed, but the flower design on the porch window was original so the glass in the door might have been kept to.

I thought this would be the one place I would recognise as Nan didn't move out from here until around 1980, when I was 4. I didn't have clear memories of that time, I remember sitting in her front room playing with a cuddly frog toy but I only remember the frog, not the room I was sitting in. I thought I remembered the street but when we pulled up I realised I was remembering somewhere else entirely.

As you can see Winsford Road is a nice suburban road. I was remembering a much longer road, in a more working class area, with a railway bridge crossing it's lower end, and a gasworks. The gasworks are nearby, just not on Winsford Road (another piece of family history: When courting, my grandparents used to walk down to the gasworks to be together. Well, if you haven't got Paris or Milan you have to make do...) So I suspect that what I'm remembering as the street my grandparents lived on is, in fact, Catford Hill, and my little four-year-old-selfs memory is actually of the journey home.

hither green cemetery My Great-Grandparents Gravestone

The final place we visited was somewhere where none of my forebears have ever lived. It's the Cemetery. Hither Green Cemetery. My Great grandmother, Lawrence's mother, was buried here when she died in the 1930s. When her husband, James, died about ten years later his body was added to the plot. When Lawrence died in the next decade his ashes were scattered on the grave. This plot of land belongs to the Pycocks, 'in perpetuity'.

To finish the story, when I was about four Nan moved from the Catford area out to Etchingham, Sussex, down the road from her eldest daughter. When she died her body was also cremated, but her ashes were scattered in her daughter's back garden, as it had always been somewhere she'd enjoyed sitting.

So that was an afternoon of family history. I've yet to get much details on my mother's side of the family but I don't expect too many problems, her eldest brother is a Mormon after all, so he's probably done all the genealogy work already, I just have to hope he'll give me a copy.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Melanie Phillips- How sad it must be to live in your head. At the end of this interview I actually feel quite sad for her, she believes there to be no difference between an Al Qaeda militant and the Muslim who lives down the end of my road and everyone who ever criticises anything done by any Jewish person anywhere at any time, whether it's the actions of the state of Israel or someone that's just cut you up in traffic, is as bad as Hitler.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's Just Not Fair

I'm sitting here at work and I'm more than willing for the Insanity Fairy to pay a visit. I'm ready, I don't want to stay sane, it would be much better to go completely and utterly Tuesday. Moist puppys fall around the social western steel lounge. Ra-tatatatatatatatatatatatatatatatatah!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I can hear it! I can hear it!. Just . Does that mean I'm youthful or just immature?

Actually, Creepy Lesbo has a much better idea...


Pass it on.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chris Moyles is not allowed to swear. But Chris Moyles is allowed to call things 'gay' because that's how 'teh kids' talk, but he's not allowed to swear like them.

Darren, I believe you wanted this?

Last week I finally got around to watching The Road to Guantanamo which gave a brief insight into the warped and twisted viewpoint that could lead to such statements as "Those three suicides at Guantanamo Bay? They were just after the publicity." Presumably if the US Government releases the bodies then they will write some sort of book (through a ghost-writer perhaps) and appear on The Daily Show for ten minutes of arse-licking from Jon Stewart and then where will democracy be?

Galloway in 'Not Most Radical Loony in Respect' Shock

George 'Wiskas' Galloway has said that Yvonne Ridley's suggestion that Muslims should stop helping the police was not Respect party policy.

However, he said "angry young Muslims" were already withholding assistance.

Straight Outta Forest Gate y'all...

Patrick, look away now.

Time for rethink on the clitoris.

"There's nothing quite like the shape of a clitoris," she said.

All together now...

"Oh There is nothin' like a clit,
Nothin' in the world,
There is nothin' you can lick
That is anythin' like a clit!"

Neffyn Bay

Neffyn Bay
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

And on the eighth day your God rose again and looked about Him.

Well, I know that Jesus rose after three days but I thought "why go through all that if you can't have a lie-in? Bollocks to that." Anyway, had a couple of days in Manchester with friends and a couple of days in Wales with family. And while I appreciate Summer starting, did it really have to go into full-on mental mode in the same week I have to do a fair bit of travelling by poorly air-conditioned transport? The train up to Manc 8 days ago was okay, though I didn't realise until halfway through the jopurney that there are trains which are express and those that aren't, and that I was on one of the ones that wasn't. Oops.

Then on Thursday down to Catford in South London where my Dad drove me around showing me some of the places his side of the family lived at (more on that some point in the future), then on Friday a ten hour drive to North Wales to spend a couple of days with him and Mum on their holiday before my journey back yesterday. Boy that was fun, National Rail on a Sunday.

My journey, according to the ticket I ordered, was SUPPOSED to be Pwllheli to Machynlleth to Birmingham New Street to London Euston. The ticket inspector on the Pwllheli train told me that the train was actually going to Birmingham New Street, so I didn't get off at Machynlleth. However, at some point past that stop it was announced that the train was actually going to be stopping at Wolverhampton. Not a huge problem, Wolverhampton is on a line with both Brum and London stations. So when we disembarked I saw on the board that a train on another platform was the London Euston train. So I dashed around and threw myself on only, as we pulled out, to be told it was the Plymouth train. (For non-UK readers, Plymouth = nowhere near London) Luckily the next stop was Birmingham New Street so I was able to wait around for best part of an hour and then get a later Euston train. I've got a feeling this was an Express train down from Manchester so only got in about an hour later than my original train would have been, so that was some nice symmetry.

I can also recommend as travelling music Orbital's 'In Sides' album. It's coming on for ten years old but when you stink to high heaven because of running around trying to catch the right train on very hot days nothing beats coming into your home station as the album draws to a close.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hang On...

Tony Blair is out of the country, first to America to see the boyf, now to Vatican City to see the Pope. Whilst he's away John Prescott runs the country. Only Prescott is also out of the country, doing his bit for the British environment by leaving it. So, does that mean Gordon Brown is at last in de facto charge, or does the Home Secretary outrank him?

Secret Wars Re-Enactment Society. Genius.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Shrubya finally goes for constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

I can't find a hardcopy of Philip Roth's Newsnight interview though, searching for it online, I trip over those who complain about him calling Shrubya and President Ahmadinejad of Iran 'monsters'.

On the basis of his interview on The Small World I bought Steve Nalepa's 4th of July EP from Fake Science. If you've disliked more than liked the Aphex Twin's last few albums you may find this interesting and with the strong exchange rate it's only a quid for the EP.

I've held off buying downloadable stuff online, mainly because a few years ago I cleverly downloaded the latest version of Norton Antivirus which, when my computer crashed and needed resetting to factory specs, I lost. I've stayed away from getting stuff through iTunes for much the same reason, and I like having the physical CD in my hands, even if I immediately load it on to my iPod and never listen to the actual CD again. Also, as I think I said somewhere in the past, I'm wary of us straying into the world of the record companies dreams where they don't sell us physical albums any more but instead we pay them something to listen to 'their' music.

I've got a copy of Thom Yorke's solo album Eraser album and am listening to it while trying to decide whether I'll buy it. I suspect I probably will as I wasn't blown away listening to it for the first time last night but I can see it being something that might grow on me as I keep listening.

Friday, June 02, 2006

In Thirty Years Time This Will Make Perfect Sense

What is the opposite of nihilism? What's the word or words that perfectly express that urgejoy to createmake, or to take pleasure in the createmake around you?

I've been looking over my notes for the stories I once thought I would write and may indeed one day pen. I thought that overall it was a story about death. Now I realise that, if it goes the way I want it to, it's a celebration of life, through the medium of lots of death. Lots of death. Yeah, I want to grow up to be Iain M. Banks.

In a skirt.

And not Scottish.

Linky Sperlinky

Help Me Get Random With Lady Sovereign. Give a guy cash to fuel his dreams of a night of fun with Lady Sovereign. Not to be confused with Help Me Get Random With Loz which starts with two Smirnoff Ices and a Wham bar. [First link via Popbitch]

The European Union piddles away vast sums regularly moving between Brussels and Strasbourg. Tell them to stay in one place.

The secrets of David Cameron's 'A List'. [via Put 'Em All On An Island]

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Chelmsford Library Inner Entrance

Chelmsford Library Inner Entrance
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.

Back from a day out to Essex Libraries. Looking at their library management system to replace our antiquated piece of crap. They're system is the current system made by the same people who made ours, over a decade ago (it's DOS based, by crickey!) and stopped offering technical support a year or so back. It's called Vubis Smart and does seem to do everything we've ever cursed our old system for not doing, which would be handy.

We also visited their Central Library in the middle of Chelmsford, so I took the chance to geek out and take some photos.

They're remaking The Omen. Only the Devil knows why. I reckon next year they should announce they're remaking the first Matrix film.

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