Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey Ben Goldacre! I'm getting the hang of this now!

Meaningless survey! 'When women shop it's using skills their ancestors developed as cave women' nonsense.

The study was commissioned by Manchester Arndale shopping centre.

Aah, I see.

Arndale's business manager, Karl Clawley, said: "It seems our gatherer instincts are coming to the fore and affecting the way we shop in these testing times."

Okay, stop talking now please.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Westboro Church Fail to get Protesters to the Show on Time

A threatened mass protest by an anti-gay US church failed to materialise when only one demonstrator turned up. Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper from the Westboro Baptist Church were banned from entering the UK to protest against a play in Hampshire. They had urged a picket of Queen Mary's College in Basingstoke over the staging of The Laramie Project, a play about a man killed for being gay. But only one protester arrived and was heckled away by counter-demonstrators...

Westboro preacher Mrs Phelps-Roper had said the decision to ban her and her father from entering the UK would "bring great wrath upon your heads".

Yeah, yeah, yeah...

"We will picket them, and see if they actually believe those lies they tell about how tolerant and accepting Brits are."

Who exactly has been spreading these vicious lies about us being tolerant and accepting? When we find them we'll take away their ID Cards and pretend they are asylum seekers from Iraq.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fairey Obama parody t-shirts and posters for Darwin now available. Hmmm, I wonder what the exchange rate is like these days, much as I'm glad to see the back of Shrubya the one positive thing about his presidency was that one British pound bought several American states. [via Pharyngula]

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In Shock News, The Daily Mail Lies About Muslims Again, (And Libraries)

Those Muslims eh? They come over here, live perfectly quiet and respectable lives, get jobs, raise families, WHAT ARE THEY UP TO EH? The Daily Mail, in an exercise to allow people who have left this country to complain how bad things are (ie: "I saw a person with dark skin sit down on the bus! This is political correctness gone mad! I'm moving to Spain!!!") regularly prints fictional articles, and today it's about how libraries are supposedly going to be told to put the Koran on their top shelves to avoid offending Muslims. Only, if you note that this guidance is coming from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and do the literally seconds of work needed to find the report (PDF file) you'll find that Steve Doughty, the Daily Mail journalist, has lied. The MLA are not telling me, or any of my colleagues, to put the Koran above other things, they are reporting on Leicester City Libraries receiving a few complaints about the Koran not being on the top shelf. It wasn't even a campaign by a group of disgruntled Muslims, the Library Service went out and talked to such a group for their opinion. The report doesn't even mention whether Leicester followed the group's advice.

I suppose that what gets my goat is that when left-leaning journalists (or at least journalists that are defined as left-wing purely because they are not as right-wing as neo-cons and other Far-Right theocons) make a mistake they are rightly pilloried and often hounded out of their jobs, however, when those right-wing ideologues make similar mistakes (and let's face it, they assume their audience is so lazy that it won't take a minute to examine their logical fallacies or evidence) they have normally put their lies and misinformation within such a secure web of protective censorship that they can't be challenged. And they claim the largely non-existent 'left-wing media' doesn't allow for criticism!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Quadruplets that put on weight after having a son and then a daughter all separately plug a diet involving acai berries and colon cleansing. [via Bad Science]

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is there anyone at PETA with a braincell at all? P.E.T.A dress up as the Ku Klux Klan to campaign against dog-breeders.

"Obviously it's an uncomfortable comparison," PETA spokesman Michael McGraw said. But the AKC is trying to create a 'master race,' he added. "It's a very apt comparison."

No it isn't, for one thing the KKK isn't trying to breed a master race. Were your Nazi uniforms at the cleaners or did you worry that people might mistake you for a promotion for Valkyrie ?

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I Loves The Internets

Sweary President Obama! [via Braised by Wolves]

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Your Master's Voice

Ben Summerskill in the Guardian today:

The world of campaigning has changed massively over the last 20 years. Waving banners can be therapeutic, but it doesn't necessarily get you anywhere. But there are gay campaigners in 2009 who would love to be back marching in the streets, instead of having to negotiate with Whitehall officials about drafting tough bits of legislation.

Pffft! Silly poofs! When has demonstrating in the streets (or outside the V&A) achieved anything for anyone?

[Harvey] Milk himself was very determined. He was someone who was prepared to campaign hard but also to sit down and bash out compromises. He also had the ability to attract really quite dishy men - not unlike at least one gay politician I can think of today.

Reminds me of at least one student union president I knew who professed to find Tony Blair attractive.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

A pictoral history of the Internet. Even if you know the story, it's very prettily told here. [via Grinding]

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Atheists on death. How can you offer comfort to bereaved people if they don't actually believe in the magical make-believe land run by a big beardy guy that you go to after you die?

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Christians plan response to Atheist bus adverts.

A trinity of Christian groups have created their own series of advertisements to run across London buses... The new campaign is organsied by the Christian Party, the Trinitarian Bible Society and the Russian Orthodox Church... In a somewhat cheeky move, the Rev George Hargreaves of the Christian Party has created a bus advert which proclaims: "There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life."

Now, I definitely have no problem with this. My one concern is that the Humanists had to put the 'probably' into 'there probably isn't a God' in order to cover themselves from complaints by any fundamentalist wackos that happened to be passing. Will there be any double standard if an atheist complains about the definitive nature of these pro-imaginary being statements? What if we have atheist bus drivers too 'shocked' and 'horrified' to drive buses with those advertisements on?

It's unclear whether the charmless bigots have a position on this yet as they are busy helping to advertise the University of Saint Andrews' amateur performance of Jerry Springer The Opera for them. Isn't that the very spirit of Christian charity?

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

But how does this news make you feel?

Having a "good cry" can and usually does allow people to recover some mental balance after a loss. But not always and not for everyone, argues a review article in the current issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. Placing such high expectation on a tearful breakdown most likely sets some people up for emotional confusion afterward.

That's < sniff > really sad news...

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Monday, February 02, 2009

My Life in the Snowdrift of Ghosts

So I went to work today. This is partly due to the fact that I didn't realise exactly how much snow had been snowed during the night until I was committed to the whole 'going to work' thing and it was too late to turn around. In previous years, even if there's a good amount of snow making each step an adventure with Mr Compound Fracture by the time we reach the heat sink that is Inner London we've normally reached gondolas and water-wings time. But not today, I emerged with the fear of a white planet, and it was only as I stood on the New Kent Road that I found out all Inner London's buses weren't being allowed out to play today. However, as I was resigning myself on a dispiriting squelch to work a very nice van driver stopped, unprompted and offered me a lift, demanding no payment except his quiet satisfaction at a job well done. Noble knight of the road, I salute thee!

Of course, being the person at our branch that has to travel the furthest to work it was fitting that I was there as all the other members of staff called to say they couldn't make it in. Well, to be fair, it was completely understandable, one had two young children that weren't now going to school and had no bus for her journey to work, one had no overland trains and no two buses to get to work and the last would have come in but was only working for half the day anyway. She was owed time back and I suggested she take it. After finding someone further up the managerial structure than I who had come into work I closed the building I'd barely opened and squelched off to another library to work the day.

With just the three biggest libraries in the Borough open today we had an all hands to the pumps atmosphere, as most of the staff weren't as stupid committed as us there were five members of staff where normally there would be a dozen at least. Needs simplify in this situation, as we are all thinking "Hey, I struggled to get to work today through adverse weather conditions, when are you going to reward that dedication by closing the library and letting me go home?" I also expected the bad weather would drive all the vagrants into our halls to piss on our chairs but hey, no more so than any other day of the year.

Watching TfL anxiously to see if the 'severe delays' on my one route home turned to 'minor delays' or 'hah hah not a fucking chance, why not look in the Yellow Pages for a doss house in which to spend the night?'we were let out at 2:00, at which point the snow had a strange dagger-like texture which ripped at the skin and clogged the eyes making it difficult to see where I was going. But getting home wasn't too traumatic and I'm now burning off the North Sea reserves in an attempt to stay warm. I have a tin of soup for dinner this evening.

Tomorrow? Well, officially I was told I should come to work, unofficially I was told I should come to work, which is the last time I speak to him. Madly I was told "Geroff! I've lost my knees! Garglegarglegargle pomegranates!" and that's advice I intend to always keep close to my heart. Our council has a rather interesting approach to IT, having an intranet which all staff can access but which staff who actually deal with the public, like us, (as opposed to a department like Communications who, as far as I have been able to deduce, don't communicate with the public but exist only to inhibit communication between different council departments and between those departments and the public, this is no joke, they are soulless packets of yak excreta in suits) can't access without going to work. So, when I got to work I saw a posting on the intranet advising that staff who really didn't need to, shouldn't travel in to work today. Which leads me to a fun conversation I'm going to have with my staff next week, how do they suggest they make up the time they didn't work today?

At the moment I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. It's been snowing fairly constantly, at varying consistencies, all day, so there's not been much chance for snow to start thawing, so we shouldn't have extra-slippery pavements tomorrow. But it has been snowing all day, and probably will all night and in to tomorrow. If my tube line decides to give in to the weather then I can't get to work, the overland trains are down and the buses aren't running, bendy-buses can cause more damage as they skid uncontrollably round corners, who knew? But if the tube is still running, do I go into work tomorrow?

Meanwhile, a tube driver explains just why the London Underground always breaks down on the one day of snow each year.

In other news, I went to the Oxford Street branch of Zavvi last week, in order to gloat at how, having changed their name from the fairly sensible 'Virgin Megastore', they were now aground on the shoals of bankruptcy ((c) Eric Idle). Looking for bargains in the sale I reached for Labradford but it was only when I got home that I realised that I'd picked up La Casa Azul. So, with nothing better to do I decided to have a listen today, to decide how revolting it was before seeing if Zavvi are currently doing swapsies on the stuff they are trying to unload. But, much to my surprise, I quite liked it and it's now on my iPod. I have no idea what the songs are about but it sounds like an upbeat bleepy nonsense of a kind that doesn't normally appeal, sort of early Beach Boys steal a bunch of synths and video games and make Spanish pop while Brian eats all the cake. So that saves me a trip.

Mmmm, soup.

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