All entries for June 2007
June 30, 2007
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6252300.stm
Dark days for us music, film and book fans. Fopp, the best music retailer in the country, has closed its stores as it goes into administration. It did all seem a little too good to be true – offering as it did an excellent range of books, CDs and DVDs at reasonable prices. Where are we supposed to go now?
Supermarkets and online retailers are being blamed for all of this. So it seems my support for CD-Wow (an enticing £7.99 for a chart CD compared to £10 at Fopp) in their dispute with the BPI has been counter-productive. Damn.
June 24, 2007
Last year’s brouhaha over the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed was pretty shocking, wasn’t it? Well, if anything I think Salman Rushdie’s knighthood is more disquieting. After all, in the eyes of fanatics someone who has offended their religion has been endorsed by a state. Okay, they awarded it to him for services to literature, not services to blasphemy, but to someone looking for a grievance that’s by the bye. To them, it’s as if the whole of Britain has dissed Islam.Perhaps the gravest objection to the news was that of Pakistan’s religious affairs minister, Mohammed Ejaz ul-Haq, who said:
The West always wonders about the root cause of terrorism. Such actions [giving Rushdie a knighthood] are the root cause of it. If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammed, his act is justified.
After the FCO expressed its “deep concern” by this he changed his story – he meant only that it “could” justify such an attack. I think even that’s a little ambiguous – it still sounds like an endorsement for an atrocity (“oh, but the Pakistani government said we ‘could’”). “Might” might have distanced Pakistan from the belligerence.
Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham weighed in, saying of the knighthood, “what would one say if the Saudi or Afghan governments honoured the martyrs of the September 11 attacks on the United States?” Come on. I understand the seriousness of the offence Rushton1 caused, but you can’t conflate causing offence with murder. And anyway, as a representative of our ruling party, isn’t calling the 9/11 terrorists “martyrs” a bit off-message?
While I understand (but obviously condemn) the logic of the people calling for “Death to the English”, I fail to see the logic in the renewed calls for Rushdie’s death. It’s not like he’s published another offensive book. Iran has withdrawn its fatwa. This is just Britain’s problem; leave Salbas2 out of it.
You’ve got to wonder though: what were they thinking? Our political climate calls for a little sensitivity; it’s not a great start for Gordon Brown’s cold war against the forces of extremism. The Guardian reported that the board who handed out the honours had no idea what a fuss it would cause. It wouldn’t surprise me if they thought, “hmmm, maybe we should give a knighthood to a prominent Muslim to show how well they integrate into our culture. How about this Rushdie chap?” In fact, the group who lobbied for Rushdie to be honoured said that “it had been felt that an honour for the writer…would be seen as a positive step in British-Asian relations.”Or perhaps, on the other side of the coin, it was a political decision by one of the hawks in the government: “who cares if Rushdie’s canon makes him worthy of the honour, we want to show that our country will not be cowed by extremists over freedom of speech!” Ruth Dudley Edwards (don’t know who she is but it was in the Guardian) actually thinks this:
There is only one explanation why Rushdie has been singled out. It is that Tony Blair … wants to put two fingers up to Iran as well as to extremist Islam everywhere.
David Icke would probably have something to say about Lord Rothschild’s chairmanship of the honours committee, given that he is – if we are to believe the former sportscaster – actually a shape-shifting lizard who wants “to divide and conquer the human race through endless conflicts.”
1 – a little reference for all you Rock Profiles fans
2 – a little reference for all you Seinfeld fans
June 23, 2007
In order to maintain my phenomenal run of blogging (six days and counting, folks), I shall put on hold a relatively serious entry I won’t have time to finish before midnight and instead review tonight’s TV.
Doctor Who, the first part of a end-of-series double episode, was alright. No “Blink”, but John Simm was pretty good. I thought the drumming motif was pretty good despite the line “here come the drums” which put that Voodoo Child song in my head. Then they went and spoilt it all by actually playing that Voodoo Child song.
This week’s Seven Ages Of Rock was all about Generation X alternative rock, featuring the likes of REM, Pixies and, largely, Nirvana. I rather enjoyed it – they really analysed what they did to make the music special and had some interesting anecdotes, like Nevermind producer Butch Vig citing the Beatles every time Kurt Cobain didn’t want to do something.
BBC2’s Glastonbury coverage has been thoroughly disappointing. In the opening credits they had images of artists I would quite like to see in action – Dirty Pretty Things, Lily Allen, Babyshambles. However, as Phil Jupitus and Lauren Laverne waited for the Killers to headline the Pyramid Stage, we were treated to such dubious delights as the Kooks, some old guy called John Fogerty, and myriad shitty mini-features. The Killers are on now, but they’ve just finished playing Jenny… so the evening has probably peaked.
June 22, 2007
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6229098.stm
A big story in today’s news was the “purity ring” court case. Sixteen-year-old Lydia Playfoot took Millais School to the High Court because they wouldn’t let her wear a silver ring thing, which would indicate that she, as a good Christian, was “saving herself”. They say it contravenes school dress code. In turn, she says it contravenes her human rights. The verdict has been deferred to a later date.
What wasn’t reported today, which in my opinion was a rather important part of the defence, was the testimony of Playfoot’s form tutor Warren Ducktree, who told the court, “she’s not really a Christian anyway; she’s only wearing the ring cos she’s not getting any and wanted an excuse”.
Coincidentally, the school is located on Chastity Row in Horsham, West Sussex.
June 21, 2007
I’m guessing it’s a little late to draw your attention to this from today’s Popbitch email:
The Automatic had a huge hit last year with Monster. Bob The Builder’s people approached the band for permission to do a cover of the song for Xmas, with the lyrics changed to: ‘What’s that coming over the hill? It’s Bob The Builder, Bob The Builder.’ Sadly the band refused, afraid that people would shout this back at them at all their future gigs. (And now’s your chance…)
June 20, 2007
Writing about web page http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2007/jun/peel
Good news if you eat inedible fruit peel such as banana skins: you’re officially not a freak. That’s according to a somewhat surprising government survey published yesterday.
Well, I say “not a freak”; rather you are one of roughly 12 million freaks in Britain (if we extrapolate the findings) who “eat at least one type of fruit peel regularly”.
The Food Standards Agency found that one in five of us have this bizarre habit. The country’s favourite peel by far is that of the orange (9% approve), followed by the respective rinds of the lemon at number two, the rather more acceptable kiwi fruit at number three (4%) and the mango, banana, grapefruit and lime in joint fourth place.
Why were the FSA spending your taxes interviewing 2011 people on this obscure peccadillo, you ask? The FSA carry out “dietary risk assessments” and assume that we don’t wash our fruit and veg. The survey was “to help judge how much eating peel should be taken into account when working out how much pesticide residue people are likely to eat in their food,” they said.
It’s all very nanny state, but at least the FSA don’t take no shit from Brussels: “Pesticide residues are often found on the outside of fruit but most of the European Member States assume that peel will not be eaten.” Just like Popeye Doyle defying the opinions of his peers in the NYPD in his pursuit of the French connection, the FSA have worked off a hunch and got results. True mavericks; I forgive them everything.
June 19, 2007
Follow-up to Let's go surfing now… and final thoughts on Australia from Esprit de l'escalier
I took this photo on my travels with the intention of sending it to the Guardian Weekend for their Misprints section. On my return it transpired that said section had been discontinued, so until I get another crack at mild fame, here is that missed opportunity.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term “office complex”
June 18, 2007
As I scanned today’s broadsheets at work this morning I noticed that ITV’s newest Pop Stars rip-off, Britain’s Got Talent, had finished. Several papers reported that one Paul Potts had won the contest, but being more concerned with the supposedly amazing ratings, not one actually said what his supposedly amazing talent was. His unfortunate name suggests it was genocide.
So did he order half a dozen Cambodian children to massacre the studio audience, or was his act altogether more tasteful?
June 04, 2007
Tony Blair’s claim that Britain is the greatest nation on earth during his resignation speech jarred with a lot of people. But maybe he was on to something.
In some international poll that came out last week, we won. Seriously!
June 01, 2007
American slang is cool. I go out of my way to call women “broads” and twats “douche bags”. But that’s all harmless fun – what I can’t stand is when the very foundations of our beautiful language become sullied by Americanisms. I frequently hear Britons use American English words when there are vastly superior British equivalents to hand. Common examples of this include “apartment”, “SUV” and “you do the math”. The number one offender, however, is the use of the word “lay”, when it should be “lie”.As free newspapers go, I have a lot of time for The London Paper – as commuter fluff, there isn’t a lot I’d change apart from have their street vendors shout “read all about it!” like loveable urchins. But yesterday my esteem for them took a dive when I turned to page 2, and saw this caption as part of “24 hrs in pictures”:
A Filipino bus driver lays [sic] dead as police investigate the scene after a robbery in Quezon City.
There looks like there’s a word missing. Lays dead what? Lays dead flowers? Lays out the dead? Oh, it’s the driver himself who’s dead. London Paper, I think you’ll find he lies dead. Who writes this? I hope it’s an American intern or something because I’d despair if this is the standard of British journalism you expect the public to stand for these days.What is more alarming is that even quality musicians are susceptible to this gross linguistic error. Take The Libertines’ 2002 swear-fest, What A Waster, an almost brilliant song let down by this howler:
Surprisingly, it’s been going on since the early seventies, when David Bowie sang this line in Queen Bitch:
I was laying [sic] in bed paying my rent
Knocking on the door for something
That she lent her brother
Maybe I just have to accept that rock and pedantry don’t mix. After all, we have to turn to the calculatingly bland Snow Patrol and last year’s transatlantic hit Chasing Cars for the correct grammar:
So I lay [sic] down a while and gaze at my hotel wall
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
At first glance, of course, it appears that young Lightbody is committing the very sin that his more illustrious forebears grievously committed. However, those “If”s turn the present tense into the subjunctive, so it’s correct to use “lay”. Indeed, he sings “lie” in the conditional in that third line, as if to demonstrate his command of (British) English.
So, just to reiterate: it’s “lie”, as in “I won’t take this lying down”.