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June 05, 2009

James Purnell

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8083585.stm

So Purnell has resigned and written a letter asking for Brown to step down for the sake of the party.  He cares so much for the party that he:

1) colluded with the media to get this letter out just after local elections;

2) claimed for things like fridge magnets (£247), accountants (nearly £400) and thousands of pounds in rent on the public purse; and

3) did not resign immediately - as he should have done - when news about his expenses broke.

Perhaps he should reconsider whether he has enough honesty and personal integrity to continue doing anything remotely linked to politics.


January 29, 2008

ES: Setting the standard for Islamophobia

Writing about web page http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/?ito=1640

I've recently written a couple of blog posts on some hideous pieces of recent Daily Mail tripe. It is only fitting that the next paper I should have a rant about is The Evening Standard. It is of course owned by Associated Newspapers Ltd. (responsible for other such tripe like The Mail on Sunday and The Metro).

If you're a Londoner as I am, it's not unusual to glance at the Evening Standard headlines from time to time. Has Madeline been spotted? Let's print a hideously inappropriate story! Red Ken cares about the environment? Let's print another hack attack! You get used to it.

 Today was slightly different. Making my way home the Standard forced me into a double-take. I felt compelled to buy the issue to see any justification for the headline. What was the headline?

 Evening Islamophobia 

"MUSLIM PLOT TO BEHEAD SOLDIER" - Wonderful. Imagine encountering "JEWISH PLOT TO KILL MAN". What do you think your reaction would be? More importantly, do you think the Evening Standard would in any event carry such a headline?

  It's disgusting, offensive and I'm going to telephone the ES tomorrow to ask for a comment.

 


March 28, 2007

Ruth Badger – Still Thick

Ruth Badger ShirtI used to be an avid follower of the US Apprentice back in its first and second seasons. It used to be reasonably high-brow for its market (ie reality TV show) and it was often genuinely interesting... it has since descended into an epic crapfest. While the show still pays homage to the idea of a business competition, the producers and apparently Trump himself, seem to believe that, in order to boost the ratings, the show should cynically be a weekly, extended advert, with ten minutes spent on the task, ten minutes on backbiting, and then the next half an hour on the "exciting" boardroom.

Yes, I do still watch it. I don't really know why and after each episode this season I feel like punching myself for sitting through it. But what has annoyed me and still annoys me most about the American Apprentice? The ridiculously overused catchprases.

I haven't conducted any scientific surveys but I hear this, without fail, every single episode:

1) I (will/have/am) step(ping/ped) up to the plate.

2) I (will/have/am) give(/ing/gave) 110%

There are others... but I'm sure any of you who've watched  the US Apprentice will agree that these two are the most annoying.

So it annoys me when I flick on the UK Apprentice which, either through virtue or inability, has somehow managed to keep away from being a complete advert for Trump/Whoever's paid the most this week, and I see them saying exactly the same things...

ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH

Anyhow, what does this have to do with Ruth Badger (last season's runner-up)? Well in tonight's after-show discussion, Ruth decided to make an appearance and bring her winning (wait... she lost?) advice to the "loser" of tonight's show...

Anyone remember the best bit of last season? Mani vs Ruth in the boardroom?

Mani: ( Ruth's Authoritarian )

Ruth:  "What's that supposed to mean?"

Mani: “Look it up in a dictionary! I don’t have time to explain it to you!”

Beautiful. For those of you who had given Ruth the benefit of the doubt last season, she responded to the first cliche ("I stepped up to the plate")... with "You may have stepped up to the plate, but you didn't eat your dinner"...

What the hell? Now either she thought she was being clever, but in reality being retarded, or she is actually genuinely clever and she is playing around with etymology for too sophisticated for the audience to properly understand.

I'm going with what the t-shirt says. 


January 10, 2007

BBThievery

Just downloaded a BBC documentary called Building the Great Pyramid and settled down to watch it. Started off like any other documentary. Just  as the introduction got underway we are suddenly treated to the main theme of The Pirates of the Caribbean with some minor alterations in key.

 I wasn't sure whether this was the BBC just being lazy and blatently stealing music from films or they'd paid the fee to use the theme (I understand that the BBC has a library of music it's paid for either on the basis of individual pieces or with deals with various corporations to use their library). Anyone know for sure whether the Beeb's being dirty-handed or legitimately using a resource?


December 29, 2006

CSI Miami…

I don’t expect much from a lot of the TV shows I watch on a regular basis. I put them on in the background while I read or play video games or learn vocab.

One of the shows I enjoy “watching” is CSI Miami. I watched Seasons 4 and 5 with my girlfriend (pausing every five minutes to say (wait so that’s his dead brother’s wife or his girlfriend? Why does that blonde one have a stalker? etc. etc.) and I liked it. I think the acting’s of a pretty good quality and there’s something of a James Earls Jones quality to Horatio Cane’s voice. It’s not quite as deep, but it has that same disarming and calming factor. Even when spouting off the usual SLAP-ME-BEFORE-I-SLAP-MYSELF cliches/puns that crop up in every episode with at least one just before the title screen. Just this minute he’s come up with “She should have been seeing the time of her life here in Spring Break… not the end of it”.

Anyhow, the rant. I can live with the idea of Cane being some sort of combination of Police Chief/Lieutenant/CSI/Vigilante/Man-of-the-family. Hey, it’s fantasy! I can live with the idea that a woman can wear skin-tight clothing whilst somehow concealing a kevlar vest (wait… we can see the shape of her boobs… and she’s wearing a bullet-proof vest? Oh my!). I can even live with the idea that these guys can increase a picture’s resolution “Hey gimme a close up on quadrant 19 of that shitty mobile phone picture. Can you give me a close up? OK can you clear it up a bit? Well shit, of course you can! Now I can see a license plate in the reflection on this guy’s sunglasses! How convenient!”

What I can’t live with is the fact that these guys are forensic scientists. And they have to be told some of the most elementary scientific facts in order for the story line to progress.

For example, one of them receives a dose of alpha radiation. The Ditzy Blonde bullet expert says something like “Well what does that mean?”. Speed then has to explain the differences between Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation to her (not that he does a good job of it). WHAT THE HELL. I remember this stuff back from when I was 12 years old. I can appreciate that not all audience members will know bits and pieces of basic physics but Christ, give us some credit. Make one of the CSIs explain it to a Police officer or even a child. It drives me absolutely crazy.

And if I hear a CSI say to the other for the billionth time “Oh you have a print? Run it through {what is it? AFIS? That fingerprint database})” I will strangle myself with my own socks. HE’S A CSI TOO. HE’S JUST BEEN WORKING ON GETTING THE PRINTS. YOU DON’T THINK HE KNOWS ENOUGH BY NOW TO RUN IT THROUGH THE FRICKING DATABASE? WHAT DO YOU THINK HE’S GOING TO DO? “Oh we have a viable print? Better file that away and never do anything with it. EVER.”

God damn.


December 15, 2006

Palestine: Attempt on Ismail Haniyeh

Follow-up to Palestine: Civil War Ahead? from The Story of Hamid-o

Haaretz

Hamas officials said the 24-year-old guard was shot in the head during intense gunfire from Fatah forces. “The bodyguard to Ismail Haniyeh was killed during an assassination attempt,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
/> [Haniyeh] added, “we know the party that shot directly at our cars, injuring some of the people with me… and we also know how to deal with this.”
/> About 50 gunmen greeted Haniyeh at his home in a refugee camp next to Gaza City, firing in the air and throwing candies. [What the hell?]
/> More than two dozen people, including the Haniyeh’s son, Abed, 27, were wounded in the fighting, deepening factional violence that has pushed the rival Hamas and Fatah parties closer to civil war. An official said that the son was not badly hurt.

Reading through the article, it’s not clear exactly how things started, but the end result is Haniyeh with a dead bodyguard, a half-dead son and a clear threat in the shape of “And we also know how to deal with this.”

This piles onto other recent events indicating the spiral down into a civil war, at least within Ghaza.

As with nearly any Israeli/American-written article on Palestine/Lebanone/The World these days, the evil Iranian boogeyman crops up:

The security establishment has voiced its concern over the emergence of closer ties between Hamas and Iran, as Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran this week is viewed by Israel as a possible step by them towards establish a strategic pact.

In my view the Palestinians could do a lot worse than looking to Iran for backing. The Arabs have failed them. The Europeans have been pic’ ‘n’ mix friends. The Americans have since the ‘60s been firmly aiding Israel.

The Iranians are promising ideological support (ie firm support for the creation of a Palestinian state or some bi-national state – I’m going to be deleting any comments saying Ahmadenijad wants Israel “wiped off the map”), economic support and logistical support. The Palestinians are already under severe economic sanctions and the occupation has been continuing in its brutality no matter what the Palestinians do. If the Palestinian factions stop failing the Palestinian people and embrace Iran, it is quite possible they will be able to more-effectively wage guerrilla warfare against the occupying power.


December 10, 2006

Damn I hate shaving…

The title says it all. I hate wet-shaving. I can’t stand electric razors. I hate the feeling of shaving stubble (like ripping the short hair from my face). I hate the feeling of having to shave somewhat longer hair because it takes a bloody age.

And I really hate it when you accidentally miss a spot. I rarely cut myself, thank God and I rarely get stubble/shaving rash. But the odd spots are annoying.

And to think when I was a kid I wanted to shave.

Shaving


December 05, 2006

Palestine: Civil War Ahead?

The Palestinians have more-or-less managed to avoid civil war. over the past 40 years. There were always various rivalries between competing Palestinian factions, but the Palestinians have been able to stop that from fomenting into anything more than rivalry because of the united national goal and the united will of the Palestinian people (to see an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip).

Now it’s looking increasingly as though there is set to be some form of civil war between Fatah (and which ever splinter groups or allies choose to aid it) and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

This isn’t worrying just because of the potential violence and death that may ensue, it is also worrying because it reduces the Palestinian leadership(s) to mere monkeys dancing to an Israeli accordian.

Fatah has proven, since 1993, to be willing to comply to Israeli demands in order to gain or retain power. Hamas has proven to be equally pliant but in a different way. Time and again Hamas has predictably reacted to Israeli provocation in precisely the manner the Israeli authorities desired (for example, when Hamas would orchestrate a hudna, the Israelis would make an assassination. And if no reaction, another assassination. And then another until Hamas responded by making a strike against Israeli civilians which the Israelis would use as an excuse to escalate their violence).

And now these two monkeys are hearing the Israeli tune and dancing more ferociously than ever. They can’t see the wood for the trees? Would Palestinian Civil War be beneficial to Israel? Of course it would. Why? Well:

1) If the major Palestinian militant groups are fighting amongst themselves, they’re not going to be fighting with Israel.

2) If the Palestinians are engaged in civil war, Israel can continue to pursue its policy of the last 10 years and create de facto borders which will ultimately result in a semi-autonomous Palestinian region within an Israeli state. The Israelis won’t have to negotiate if the Palestinians can’t decide on their leadership. Negotiations completely go out the window. Palestinians destroy themselves while Israel reaps the benefits. To quote the Chinese Idiom: ”坐山观虎斗“ – Sit on a mountain and watch two tigers fight.

3) It frees the Israelis up to pursue other actions. Notably Lebanon. Israel is already making hints towards a future invasion (as though the hints at the end of the last war weren’t obvious enough) and it’s looking increasingly likely that an invasion or “intervention” will take place. .

Here’s hoping that neither Fatah nor Hamas will take the bait and launch a civil war. It would mean the ruin of hopes for a sovereign Palestine.


December 02, 2006

Videos of the Day

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com

Today’s Theme: Transformers the Movie

I remember back in my first year at Warwick there was a video floating ‘round on DC++ of a VW Beetle-like white car parked in a nondescript location smoothly transforming into a humanoid shape complete with shield and gun. It was extremely impressive.

Then came a car advert which pretty much ripped off the aforementioned video. Bastards. (Anyone remember the advert I’m talking about?)

Now that the Transformers movie is soon to hit our screens, courtesy of Michael Bay (yay Pearl Harbour, The Island and other big-budget crap… to quote Team America “How does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies?”), it seems that youtube has been hit with a load of vids created by fanboys in honour of one of the greatest ‘toons of the eighties.

1) Ultra Magnus Transformation – an excellent video. If anyone’s seen the first shot leaked on aint-it-cool-news.com (subsequently removed), you’ll see that Michael Bay has gone and Matrixified the Transformers (thank you Michael. Asshole.) This video showcases how professional and loving fanboys can be. It’s really impressive.

2) Sideswipe Transformation – the video has been slightly ruined by the attempt to dress it up as stolen footage from the movie. Still you can see how well-done it is. If this was how Michael Bay was going to be treating the movie, I could get genuinely excited.


November 26, 2006

CSI: Miami and Hollywood Realism

(This rant concerns CSI Miami 5×08 . Don’t read if you’re desperate to not know what happens in that episode)

I happen to like CSI Miami. I think it’s better than CSI Las Vegas and, thankfully, not generally as cheesy. It’s always stretched plausibility, by fielding these CSI agents in generally-dangerous situations, sometimes having them apprehend and shoot criminals. You’ve got to expect a little bit of stretching reality – it makes for more excitement. So I put my disbelief aside and enjoy the show, particularly Horatio’s constant posturing and repositioning of Sunglasses. Drama, drama, drama.

Until this latest episode of CSI Miami which plunges to the Hollywood depths of Realism in celluloid. Think Bravehear was a criminal in that respect? How about The Patriot? (OK, any historical film iinvolving Mel Gibson).

Basically we have a situation where the forensic scientists have unravelled a terrorist plot to blow up a nuclear power plant. Here’s how it plays out:

CSI 1

OK this hasn’t quite got anything to do with the episode. It just struck me that Horatio’s constant posturin reminded me of Paula Abdul. shudders

CSI 2

See the text in the image.

CSI 3

See, the cops are there. No FBI or DHS. Good ol’ fashioned Miami Police. With handguns… against a truck full of explosives. Lead by Horatio Cane… With a sniper rifle. Yes… seriously. A Forensic Scientist… With a sniper rifle. Fantastic.

CSI 5

Oh what’s this? A conveniently place flammable gas tank in the front of the truck… CARRYING THE HUGE PAYLOAD OF EXPLOSIVES. These terrorists are clever enough to almost get away with a plot to bomb a nuclear power plant, but are somehow stupid enough to put a “Please shoot this” sign on the truck. Wonderful.

CSI 6

He takes the shot. On a moving target. And hits it. He’s a forensic scientist. With a sniper rifle. Shooting at a moving truck. ARGH

CSI 7

The truck explodes and, defying the laws of physics, stays exactly in place. Yes, the truck exploded as though it weren’t moving at around 70 m/p/h at the time of explosion. It exploded almost as though it were standing still. Which it most likely was. But making a huge, mobile explosive device like that explode about 20 metres away from you means that if it’s travelling in a straight line, there’s a good chance that some of the material will collide with your roadblock.

So:

Woman clearly not wearing bulletproof vest, gets shot.

Horatio is an uber-sniping FORENSIC SCIENTIST (with a hunchback)


November 22, 2006

Bond Villain = Freddie Mercury?

Has anyone noticed that the villain from the new Bond film (Casino Royale) looks substantially like Freddie Mercury (in his later stages)?

Here are some comparisons:

Freddie 1 and BondBaddy1

Freddie 2 and BondBaddy 2

Meh, you get the point.

---

PS – Watch Casino Royale. It’s a great film. Tough and gritty and with a good plot. No more of this “Hey yesterday I was Korean, now I’m white. I’m going to take over the world using a megadeathkill-ray while you hop around in gadgets borrowed from Star Trek (Voyager shudders)” crap…

PPS – If you haven’t already heard Good Old-fashioned Lover Boy, listen to it. Best least-heard Queen song. It’s available below for the lazier ones among us:


March 04, 2006

China's Military Spending LEAPS 14%!

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4773358.stm

I'm guessing you're probably calm at the moment. You're drinking tea. Downloading the latest episode of the UK Aprrentice. You're eating dinner. But while you're sitting there feeling safe and happy… the Chinese have increased their military spending.

It's time to panic.

Wait… they've increased by 14% to about 20bn GBP (thanks Max x 2)? Or roughly what the UK spends each year.

Wait… they've a population of about 1.4 billion people in comparison to the UK's 60,000,000?

Tuts

The Evil Empire is at it again eh!


February 16, 2006

On banning the glorification of

Writing about web page http://politics.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,,1710761,00.html

A good thing so long as they word the legislation appropriately so as to deprive the Government for using it as a policy measure as opposed to a moral/legal measure. I hope that the legislation is applied equally and that people who glorify State use of terror will be affected.

It will be interesting to see how they define terrorism (or whether it is defined at all and it is left up to judges to interpret what terrorism will mean). I have not yet read the statute or proposed statute – if anyone has any links they'd like to share, they'd be most welcome.


February 14, 2006

Great quotation from Tariq Ramadan on last week's Newsnight…

It's not a clash of civilisations… [but] it's becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy the way we're talking about it.

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