Archive for the 'Culture' Category

Gerry built

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Well, Christmas is a time for self-indulgence, so I’m not apologising. But that Captain Black, he really is a bad lot…

But why do the end credits for Stingray sound so much better (and almost not sucky at all) in French?

Pelutho – n. A South American ball game. The balls are whacked against a brick wall with a stout wooden bat until the prisoner confesses.

Consensual feelings

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

How long now before this becomes New Labour policy? With the addition of Local Authority inspectors, of course. [via]

HL Mencken once said that conscience is “the inner voice that warns us that someone may be looking”.

Triumph Bourneville!

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

So, chocolate cuts your blood clot risk and previous research has indicated it’s good for your heart. Is everything in Sleeper going to come true? When can I order my Orgasmatron?

Hmmm, right now apparently, and they say it gives great head … massage.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.
HL Mencken

Be the Briton

Monday, November 13th, 2006

As the Government talks once again of defining (for its own purposes) that elusive concept, over at the Ministry of Truth, Unity is pondering the nature of Britishness

To become British, one simply needs to find one’s sense of Britishness within oneself and not conform to the values and expectations of others, a solution that is, in all respects, consistent with the traditions of liberal individualism that the present government are seeking to do away with.

Yes, my apprentice. It is not enough to merely study Britishness. To become British one must find the inner Briton. Britain as neither a monarchy nor a democracy, but rather a state of mind. I suspect you could apply similar reasoning to any nationality, really, but it does seem particularly apposite in the case of this country.

It’s hard to reduce ideas of identity to a simple list of attributes, something that is more associated with nationalistic dictatorships than anything I’d recognise as a liberal democracy. Indeed I wonder if that is the attraction – government extending its role even over our very concept of ourselves.

On the other hand, apparently there are always two things about any subject. So for me what are the two things about Britishness? What sums up that ‘liberal individualism’ that Unity correctly identifies as the core feature of being a Briton?

  1. Mind your own fucking business.
  2. I said, mind your own fucking business.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

One of the most important signs of the existence of a democracy is that when there is a knock at the door at 5 in the morning, one is completely certain that it is the milkman.
Winston Churchill

The cult of death

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

I am probably going to be categorised as a ‘climate change denier’ – a phrase redolent of religious fanaticism – so let’s get that out of the way to start with. Climate change is real – indeed changeability is surely one of the defining characteristics of the climate. It’s almost as warm now as it was a thousand years ago, and three hundred years ago it was much colder. The question has never been whether the climate is changing, but rather to what extent, if any, human agency has an effect on the direction and magnitude of the change. Here, I am somewhat sceptical. Humans have always overestimated their importance and failed to grasp just how mind-bogglingly big the earth is. I’m fairly sure that the anthropogenic element in any warming is relatively minor, and that the vast majority of it is caused by natural factors outwith (if you will forgive the Scotticism) human control.

What does interest me though, is the unabated enthusiasm a significant proportion of the human race seems to have for doomsday scenarios. Why do they find the prospect of death on an inconceivable scale so appealing? What is the attraction in seeing yourself as part of the last generation of the human race? Or is it (in their imaginations) only others that do the dying, while they emerge from the disaster either translated to a higher plane, or as the inheritors of a new (and somewhat emptier) planet? We have, of course, as a species been here many times before. The difference being that in the past it was difficult to reach substantial numbers of willing believers with your message of doom. In the past half century this has become increasingly easy. I suspect that this alone is sufficient to explain the growth from the 1960s onwards of groups predicting (always, for nothing really changes, wrongly) imminent catastrophe, whether from overpopulation, resource depletion, pollution, or – as now – climate change. While the imputed cause may change, the message is always the same: mankind is sinful and must be punished. Only the sins have changed to match our secular age from religious malfeasance to crimes against nature.

Yet as protestors gather for a rally under the banner of ‘Stop climate chaos‘, I want to issue a, probably forlorn, plea to them to look inside their minds and ask themselves why they are so filled with enthusiasm, why their faces glow with the light of fanaticism at the thought, or rather the conviction, that humanity faces a catastrophe.

It seems that for many, this end is not to be feared, but rather embraced – they simply cannot wait for the promised catastrophe and the billions of deaths that will ensue. Mere change is not enough – it must be the end of the world.

They defend their errors as if they were defending their inheritance.
Edmund Burke

Be sure your sin will find you out

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

Via, this gave me the best laugh of the day. Ted Haggard, though. Sounds like a made up name, don’t you think? Clearly, this is one of those stories that brings a warm glow to the heart of every right-thinking person. It almost doesn’t matter if it’s true, though it would be much more fun if it were.

He really is one of those people for whom the word ‘oleaginous’ might have been specially-minted, oozing false sincerity and fellowship from every pore, while cheerfully condemning almost all of humanity to eternal torture and clearly relishing the prospect. It’s not enough for him to be ‘saved’ – anyone who disagrees with him has to be ‘damned’ as well.

Life’s just a bugger sometimes, isn’t it?

*Not often I get to use a genuine biblical quote as a title

Self-respect: The secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.
HL Mencken

The most evil man in Britain?

Friday, October 27th, 2006

This blog is 25% evil, seemingly. Unfortunately, I can’t pinpoint which 25%.

This site is certified 25% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Less evil than either DK or Mr Eugenides! Though a devil that’s less than 50% evil is a bit hard to take seriously.

This site meanwhile is 63% evil (an underestimate, I feel). And John Reid – 65% evil. But try putting ‘Gordon Brown MP‘ into the text box: 99% evil. You know it makes sense…

BTW, we were all wrong it seems. Apple is more evil than Microsoft.

Update: even adding the words ‘Gordon Brown MP’ upped my evil rating to 42%! Lord knows what I’ve done now… I dare not even write his name. From now on he is just ‘the Evil One”.

Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones.
Edmund Burke

Test post

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Oh god. I think I’ll have to kill myself. I am a nerd. Not just a nerd, but a Supreme Nerd God. Take the test. Please. Make me feel better about myself.

I am nerdier than 95% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!


The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves.

A suitable case for treatment

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

I get sent a lot of unsolicited catalogues at work. Today I recieved this Book Catalogue:

Sigh. More bumf.

Take a look at the middle top item. Another example of something I first noticed on a cinema poster nearly thirty years ago (it was in Aberystwyth and I think it was for the Gauntlet) – Clint Eastwood really shouldn’t have his first name spelled out in capital letters. Yet here he is, still doing it. Has nobody told him? Are they afraid? Is it deliberate or is it just graphic designers taking the piss? Let’s take a closer look…

Has nobody told him?

Cunt Eastwood. How hard a name is that, eh?

Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones.
Edmund Burke

Book him, Dano

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Via normblog I find this – the head of a publishing company whining that library book purchase funds have declined. I don’t want to go all Mandy Rice-Davies on you, but… well, he would, wouldn’t he?

The article is a plea for libraries to return to their core business of lending books and stop trying to be “community centres, outreach posts, and IT training camps”. It’s a fair point, and I do wonder at what point libraries would stop being actually libraries. But it’s also fair to point out that libraries’ core business has been declining for decades, despite (or because of) the fact that book buying by the public has been steadily growing. I suspect the reason for this decline has been the steady decline in the relative price of books, so that people are increasingly inclined to buy books (perhaps while shopping at the supermarket) and treat them as disposable items*; coupled with the rise of other ways of accessing information (TV, internet, etc). I honestly don’t expect to see this trend of long-term decline reversed. Whereas museums – so often the poor relation of libraries within a local authority (their traditional status being under-funded, under-resourced, under-staffed and under a librarian) – which are a discretionary, not a statutory service, have experienced the exact opposite. Usage has been steadily climbing, despite competition from a range of ‘ heritage experiences’. Their unique selling point has always been access to the real things, rather than what are at best the second-hand experiences of video, the internet and books.

Perhaps instead it’s time to utter the heretical thought that maybe libraries should no longer be a statutory service, and that local authorities should no longer be legally obliged (though still permitted) to operate public libraries.

* Apart from me. I can’t throw books away, it would be as bad as burning them.

It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.
Edmund Burke

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