The Snow In The Summer or So-So

05/22/2006 - 05/28/2006

Mon 22 May 2006

A thing or four

In a follow-up to a piece from Saturday, AZ has moron the National Pest and how it is making things up as it goes along. Remember that episode of The Day Today where Chris Morris talked about a peace treaty and incited people to all-out war? That's what we've got here, Chris, and I can tell you, it's not pretty.

A pressure group specialising in media stunts returned on Saturday night, attacking the BBC's coverage of the lottery draw. Just when we were settling down for a night's Eurovisioning, Sarah Cawood suddenly adopted the look of a host whose cue cards were in the wrong order. With noises off, and host Eamonn Halfwit creeping round behind Sarah, it became clear that something was up. The director cut to a long shot, where some sort of placard was on display. A tighter shot of Cawood and Holmes became a tight shot of Cawood, Holmes, and Some Random Woman Shouting The Odds.

Cue the unflappable Alan Dudleycoat, with a mission to fill in, but not for so long as to crash Eurovision. On any other night, the lottery could wait a moment while order was restored; to-night, the action from Athens would begin at 8 on the dot, and they won't wait. After what must be the longest two minutes of Alan's life, apart from the links into the travel when he's working on the Terry Wogan show, normal service was resumed, and lots of people lost some money. All formalities were completed before the top of the hour, just showing how much filler there is in the show normally.

Rather rubbish channel ABC1 will actually be showing something decent, as Party of Five begins its first from-the-top run in the UK since 1995. The bad news - it's on at 9 in the morning, and it doesn't begin until 24 July.

Finally, those of you interested in some of my preferred RSS feeds will doubtless wish to review my OPML file. You'll need a half-decent feed-reader to use it, unless you like viewing XML files by hand...

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posted 22 May 2006, 18.25 +0100

News
Breast is best; six is worst

Regular readers will be tediously aware that Six Apart is, very carefully, converting its Livejournal community into part of the Corporatist hegemony. Founders Anil Dash and Mena Trott are notorious reactionaries, in favour of allowing stalkers to operate freely, and selling people's private information to the highest (or lowest) bidder.

As part of this reactionary tendency, Six Apart has pitched into the war against women. This battle is promulgated by the illiberal right-wing in the failed provinces, in an effort to keep women in a state of perpetual pregnancy and to reverse the small steps towards equality that have been made in the past few decades. It really is time that we stopped pretending these people can run anything more complex than a bath. But I digress.

Six Apart's weapon of choice? Breast-feeding. It is most obviously not a violent act, it is not pornography, and by no sensible definition is it a sexual act. Unless, that is, you are so completely repressed and/or immature as to automatically associate lactation with copulation. One leads to the other, but there is no automaticity. Or unless you are part of a cabal that is bent. Bent on securing a profit for itself, bent on the pursuit of power, and bent on surpressing all dissenting voices.

Sooner or later, Dash, Trott, Fitzpatrick, or one of their brainwashed minions will be speaking at a conference in the UK. It would be fantastic to stage a peaceful counter-protest, perhaps a live demonstration of breast-feeding while said moron is yammering about the wonder of their product, or how the world cannot operate without using Six Apart's products and hence supporting the Corporatists.

In the meantime, I would, again, urge people to very carefully consider their support of Six Apart's products.

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posted 22 May 2006, 19.28 +0100

Annoyed| Six Apart Is Useless

Tue 23 May 2006

All kinds of hard rocking

Is it too much of a stretch to compare the structure of Lordi's song with another Eurovision Schlager Contest winner from a few years ago? Let's start at the bridge of Hard Rock Hallelujah...

All we need is lightning
With power and might
Striking down the prophets of false
As the moon is rising
Give us the sign
Now let us rise up in awe
Rock 'n roll angels bring that Hard Rock Hallelujah

... and compare it to the verse of the song from that well-known swinger of the old orc-axe, Dana Domestic...

Snowdrops and daffodils
butterflies and bees
Sailboats and fishermen
things of the sea
Wishing-wells, wedding bells
early morning dew
All kinds of everything remind me of you

OK, it's a bit of a stretch, but only because the "prophets of false" line is made clumsy to fit Lordi's beat. You get the drift. No? Well, in that case, I'll just have to sing it for you. (MP3 link, 700K)

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posted 23 May 2006, 19.39 +0100

Entertainment
Question Muck in Canterbury, 18/05/06

Welcome to this week's round of Question Muck. We were hoping to have John Reid on the panel for what would have been his sixth appearance, and first since 2002. However, the new interior minister has bailed on us, which means the panel is as follows:

Harriet Harman brought up her Silver Jubilee in the week after the election last year; she's not appeared since. She was due to be on the panel last month, but pulled out because she might have been interesting. Harman's debut was on 9 April 1981, alongside Tarzan; her position is as the flim-flammery backstop.

Kenneth Clarke started a year later, making his bow on 13 May 1982. To-night's is Ken's 30th appearance, and the jazzman is capable of making virtuoso crosses from the centre-right.

Simon Hughes is another man making his third appearance in the bungalow this year, and his 18th in total. Hughsie's debut was 1 Mar 1984; he has a quiet skill in the back, but is usually found driving the team from the back seat.

Frederick Forsyth made his bow on 13 March 1997, back when John Major was still PM. His last time on was in February 2003, tonight is Forsyth's fourth time. On the field, expect something to write about.

Helena Kennedy was due to make her first appearance for over fifteen years, the one previous time was 14 March 1991. Her form suggests that she might give backchat to the referee. In an unexpected turn of events, she has also pulled out of the programme, and been replaced by Valerie Sinatra from The Day Today's mile-high travel tower.

As ever, running the lines to-night are David Coleman and George Carey, and here's David Bumblebee making his traditional leap over the back of the sofa and shouting for

Question One! Should there be an illegal immigrant amnesty?

No, says Ken. A bungalow head has a loud green tie. Valerie is doing a remarkable impression of a lawyer, taking forever to say nothing. Forsyth says no. Hughes and Harman also say no. Ken says that the system has collapsed. So has our interest in this panel. Next!

2. Is it morally right to send a person back to an "unsafe" country if they have been imprisoned for committing a crime in the UK?

Harman is incapable of using the correct plural of "memorandum", and hence is in dire need of proper education. Sinatra reckons Blair reckons people don't care about their rights, and she's probably right. Hughes is pulled up by the ref for timewasting. Forsyth says that many of these people aren't wanted at home, begging the question of why they were allowed into the UK in the first place. Ken says Blair is trying to change the subject. Good idea!

3. Do we need a minister for drought?

Forsyth is pithy and scathing in his no. Ken says this lot can't manage a piss-up in his brewery. Harman washes the government's hands, it's all with the regulator. Sinatra is a dittohead, and Hughes goes on about wasting too much.

4. Like the prime minister, will the panel be signing up to the people's petition in support of animal testing for medical research?

Bumblebee reminds the panel to get on with it. Hughes wonders why Blair is signing a petition that will be presented to himself. Harman has done so, Ken will when he sees it, a view echoed by Forsyth. Many of the Bungalowheads are sitting on their hands. Sinatra talks of learning about the human jeans.

5. What legacy will we bequeath our grandchildren if we go for the nuclear energy option?

Sinatra hopes for a proper debate, a veiled insult at our referee. Forsyth rambles on about being blackmailed by OPEC. Hughes talks about the hidden nuclear subsidy, that much is not unclear. Harman wants a secure energy supply. Clarke wants to hear the end of the review. We just want to hear the end.

This week's model answers. 1. No, because there should be no concept of immigration, because borders should be as free to people as they are to goods. 2. No. 3. Not at this stage, but we do need a set of policies for sustainable development. 4. Maybe, if the arguments are there. 5. See 3.

After the high standard of the two previous weeks, this one really was as dull as ditchwater. If we absolutely must pick a winner, we'll go with Ken; Harman is just about the loser, but both would have been comfortably mid-table last year.

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posted 23 May 2006, 20.36 +0100

Television

Wed 24 May 2006

Politics three-way: Canada, breasts, John Reid

I expect this to be the final time I look at the National Post's made-up fibs fiasco last week. The Pest's editor, John Turley-Ewart, wrote,

I’m looking at running this but I have not been able to confirm its veracity. Particularly, I want to make sure that the part saying Jews will have to wear a yellow stripe and Christians a red stripe is in fact true. Now the law has not yet come into effect, but it is moving closer to becoming law and I think we need to draw attention and much of it to this right now.

Case closed.

Another felch into the file labelled Six Apart - Part Of The Corporatist Programme: Xavier of Pro Mom has been talking to Six Apart's Head of Imbecility. It's not the free speech that's worrying SA head honchos, or the complete shambles of their company's flagship product. Says Xavier,

"It is understood by upper management at SixApart that they have several thousand very upset users. SixApart is very concerned about the potential loss of users and does want to keep all of us as customer and members."

No, it's the potential loss of revenue that's hurting. Of course it is. What else did you expect it to be? Six Apart cares about nothing other than its own bottom line, and how best to wring every last cent (€ 0.006) from its users. Honestly, if I wanted to construct a fictional example of what profit-obsessed turds look like, this is the sort of stuff I'd discard as just too darned unlikely.

Finally, the new interior minister John Reid (the man who was too frit to appear on last week's Question Muck) has called his own department "not fit for purpose". He's given himself 100 days to "make people feel safer", a deadline that will expire on 1 September. So, Mr Reid, what can you do to make me feel safer?

* I am afraid that the police and the secret service are a law unto themselves, and there are no adequate checks and balances into their actions. Will you bring the police closer to the public by cancelling your predecessor's proposed force mergers? Will you allow us free and unfettered oversight of MI5 and MI6? Will you allow someone independent of the judicial system to investigate the allegations of extra-ordinary rendition?

* I am unsettled by the government's persistent attacks on civil liberties and the primacy of parliament. Will you commit yourself and your government to upholding the entirity of the European Declaration of Human Rights, and abolish a predecessor's derogation from some articles? Will you repeal the sections of the Serious Crime Act 2005 relating to protests around parliament? Will you withdraw the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill now, so that we don't have to pursue the case through the courts.

* I am unhappy that the department looks like it is over-reaching itself; it has recently admitted errors in the criminal records screening process. It has recently committed itself to building a biometric database of everyone in the country, for which no tolerance of error will be acceptable, a task that appears far beyond the capabilities of the ministry at present. Will you suspend all pursuit of this aim until such time as all branches of the ministry are capable of completing its existing tasks without a single error for a full year?

* I am insecure because I don't know what the government and its agencies are doing. Will you promise, once the legal proceedings have finished, to review the Kratos guidelines and confirm whether the police do have a shoot-to-kill policy? Will you commence a full public inquiry into the London bombings of last July?

* I am unsettled by the constant changes within the Interior Ministry. Will you write a resignation letter, post-dated to 1 September, to be activated if you have failed to achieve all of these aims? For if any of these matters are not resolved, I shall not feel safer, and - by your own admission - you shall have failed in your aims.

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posted 24 May 2006, 20.51 +0100

Politics| Six Apart Is Useless
Sport and culture

Sports news, and Edmonton has won the Stanley Cup for best team in the NHL. Foreign imports - the Sabres of Buffalo, the Whalers of Hartford, and the soon-to-be-un-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim - are not entitled to win the Canadian National Hockey League, whatever they might like to think.

Basketball, and Toronto has won the BAA. That's the BAA lottery for first pick in this year's signing round. The New Amsterdam Knickerbockers finished second, but had already traded their choice to the Chicago Bulls. Charlotte Bobcat finished third, and the league worst Portland Pisspoors couldn't even come out of a draw rigged so they had a 23% chance of winning. On the pitch, the current scores are: Fort Wayne Pistons - Miami Heat 1:0; Dallas Mavericks - Phoenix Suns 0:0.

Over in Bay's Ball, the Detroit Exhaust Fumes head standings, unlikely as that sounds, ahead of the Chicago White Stockings and the St Louis Papists. Toronto's Dazed Jays stand tenth, and the 30-team league is propped up by the Kansas City Really Rubbishes.

Actors want mobile phone blockers to be made legal. If only they'd allow all of us to use jammers wherever we wanted a little piece and quiet - in church, in the Quiet Coach of trains, in the Unquiet Coach...

Speaking of which, Andrew O'Hagan on Chav-Air, the new cheap way to travel. There's a reason why I'll only consider national flag-carriers or their successors (and not Air Canada, but that's a whole other story.)

More evidence that the damned Yankees are behind the curve: The Chronicle "discovers" a new cultural divide - the cosmopolitan versus the narrowly-focussed.

As an illustration, imagine an encounter between two people on the street: a classical-music lover and a lover of rock music. If you are asked to predict which of them is likely to listen to Latin music, ethnic music, jazz, and blues, who would it be? It turns out that the classical-music fan is much more likely to enjoy those nonelite art forms, according to data from the [Yankee] National Endowment for the Arts' national survey of public participation in the arts. If fact, when you analyze the NEA statistics, the classical-music fan is more likely to listen to just about every genre of music. Today's cosmopolitan consumer culture is not bound by old hierarchies.

This ain't news; Britain's cultural war has been fought on this turf for the past decade and a half, between the classical elistists of Friends of Radio 3 and the more eclectic cultural realists who are now in charge of the station. While I support many of For3's stated aims - the Radio 3 schedule is far too inflexible, and losing the speech output in 1970 was the greatest error in the BBC's history - the pressure group rather forgets that the BBC has an obligation to explore all forms of culture, from right across the world.

It is right that music other than Western classical should feature from time to time; personally, I think the amount is right, though the placing on the schedule could easily be improved. 6 Music has a terribly narrow remit, unlike all the BBC's other full-time stations, and could justifiably take on much of this programming. But the point remains - culture is no longer defined as opera and paintings, but by a willingness to experiment and broaden one's horizons.

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posted 24 May 2006, 21.06 +0100

Culture| Sport
Count Mug

Mystic Mug writes... I've got a six, Des. SIX. Oh, hello, you catch me joining in the fun on every mug's favourite coffee-hour pastime, Countdown. The show is hosted by the dishy Des Lynam, and I'd lend some sugar any time to Spoony Dent. But you're not here for the hosts, you're here for the game, aren't you. See? They don't call me Mystic Mug for nothing, you know.

Anyway, there are some prediction contest points riding on to-day's match. Back in December, Mr Weaver said that the final would feature Conor Travers, or the number one seed, or both. Well, young Mr Travers is the number one seed, so both parts of his prediction would stand or fall together. And, in a high-scoring match, Mr Travers booked his place in the final, 124-100. Mr Weaver scores 1.7 for a shot that one person negatived; Quirks, O'Mel, Jiggers, Bother, and Cheekbones all score 0.4 for correctly predicting the outcome. How does that leave the scores?

Scores so far
PlayerScore
Weaver46.5
O'mel43.1
Cheekbones22.9
Jiggers21.9
Sir QK17.9
Brig14.0
Chickenfeet9.8
In the kitty£1.85

Mmm, lovely. What's my next event to finish? Ah yes, the Deal or No Deal ratings bonanza; the Sunday edition comes one week too late to influence this one. Now, if you'll excuse me, two from the top and four from anywhere else, please...

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posted 24 May 2006, 21.19 +0100

Intellectual

Thu 25 May 2006

The Critical List

Mark Lawson writes about the art and role of the reviewer. Where television critics do have influence is in providing small-audience shows with a cachet that may lead to them being retained or recommissioned. The usual rule is that, in order to survive, a show needs the support of either the audience, an executive or reviewers. What might one of the UK's top two game show columnists have to say about this?

Think Spell-ebrity Love Ireland - the papers hated it, the audience rather liked it, so back it comes. Think Raven - winning a BAFTA for the first series, making great strides in the next couple of series, and securing a huge audience (in CBBC terms, in childrens' channels terms, and in overall cable channel terms.) Think of Without Prejudice?, where constant support from a small but vociferous group of critics let it become a sleeper hit.

Lawson has a point (and there's a phrase I'm not accustomed to saying) about reviewers tending to disregard the familiar. You'll not find significant coverage of Big Brother VII in the Week, purely because I've got nothing to say about it that hasn't been said before, and because there are far better things to talk about. Such as...

28 May - Countdown Finals Week, Eurovision review
4 Jun - Eurovision reform
11 Jun - Beat the Boss, Countdown CoC?
18 Jun - Never Mind the Full Stops
25 Jun - First chance to discuss BB at length.

Somewhere there's the little matter of Antan Dec's Con.Test, Nobody's Inn, Who Wants To Be The Maria?, and that's just the shows we're reasonably certain will air before the end of July.

But he's only partially right - the Week's coverage of University Challenge is known to just about all contestants, and of Mastermind gets an audience. And where would we be without a monthly delve into the world of Countdown, other than half a page a month shorter.

Meanwhile, a semi-official upload of The Secret Life of Machines, with apparent approval from Tim Hunkin.

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posted 25 May 2006, 20.26 +0100

Television
The continued decline and fall of Livejournal and Six Apart

Absolutely the final word on the National Pest's cockup - a full and frank apology, albeit on page 2.

Richard Younger-Ross introduced a bill to stop large shops from opening on Sundays. I reckon the status quo is broadly acceptable - six hours between 10am and 6pm, no trading on Easter or Christmas Day. Any further liberalisation would be a step too far.

The death has been announced of Lloyd Bentsen, former vice-presidential candidate. He's best-known for taking a national television audience with him to shoot quails in a barrel: "I knew Jack Kennedy. You're no Jack Kennedy."

And once more into Six Apart's descent into the Corporatist morass. Doug Bryan claims to head business operations at SA, and he has scribbled a note regarding the breastfeeding mess. Mr Bryan wrote,

it is important to maintain consistency throughout our service

When, then, will Livejournal get an abuse staff that is professional in operation, if not professional in status?

this is like a police officer having to enforce speed limits in neighborhoods [sic] where kids play.

This is a very poor analogy; breastfeeding, unlike speeding, is not a crime. It is not indecent under any sensible legal system. It is not illegal, and it is grossly misleading for you to imply that it is.

it’s because of users like yourselves that LJ exists, and we want to continue to run a service that enables you to create community, connect with others, and express yourselves in a free, safe, and positive manner.

Translation: We're shit-scared that our bottom line will take a hit. But the clincher came a little bit earlier.

LiveJournal is in no way against breastfeeding or breastfeeding mothers.

Then there is absolutely no argument to be had; if Six Apart is not against breastfeeding, then it accepts without reservation that images are not obscene. Any other action - a promised "review", a policy regarding the specific content - is at variance with the claim.

While I'm on the topic, here are some stats:

Total accounts: 10296172
updating in last 30 days: 1203631 (11.7%)
updating in last 7 days: 721606 (7.0%)
updating in past 24 hours: 253571 (2.5%)

Compare that against figures from March 2005:

Total accounts: 6611141
updating in last 30 days: 1520011 (23.0%)
updating in last 7 days: 970684 (14.7%)
updating in past 24 hours: 367704 (5.6%)

From June 2004:

Total accounts: 3171504
updating in last 30 days: 1153683 (36.4%)
updating in last 7 days: 756888 (23.9%)
updating in past 24 hours: 292198 (9.2%)

And from June 2003:

Total accounts: 1079730
updating in last 30 days: 413602 (38.3%)
updating in last 7 days: 291296 (27.0%)
updating in past 24 hours: 119504 (11.1%)

This is a pen, and a piece of paper. Draw your own conclusions.

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posted 25 May 2006, 20.42 +0100

Annoyed| Six Apart Is Useless

Fri 26 May 2006

Multi-modal

On Tubediary, there's a musing about how to use all five forms of transport in one day. Indeed, how quickly could one use all five forms of transport - tube, bus, overland train, DLR, Croydon Tramlink?

I reckon that it can be done in just about an hour, making it about three times faster than The Zone 1 Challenge. Your bank holiday puzzle - should you choose to accept it! - is to work out a plausible route. Bonus points for anyone (Mr Choccers?) who might actually do it.

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posted 26 May 2006, 19.22 +0100

Intellectual

Sat 27 May 2006

Things to Hear and See

A quick burst of MediaFilter, I think. Certainly worth your while catching the Countdown finals week. The first quarter-final, in particular, made for cracking television, and the semis and final were played in a wonderfully optimistic spirit. Congratulations to the winner, who is impressive beyond words. He's hot at the numbers, too. Repeats on More4 lunchtimes from 1 June.

Punt and Dennis's It's Been a Bad Week returned on Thursday. (Real Audio™ link, will expire 01.06.06.) Schaudenfraude for the rest of us, with some Eurovision jokes crowbarred in.

Desmond Adolphus Dacres, the reggae pioneer who found fame under the name Desmond Dekker, has, as you'll have gathered by the construction of this sentence, died at the age of 64. A friend of Bob Marley, Desmond Dekker recorded such classics as Rudy got soul, 007 (Shanty town), and You can get it if you really want. He'll be best remembered for two iconic television commercials of the 1980s - one was all about margarine spreading on some bread, sir, the other was for drop-out free video cassettes, and both were sung to his 1969 number one hit My ears are alight.

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci has ceased to be a recording act. Chartwatchers will know them as the most valiant failures - four single releases in 1996 and 97, four top 50 singles, none of them in the top 40, and that's the marker of success.

Jessica Duchen takes a pop at Young Musician and Eurovision. Ms Duchen seems to forget that YM is one of the few opportunities for the non-digital viewer to see classical music before midnight; and that Eurovision is the only chance to showcase the tremendous variety of popular music from across a tremendously diverse continent.

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posted 27 May 2006, 12.07 +0100

Entertainment
All right, all right, all right

Yankee right-wing rag the Notional Review has put together a list of über-fascist songs. Here's some lowlights:

My City was Gone, by The Pretenders As abused by some pinhead on his daily radio show airing to two people and a cow in Tuskabro, Dakota North. The lyrics apparently display a sensibility against central planning and a dissatisfaction with rapid change: I went back to Ohio/But my pretty countryside/Had been paved down the middle/By a government that had no pride. Chrissie Hynde was unavailable for comment, because she's still having a fit of the giggles.

Right Here, Right Now, by Jesus Jones "The words are vague, but they're also about the fall of Communism:" I was alive and I waited for this ... Watching the world wake up from history. No mention of the swift re-write from the 1991 Gulf War, Watching the world slip back to history. Iain Baker was unavailable for comment, as he's in the broadcasting studio.

Stay Together for the Kids, by Blink 182 "A eulogy for family values by an band who were raised in a generation without enough of them:" So here's your holiday/Hope you enjoy it this time/You gave it all away ... It's not right. Hmm. D'ya suppose the Notional Review has heard of irony? Blink 182 are unavailable, they're out buying shirts.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Iron Maiden "How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?" All of them? We're sensing the sound of barrels being scraped, here. Bruce Dickinson is fencing.

Everybody's a Victim, by The Proclaimers "A catchy song about the problem of suspending moral judgement:" Everybody's a victim/We're becoming like the USA.. The sound of barrels having a large hole put in the bottom. The brothers are on tour and their Vanessa Carlton-inspiring track Aah woot waak fyffe hunnret mile would be tickling the soft underbelly of the Top 100 if ROPRA weren't so shit.

What can we conclude from this exercise, trying to prove that punk was socially conservative? If you twist words hard enough, they can prove anything. Well, almost - nothing is going to convince us that Chris Evans deserves to be heard on a radio station more prestigious than KTSK The Dull, Tuskaboro, Dakota North.

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posted 27 May 2006, 12.12 +0100

Intellectual

Sun 28 May 2006

One against Six - a recap

A definite hello to everyone visiting from exposing lj abuse. Here's a brief catch-up of my position regarding Livejournal.

Just under a year ago, I proposed five tests for Livejournal to retain my custom.
1. Splitting the "Friends" concept into "I wish to read" and "I trust".
2. Providing official documentation so that someone who knows CSS well can adapt (or create) an S2 style for themself.
3. Splitting the Livejournal.com servers over more than one geographic site.
4. Support for pinging aggregators other than weblogs.com.
5. An acknowledgement from the owners that their users are not all living in the united states, and that some of their customers do not welcome the legal creep.

Needless to say, no progress had been made on any of these fronts by the time I reviewed the situation in December. At this time, I found that Livejournal was failing to meet reasonable standards of privacy and availability, and its culture had become "for the greater good of the bottom line", a culture of self-promotion over all other objectives.

In March, I had a run-in with their oh-so-competent support staff. In spite of my explicit request to the contrary, they persisted in closing an old feed of this site, and substituting a new one. (Shameless plug: readers may wish to add tsitsoss_rss to their reading list. It works when it works. Don't come crying if it doesn't.)

Last month, I hit the final straw, when Livejournal introduced advertisements and told us what software we could run on our own machines. This arrogance violated the letter and spirit of the social contract between myself and Livejournal. That was the community I joined in 2003, those were the written community rules, ones that could only be changed with the majority consent of the community. But we forgot that corporateamerica knows no honour, only profit. Six Apart is a profit-seeking company, not a benevolent dictatorship. By acting in this dishonourable way, Six Apart kills its own society, kills its own source of riches, kills its own future.

Immediately that adverts were introduced, I asked this question of Livejournal, via the published privacy@ address:

I am concerned that the combination of sex, age, location, interests, and other information may be sufficient to allow individuals or very small groups to be identified. Could you please give details of the checks you have in place to ensure that this does not and cannot happen.

That was over a month ago. I am yet to receive an acknowledgement, never mind a substantive response. Work from a learned friend has established that individuals are identifiable from location, age, and interest.

It's in this atmosphere - Six Apart has sold out the community so that it might curry favour with potential advertisers - that the current breast-feeding brew-ha-ha arises. Six Apart's objective for Livejournal is to get adverts in front of eyeballs. That's all. Anything else - any sense of community, any donations from satisfied users, is a bonus. The objective here is not to drive away active users, for there are not enough active and annoyed users to alter data storage or data transfer costs.

No, the aim is to sell more commercials to those sheep who will happily graze on whatever commercial crap is put in front of them, and making the site's public face like a nursery helps to reassure advertisers. This is, of course, a very Web 1.0 way of doing things, but then Six Apart burns through speculative capital like a dotcom bubble firm. Plus ça change.

If you're still using Livejournal for anything important, it's probably best to back up a copy of your journal now. (I have an offline copy of the linked post, in case Six Apart removes the journal. I will not hesitate to post it prominently.)

Ultimately, the problems I have with Six Apart will not be resolved by a professional abuse team, whether professional in status or in action. My problem is with the company's culture, or more precisely the way it wishes to impose its culture onto mine. I cannot honestly say that I will resume posting there if there's a grown-up abuse team. I can say that I will not post there if the abuse teams remains, in all senses of the word, amateur.

One bit of digging on the stats page produced the following lines, which I reprint without comment.

usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-13	6
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-16	1
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-17	4657
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-18	11139
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-19	5016
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-20	3339
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-21	2530
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-22	2624
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-23	2462
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-24	2001
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-25	1346
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-26	1221
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-27	1088
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-28	951
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-29	1026
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-30	1029
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-01	1013
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-02	919
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-03	2100
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-04	2075
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-05	1445
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-06	1335
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-07	1350
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-08	1487

The numbers in the final column sum to 52,160. The sum of numbers labelled newbyday for the same period is 153,690.

And finally, an occasionally answered question: where did the name "The Snow in the Summer or So-So" come from? Latvia's debut Eurovision entry, performed by top band Brainstorm. Though quite why they played their UK dates opposite this year's Eurovision is going to remain a mystery forever...

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posted 28 May 2006, 16.51 +0100

Annoyed| Six Apart Is Useless
Literary news

The Eyre Affair. According to Bookworld, Charlotte Bronte offered to rewrite parts of her famous novel Jane Eyre after the headmaster of the school on which she based Lowood raised his eyebrows and muttered about knowing Messrs Sue, Grabbit, and Runne. It's possible, but unlikely, that there could be a revised and toned-down version somewhere.

The fall-out from the Opal Mehta sticky end continues, with the Boston Globe reporting that Alloy Publishing is a division of an advertising agency. It owns Sconex, which might look like a site to exchange recipies to make shaped rock cakes, but is actually a teen chat portal thingummy doo-hickey. The group's aim is to make commerical brands an integral part of life for young people consumers. It sounds like a nightmare, and it's a thoroughly unprofitable one - over its nine-year life, the company has never turned a profit, and currently has debts of around USD 300 million (€ 250 million).

Further evidence is coming out each day, and it's turning more and more into a character assassination, of someone who has been an utter hypocrite. The New Amsterdam Magazine reports:

Last summer, between her freshman and sophomore years at Harvard, she published a Times op-ed piece, Growing Up With a Dose of Magic, about coming of age in thrall to Harry Potter. She loved the stories’ "promise of hope, sustaining the fundamental childhood belief that in the end, good really does triumph over evil, and justice is meted out to those who deserve it." And yet in the same piece she confessed that as a middle-schooler she bought The Prisoner of Azkaban, read it in one night, and returned it the next day to the bookstore to get her money back.

Earlier this year, when an interviewer asked which authors most inspire her, she didn’t mention J K Rowling. Nor a well-known novelist in the teen-rom-comedy genre, Megan McCafferty. No, the novelists Kaavya now loved best were impressively literary - Amitav Ghosh, who also happens to be her creative-writing professor, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Turns out that we have here someone who bought somebody to write her college application, somebody else to write her book, and no doubt hoped to buy somebody to do her tax planning for all the riches.

We hear that HMV-Waterstones is to stop flogging books through Amazon, and start flogging them under their own banner. Good. We need a decent-sized mail-order competitor, and as good as Blackwell's is, they'll never quite match the ubiquity of HMV-Waterstones. Not that we're going to support their proposed land-grab for Ottakar's, but neither do they, it seems.

Claims that the book trade is failing minorities are wide of the mark. Two assumptions here. One: that "minorities" is exactly equal to persons who define themselves as something other than white. And two: that persons who define themselves as something other than white are only interested in the works of other PWDTASOTW. Neither claim stands up to more than a moment's scrutiny, and the Arts Council's posturing only attracts attention where none is deserved.

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posted 28 May 2006, 17.11 +0100

Culture
Music in week 21

Time to look around Europe; it's too soon for Lordi to have a massive hit across the continent, that will come shortly. Pakito heads the list in France, ahead of a duet between Gregory Lemarchal and Lucie Silvas. Les Enfoires (whoever they are) have Le temps qui court, which may or may not be a translation of that old Barry Hammilow number Could it be magic. Shakira holds off Eurovision failures Texas Lightning in Germany, and Elias and Frans combine for Who's da'man at the top in Sweden; Carolan's Eurosong is number 3. Other entries of note include Dangerzone, from the new Vanilla Ninja Sing The Gladiators album in Estonia, and Digitally bright from Brainstorm in their native Latvia.

North Europe's Top Twenty

*20 NE Texas Lightning - No no never
 19 14 Bob Sinclar - World hold on
 18 18 Diams - La boulette
 17 11 Juanes - La camisa negra
 16  4 Kelly Clarkson - Because of you
 15 10 Najoya Bejel - Gabriel
*14 NE Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
 13 17 Pigloo - Le papa pingouin
 12  7 Rhianna - SOS
 11  9 Corinne Bailey Rae - Put your records on
 10 re Kooks - Naive
* 9 13 Dirty Pretty Things - Bang bang you're dead
  8  3 Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani california
  7  5 Orson - No tomorrow
* 6 16 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
* 5 NE Daz Sampson - Teenage life
  4  2 Mary J Blige / U2 - One
* 3 12 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
* 2  8 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
* 1  1 Shakira - Hips don't lie

All three new entries are from Eurovision entries; this week's chart includes all the airings of last week's Eurovision contest, and Daz was almost ubiquitous on Sunday before Britain remembered that it doesn't actually like losers. They join a cover of Luxembourg's 1980 entry, Le papa pingouin, which has been doing great things in France and Belgium for the last couple of months.

Week nine for Gnarls, but a change is on the way. Warner Brothers has decided to delete the record, effective to-morrow. Under the simply barking ROPRA rules, wherever it is on the chart three weeks to-day will be the records' final place. It could be the first record to spend exactly twelve weeks on the list, and there's a very good chance that it will beat the Wedding Present's record drop, from 12 to outside the top 75.

Number two is Sandi Thom, the latest Next Big Thing From The Interweb. Except her people have been telling an awful lot of fibs. The facts are these: 1) Thom signs to SonyBMG under the management of Craig Logan from Bros. 2) Johnny Walker plays her record to death. 3) It gets to number fiftysomething. 4) Thom streams some performances over the interweb courtesy of the SonyBMG technical gurus. 5) SonyBMG issue a load of bullshit press releases, claiming the order of the previous steps was 4-3-1. 6) Hit! All this nonsense leaves a sour taste surrounding a nostalgic single, albeit one that incorrectly proclaims the era of revolution is over.

Primal Scream have the biggest hit of their career, as Country girl climbs to 5. The Ordinary Bores and Lady Chavereign reach position 6 with 9 to 5 - it's a re-make of Chav's minor hit from last autumn, no kin to similar hits by Peggy Parton or Sheila Easton. Matt Wills From Busted is up to 7, the smallest hit of his career; Daz Sampson's Eurovision failure climbs to 8, which will tie with the biggest hit from Bus Stop and is one place behind Uniting Nations' biggest; it's the most successful UK failure since Gina G topped the list in 1996. Feeling climb to 10, and Nerina Pallot to 14, both got full releases this week, both are worth finding.

Pre-release download smashes from Keane (15), Pink (19), Bert Bills (22), and the Futureheads (24) mean the Highest "New" Entry Proper honours are with Michael Kiddyfiddler Jackson - Heal the world is the latest in his limited edition re-release series, and can only make position 27. Originally, this rip-off of We are the world was number 2 in December 1992.

On the albums, three weeks for the RHCPisspoors, with Feeder and Snow Patrol each advancing one place. Zero 7 have the highest new entry at number 4, ahead of the Pet Shop Boys (5) and Angels and Airwaves (6). Pink enjoys a bounce, and her album's up too, with Boy Kill Boy making number 16 with their album of Killers sound-a-likes.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 2 15 Sandi Thom - I wish I was a punk rocker
 5 23 Primal Scream - Country girl
 7 52 Matt Willis - Up all night
 8 12 Daz Sampson - Teenage life
10 28 Feeling - Fill my little world
11  5 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
14 37 Nerina Pallot - Everybody's gone to war
18  9 Sunblock / Robin Beck - First time
19 NE Pink - Who knew?
20 13 Kooks - Naive
21 11 Orson - Bright idea
24 NE Futureheads - Skip to the end
25 16 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
28 18 Raconteurs - Steady as she goes
31 24 Fall Out Boy - Dance dance
32 27 Orson - No tomorrow
33 21 Dirty Pretty Things - Bang bang you're dead
36 NE Taking Back Sunday - Make damn sure
41 NE Mystery Jets - You can't fool me Dennis
44 34 Corinne Bailey Rae - Put your records on
45 20 Angels and Airwaves - The adventure
46 31 Boy Kill Boy - Suzie
47 25 Pet Shop Boys - I'm with stupid
48 40 Pink - Stupid girls
51 36 Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
52 35 Upper Room - Black and white
54 50 Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
56 45 Panic At The Disco - But it's better if you do
58 39 Eddie Thoneick / Kurd Maverick / Loletta Holloway
        - Love sensation
63 49 We Are Scientists - Nobody move nobody get hurt
64 71 Source - You got the love
69 70 Fall Out Boy - Sugar we're going down
71 NE Paul Simon - Father and daughter
72 47 Beverley Knight - Piece of my heart
73 65 Zutons - Why won't you give me your love?
75 67 Embrace - Nature's law

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posted 28 May 2006, 19.34 +0100

Entertainment
Weather in week 21

More rain, then. Sunday was the first day without any measured rain since Tuesday the 16th, and only the second since the current wet spell began on the 12th.

22 Mo rain                 8/15,15.5
23 Tu sun and showers      4/13, 1.0
24 We sunny spells         7/13, 3.0
25 Th rain o/n, sun        7/18, 4.0
26 Fr rain o/n, wind      10/19, 7.5
27 Sa rain, sun late      12/17, 4.0
28 Su sunny spells         8/17

The degree cooling days remain at 14, compared to 12/237 at this stage last year; degree heating days make an unwelcome comeback, advancing to 807½. Another inch and more of rain this week, no danger of drought orders in this part of the world.

The forecast: More settled. Some showers are possible to-morrow, and it will be a bit nippy until about Thursday, but mostly dry and sunny. Possibly getting uncomfortably warm next week-end, but we need more information.

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posted 28 May 2006, 19.40 +0100

News

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