The Snow In The Summer or So-So

05/29/2006 - 06/04/2006

Mon 29 May 2006

Administrivia

Matthew Turner is wrong to claim The Stoa is the UK's oldest blog. It was established 28 May 2001. Some of us have been going since 31 July 2000, and I very much expect there's something a lot older out there.

They probably won't, but readers may be interested to learn of the new Six Apart Is Useless category here. I've gone back and re-categorised some of the older posts into this group. For readers across the Atlantic, the phrase "Is Useless" is the British English equivalent of "SUX!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!eleven!!!"

And finally, I've updated the big ol' list of links on the right side of the front page. (And only of the front page. There's nothing more annoying than loading a 3K article, and having to take 50K of links because someone thinks it's important to put the blogroll on every frickin' page. Grr.)

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posted 29 May 2006, 12.35 +0100

Introspective
For identification purposes, I am not Tim the Journalist
David at the Bother's Bar Commentary Booth notes something from Australia Big Brother:

They had the contestants go into the dairy room and asked them Yes or No questions....they then fed these answers through a voice stress analyser, which is supposedly 90% accurate as a lie detector. Apparently the contestants lied or partially lied 30% of the time, and BB said there will be consequences.

File this one under "abuse of science", please. How can a voice analyser possibly work on one-syllable answers? And furthermore, what is the probability of some sort of error?

Rather high. Let us suppose that the quoted reliability rate is correct, and the machine has a 90% reliability rate. In other words, if someone is telling the truth, there's a 90% chance that the machine will agree. No figure appears to be given for the converse error, that the machine will give a clean bill of health to a liar. Previous research suggests that this sort of error will be substantially higher than the reliability figure quoted, for a reduction in false positives will increase the number of false negatives. For the sake of argument, let's assume the machine is reliable at 70% in this direction; this is probably a slightly generous assumption.

Now, suppose that there were 10 contestants, and that 3 of them were telling porkies. What would the machine say? Well, of the seven who were truthful, it would give 7*.9 = 6.3 truth votes, and 7*.1 = 0.7 fib votes. Of the three who were fibbing, it would suggest 3*.7 = 2.1 liars people, and 3*.3 = 0.9 truth-tellers. Adding up, that suggests 7.2 truth, 2.8 false, which we'll round up to 3 fibbers.

We can work out the statistics for other possibilities, and here's what the machine says:

Real  Machine
Truth-tellers
-------------
 10     9
  9     8
  8     7
  7     7
  6     6
  5     6
  4     5
  3     5
  2     4
  1     3
  0     3

The machine says that three people were fibbing? Elementary probability says that, actually, it's possible that only two were.

In the television presentation, the margin of error was mentioned, and then promptly ignored. This is not just sloppy mathematics, it's complete brainlessness. They have an error term, they are honour-bound to use it, or forever be laughed at by people who understand the term Type I Error.

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posted 29 May 2006, 16.04 +0100

Intellectual
Random thoughts

It's a bank holiday in the UK to-day, so you don't even need to know what the weather did. Just when I was getting the lawn-mower out, too...

Paul Merton's Silent Clowns on The Fourth last night, looking at the career of Buster Keaton. Two points arising. 1: Did he provide a role model for contemporary song-and-dance clown Mr Peter Doh'erty, both in actions and looks? 2: How come Paul was wearing the Countdown set?

Other stuff: to the good doc, hello again; to Caro, my very best thoughts; to Ariel, may you always cherish the memories. And to UK Living, do remember that justjadea is someone else's tag. My hon. and learned friend will take a ten-figure sum in settlement.

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posted 29 May 2006, 20.04 +0100

Introspective

Tue 30 May 2006

An excuse to use the icon

What do you get if you cross Susie Dent with Lordi? Hard rock punctuation. (With thanks to Mr Choccers.)

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posted 30 May 2006, 18.40 +0100

Intellectual
National and international news

Not Little England is musing over the necessity of an English parliament. I'm not convinced that England is the best location for power, it's too far removed from the communities it hopes to serve. Far better that there is a federal power structure, perhaps divided into Kernow, Wessex, East and West Mercia, London, a Kent-Surrey-Sussex amalgamation that we might call Southern, Anglia, Yorkshire, Northumbria, Lancashire (perhaps to include Cumberland and Westmorland).

Hmm. As a starting point, the 1968 ITV franchise map is better than nowt. OK, Anglia needs to expand to include the entire Norfolk coast, the bottom bit of Central could be split between London and Wessex, and Yorkshire might lose its bottom bit to East Mercia, but you get the general idea.

I see these Federal Regions as being the prime decision-making body in their regions. Only those matters that must be handled centrally - national taxation, defence, that sort of thing - should be decided in the UK parliament. The preference must be towards devolution downwards.

For cities, I think that the unitary authority approach promulgated by the Major government proved to be correct - I certainly wouldn't impose a second authority on urban areas now. Rural areas do have particular needs, and there's a balance to be struck between the economies of scale that a county council provides, and the local responsiveness of the district council.

What I would encourage is the growth of parish councils, and their creation (perhaps as ward-level councils) in the cities - it is an extra level of governance, but one that has to be in tune with the local needs. Parish to (city or district or shire) to region to nation to continent; that bottom-up approach is how to build the country.

And in news from Europe...

We protect you is the message from Luxembourg to-day. The European Court of Justice has ruled that airlines do not have to comply with the FARCE's demands for personal information. Why not? the data would not be adequately protected. Passenger data is stored for 3½ years, far longer than any visitor visa, and is "only rarely" shared with other countries. This is not enough to satisfy the EU, which insists on the highest standards of data protection in the world. More.

Speaking of which, I'm surprised (and pleased) to learn that last.fm is a UK / German product, and not yet another export of personal data to a country that doesn't know what to do with it.

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posted 30 May 2006, 19.13 +0100

Politics
Beard or No Beard

Another piece of paper for the new Six Apart Is Rubbish file. How to get new template designs on the cheap? Hold a competition! Andy Rutledge says, "Commission perhaps hundreds of people to create hundreds of designs for your business and only pay for 8 of them. But then keep and use all of them!" No wonder Six Apart is a) rolling in it, and b) severely lacking in the morals-and-ethics department.

In other news, Livejournal apparently does not want default pictures to show any unobstructed pictures of secondary sexual characteristics. Now, what's a secondary sexual characteristic? Something that isn't a penis or vagina, but is linked to reproductive fitness. Like breasts. Or facial hair.

So, if you have a picture of someone wearing a moustache (like my picture of Des there) or a beard, like:

(which isn't anyone's default, as far as I know) or

(which is, but your secret is safe with me), then consistency says that your icon has got to go.

Rather irritatingly, I've not been able to find the perfect icon with which to round off this piece. It's almost as if no-one has capped a copy of the UK host of Deal or No Deal. Not that it stopped me from making the pun in the title...

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posted 30 May 2006, 19.49 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless

Wed 31 May 2006

Count all the accounts

So it's come to this: The Mass Deletion of 6 June. Putting pressure on Six Apart by having a one-day deletion. Colour me unconvinced, it seems to be action for the sake of action. Not least because I doubt it will stand out from the regular turnover of deleted blogs.

Anyway, official Livejournal stats for this week, with changes against last Wednesday:

Total accounts: 10,336,342 (+40,170, +0.39%)
updating in last 30 days: 1,197,567 (11.6%, -6064, -0.5%)
updating in last 7 days: 710,839 (6.9%, -10,767, -1.51%)

The updated daily statistics, I suspect, are not particularly informative.

I note that the sum of newbyday entries is 46,342, a discrepancy of over 15%.

Also, that there's a statistic called Usercluster total, which currently reads 9,838,701. The difference between this and the quoted total accounts is just under 500,000.

Assuming that the distribution of RSS feeds approximately follows a Zipf power law - and the figures supplied by the raw top 1000 strongly suggests that it does - there would be somewhere around 100,000 RSS feeds in the database. I've had to guesstimate the length of the tail, the number of accounts with 1 or no readers, so there's a large error bound; the Zipf law suggests around 55,000 accounts.

Would 400,000 be a reasonable estimate for deleted (or deleted and purged) and renamed accounts? Strikes me as a bit high, but I've no idea how common deletions and renamings are.

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posted 31 May 2006, 18.51 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless
Election season; short cuts; and why the BBC beats ITV in an unexpected field

The Canadians want to move to fixed-term parliaments. Under the proposal, the next general election will be on 19 October 2009. Which gives us plenty of time to construct the hyper-geometric five-party swingometer out of two yoghurt pots, an awful lot of string, and (thanks to the politicians) an infinite supply of hot air.

Two other points: 1. Must the pols spoil the Thanksgiving week-end with their campaigning every time? 2. Isn't that peak leaf fall season and hence very good for touristy visits?

Onwards. Het Grauniad argeus that anti-racism festivals are preaching to the converted.

danah boyd on why only supporting one browser is death to your business - you won't be able to generate that oh-so-important buzz effect without running into important people who can't participate. See also: the Popjustice podcast, edition Ill now available in an unusable MP4 format. (Yes, we appreciate Mr Popjustice writing in to explain why it's so important that the 'cast contains links to the performer's websites and is a rich media experience. That doesn't compensate for not being able to hear a single note of the production, making it an infinitely poor media experience.)

Simon Jenkins says that Mister Blair has been offered an exit strategy from Iraq. Told to prepare to leave by the very democratic leader he had helped install, he refused to listen.

A renegade rightwing extremist is how ex-president Albert Gore describes the junta that has unlawfully occupied his country since 2000. That's putting it very, very politely.

At Not Little England, Mat suggests that the ITV regions are not the perfect way to split England. Fair point; the BBC's 12-region solution is perhaps closer to what I have in mind, the only glaring anomaly is around Bilsdale. Perhaps I'm showing my age, for there was a sense of regional identity - that Birmingham was the capital of ATV-land, that Manchester was at the centre of Granada, that Calendar-country would serve a unilateral declaration of independence any day. Now, the ITV regions are gone, they do not serve as the natural boundary they once did.

One benefit of demarcating provinces by television transmitters - it would be very easy to turn one (or more) of the television channels into a provincial station, and that would serve to boost regional identity like nothing else. "Next, on BBC 1 in the Chilterns, Eastenders." It's a starting point for debate, not the be-all and end-all.

In an argument over there, Chris (Strange Stuff, not Jiggery Pokery) prefers the traditional counties; I'd argue that the whole purpose of these regions / provinces / cantons is to provide an intermediate step between the county and the English / UK parliament.

And, just to throw the cat into the pigeon nest, almost anywhere is more beautiful than K*nt.

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posted 31 May 2006, 19.52 +0100

Politics

Thu 01 Jun 2006

To-day's top seven

0. Belated happy returns to Scott Somedisco, to Marcelina, and to Max.

1. One of m'learned friends ponders what one should call a mayor? When in doubt, ask someone who should know. Ah, here comes His Worship the mayor. Why "his worship"? It's a contraction of worth-ship, the state of being seen as worthy of praise. As with most honourifics, there is eventually a link back to the Established Church, the public service of The Established God in church is known as divine worship, in which the royally-approved deity is revered and respected. In this sense the term worship denotes the divine right of kings, and by extension their lieges in each town of the land. "Worship" is used in exactly the same way to address lay magistrates while they are performing their official duties - these people are also deemed worthy of worth.

2. A thought experiment from UK Politics: If the leaders of the three main parties were to resign tommorrow who should succeed them and why?

Lib Dems: Do they go for Simon Hughes, who looks a bit like a caretaker leader but would do a good job; do they go for someone untried like Nick Clegg; do they go for another mild eccentric like Lembit OPEC; or bite the bullet and give the job to Shadow Goldsworthy already? It's too soon for the Mark Oaten revival, so my money's on Chris Who?

Tories: Boris Johnson. Obviously. Young enough to care, old enough to care about things worth caring about, and he's blimmin' entertaining to boot. Even if he's quite happy to ride his bike six inches past my foot on his way out of Parliament. Anyway, there's a whole Metafilter discussion on the merits of Bozza.

Labour: Well, there's a pickle, as none of the obvious candidates are any cop whatsoever. For the sake of argument, let's go with John Denham as the sort-of-blairite-but-not-particularly leader. And because he's got a marginal seat that will go Tory if they seriously think about winning.

3. M'learned friend Mr Bother stated recently, "The problem with this time of year is that there's not an awful lot else to write about" so it's Big Brother all the way. Sorry, Brig, I beg to differ. There's the Eurovision fall-out to consider, Beat the Boss last week, Spell-ebrity Z Factor this, Deal or No Deal is ongoing, the Countdown Championship of Conors, The Price is Right, Mastermind, and that's just what's happening on the big four television channels. The Week ran long last week, it'll run long this week, and I don't think there's going to be space to include anything from Big Brother all month. Coverage continues on the Universal Daily Registertab blog (Caution: hosted by the ultra-right-wing Six Apart.)

4. In an update to our number-crunching post on Monday, Behind Big Brother Australia reports that voice stress tests are only 49% accurate. You'd get more accurate results by getting a large man to throw the presenter backwards over their shoulder, and observing whether their left or right hand hits the ground first. Or by replacing the host with a pot plant.

5. Iain Dale writes in defence of Adam Rickitt in his application to succeed the late Michael Howaerd as MP candidate for Folkestone and Hythe, and to become the best actor in the Commons since Andrew Faulds stopped being Jet Morgan and started being the MP for Warley. Speaking of the six-packed one, has anyone noticed how his 1999 moderate hit Everything my heart desires is almost the same as Embrace's world cup anthem World at your feet?

6. Nicky Campbell on why only fans of crap clubs are supporting England.

7. Remember the fake story in the Notional Pest a couple of weeks ago? Turns out that the lying toe-rag counts an expert on Iran for the republican junta. The man is such an expert that he couldn't get the country's cultural minister correct, and he couldn't tell the difference between truth and fiction. Yeah, he'll get on well with the junta.

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posted 01 Jun 2006, 20.18 +0100

Politics
Feed in

Yes, it does seem to be turning into a daily update on Six Apart's continued uselessness, cluelessness, and espousal of the extreme right-wing agenda promulgated by the religious wrong. The almost inevitable photo op nurse-in at Six Apart's wild west headquarters. That's at 548 Fourth-street, St Francisville, 94107. Assemble at midday local time on Monday 5 June. More details from lindsayhoppe ~~at~~ breastfeedingisnormal ~~point~~ org

If you're after a one-page summary of the whole mess, a one-page summary of the whole mess.

Those who would prefer less amateurish enforcement of the conditions of service have put out a press release. Are we reaching the point where no enforcement at all is less amateurish than the current shenanigans? After all, right now religious iconography is no longer permissable. At least one user has called time on their relationship with the fast-failing company. (Note for readers who don't expect a link about religious iconography to contain religious iconography. Please go away and read something closer to your level.)

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posted 01 Jun 2006, 20.57 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless

Sat 03 Jun 2006

Tit or No Tit - we're back!

Tit or No Tit really has been the perfect stick with which to beat Six Apart. It's a test of the company's priorities - to advertisers, to the users, to high ideas like "freedom of speech" and "community". It's been a test of whether the company believes in its rhetoric about "helping people everywhere communicate using the Web", or whether it is part of the legal creep from a minority sect based somewhere near Texas. And it's been a test of what The Register is doing this week.

Autumnhawk posts a response from 6A support that resolves the last question.

LiveJournal's stance on this issue is consistent with that of society within the United States.

Leave aside the accuracy of the statement for now. No, I'm going to leave that as the elephant in the room. Ask yourself if you wish to be judged by the standards of a foreign society. A society that cannot follow its own rules. A society that is being held hostage by an unelected cabal with even less mandate to govern than Bunsen T Honeydew. A society that is, by any definition, a failure. And Bob Worcester deserves an apology.

It's all about the culture

But I digress. This argument is not about the presence or absence of certain physical features. It is about the values that Six Apart wishes to promote. According to Six Apart, a naked breast is always sexual. Where did this unusual superstition arise? With the Puritans, a group of people who found their bodies a source of great embarrassment. Is it any coincidence that this foreign country was founded by that extreme religious group, has gone through spasms of extreme Puritanism every few decades since, and is going through just such a spasm right now?

The point above, explained in a more succinct way.

So, we can conclude that Six Apart is directly promoting the interests of the religious nutcases. What about the other point, where the company's priorities lie? A heavily-commented post at Nielsen Hayden says without even any evident legal need to do so, they’ve chosen to harrass users who were doing nothing objectionable, and to retroactively change their terms of service in order to justify that harrassment. Clearly, users are low down the pile. Clearly, any sense of community, any commitment to letting people communicate, is low down the pile.

What's left? Oh, selling the eyeballs of 13-year-old kiddies to advertisers. For which they feel the need to comply with whichever asinine pressure group was last involved. That's the bottom line here, making it easier to sell eyeballs. Your eyeballs. My eyeballs.

The scarcely-literate Langsite wonders if anyone really will pack up sticks and leave Livejournal. Allow a brief moment for this writer to jump up and down like an over-excited eight-year-old and shout "Me, sir, me!" Six Apart will not get one penny from me while it continues to deny its obligations under the Livejournal Social Contract. Nor shall I act in any way that suggests it would be advantageous to pay money to those liars and cheats.

So, what's the right-thinking person to do?

I very much doubt that Six Apart will respond to community pressure, because the company ranks its income stream higher. What will concentrate minds wonderfully is if its income stream dries up. Paid users might consider letting their paid status lapse. Those users showing adverts (ultimately, the people who are the source of the problem) will wish to consider reverting to normal accounts. Those users whose accounts are terminated over this matter may well be in a position to win a credit card chargeback, as this places the onus on Six Apart to prove their case, not the user to prove theirs.

But there are other avenues. The problem here is the commercials. Six Apart includes a mechanism to complain about adverts. This can be used to object to anything that one finds even slightly offensive. And one might write to the advertisers directly, saying that one was considering purchasing their product, or engaging their service, but after seeing their commercial, that's simply not going to happen.

It would, I suppose, also be possible to engage another of Six Apart's revenue sources, the venture capitalists. August Cap also claims to have funded such names as Technorati and Topica. Neoteny seems to have run down its operations in recent years, but pumped some dough into Six Apart just a few months ago. The way forward could be to encourage August Cap to recall its stake in Six Apart, by whatever means necessary.

Slow strangulation will, I think, be just as effective as a knife to the ribs.

And don't forget...

The almost inevitable photo op nurse-in at Six Apart's wild west headquarters. That's at 548 Fourth-street, St Francisville, 94107. Assemble at midday local time on Monday 5 June. More details from lindsayhoppe ~~at~~ breastfeedingisnormal ~~point~~ org

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posted 03 Jun 2006, 10.43 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless
Arts and Television Weekly

Another week, another 100 best albums of all time list. Of which I own exactly 11.

You call them cell phones, I call them mobiles, let's switch the damned things off.

Carousel is too fluffy and has poor musical content. In Kendal, of all places, there's an outcry over the musicals that should be put on. Sam Mason, head of the Brewery Arts Centre, has declined a booking from the local Amateur Operatic Society to perform the Rogers and Hammerstein tale of botched robbery, marital abuse, and violent death. "It would offer nothing new or interesting to our audience," claimed Mr Mason, neglecting to point out that Carousel has not been performed since 1984. Clearly, this man is two stages short of a theatre.

Readers who enjoyed a B-E-E on Thursday night may be interested in my comparison with the UK equivalent.

And Ursprache, that's a bit easy, especially given the definition (German: the language of Ur).

Have we slipped into the world of Thursday Next? We ask because Challen 5 is interested in making a pro-celebrity croquet tournament. And because Yorrick Kane's ovinator seems to have found a place in Downing-street (at least until the cleaner turned it off a couple of months ago).

An internet rival is in deep trouble after just a month. Chariot, which operates the "Monday" game, launched in a blaze of publicity last month. The first draw was delayed owing to technical faults, and it has taken about £400,000 per week since. Even worse, being an internet-only operation, there's no live television show for protesters against Eamonn Holmes to invade.

And on the telly...

What's to make of this week's non-game-show television? Really rather liked Paul Merton's Silent Clowns, yet another triumph for The Fourth Programme. The Greatest Story Ever Sold was a peek behind the marketing of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, and confirming that it really is money for old rope. Every Prime Minister Needs a Willie - well, it's Julia Hartley-Brewer, it's deputy prime ministers, it can't go wrong. Especially with clips of Hezza. JHB cropped up on Have I Got Fourth Programme Presenters For You? alongside Paul Merton (qv), Mark Steel (of Lectures) fame, and Ian Hislop. So which intellectual did they get to host? Jeremy "Channel 5 is too upmarket for me" Clarkson. And Charmed has finished, thank %deity%.

Andrew Rilstone on the weakness of CBBC Wales's Doctor Who. The main purpose of Season 2 is to get renewed for Season 4. (Season 3 is in the bag.) To achieve this, RTD needs there to be impressive gobbets that can be put into the trailers. He needs people to know that the Cybermen are coming back even if they don't know what a Cyberman is; in much the same way that even of us who don't know anything about cricket can hardly avoid knowing that someone called Wayne Rooney has twisted his ankle.

All of which leads us neatly to the definitive list of sci-fi cliché.

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posted 03 Jun 2006, 12.15 +0100

Culture| Television

Sun 04 Jun 2006

Question Muck This Week

On the panel to-night:

Diane Abbott (9th appearance; 1st 12.06.1986 with Jeffy Archer and Alan "Anecdote for every candidate" Watson; last 17.02.2005 with Johan Hari and Heather Mills McCartney; usu. appears on This Week with Michael Portfolio and Andrew Kneal.)

Michael Gove (3rd app.; 1st 29.03.2001 with Ming; last 14.10.2004 with Harman. Now level with University Challenge apps.)

Michael Winner (5th app.; 1st 22.10.1998 with Ron Davies; last 23.06.2005 with Peter Hain. Made as many apps. on Noel's House Party)

Alain de Botton (2nd app.; previous 11.03.2004 with then-immigration minister Bev. Hughes. Has 3 apps. on Steve Wright in the Afternoon.)

Mary-Ann Bighead (11th app.; 1st 16.10.1986 with Sleazil Parkinson. Appd in consecutive wks 14 and 21.03.2002, latterly with Patrick Moore. Hasn't appd since.)

Winner and Bighead appeared together on 22.10.1998. Gove and Bighead were on the Journalists team in University Challenge: The Professionals in 2003. Here comes the moderator, so let's all shout...

Question One! Will a knife amnesty work? Gove says that laws need to be tougher, and blames films. Winner says that things were far worse in the Victorian era, clearly speaking from direct experience. Abbott suggests that the problem lies in youth culture. Botox says that knives are popular because guns are unavailable. Bighead skirts the issue. Gove and one of the bungalowheads frame the question in terms of time spent in prison, which isn't really the question. Good start from the newcomer, who had Abbott clinging on to the referee for protection.

2. Is the giving up of Dorneywood enough to keep John Prescott in post as deputy prime minister? Abbott says probably not, because the southern media hates him. Winner suggests that a photo of Prescott playing table tennis, instead of croquet, would not have been a story. Bighead says that he is a failure in his official roles. One of the bungalowheads suggests that this is a distraction from Labour's many failings in the NHS. Botox adds little of interest; Gove is glad Prescott wasn't running another department into the ground.

3. Have tax cuts become the new political taboo? Bighead says the Tories - who have put tax cuts below stability - will be fighting the last election, but that's better than fighting the 1983 election again. Bottle wonders how the Tories will reform government. Winner is looking like an orange prune and says that all governments are useless. Gove has been pulling faces, says that current finance minister Gordon Brown has made Britain less competitive, and that the economy will be a wreck when they come into office. Abbott comes in too late to have much to say.

4. Is the US government's willingness to talk to Iran a sign that it has learned lessons from Iraq? Bottle says that you've got to be careful when negotiating with madmen. Gove suggests it's the Iranians who are being irrational. Abbott says Bush has learned nothing. Winner suggests that Gove will go in with a hacksaw and stop him. Bighead drones on.

5. Is the amalgamation of police forces a good idea? Winner spies vested interests. Abbott says that the interior minister will have to think a little more; says the interior ministry has always been a disaster area. Gove says that bigger is not always best, and the police are falling down on the job. Bighead agrees with Gove. Botty urges improvements in communication.

6. Should co-habiting couples be given the same rights as married couples? Gove says no, but yes, but no. Winner picks on Gove for his puzzled expression, ignoring a similar one from the ref. Bighead is in favour of same-sex civil partnerships precisely because breeders can always get married; lack of education can be rectified. Bobo suggests part of the problem is a matriarchal hegemony. Abbott says that some don't want to get "trapped" by marriage.

And that's it for a - well - dull edition of everyone's favourite cream show. If we absolutely must pick a winner, it would be Gove, more for his facial contortions than anything. Loser would have to be Winner. Torquay next week; if our learned friends at Not Little England will be toddling along, don't forget to bring your own muck-muck.

Oh! Model answers: What are you trying to get out of it; No; Yes, as they have been since 16.09.1992; Miracles might happen; No; No.

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posted 04 Jun 2006, 11.09 +0100

Politics
Day's eye

A piece in to-day's Sunset Times suggests that modern technology can prevent a group such as Coldplay sounding like high-pitched chipmunks when their music was speeded up. Which is a shame, because that's just about the only way to listen to the most boring group on the planet at the moment; twice as fast, so they do sound like chipmunks.

Still on the big mouthed beasts, looks like last Friday's terror raid in East London was to inspire terror in the populace, not to protect anyone from anything. There's been a similar raid in Canada, which we're meant to believe was "inspired by" al-Qaeda. Not funded by, not linked to, merely inspired by.

On the upside, CPS considers charging Blair. That's Ian Blair, the head of London's police force.

Diamond Geezer is going up the East London Line, one station at a time.

The Dilbert-meister, Scott Adams, writes about his dislike for unclear queues. "The first person is blameless because one person can’t form a line even if he tries." What rot; anyone knows that an Englishman, standing on his own at a bus stop, will form an orderly queue by himself. Mr Dilbert clearly needs to spend more time on the London Underground, where a clear crypto-queue forms before each service.

How to board a plane is very simple. Windows first, then aisles, and go from the back to the front. Clearly, this simple insight is beyond any dumb colonial, for it has taken a team of Arizoners (the most sensible colonials past the Appelacians) to reach the obvious conclusion.

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posted 04 Jun 2006, 12.16 +0100

Intellectual
Music in week 22

Apparently, it's fashionable to provide a list of one's most-heard musical performers over the previous week. Here's my top ten.

orson                 5
feeling               5
beatfreaks            4
the 1900s             4
daz sampson           3
tobias regner         2
bajofondo tangoclub   2
najoua belyzel        2
sandi thom            2
texas lightning       2

To France this week, where the contestants on Nouvelle Star (guess what, yet another vote-off programme) are at 10 with J'irai chanter. Not if some of us have anything to do with it. Akhenaton put Foot de rue at 9, the English language version would presumably be Soccer-street. Diams' La boulette has been massive for a few months, now at 8, and Pigloo's cover of Le papa pingouin is 7. At least it's not a trance version of What's another year? Najoua Belyzel is another big hitmaker, Gabriel at 6. Les Enfoires (yep, another vote-off mob) put Le temps qui court at 5. Bob Sinclar's World hold on is 4, Gergory Lemarchal and Lucie Silvas combine for Meme si (what you're made of) at 3, and it's got to be the best thing she's done. Shakira's Hips don't lie is number 2, and Pakito retain the top spot with a loose cover of Living on video.

North Europe's Top Twenty

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

Sandi Thom, pretend internet popstar par excellence. And the Feeling, with a far more upbeat tune than their debut.

Britain has a new number one, as Sandi Thom climbs past the now-deleted Gnarls Boring song to the top spot. She's done it on a relatively low sale, and becomes the first Scottish act to top the singles chart since David Sneddon's under-rated Stop living the lie ruled the roost in January 2003. Excluding the worst best-seller ever, no Scottish group has topped the chart since a little ditty called Love is all around. Gnash becomes the first record to give out after nine weeks since Two tramps by Frankie Goes To The Bank.

Below, Keane climbs to 3 with Is it any wonder, the first single from their new album. Pink's newie is also into the top five. Kate Rusby has a number 6 hit, but it's with Ronan Bleating, and so is shite. Nelly Furtardo is also into the top ten, Maneater charts on downloads only, and Primal Scream make it a Scottish double in the top ten; this hasn't happened in a very long time indeed.

You can tell it's world cup season, because there's an awful load of gobshite around. Tony Christie re-makes last year's biggie as Is this the way to the world cup? and gets a number 11 hit. Stan Boardman, an unfunny comedian, performs Stan's world cup song - apparently, it's to the tune of Shelby coming round the mountain - and enough people buy it to make it number 19. And Embrace's obscure Adam Rickitt cover, World at your feet, lands at 38 on downloads.

Leann Rimes does decently well to place at number 22 with And it feels like, and there will be no objections to Paul Simon getting his first top 40 hit since 1990 with Father and daughter. One smells the scent of disappointment surrounding Loletta Holloway's Love sensation, the target of a confusing spoiler a couple of weeks ago, and only making number 37. Trouble sleeping, the second single from Corinne Bailey Rae, lands at 40 on full sales. And it turns out that last week's entry for Robbie Williams at number 22 wasn't on downloads - Sin sin sin slumps to position 41 this, and becomes his first record to miss the top 20 ever. The Darkness slump from 39 to 73 second week out. Has the bubble burst?

Beneath the 40, Three lions gets its inevitable re-promotion and lands at 48. Two places behind is The Annoying Thing's We are the champions, which isn't a version of the recent Lithuanian eurovision entry, but is a cover of Queen. The Streets chart in the 75 on downloads, as does Eurovision winner Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah is number 59, and is already a bigger hit than any Eurovision winner this decade, with the exception of Ruslana a couple of years ago. Prints is number 60, his bird flew many years ago. Gomez's bird never arrived, but that doesn't stop them from charting with Girlshapedlovedrug at 66.

Orson's album, Bright Idea, does something very useful and gets rid of the bloody Peppers. Pink climbs into the top ten. The Futureheads' News and Tributes lands at 12, AFI have Decemberunderground at 16. Upper Room enter at 50, Breaks Co-Op at 55, and Boards of Canada at 63.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 1  2 Sandi Thom - I wish I was a punk rocker
 3 15 Keane - Is it any wonder?
 5 19 Pink - Who knew?
 8 NE Nelly Furtardo - Maneater
10  5 Primal Scream - Country girl
15 14 Nerina Pallot - Everybody's gone to war
16 10 Feeling - Fill my little world
17 11 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
21  7 Matt Willis - Up all night
22 NE Leann Rimes - And it feels like
23 NE Automatic - Monster
24  8 Daz Sampson - Teenage life
25 21 Orson - Bright idea
26 20 Kooks - Naive
28 18 Sunblock / Robin Beck - First time
31 71 Paul Simon - Father and daughter
32 25 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
36 32 Orson - No tomorrow
37 NE Loletta Holloway - Love sensation
39 28 Raconteurs - Steady as she goes
40 NE Corinne Bailey Rae - Trouble sleeping
42 31 Fall Out Boy - Dance dance
46 44 Corinne Bailey Rae - Put your records on
47 33 Dirty Pretty Things - Bang bang you're dead
49 24 Futureheads - Skip to the end
52 48 Pink - Stupid girls
54 46 Boy Kill Boy - Suzie
56 36 Taking Back Sunday - Make damn sure
59 NE Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
65 45 Angels and Airwaves - The adventure
69 69 Fall Out Boy - Sugar we're going down
70 51 Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
72 56 Panic At The Disco - But it's better if you do

permanent link
posted 04 Jun 2006, 19.11 +0100

Entertainment
Weather in week 22

A mostly sunny week, but we were under the influence of northerly winds until Friday, so temperatures didn't rise significantly until then. It's been more calm since, and the temperatures have rocketed.

29 Mo sun and showers      7/13, 5.5
30 Tu sun                  6/13
31 We sunny spells         5/16
01 Th sun                  8/19, 1.0
02 Fr sun                  9/20
03 Sa sun                 10/23
04 Su sun, thunder pm     10/24, 1.0

The degree cooling days advances to 21, compared to 12/237 at this stage last year; degree heating days creep up to 808. A quarter-inch of rain on Monday took May's total above two inches, one of the wettest Mays on record.

The forecast: Sunny and moderately warm, but there will be a threat of showers working down through midweek, and thunder will never be far away. It's possible that the high pressure might slip east a little more quickly than is expected, resulting in a series of lows making their presence felt from the west; this may well happen next week-end anyway.

permanent link
posted 04 Jun 2006, 19.33 +0100

News

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