The Snow In The Summer or So-So

06/05/2006 - 06/11/2006

Mon 05 Jun 2006

Two Songs a Week, number 1

Consider this a short experiment. I can't do a song a day, because life intervenes, and because the quality would slip dramatically after a very short period. Instead, here's... Two Songs A Week, number 1.

Stop living the lie, written and performed by David Sneddon.

Let's face it, the BBC's version of Star Academy was an unmitigated television disaster. Patrick Kielty was a dick, Richard "Dogsby" Park was little better, and the whole she-boodle was nothing more than a spoiler for ITV's casting shows.

However, the programme did manage to unearth a number of quality singer-songwriters. From the 2003 second series came Alex Parks, Alistair Griffin, and James Fox. The previous year's series would eventually launch the unexceptional Lemar onto an unsuspecting world, but was won by a journeyman musician from Glasgow. A late addition to the show, Sneddon quickly rose through the ranks and outshone everyone - in part, thanks to a simple piano ballad that counterpointed the poor quality of guests including Mariah Carey. Released as the first single after the show, Stop living the lie spent a fortnight as the UK's best-seller, nestling rather comfortably between recent Popstars winners Council Estate Slappers and future Eurovision near-winners Tatu.

David Sneddon broke from the corporate tentacles after a year, and is currently working on his second album.

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posted 05 Jun 2006, 19.09 +0100

Two Songs a Week
To-day's top ten

1. Many happy returns to Emily Starr.

2. Many congratulations to Cara and Michael; Rose Georgina bloomed in late last night. Mother and daughter are doing fine, there is no report on father's condition.

3. The cricket, eh? England managed to salvage a draw from the teeth of victory in the first test, beat Sri Lanka handsomely in the second, but are crushed in the third quite badly. This is, of course, all a ploy to make the Australians think that last summer was a one-off, rather than a devilishly cunning masterplan:

1. Beat Australia 2-1 at home.
2. Go to Pakistan, have a dull series.
3. Send development team to India, come away with a respectable 1-1 draw.
4. Play dumb against Sri Lanka.
5. Scrape a 2-1 series win against Pakistan.
6. Lull the Aussies into a false sense of security.
7. Take a 2-0 lead before they know what's hit them.
8. Laugh all the way to elimination in the first round of the World Cup at the hands of the dangerous Canadians.

Er, yes.

4. Bong! Westminster bells silenced for repair. Mike McCann, Keeper of the Great Clock, said, "There is no text book with 'How to repair Big Ben' on the cover. You literally have to make it up as you go along with something like this, using people who know what they're doing." Isn't that a sackable offence in Westminster?

5. "Tickets are humble, democratic, unpretentious. And they do the job, twice over: afterwards, they transport you back to the show as efficiently as they got you into it in the first place." Tim de Lisle on the death of the ticket.

6. The difference between "shall" and "will" is very simple. But it's too hard for Newsweek. The rag - week by name, weak by nature - headlined its review of The Davince Code Thou Shalt Not Like It, putting enjoyment of the motion picture on a par with theft, adultery, or coveting thy neighbour's oxen. The headline they wanted uses a verb of prediction, not obligation: Thou Wilt Not Like It.

7. Blast from the Past - the Rhinoceros Party of Canada.

8. In current political news, my DAVIDBUTLER algorithm is showing a net transfer from the Lib Dems to the Conservatives. The flow over an eight-week period hasn't been in this direction since I started the project in early 2004. The model predicts the Conservatives to be the largest party, but still a significant way short of an overall majority. A Press Assoc. poll puts the Tories 10% ahead of Labour - a 41-31 lead is something I can't recall since the days of Gulf War II.

9. Madeline Bunting says Labour isn't listening. "You don't fit the story I want to tell about an upwardly mobile, dynamic Britain so I'll pretend you don't exist." And Blair wants more ASBOs, forgetting that they are a sign of failure and a last resort.

10. World cup? What's that?

11. Meg to the north east! Good grief, they're all off!

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posted 05 Jun 2006, 19.25 +0100

News

Tue 06 Jun 2006

Apart apart oh!

Back on the Six Apart Is Useless thread. Let the voice of the opposition be summed up by Kauricat, as representative of the people who don't see the point of action. Nothing personal - indeed, Kauricat is more eloquent than many others.

"So what if LiveJournal doesn't want a nipple or areola on a default userpic? How does that hurt anyone? It doesn't. It may be more restrictive than some people would like, but it doesn't hurt anyone."

Actually, it does. It says that breastfeeding is inherently sexual, and intimates that it's an obscene act. Both of these positions are false; the latter by common consent, the former by definition.

"I don't think this is just the tip of the nipple, as far as LJ/Six Apart turning into Nazis."

This is not the tip of the iceberg, because it is part of the warp and weft of Six Apart's outlook. The company is interested in its revenue stream, and this income is predicated on an advertiser-friendly site. In the culture that Six Apart is operating, it is politically correct to treat the human body as inherently obscene.

In full fairness, this is not entirely a problem of Six Apart's making. It stems from the uncritical acceptance of religious nutcases who have subverted and traduced democracy to trounce their own ends. The blame is not theirs alone. The blame goes to every person who sits back and accepts the actions of the religious reich. The blame goes to every United Station who didn't protest at the stolen elections in 2000 and 2004. The blame goes to every person who neglects their duty to oppose.

"I think they're creating and enforcing a proper rule to facilitate the continuing harmony of the community as a whole."

Here, we must disagree. Why should the religious nutjobs need to legislate when individuals will do their own work for them? Whether by accident or design, Six Apart has signed up to the oppression agenda. Pressing for freedom is the duty of every daughter and every son of the revolution. Otherwise some of us might wish to revisit the agreement of independence, and call attention to the clauses that are not being fulfilled.

Oh, you say, but I want my screen to be safe for work. Two points here. 1 - See notes above about political correctness. 2 - Are you not able to turn off all images? If you don't want to be offended, then don't put yourself in a position to be offended.

Onwards. Leswamp muses, "I'm curious as to how six apart justifies the loss of revenue. Is this strange insistence that breastfeeding is somehow inappropriate really worth losing money over? Even if it's a small amount? If I was running this business I would not want to lose a cent. Certainly not over this." Though the substantive question remains completely unanswered, the comments to the post contain a fantastic discussion on the pros and cons of turning off images.

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posted 06 Jun 2006, 19.10 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless
More short circuits
A trait of capitalism (in comparison to pre-capitalist agrarian economies) is that it operates based on a surplus of goods, unlike the agrarians who operated based on a scarcity of goods. Thus the challenge is not how to deal with scarcity, but how to solve surplus. This is the origin of the "brand", the reason we have corn and soy in everything we eat, and most of the major characteristics of modernity - solving the problem of surplus.

-- St Balbach.

Baker and out A full and fulsome tribute to Matt Baker, whose announced yesterday that he's to leave Blue Peter after seven years. His replacement - who will follow Stuart Miles, Anthea Turner, Yvette Fielding, Janet Ellis, Sarah Greene, Tina Heath, and Lesley Judd in the Not Quite As Authoritative As Valerie Singleton role - will be unveiled in September's new season.

How to get married, and why it shouldn't be necessary to fly to Canada to do it. Or, if you prefer, sex is chess by other means. And oh for a proper intellectual pursuits blog where one might discuss the Chess Championships without such distractions.

Tory watch Leading Thatcherite reconsiders role of private sector. Wait, what's the date again? Phew. Thought the Tories were being serious about this cuddly lark. Anyway, Not Little England has another good wheeze for Dave - voting reform. Predictably, Het Grauniad isbemoaning the loss of the left. Try this for a thought experiment. What if it's actually in the objective interests of the middle and working classes to vote for Cameron at the next election because New Labour has become so rightwing and out of touch? No, try this for a thought experiment. It's in the objective interests of the middle and working classes to vote for Howaerd at the last election because New Labour has become so rightwing and out of touch.

Labour watch Labour, meanwhile, is sacking 46 staff, giving respectability to the BNP, and shows distinct signs of falling apart at the seams.

More disinformation from ROPRA Keep off downloads, says music industry bigwig. "Huge numbers of people could be inadvertently breaking the law," claims a retained lawyer. Could being the operative word here; other legal experts suggest that all of mp3 is correctly licensed, and that any offence would be committed by the company, not the customer.

Parliamentary falsehood of the day Shaun Woodward, you tell lies. "After [digital] switchover, viewers in Wales who currently receive BBC Wales, ITV Wales and S4C in analogue terrestrial form, will continue to receive those services in digital form. But these services are also available on satellite to the whole country." The version of S4C available via satellite to the UK is a Welsh-only version, without the time-shifted Channel 4 programmes. Furthermore, the BBC has a policy of only purchasing rights for sporting events to cover Wales, not the entire country. The analogue programmes are not the same as the digital satellite programmes, and it is menacious of Mr Woodward to suggest they are.

What's the day today? Before over-reacting to the whole 6/6/06 business, the consensus view is that the bible's famous Mr Christ was born on or about Kalends Septimus in the year we know as IV BC. Which means that to-day is, on a trivially simple calculation, VIII Ides Iunius MMMLXIII AVC. In reality, it's more likely to be VII Kalends Iunius, for the Romans tried to keep their calendar in step with the moon.

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posted 06 Jun 2006, 19.20 +0100

News

Wed 07 Jun 2006

Fallout

Six Apart founder Anil Dash has weighed in on the Tit or No Tit mess (comment at 11.08 on 5 June). Regrettably, he didn't put a declaration of interest in his post, and passed himself off as an interested observer. Mr Dash states:

It's probably worth noting that there's no limitation on LJ users having whatever pictures of their nipples they want as a user icon on the service. The policy is only about the default user pictures, and only about ones that elicit a report from someone else in the community. It is worth noting, as Anna said, that this whole thing was stirred up by a self-admitted troll, which doesn't say much about the willingness of everyone to participate in the contretemps.

And yeah, a 100-pixel-square icon that might be one of dozens that you can display on your journal doesn't seem *exactly* equivalent to being forced to sit in the back of the bus because of your skin color [sic], but I've long since given up trying to understand why different people prioritize different things in different ways. I just wish, as always, people were more focused on facts (like the fact that the LJ team practices *far less* censorship than, say, every single other journal or blogging service out there) but people seem to like getting stirred up.

And we're all guilty of the lack of perspective... I'm pretty sure there's still systematic rapes going on in the Congo, but as long as they're not infringing on the "right" for us in the first world to tweak our icons on our blogs, they don't have to fear political action.

1. Mr Dash is incorrect to suggest that the problem was started by a troll. The record shows that it was started by a member of the abuse "staff" passing judgement on someone's icon.

1a. This is also a charge against the Livejournal abuse team.

2. There is a moral equivalence between surpressing someone's promised right to free speech and telling them where to go. I leave the actual mechanics as an exercise for the reader's sense of morality. In Mr Dash's case, I fear that this is a nugatory exercise.

3. The Livejournal team is more censorious than the administrator of this journal. It is also more censorious than Blogger. If we're going to start waving about facts, would someone be so kind as to ensure they are true facts.

4. Events in Zaire are bad. They are also beyond our ability to directly influence. What we can do is to speak up against injustice and repression in our own communities whenever we find it. That's where I'm coming from, a concept known as picking one's battles.

It appears that there's a back-slappy series of postings praising the Livejournal abuse team by past and present members. Here's what someone calling herself Wild, Restless Sea said:

I have seen members of the Abuse Team -- some of my dearest friends -- subjected to unwarranted vicious personal attacks and insults. Why was that necessary? Why must people be so awful to each other instead of engaging in civilized debate and discourse? LJ did not make an "attack on women and mothers", and to claim that they did is nothing short of ridiculous, as well as being a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

The last thing I will say on this matter is that deleting your journal for 24 hours in some sort of silly boycott is about as useful as not buying gasoline for 24 hours. If you really feel so strongly about the issue that you want to take your ball and go home, there are plenty of other journalling sites out there that you can use. [...]

The people on the team work hard to make sure you can tell all your friends what flavor [sic] of ice cream your cats are this week. Theirs is a thankless and vitally important job, and they do it for free, because they care about the site. Please try to remember that.

1. It is clear that the site's policy is being applied in a cavalier and inconsistent manner, and it is only right that those who are committing some of the more egregious sins should be held accountable for their actions. The public comments of one Abuse person have been personal attacks on people, and this doesn't exactly encourage civilised debate.

2. A very valid point, which does explain why I've scarpered.

3. This, actually, is the crux of the matter. Why is this task entrusted entirely to volunteer staff, and a staff that appears to operate without significant management overview. A professional abuse staff, or a staff that operated in a professional manner with appropriate checks and balances, would do much to encourage confidence in Livejournal and in Six Apart. At present, the abuse team as a whole is amateurish in performance and management, and this reflects poorly on the site as a whole.

And so does this correspondence from Six Apart

We agree that there is a double standard in play -- unfortunately, it is the double standard we have inherited from the culture LiveJournal is located in. We do sincerely look forward to being able to revise our policies as society becomes more accepting of the unclothed human body.

[hits head against wall]

The whole thing has a whiff of over-cautious lawyers who'd prefer to not go through some sort of obscenity trial, says MPH. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Six Apart is explicitly exporting the culture of the religious reich across the world, and I cannot and will not stand for this.

To-morrow, in what may well be the final act of Tit or No Tit for the moment, a look at some actual hard facts.

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posted 07 Jun 2006, 18.57 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless
Express deliveries

The text of the news item describes fairly un-sensational events which, so far as I can tell, really happened in the real world. But this text is surrounded by headlines, sub-headlines, cartoons, captions, phone-in polls, readers letters, and op-ed columns -- all of which tell a completely different, and much more dramatic story. - Andrew Rilstone applies Newtonian logic to Daily Express Universe. The paper really is a laugh-a-minute, and this has to be amongst the best articles I'll read all month.

Council of Europe reports on extra-ordinary renditions. Tony Blair says that he has nothing to say. Why is he still in office?

Bird 'flu is the fault of intensive poultry farming. Certainly explains how it leaped from the far East to Europe last year.

New Office, new fonts. The typefaces that will dominate the web within three years. "Thin-style" fonts? Unreadable nonsense, more like.

The first update appeared at exactly 8.05pm, which is probably a record (only one minute after the draw was completed). A shame that ITV teletext failed to update their jackpot figure at the top of their sub-pages today - it wasn't until tomorrow that they got their act together.

-- Ten years ago, the world's best lottery webpage was automatically updated by a series of automated jobs taken from teletext.

Recount away! The botched count that led to Birmingham appearing to have a BNP councillor, elected on a 127% turnout, will be re-held.

Google admits to selling out over Red China.

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posted 07 Jun 2006, 20.42 +0100

Print

Thu 08 Jun 2006

Short cuts for a hot day

The Not The World Cup Quiz and Five Proms to Follow from the Torygraph.

The Iraqis claim that al-Zarqawi is dead; independent corroboration is not yet available. He's been blamed by the occupying forces as the root of all resistance to their rule, but has been spurned by Mr bin Laden as "too extreme".

The Newfoundland cod fishery will re-open for a year. There has been a general closure of commercial fishing since 1992, though some small-scale catches were allowed later.

The last bastion of female education falls: St Hilda's Oxford to admit men. Does this mean that they might compete with the likes of St John's and Gonville and Caius as a decent quizzing college?

Listening to this year's official Eurovision CD, then. Which genius decided to put Iceland, Lithuania, and Latvia back-to-back? The silliness threatens to ooze out.

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posted 08 Jun 2006, 19.51 +0100

News
What, is there some sport on?

Right, some game predictions for who will progress from the group phases of the football world cup.

Group A of Horses: Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador

We say: Germany, Costa Rica. Germany cannot fail to take two wins from these three opponents, and the Costa Rica - Poland match (20 June, 4pm CET) will be decisive.

Group B of Unwatchable: England, Sweden, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago

We say: Sweden, England. Both are at least two cuts above the other sides. Who wins the group, and (presumably) avoids Germany in the next round, could go to goal difference. Match to watch: Paraguay - Trinidad and Tobago (20 June, 9pm), because no-one else will.

Group C of Good: Netherlands, Argentina, Cote d'Ivoire, Serbia and/or Montenegro

We say: Netherlands, Cote d'Ivoire. A very difficult group to call, but Argentina seem to be a side on the way down, and SeM are tedious in the extreme. Match to watch: Argentina - CdI (10 June, 9pm).

Group D of Piss Easy For Portugal (But Remember Last Time): Mexico, Portugal, Iran, Angola

We say: Mexico, Iran. Purely because Portugal cannot get out of a wet paper bag, never mind a group that contains two decent sides. Match to watch: Mexico - Portugal (21 June, 4pm).

Group E of Death: Czechia, Italy, United States, Ghana

We say: Czechia, FARCE. Revenge for Euro 96 is on the cards. Match to watch: Czechia - Italy (22 June, 4pm).

Group F of Blimey That's Good: Brazil, Japan, Croatia, Australia

We say: Brazil, Croatia. But only just. Match to watch: Croatia - Australia (22 June, 9pm).

Group G of Gary Lineker: France, Korea (S), Switzerland, Togo

We say: Bring a pillow. There's a reason why ITV will show none of these matches, they're all going to be dull. Match to watch: Clown - Carol Hersee (BBC Testcard 24).

Group H of Interesting: Spain, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine

We say: Spain, Tunisia. Spain will win the group at a canter, and it's quite possible that the second place will be settled by goal difference. Match to watch: Tunisia - Ukraine (23 June, 4pm), because if all other matters remain equal, the game will finish with kicks from the penalty mark to decide who goes through, and I'd love to see Motty explain that!

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posted 08 Jun 2006, 19.52 +0100

Sport
Two Songs a Week, number 2

Continuing our run down the British singles chart (when we reach the bottom with nothing else to talk about, we'll move on to somewhere else in Europe, and so on), we reach position 10, and Primal Scream. And that's not a phrase you'll have heard before, as ver Scream have only ever had two other top tenners.

Formed by Bobby Gillespie, quondam drummer for the Jesus and Mary Chain, the group have moved uneasily between Stones-esque rock and fashionable indie-pop-rave-trickery. I first heard of the group from their rave anthem Loaded, a hit in 1990 after a radical remix by Andy Weatherall. Three more singles - all of them completely forgettable - followed before the album Screamadelica's release in September 1991. Almost a year later, it won the inaugral Mercury Music Prize; in retrospect, this was the award showing its colours as a slavish follower of trends. Cod-gospel single Moving on up, perhaps the group's best-known song, came from this period.

1994 saw a return to the roots sound, but lead single Rocks was annoying in its simplicity. The luscious I'm gonna cry myself blind was the only tolerable track on the album, so (of course) failed to tickle the charts. After a record to celebrate Scotland's brief appearance at the Euro 96 football tournament, the group returned in 1997 with the Vanishing Point album. To my ears, this is their most consistent work, trying to bridge the gap between 60s-style rock and contemporary dance grooves. The second single, Star, is a particular favourite of mine, being a hummable melody set to a complex beat. That it came out in the flaming June of a sunny summer helps.

2000's Xtrmntr album was dark and not particularly interesting, and deserved to be consigned to the basement of history. Two years later came Evil Heat, perhaps best remembered for the eye-popping video to lead single Miss Lucifer. A greatest hits collection in 2003 was lost in the milieu, perhaps the best reflection of a band that's always tried, but never quite succeeded.

The story doesn't end there, as Country girl, the first single from Riot City Blues, gave the group their first top 5 hit, and their biggest airplay smash since Rocks. The new song is back in the rock-dance space, but with at least a hint of country and/or western twang.

Now hear this: Star (Gillespie / Innes / Young / Duffy)

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posted 08 Jun 2006, 21.39 +0100

Two Songs a Week

Sat 10 Jun 2006

Balls up!

M'learned friend Mr Pokery points out that five consecutive numbers appeared in a recent daily lottery draw. "What are the chances of that, eh?" he asks.

The probability of a sequence of S balls appearing in a lottery where D draws are made from B balls is a moderately well-known result.

D! * (B-S)! * (B-S+1)
---------------------
    B! * (D-S)!

It's the usual one-over-B-choose-D, modified for the constraints of the sequenced balls. I leave the details of the derivation as an exercise for the reader.

In this case, S = 5, D = 7, B = 27, and the probability is - roughly - 0.006. We'd expect this sort of thing to happen every 167 draws or so - about once every six months.

A sequence of 6 is somewhat less probable, and would return every 1922 games. That's once in 6.2 years, so we're not overdue.

In the main part of the main lottery, there will be a triple roughly once every 10 weeks; runs of four should happen once every three years.

And for UK Deal or No Deal, a run of four consecutive boxes in the first five should happen once every 77 games; that they're all blue (or all red) is a once-in-180 game chance. A run of five is a once-in-five-years happening; taking out the bottom five (or the top five) is something that Noel will probably never see.

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posted 10 Jun 2006, 09.10 +0100

Intellectual
You call it yoof telly, I call it telly

How old is too old to be watching yoof tv? asks Jo Wood. There's no such thing as yoof tv, merely television targetted at specific audiences.

So, Thursday night's Veronica Mars, then, and this article contains mild spoilers for the season 2 premiere. Which, quite honestly, has a certain whiff of shark-meat eminating from somewhere near the show's feet. Either Veronica is blowing what she sees out of its greater significance (not entirely unreasonable, given that she's at the centre of most of it), or the Rest Of Neptune is a bunch of two-dimensional cartoon characters. Indeed, the social structure of Neptune is a bit implausible to begin with, but I was prepared to let that drop as an Episode 1 gripe. Can't do that any more; the whole oh-niner rich-and-poor division is wearing already, and new viewers ain't gonna want to start here.

Short cuts ... Lady, put some clothes on ... What would be the real effects of burning a swimming pool? ... Boatloads of Fun - if there isn't a bigger story here, that was a waste of a decent plot idea ... The claim in the final scene must fall into the unsubstantiated but plausible category ... Embrace and the Delays on the soundtrack? Cool ... ObNewsTickerWatch: there's news of a war in Uganda. But no report that the Chinese have bred a new panda.

Nothing happens by accident? Perhaps, but this year's (apparent) Big Mystery lacks a lot of the charm of last year's, and there aren't two big and half-a-dozen small mysteries in the opening episode. I'm reminded of the second year of Murder One, where Slappy Hoffman had taken off and much of the first episode involved finding his replacement, Jimmy Why-oh-Whyler. Never quite the same afterwards.

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posted 10 Jun 2006, 10.20 +0100

Television

Sun 11 Jun 2006

Forest Gate 2, Police 0

The government's partial climbdown on the Parliamentary Scrutiny (Abolition) Bill doesn't satisfy critics. "The powers contained in the bill remain over-broad and vaguely drawn," says a report from Lord's.

The sister of a man arrested last week in a police publicity stunt has described the early-morning gun battle as barbaric and horrific. She's urging people to protest on Sunday next week; a threatened protest by an extremist group last Friday melted under the hot sun. The two people detained during the raid have been freed without charge, lending credence to suggestions that the police bungled the whole thing again. The police are blaming the security services, and they're blaming their source. Singular. Obscure Tory backbencher Iain Duncan Cough mutters that briefings won't help anyone.

Sports news, and though Justine Henin-Hardenne tried her hardest, she failed to lose the French Open final in two sets yesterday, 6-4 6-4. It was shocking, but (by all accounts) slightly better viewing than the rubbish football on at the time.

Apparently, it's news that yesterday's hot weather didn't cause the train service to collapse.

Former Oneword presenter Iain Dale lists his top 50 political blogs. Openly reflecting his persuasion, there's an awful lot of right-wingery there.

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posted 11 Jun 2006, 10.59 +0100

News
TONT - the final notes

The fundamental point of Tit or No Tit is that Six Apart has been irritating people with a high disposable income. People who are more likely to throw some of that money towards a service they like, and to stop paying - or take their custom elsewhere entirely - if they get offended. Six Apart has been pissing off its paying customers, and that is a singularly foolish path to tread. Stillcarl develops this point further.

Meanwhile, there's a grousing that Six Apart offers a raw deal to European users of its flagship Trypepad products. Someone claiming to be Six Apart SA's European head wrote:

If you could think one second why prices in euros do not reflect conversion €/USD you could understand that we have a local team that is paid in euros, provide support in many local languages and my employees don't want to get paid in USD 30% less. Customers who don't want any local support or language support can always go to TypePad.com and signup a USD account.

I have doubts about the authenticity of this comment - no learned European would pluralise the currency by suffixing a "s". The staffing structure proposed is an implicitly dollar-centric view of the world, which probably does lend credence to the claim. It's bad economics, though - this is an era when the dollar has been markedly less stable against your average major currency than the euro. Just this year, the month-on-month volatility of the dollar against sterling, yen, and euro has been 9%, compared to around 7% for the euro and yen. Euro-yen volatility has been 9%, euro-pound just 5%.

Anyway, enough currency conversions, I am not Ross Westgate, more's the pity. Did the one-day deletion have any marked effect on the account statistics?

       Users    New     30-day   7-day   1-day  plus
03-06 10363584  6006   1192566  713821  195906  2156
04-06 10370087  6503   1192892  717186  220519  2274
05-06 10377740  7640   1195732  721936  260641  2275
06-06 10385229  7552   1196909  723059  262802  1763
07-06 10392649  7555   1196456  723307  254125  2274
08-06 10400130  7395   1195882  721538  249783  2391

No, would be the answer there. And it's a pretty emphatic no at that.

Finally, Anil Dash - one of the men who is directly responsible for Six Apart, all it owns, and all it does - has blogged about a mistake his company made. You're entitled to one free mistake every once in a while on your blog. We'll try to keep ours to a minimum, but you can feel free to use us as an example if somebody tries to tell you bloggers are an unforgiving bunch. In Mr Dash's example, someone spotted that they had goofed, and took steps to rectify the matter. In the case of Tit or No Tit, Six Apart didn't spot that it had goofed, dug itself deeper and deeper into a hole, and hasn't done anything by way of apology or correction.

That is where we shall leave the picture, with a company that doesn't give a flying footle about its customers.

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posted 11 Jun 2006, 11.45 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless
Music in week 23

Starting with the most-heard ten.

kelly clarkson   5
orson            5
snow patrol      4
shakira          4
feeling          4
primal scream    4
loletta holloway 3
sandi thom       3
nerina pallot    3
texas lightning  3

There's no point in my providing a commentary on the Swedish pop scene when Jessica Poptastic has done it far better.

It's all change in France this week, where former Pop Star Idol Academy winner Amel Bent is straight in at 2 with a version of Eye of the tiger that manages to be even worse than the original. The Diams Jeune Demoiselle is in at 4, Lorie has Parti pour Zouker at 5, and Tina Arena's back with Je m'appelle Bagdad. Bob Sinclar and Upa Dance also have top ten entries in a chart that makes Finland's look stable.

Two new entries into the German top five - there's no shifting Texas Lightning and Shakira, but Herbert Gronemeyer's official world cup anthem, Zeit dass sich was dreht is in at 4, one place ahead of Hard rock hallelujah. Lower down is Yoomii's Gimme gimme gimme - it's not clear if this is an ABBA cover.

Old songs persist elsewhere on the continent - Trine Dyrholm is back at the top in Denmark, something like 20 months after Mr nice guy was first released. She's a youngster when compared to the eight-year old song that's in the Norwegian top 20, the Goo Goo Dolls' Iris.

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 20 Juanes - La camisa negra
*19 re Pakito - Living on video
 18 15 Rhianna - SOS
*17 17 Feeling - Fill my little world
*16 re Infernal - From Paris to Berlin
 15 re Depeche Mode - Suffer well
 14 13 Bob Sinclar - World hold on
*13 19 Sandi Thom - I wish I was a punk rocker
*12 NE Keane - Is it any wonder?
 11  4 Daz Sampson - Teenage life
*10 16 Texas Lightning - No no never
  9 10 Orson - No tomorrow
  8  8 Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani california
  7  5 Mary J Blige / U2 - One
  6 11 Kelly Clarkson - Because of you
* 5  9 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
  4  2 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
  3  3 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
* 2  7 Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
* 1  1 Shakira - Hips don't lie

Just the one newie this week, the completely expectable newie from Keane.

There's a huge backlash against Sandi Thom at the moment - No rock 'n' roll fun suspect that her song is as self-penned as the average Junior Eurovision entry. And if we're to believe some commentators on Usenet, Pink's Who knew? owes a lot to Kelly Clarkson's Since you've been gone.

That much is speculation, this is fact. There's some football on. Embrace's official song is World at your feet, which doesn't mention football or a competing team once. It's number 3, five places ahead of Is this the way to the world cup, which rhymes me with plasma screen teevee. Really. Lower down come the quadrennial re-release of Three Lions, a number one in 96 and 98, number 16 in 2002, and back at 10 to-day. The Annoying Thing has done We are the champions at 11, and the grinding you might be able to hear is Lord Lucan muttering into Elvis Presley's ear. At 13, the Tonedeaf Allstars have Who do you think you are kidding Jurgen Klinsmann, set to the Dad's Army theme tune and incorporating a bizarre rap. Stan's world cup song clumbs to 15, and down at 30 is Scotland Scotland Jason Scotland by the Trinidad and Tobago Tartan Army. One of the T&T players is named Scotland, plays in Perth, and has been adopted by the Scots. The Talksport Allstars have the equally confusing We're England (Tom Hark) at 37, and Koopa's Stand up for England has fallen short at 79. For some strange reason, there's no place for the Neil and Christine Hamilton song. Can't think why.

Elsewhere, Nelly Furtado goes all rap on us, and has the best-selling single she's been threatning since her 2001 debut, beating Sandi Thom by a whisker. The Automatic's singalong Monster storms up to 4. New at 14 is Mozza's second single from the album, a respectable place, but he won't be top 40 next week. Depeche Mode have lifted four singles from their current LP, and all have gone top 20 in the UK. It'll be interesting to see if this follows the other three into the North Europe Top 20; the band's not had four top 20 hits from one album since 1993-4. Second single from the Streets lands at 20, Lordi climbs to 25. The duet between Mariah Cantsing and Snoop Dogg is number 27, which is also the product of their IQs. Trouble at the Sugababes' mill - not only are the group airbrushing out best babe ever Siobhan Donaghy's vocals from the forthcoming singles collection, but the new single can only make position 32 on full release. Smallest hit ever! Even smaller: Duncan From Blue at 35. Smaller yet: Charlie From Busted's band Fightstar, who land at 47, one place behind the third-week sales of Matt Busted. Shakira hits the chart on pre-release, the Vines make 63 on full release.

All change on the album listing, as Sandi Thom holds off new entries from the Feeling, Ronan Bleating, Paul Simon, and Primal Scream as we have the first all-new top 5 ever. (Unless someone knows better). Leann Rimes charts at 15, Paul Oakenfold at 57, and Gomez at 69. Re-releases from Jam and Sonic Youth trouble the sixties, and there are old greatest hits albums (plus a new-ish one from Manfred Mann) clogging up the chart.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 1  8 Nelly Furtardo - Maneater
 2  1 Sandi Thom - I wish I was a punk rocker
 4 23 Automatic - Monster
 7  5 Pink - Who knew?
 9  3 Keane - Is it any wonder?
14 NE Morrissey - The youngest was the most loved
16 16 Feeling - Fill my little world
17 10 Primal Scream - Country girl
18 NE Depeche Mode - John the revelator
23 15 Nerina Pallot - Everybody's gone to war
25 59 Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
28 17 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
32 NE Sugababes - Follow me home
33 25 Orson - Bright idea
38 26 Kooks - Naive
39 NE Hope of the States - Sing it out
40 36 Orson - No tomorrow
42 28 Sunblock / Robin Beck - First time
43 31 Paul Simon - Father and daughter
44 32 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
46 21 Matt Willis - Up all night
47 NE Fightstar - Hazy eyes
48 24 Daz Sampson - Teenage life
49 22 Leann Rimes - And it feels like
50 39 Raconteurs - Steady as she goes
54 NE Shakira - Hips don't lie **
55 55 Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
57 46 Corinne Bailey Rae - Put your records on
58 47 Dirty Pretty Things - Bang bang you're dead
59 40 Corinne Bailey Rae - Trouble sleeping
60 42 Fall Out Boy - Dance dance
64 37 Loletta Holloway - Love sensation
72 NE David Gilmour - Smile

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posted 11 Jun 2006, 18.53 +0100

Entertainment
Weather in week 23

Another sunny week, initially under the influence of northerly winds that kept the temperatures low. As the wind swung easterly, the temps rose.

05 Mo sun                 11/20
06 Tu sun                 10/22
07 We sun                 14/25
08 Th sun                 13/26
09 Fr sun                 13/26
10 Sa sun, breeze         13/28
11 Su sun, cloud late     17/26

Degree cooling days - the excess of the daily maxima above 20 degrees C - storms up to 54, compared to 13/237 at this stage last year, and 43 two years ago.

The forecast: The area of high pressure that's brought sunny weather this week will slip away south-east, and a series of depressions will move just north-west of the UK. It's difficult to predict exact details, but there will be warmer and sunnier weather to the south and east; cooler and wetter in the north and west. One complicating factor is superheated Saharan air; a blast of this hot and unstable air will react with the approaching low to form thunderstorms and short-lived heavy showers, tracking over the south from west to east during Monday and Tuesday. As the week progresses, winds will turn more northerly, and by next week-end there will be significantly cooler and wetter weather to most parts. Exact detail cannot be predicted at this distance.

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posted 11 Jun 2006, 19.04 +0100

News

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