The Snow In The Summer or So-So

06/12/2006 - 06/18/2006

Mon 12 Jun 2006

See facts

M'learned friend Scott Somedisco reminds me of the wonderfulness of Ceefax, the original and best teletext system. You've not lived until you've watched a football match unfold on here, he says. Now, thanks to the information superhighway, you too can see live Ceefax pages on your computer screen. Computer Jones has moved to Bournemouth.

How to offend: the BBC's official short names in the Serbia &/ Montenegro -v- Netherlands match yesterday was... SER 0 HOL 0 Way to go, Aunty, offending something like one and a half countries - in one fell swoop! Serbia is not the entirity of Serbia and Montenegro. Holland is not the entirity of the Netherlands.

And the pictures from this year's competition really are awful. 2006 is the first year that pictures have been transmitted in widescreen, which instantly leads to a reduction in picture quality for the vast majority of viewers who don't watch in letterboxes. It's also the first time that there have been competing broadcasts of the same match - BBC or ITV coverage is complimented by satellite channel UKG2, and that's an even worse picture.

It appears that the Beeb is using its own - very ugly - on-screen graphics. The official captions, as seen on G2 and ITV, are slightly better, but the widescreen picture makes everything seem very small. There are too many high shots, too few close-ups of the actual action from the pitch level.

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posted 12 Jun 2006, 19.27 +0100

Intellectual
Something to read

One of m'learned friends asks for some good modern reading.

What I'm really looking for is a magazine / periodical that does essays and analysis on politics, culture, philosophy, art, etc. However, most magazines that seem to cover this ground are rooted in current affairs (and are rather parochial), and I'd rather read something that's original than just a better-researched newspaper article.

Good question, and I'm not sure I've found anything that quite fits the bill. The issue of Prospect magazine I read in March was worth reading, filling up a long train trip to Middlesbrough, and a good part of the return, but it's not something I'd particularly expect to read under more normal circumstances.

Many people mention the London Review of Books. The sample issue I picked up over Easter seemed obsessed by a hair-splitting argument about the Israeli lobby, a correspondence that still seems to be preoccupying the letters column. When things have quietened down, I may well pick up another copy and review properly.

The weekly thinkmags - the New New Statesman, the New Spectator, and the Not New At All Economist - have traditionally failed the news test. I've not yet seen a New New Statesman or a New Spectator, but other commentators suggest there's little change there. Similar arguments, particularly about the parochialism, extend to Timeless and Newsweak.

Wikipedia's huge list of magazines includes such delights as the Big Issue (absurdly difficult to get hold of, though I understand the crossword is reliably good), the bi-monthly Philosophy Now, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Compressed versions of existing reports, such as The Week and the Reader's Digest fall foul of the current affairs and depth rules, respectively. A similar argument prevents a rec for Private Eye.

From the overseas list, such titles as The Atlantic Monthly, Harpers' Magazine, the New Amsterdam Revue of Books, and New Amsterdammen. Import costs and postal delays will weigh heavily, even if the periodicals themselves don't.

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posted 12 Jun 2006, 19.42 +0100

Print
Two Songs a Week, number 3

Though the world cup began in 1930, it wasn't until 1966 that the record companies worked out that fans would buy any old tat if it was wrapped in the flag of football. World cup Willie was the first release, a hymn in praise of that year's championship, held in England, and won under dubious circumstances by the hosts.

By the time England defended her title in 1970, football had moved from something that fans watched to a mass spectator sport - a process that began within hours of the '66 victory, and continued as television exposure grew. There was an official song, Back home, featuring the very limited vocal talents of the first 22. It was the best-seller across the UK.

Future chances to advance musically were rather limited by England's failure to actually qualify for the final stages. That wasn't a problem for Scotland, who always took the last possible place, and always recorded another shout-a-long disk.

The art and craft of the official team song remained rooted in the early 70s, and was taken up by various clubs. Such loudly-hollered ditties as We all follow Man United and Hot shot Tot combined a familiar tune with lyrics confidently predicting victory in the FA cup final (for releasing such songs was mercifully restricted to the finalists), and pledging to support the team for an indefinite period in the future, as if the writer were going to defect to supporting the opposition if they turned out to be better.

The first sign of progress came in 1988, when the Liverpool side released the Anfield rap. Rather than mark their cup final appearance with a shout-a-long song, they'd try and be a bit with the times and record a talk-a-long song. It was a brave experiment, coming in for a lot of ridicule at the time, and a lot more after the side conspired to lose to Wimbledon, but the path forward was shown.

Not that all sides followed it - Manchester United were still churning out this derivative nonsense as late as 1997's Sing up for the champions - a song recorded in association with Jive Bunny, tat fans - but it was now clearly rubbish. For the 1990 world cup, some proper songs were recorded. England's FA got Manchester band New Order and comedian Keith Allen in a room, and refused to let them out until they'd written a classic song containing a rap. ...wordinmotion was the result, and we use such orthographic pedantry only because the song was a classic, being about football, but a more sedate, more pleasant form of the game. Gone was the fierce tribal loyaty that had marred the game for two decades, replaced by a chilled vibe.

The Scottish side also hit the mark, their Say it with pride effort featured many of the big names from local music - Big Country, del Amitri, Runrig, and others worked on a decent tune, albeit one that's now forgotten because it's about the one lion of Scotland, rather than England's triplication.

1990 was also remarkable for the first unofficial song to reach the top 40. Midlands band Pop Will Eat Itself recorded Touched by the hand of Cicciolina, mixing an old New Order track with their favourite Italian orn star turned MP. Though it was only a minor hit, its presence proved there was a market for footy-related tat.

It's surprising to recall that there was neither an England nor a Scotland song for the 1992 European championships, and no-one recorded anything for USA 94 because they weren't going. Except, that is, in the fevered imagination of Alistair McGowan. The radio impressionist put together a series of spoof reports under the title Route 1 USA, on the pretext that FIFA was allowing four teams that had narrowly missed out to play in Group G. The team was sent off but not before they'd recorded Philip Pope's E for England, a throwback to the shout-a-long ditties of the 80s.

A more organised historian would have found a copy of this song, and would be preenting it for you now. Instead, here's an earlier work by Pope, Next time, recorded after the England team's very modest success at the 1982 world cup.

Next time will cover the story of the football song from 1996.

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posted 12 Jun 2006, 19.55 +0100

Two Songs a Week

Tue 13 Jun 2006

And you get a bonus point!

When I wrote about it last week, I should have seen the follow-up coming. So, how often has there been a five-in-a-row on the Doily Play? Quite often: 31 May, 26 May, 9 Feb this year. Plenty of misses by one number during 2005, but we have to go back to 24 Dec 04 for the previous instance. Earlier in 2004, there was 28 Oct, 20 May, 10 Jan, and 21 Oct 03

Here's the set of results so far, proving eight five-in-a-rows. And no six-in-a-rows; the closest was 2-4-5-6-7-8-27 on 20 May 04.

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posted 13 Jun 2006, 20.55 +0100

Intellectual
Good deeds

In another place, one of m'learned friends wonders if charity is all it's cracked up to be. Is it like exchanging money for good vibes? It's around this point that we look behind the sofa and say - why, it's our furry friend with the big black hat, Rabbi Rabbit! Hello, Rabbi.

Hullo, Weaver. Hullo, readers. Today, I'd like to talk about tzedakah. Bless you! Sorry? You sneezed... No, silly boy. Tzedakah. A concept we translate into English as righteousness, though you know it better as charity. You know, a good rabbi always begins his talk with a quote from the Torah.

"When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger."

People will start thinking you're a good rabbi. OK, OK, I'll butt out. No need to throw your hat over me. You know, we see our gd as the real owner of all things. Whoever thinks they own a field, doesn't. They're merely renting it from gd. The rent that the owner demands is not money, it's not a claim on your soul. No, nothing so complex. The rent is simply a portion of the produce of the field, to distribute as gd sees fit, not the farmer. In practice, that honour is observed by leaving a bit round the edges for other people to take.

The excess at the edge is there for other people to take, that is its purpose. The farmer of the field doesn't mind when someone takes from the edge; indeed, he doesn't care when that last scrap goes. The farmer doesn't much care who takes the excess - he doesn't care who took it, he doesn't have to know who took it. And the person who takes this excess doesn't have to grovel and beg for the scraps, but is able to take it as a right.

The principle spreads further than basic farming, for who does that these days? In the twelfth century, Maimonides thought about this subject, and put down a hierachy of charitable acts. From top to bottom, he said:

1. Giving a poor person work (or loaning him money to start a business) so he will not have to depend on charity. The person is now free from having to rely on charity. The giver has not just helped the recipient for the short while, but instead for the rest of their life. There are four sub-levels to this:
A. Giving a poor person work.
B. Making a partnership with them (this is lower than work, as the recipient might feel he doesn't put enough into the partnership).
C. Giving a loan.
D. Giving a gift.
2. Giving charity anonymously to an unknown recipient.
3. Giving charity anonymously to a known recipient.
4. Giving charity publicly to an unknown recipient.
5. Giving charity before being asked.
6. Giving adequately after being asked.
7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
8. Giving unwillingly.

Now, how does this square with the giving of money for good feeling? It is certainly a tzedakah-compliant act to volunteer one's money or time for a cause, more so because it's not clear who will benefit, but by its voluntary nature, it's going to rank at level 5 or above. Purchasing forgiveness from hypothetical sin-eating monsters (waves in the general direction of Piggy Cowell) is not a waste, but it can never reach above level 6 on this scale. You're ahead of me - giving willingly is, per Maimonides, intrinsically better than waiting to be told to repent.

Rabbi Rabbit, thank you. There will be more from another friend of this website, Mystic Mug, to-morrow.

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posted 13 Jun 2006, 21.21 +0100

Introspective

Wed 14 Jun 2006

The interior minister is wrong. Again.

Rupert Murdoch's papers have taken up cudgels against the nation's judges. Magistrate-blogger Bystander points out:

This campaign start from the premise that only a prison sentence is a punishment, and the longer the sentence the greater the 'justice'. They assume that draconian punishments will always deter further offending - if only it were that simple. The campaign against judges has all the perfect ingredients for a tabloid editor such as Rebekah Wade of the Sun to exploit.

It's scary. The campaign is wrong. The statistics are out of proportion and misleading. At the end of the line is the desire to elect judges. Then God help us all. Ken Livingstone, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Hitler were all elected, and it was the decision of the mob that freed Barabbas. It doesn't give you much confidence in the judgement of the ill-informed populace does it?

Jonathan Freedland is dead wrong to back Mr Reid's grand-standing. Het Grauniad's columnist is not as mistaike-prone as his former colleague David Erronovitch, but he writes of

the fiction that judges are some kind of superbeing, who can only be deemed to have erred when their fellow judges say so (in the appeal process) is hard to maintain.

Cast your mind back two-and-a-half years, and wonder who might have written this piece.

Often when judges hand down their judgments, the lesser mortals arrayed below feel compelled to put aside their own biases or expectations and bow to the sheer logic and coherence of the legal argument. Whatever their final conclusions, long, detailed rulings in high-profile cases are often spellbinding essays in tight, rigorous reasoning.

Yesterday was not one of those days. Observers who had sat through every hour of the Hutton inquiry, reading and hearing the same evidence as his lordship, were left scratching their heads at his final thinking...

If an argument rages on long enough, we soon call for a judge to investigate it for us in the form of a public inquiry. We see and hear the same evidence he does, but still we invest in him some mystical power to reach a conclusive truth we have not seen. And eventually he comes down from the mountain, like the high priest of yore, and delivers his judgment.

Yesterday's show shattered that illusion. Suddenly you found yourself seeing through the grandeur and mystique and wondering, who exactly is this man? Why was he chosen for this task? What made him cast this whole, complex dispute so neatly in black and white?

We are not meant to think this way. We are meant to trust and accept the wisdom from on high. But that is becoming harder to do... Yesterday was a reminder that these people are human beings like any other. It seems worth remembering that, before he was a law lord, the judge was plain Brian Hutton.

At least he's being consistent there. But the greater point is lost - it is wrong for the interior minister to meddle in affairs of the judiciary. It's a symptom of the control-freak mentality that's been the hallmark of the Blairites since they seized control of the Labour party a dozen years ago, and of government almost a decade back. The Blairites want to control everything, whether it's right that they do or it's not. And they'll never, ever, admit to being wrong.

In not entirely unrelated news, the fascist former interior minister David Plunkett has claimed that he was minded to approve an amnesty for illegal immigrants, but was persuaded against it because there was not a working identity card scheme. This is further evidence that the man is a dangerous lunatic and should be confined to the local asylum, or the comment pages of The Sun.

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posted 14 Jun 2006, 18.23 +0100

Politics
A miscellany

It's not just Lordi. Next year's Eurovision hosts YLE have quietly put out a huge stockpile of classical MP3 files.

Norman Lebrecht is not happy, which is hardly news. He's very upset about the closure of Warner Classics the other week. Of course it's a short-term decision, one that won't even help the company's next profit margins. What the classical world needs is the equivalent of a Rough Trade Distribution, a co-operative mechanism to get independent label records into stores. Or a co-op website to get attention from one performer or composer to another.

Ben Metcalfe explains the BBC's new "most popular" news stories, and reports on the clever stuff they can do. In not entirely unrelated musings, anyone know when INFAX is coming back? My Question Muck commentaries are incomplete without it.

I see that The Dismal Corp and Endemol are staging their very own Star Academy. Quick, ship Patrick Kielty over before they sign up someone competent.

Of interest to at least one regular reader: The Sports Economist. Which ... oh, you work it out.

Who should the ethical football fan cheer for? Ghana. Or, failing them, Sweden. Tunisia, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivorie, and Croatia round out the top 6; last of the 30 ranked sides (there's not enough data for Serbia and/or Montenegro, or Togo) is ... guess.

Massive used bookstore to come to Toronto.

86% of experts agree: the world is more dangerous. So says a survey for Foreign Policy magazine

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posted 14 Jun 2006, 19.23 +0100

Culture

Thu 15 Jun 2006

View or No View

Mystic Mug writes...

Hullo, everyone. The Deal or No Deal audience figures are in, and just 4.66 million saw the most popular show that everyone* is viewing - the top figure came on a Saturday night in early March. The points are awarded as follows:

Mr Mel, Mr Jiggers, 0.1
Mr Quirks, 2.5
Mr Weaver, 2.6
Mr Bother of top Deal or No Deal summary location Bother's Bar, 11.0

Congratulations to Mr Bother, who moves into a strong third place. Full details are in the usual place, natch.

Must dash, I shall be back in two weeks with the world cup results.

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posted 15 Jun 2006, 18.54 +0100

Entertainment
Two Songs a Week, number 4

Earlier in the week, we discussed the "traditional" football song, and the ground-breaking (ie decent) Worldinmotion..., the official England song for 1990.

The next official England song was written by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, and performed by that duo with Ian Brodie, who recorded under the name The Lightning Seeds. Three lions was a tremendous sing-a-long, tapping into the "thirty years of hurt" since the England national squad last won a major trophy. Could the side break that curse when they hosted the European Nations' Cup? There was not one, but two, chants in this song - the song's melodic chorus, "Three lions on a shirt / Jules Rimet still gleaming / Thirty years of hurt / Thirty years of dreaming" was counterpointed by the more monotonic "It's coming home, it's coming home, football's coming home". Released just before the Euro 96 tournament began, the song was being chanted on the terraces during the second England match. From nothing to part of the culture in nineteen days - that's success.

Since Three lions, the English FA has very slowly moved towards getting credible acts to record their songs. The 1998 world cup was graced by England United's How does it feel (to be on top of the world)?, Euro 2000 by Fat Les and a version of the traditional Jerusalem, the 2002 contest by Antan Dec fronting the chant-a-long We're on the ball, and 2004 by something we really can't remember. (Goes off and looks it up.) Oh, the Farm's re-make of their own All together now. That was memorable. Scotland's side only qualified for the 96 and 98 tournaments; the official release for the latter was the defeatist Don't come home too soon. They did.

But the real growth has been in unofficial songs related to the football. Television themes have traditionally done well, because they're seen by up to 20 million people at once. None did better than Nessun dorma, the BBC's theme in 1990. But it wasn't until Collapsed Lung re-released Eat my goal for Euro 96 that record company bosses figured there was a market for these songs. For 1998, a re-release of Three lions with new words hit the top spot, keeping off Vindaloo, a low-rent shout-a-long track from the Fat Les collective.

Six football-related songs tickled the top 40 during the 2002 contest, including releases entitled Sven Sven Sven and Come on England and a re-release of Three lions. And this year sees eight songs in the chart already, including We're going to win and Is this the way to the world cup? and the Dad's Army influenced Who do you think you are kidding..? All of these are familiar tunes with the word "England" jammed into any two-syllable gap. Or, thanks to New Order, "Ing-er-land" into a three-syllable gap. There's one simple reason for the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of all these cash-in tunes - they're sing-a-long gibshite, devoid of any musicality whatsoever. At least the official tunes try to do something vaguely credible.

With the possible exception of Jerusalem - which has always been more of a cricket anthem than a footy one - none of the records has captured the public imagination in the same way as Three lions. As we can see in this song from Dan Friedman and Nick Romero's 1998 radio series 40 Nights in the Wildebeest, which also contains a reference to Gladiators.

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posted 15 Jun 2006, 19.00 +0100

Two Songs a Week

Sat 17 Jun 2006

A Chipmunk Writes...

What on earth is the Labour party chairman to do all day? There's scarcely any party left to manage, with all the activists depressed by the centralisation strategy and the shenanigans of fucktards on the make.

In her ample spare time, the current chairman has been circulating a list of actual achievements by her party. The whole thing reminds me of the Record of Positive Achievement from when I was at school. For those of you old enough to have avoided this mind-boggling waste of time, the ROPA is meant to be a document explaining exactly how brilliant one is, without suggesting that one has improved, for that denotes previous failure, and failure is non-positive, and non-positivity is verboten. According to our teachers, this document was going to be something we'd be proud of and would want to show to future employers, and certainly would not be something that would gather dust on a shelf, or be deposited in a waste paper bin within five minutes of leaving school.

But I digress. What does the Labour party chairman have to say about her party's positive achievements?

"1. We are a popular party". So popular that just two people in nine support us. And we conspired to lose the popular vote in England, and are propped up only by gerrymandering the constituencies.

"2. Our supporters like seeing us in office". The companies we're awarding huge contracts to, they like seeing us in office. Tracey Temple, she likes seeing us in office. I spent all my working day yesterday asking our supporters, and they both agreed.

"3. People are in work". Even me. Want a peanut?

"4. We've avoided recession". By the skin of our teeth, and subject to revision, and by storing up some massive problems in the economy for the next generation to sort out. If that's us, we're buggered.

Because Hazel Blears is such a hard-working little chipmunk, she's not actually put up her Top 40 on Labour's website. Maybe that's because she's only thought of numbers 1 to 4, and will be making the rest of it up as she goes along, a style that is at least consistent with the party's style over the last decayed.

Moron Labour's Record of Positive Achievement elsewhere over the summer.

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posted 17 Jun 2006, 10.38 +0100

Politics
Musings

The Torygraph's pop writers have listed their favourite 40 popular music websites. The print article also contains ten classical sites of note, but the website returns an error. Well done.

Could Myspace be the New Rough Trade for classical musicians? Well, it's possible, but it's still incredibly difficult to find anything of value there.

It's not entirely unreasonable to suggest that the site's whole user experience will be terribly frustrating - in tests searching for "Deborah Voigt", the first page of results was for people listing her as an interest, and the name search was hidden away on the side. That there's less content than testimonial (and three screens full of unparagraphed text) perhaps tells us more about this particular user.

In my view, Myspace is clunky, not slick enough for anyone to use professionally. Any site designer who is even thinking of aping that pisspoor user interface needs their head shoved into a bucket of ice-cold water and held down until they apologise.

Speaking of unspeakable cruelty to the mentally underdeveloped, there's at least one three-year-old who eschews a Balamory cake or Dora the Exploratrice party. No, for Henry Schally (3) of Minnesota, nothing will do but a News Hour with Jim Lehrer party. That's like a toddler asking for a party with Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman and Fiona Bruce. For the toddler, not for the adults. And I thought a sponsored link on an NPR station was remarkable for someone's 21st... (Via Foreign Policy Blog.)

Interesting to note that it's 350 years this week since those of the jewish faith were allowed to reside in England. Charles Moore has more.

This week's Veronica Mars review

There are some immutable laws of physics. Nothing can go faster than the speed of light. The chance of a trouble-free journey is inversely proportional to the square of the number of connections. Butter is better than marge. And the first episode of any television series is rubbish. Well, maybe the last one is not immutable; because British series are typically just six episodes long, there's no way a whole episode would be wasted with back-story. But for Yankee television, with its over-blown 22-week commitments, there's enough room to have a first episode that is 40 wasted minutes and 54 seconds of actual plot.

So, the First Episode Proper. As we suspected, the 54-second actual plot from last week was hysterically over-blown. The mystery of the week is resolved by Wallace, using all the tricks he's learned over the past year from Veronica, but would it be possible for network television to show the distinctly brown Wallace date the distinctly white Jane?

The main plot advances nicely, making the connection with Murder One a little bit stronger. The sub-plot of Veronica and her bloke takes a very strange twist, and no-one mentions the party that was a significant part of last year's plot.

But there's one, unresolved, question. Why does anyone want to play hunt-the-sausage with Cordelia Chase? Indeed, why does every straight male character seem to want to jump into the nearest bed when they see her? Ew, gross.

Overall, the smell of shark-bait is not far away, but this was a proper return to form.

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posted 17 Jun 2006, 12.05 +0100

Culture
This is sports desk

Finally, just when I thought it was going to slide into a completely turgid mess, the football world cup finally gets a bit interesting. In Group C Of Interesting, Argentina put together a 23-pass stunner for their second against Serbia e Montenegro; the opposition went a man down shortly after, and were lucky to lose 6:0. If you get a chance to look at that goal, take it - that might be the greatest display of team football we'll see all year. I'm not convinced that one match - and one match against a team that is falling apart almost as quickly as its country - is enough to improve the poor standing of the side. Still, the Argentinians are looking far better than most sides, including the already-qualified England.

The BBC has corrected its earlier error, and now displayed NED rather than HOL. The side rode some very poor refereeing decisions and beat Cote d'Ivorie (who the BBC call IVC) by 2:1. Van Persie was on form, but the African side were denied at least one obvious penalty. Finally, over in Group D Of How Will Portugal Mess This One Up, Mexico managed to scramble a 0:0 draw against the mighty Angolans, a match that was end-to-end stuff.

Tennis, and the annual tournament at Queens' Club. Graet British Hope Andy Murray lost in the first round, meaning that he's started to lose serious world ranking points. Tim Henman - on his first match back after a long injury lay-off - has somehow managed to avoid defeat so far, making it to the last four of the tournament. Quite remarkable.

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posted 17 Jun 2006, 12.06 +0100

Sport
Administrivia

Owing to limitations on the server holding this website, it is no longer possible to supply individual pages for new entries. Existing pages dated 2006 will be retained for the forseeable future; links to pages dated 2005 and 2004 are now broken and will not be repaired.

The preferred method of linking is now to the weekly archive page.

We apologise for the inconvenience.

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posted 17 Jun 2006, 21.24 +0100

Introspective

Sun 18 Jun 2006

The culture wars continue

Bad luck, Mozart and Sir Mix-a-lot: Together at Last. Not only for your insanely long and unwieldly name, but for being the lightning rod to explain why Six Apart is a snivelling toady to the corporatist interests.

In another place, you wrote,

LJ is fighting a losing battle against MySpace, and needs to compete, hence the new (fugly) userpage and more ads for non-paying members. It was going to happen, it's going to happen all over the net. If COPE becomes law it's just going to get worse for everyone. And I understand the breast picture thing too -- I believe it has to do with firewalls and censors. What if you check your LJ at your break at work? What if your work firewall censors pictures of OMGBOOBIES? Can't use the LJ, can you? JournalFen has a similar policy.

I'm frankly surprised that this hasn't happened sooner. And I think that your claim that this has to do with with Bush's Christian agenda is bullshit. One, it's a web company. Two, it's based in San Francisco. Three, the amount that the Bush administration cares about bloggers is nil.

I don't claim to be an expert in the ways and workings of Mayspec, or its profitability, visibility. What I do know is that, at the end of 2004, Livejournal was paying its way and ticking over nicely on its own terms. There was no particular profitability need for Bradley Fitzpatrick to sell his creation to anyone, though he has subsequently intimated that he wished to be relieved of the burden of managing staff. Why he didn't hire a staff manager is not clear.

Under its new ownership, Livejournal has moved from being a moderately profitable company to being a loss-maker. It takes a great amount of business incompetence to turn a winning product into a losing one, and we must salute Anil Dash and Mena Trott for their achievement. We must also wonder if they want a job running the British health service.

Unusually, the situation called for incremental change, not for whole-scale revolution, and certainly not for whole-scale revolution dictated by a management that refuses to listen to any dissenting opinions. (Are we quite certain that Six Apart isn't the blogging wing of the Labour party? David Milliband's blog contains no note of the powering software.)

But I digress. The point is not that Six Apart is taking bad decisions, but that it is failing in its moral duty to support free speech. Take, for instance, 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.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Six Apart is caving in lest it face a boring trial. Six Apart is explicitly exporting the culture of the religious reich across the world. The religious reich, let us remember, have a very odd set of beliefs. Including the concept that their messiah will shortly appear on earth - in their colonies, to be precise; will prove to be acceptable to those of the jewish faith in a way that the eponymous Mr Christ wasn't; and that all believers in this messiah will thereupon ascend to heaven via a device known as the rapture. The GOD Organisation declines to comment on the validity of specific prophecies, as doing so would be a full-time job, but we are given to understand that this particular prophecy is the theological equivalent of the Dead Parrot sketch - no matter how many times a particular deity has heard it, there's still a smile to be raised, or a thunderbolt to chuck.

It seems to be very difficult for someone in a culture that doesn't recognise such humour, as is Mr Mozart At Last, to spot what's going on. It's not clear why that is, perhaps it's something to do with being part of that culture. For those of us some little way away, we can see that the culture is being hi-jacked by narrow interests. And it is the duty of everyone to oppose this repression.

On the original poster's substantive point, Wemyss raises the point that the proposed design violated the appropriate European directive to prevent discrimination against the disabled. Please send lawsuits to the address on this page, which is currently SIX APART SA, 48 Rue de la Bienfaisance, F-75008 PARIS.

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posted 18 Jun 2006, 11.15 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless
Music in week 24

Starting with the most-heard ten.

primal scream    6
snow patrol      4
kelly clarkson   4
orson            4
nerina pallot    4
lordi            3
daz sampson      3
feeling          3
keane            3
sugababes        3

Bubbling under the top 10 in Germany are two from Rosenstolz, a footy song from Sportfreunde Stiller, and something from Pop Idle runner up Mike Leon Grosch. Number 10 is Rihanna's SOS, 9 is Mary J Bilge and U2 wrecking One. 8 is the official song of the world cup, Zeit dass sich was dreht, performed by Herbert Gronemeyer. Techno outfit Goleo Vi lands at 7 with Dance!, with Olivier Pocher at 6 - I've not heard Schwarz und weiss. Lordi, Lordi, Lordi, number 5; Nelly Furtardo at 4, Gnarls Berk at 3, domestic Eurovision losers Texas Lightning are at 2, beaten by the biggest record on the planet right now, Sharkia's Hips don't lie.

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 10 Texas Lightning - No no never
 19  6 Kelly Clarkson - Because of you
 18 16 Infernal - From Paris to Berlin
 17 15 Depeche Mode - Suffer well
 16 11 Daz Sampson - Teenage life
*15 17 Feeling - Fill my little world
*14 NE Nerina Pallot - Everyone's gone to war
 13  9 Orson - No tomorrow
 12  8 Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani california
*11 13 Sandi Thom - I wish I was a punk rocker
*10 12 Keane - Is it any wonder?
* 9 NE Annoying Thing - We are the champions
  8  4 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
* 7 NE Primal Scream - Country girl
  6  7 Mary J Blige / U2 - One
* 5 NE Nelly Furtado - Maneater
* 4  5 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
  3  3 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
* 2  2 Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
* 1  1 Shakira - Hips don't lie

Nerina has been all over the UK airplay lists for a few weeks; the Annoying Thing is huge in France and Sweden; Primal Scream I've discussed elsewhere; and Nelly here last week.

Two weeks at the top of the singles listings here for Nelly Furtado, with Shakira moving up to position 3 on a full release. Bon Jovi have their first top five single since 2002. The battle of the footy songs still goes with Embrace, ahead of Three Lions, Hurry up England, and Tony Christie - these songs fill positions 8 to 11. Armand Van Helden's Mymymy is re-released two years after its first outing, and makes number 12; Solu Music and Dannnnniiiiiii Minogue are also in the top 20. So are rock-ska band the Fratellis, whose Henrietta is a tolerable good-natured stomp. Lower down, we note that allowing Who do you think you are kidding... to be downloaded for one new penny has rather failed to shift it, as the song slumps from 13 to 27. Lostprophets, The Zutons and Muse should climb into the top 20 or higher next week, Divine Comedy and Clea won't, as won't rock gods Korn. Neither will hard-working reggae smilers the Dualers, which is a shame. Gnarls Berk should be making their 12th week in the top ten, at position 7, but the record company has deleted the single, meaning that a top-ten seller is denied a place. Proof that ROPRA sees the chart as a sales vehicle first, and accurancy is some way behind.

No surprises on the albums listing, as Keane out-sell all competitors by a country mile. Nelly Furtile is in at 5, the Dixie Chicks have their biggest opening week, charting at 12. A live album from Paul Weller, a new one from Busta Rhymes, and a singles collection from Level 42 also enter in the top 20; the Stranglers, Rusty Springboard, and the Lightning Seeds also have singles collections in the 40.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 1  1 Nelly Furtardo - Maneater
 3 54 Shakira - Hips don't lie
 4  4 Automatic - Monster
 7  7 Pink - Who knew?
14  9 Keane - Is it any wonder?
16 16 Feeling - Fill my little world
19 61 Fratellis - Henrietta
23 17 Primal Scream - Country girl
24 28 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
32 38 Kooks - Naive
36 25 Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
37 23 Nerina Pallot - Everybody's gone to war
38 33 Orson - Bright idea
39 NE Lostprophets - Rooftops **
41 NE Zutons - Valerie **
42 32 Sugababes - Follow me home
46 NE Muse - Supermassive black hole **
49 40 Orson - No tomorrow
50 43 Paul Simon - Father and daughter
52 NE Divine Comedy - Diva lady
53 55 Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
54 42 Sunblock / Robin Beck - First time
55 NE Clea - Lucky like that
56 44 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
57 14 Morrissey - The youngest was the most loved
58 18 Depeche Mode - John the revelator
61 NE Dualers - Don't go
62 50 Raconteurs - Steady as she goes
63 NE Korn - Coming undone
68 58 Dirty Pretty Things - Bang bang you're dead
73 48 Daz Sampson - Teenage life
74 60 Fall Out Boy - Dance dance

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posted 18 Jun 2006, 19.02 +0100

Entertainment
News and sport

Tristran Ferne writes about how to slice and dice speech radio. And suggesting that Radio 3 will shortly be joining the BBC's other music networks by having its own Audioscrobbler page. (That's the one for 6music; the defined friends are Radios 1, 2, and Wunkstra.)

According to one Sunday tabloid, the (single) source for the police raid in Forest Gate a couple of weeks ago has been revealed. The source was an imbecile, and that's using the strict and precise legal definition of "imbecile", rather than the loose definition that readers here might expect.

To sports, and normal service resumes at Queen's, as Tim Henman loses in three sets to Andy Roddick. Phew. Roger Feder is going for the title in Halle this week, a win will set a record of 31 straight wins on grass. Edmonton won their match against the Hartford Whalers 4:0, to set up a decisive game seven in Hartford Raleigh on Tuesday morning.

In the football world cup, Portugal deserved to beat Iran, but the 2:0 scoreline flattered the favourites, who have now managed to not bugger up qualification from Group D Of How Are Portugal Going To Bugger It Up This Time? Over in Group E Of Death, Ghana beat Czechia 2:0, providing a lesson on how to defend a one-goal lead: attack. Italy and the Colonies drew 1:1 in a match marred by some shockingly rubbish refereeing. Indeed, the piss-poor quality of the men in black flourescent yellow has been the main problem with this year's contest.

Incidentally, those of us with the Magic Red Button can see the previous day's matches condensed to about 35 minutes of highlights the next morning. More intellectual than TV's Mister Six.

For to-day's matches (and look away now if you don't want to know the result), Croatia and Japan tied 0:0, which sounds about right. Brazil should not have beaten Australia by any score, and 2:0 is ludicrously lucky.

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posted 18 Jun 2006, 19.08 +0100

News| Sport
Weather in week 24

After the extreme heat of last week-end broke late on Monday, it's been a cooler and more sensible week. Warmth returned on Saturday, but was chased away by an encroaching low on Sunday.

12 Mo sun, thunder later  17/27, 2.5
13 Tu sun and showers     13/21, 2.5
14 We cloud               12/16
15 Th sun                 12/21
16 Fr sun                 12/23
17 Sa sun                 16/27
18 Su cloud               15/18

Degree cooling days are at storms up to 73, compared to 39/237 at this stage last year, and 57 two years ago.

The forecast: Low pressure rules the roost this week, one area will move across central Scotland during Monday, dragging cloud to most parts. The next area looks set to pass over northern Scotland around Wednesday, and that looks like it could bring strong winds and blustery showers to most parts. Just to add to the fun, a third depression may well mope in on Friday, though its course is unclear at this time, and it might yet diminish to nothing more than a passing front. We recommend taking an umbrella, and do wrap up.

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posted 18 Jun 2006, 19.09 +0100

News

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