The Snow In The Summer or So-So

09/04/2006 - 09/10/2006

Mon 04 Sep 2006

Two Songs a Week 27 - Twelve

In the tail end of Britpop, My Life Story were a story and a half. Jake Shillingford was the group's leader, and was the Essex equivalent of Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy fame. While Mr Hannon wrote the theme to Father Ted and still has top-75 singles to this day, MLS split in 2000.

The band formed in 1990, with a full string section, some brass instruments, and a musical arranger. It's almost like a chamber orchestra, playing in London's pop clubs, and on the Wonder Stuff's Welcome to the cheap seats, a top 10 hit in 1992.

Though their first singles were released to critical acclaim, and MLS opened for Blur and Pulp in the year before both hit the mainstream, significant success eluded Jake and the band - their 1995 indie album, Mornington Crescent, attracted most interest because London Underground harrumphed in the direction of their copyright lawyers. By 1996, the group had decided to split up, unless a four-week residency at Dingwall's club brought a major label offering a contract. True to form, a major label deal ensued.

The first single for the label came out at the end of August, and pushed MLS into the national top 40. Twelve reasons why (I love her) is, as the lyric suggests, a shopping list of what makes a certain someone that certain someone. Two more singles - Sparkle and The king of Kissingdom emerged before the album, The Golden Mile, with Strumpet and Duchess following close behind.

The theme of the album was a nostalgia and yearning for a typically English way of life - exemplified in the traditional seaside resorts - that had been eclipsed by more exotic destinations. In a way, it was a reaction against the laddish excesses of late-era Britpop, hankering back to the more innocent times. Barely three years before, Select magazine had lauded Blur's Parklife album, a celebration of the working class; by 1997, the magazine would deem The Golden Mile to be the worst record ever made. This was a complete load of bollocks at the time, and looks even worse now, when we remember that the same publication would, just two months later, laud Oasis's Twelve Songs That Sound Exactly The Same.

My Life Story never really got over the critical mauling, and were dropped after just one album. Their third set, Joined Up Talking reduced the band to a guitar group, and showed Mr Shillingford carving out a career as a wry observer of society. Lead single It's a girl thing, a considered reaction to the post-Spice-Girl phenomenon, barely scraped the top 40; two others fell short. The album almost trickled off the shelves, and the band called it a day in late 2000. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform on one of their last tours, in February 2000, and it's clear that the music world blew off a great talent.

Though the music was decidedly retro, My Life Story were a very go-ahead band. The Golden Mile features a wonderful arcade-themed Enhanced CD part, one that compliments the audio. MLS also released the UK's first download only single, had a surprisingly good website - and one that still exists, almost six years after the group. Jake Shillingford has been working as Exile Inside for some years since. Indeed, a best-of album is available on his website now, and the group will re-unite for a show at the Mean Fiddler in December.

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posted 04 Sep 2006, 18.41 +0100

Two Songs a Week
It's always Eurovision season

Two pieces of Eurovision news.

1. Tatu has been dropped. The duo from Uckfield, who represented Russia in the 2003 competition, have been axed from Universal's record roster after pisspoor sales of their last album. Go on, do you know anyone other than myself who bought it?

2. Songs you don't expect to hear on Cube Radio, number one in a series. Je t'adore, Kate Ryan's entry for Belgium in 2006, which resolutely failed to get out of the semi-final, but still turns up on the planet's poppiest station.

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posted 04 Sep 2006, 19.13 +0100

On track

Very pleased to see Birmingham council's submissions for the new West Midlands train franchise. More trains, longer trains, and - crucially - better services on Sunday. It may have been acceptable to reduce the service by 50% on Sunday when the original contracts were drawn up in the mid-90s. Now, it's just a pain in the proverbials. The route to the airport, and the lines to Stratford and Dorridge get particular attention. There's no plan to reinstate the line between Longbridge and Cradley Heath, but we can't have everything.

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posted 04 Sep 2006, 19.24 +0100


Tue 05 Sep 2006

John Reid - A Clarification

It is easy to blame John Reid for everything that goes wrong in Whitehall; this is, after all, one of the jobs of the interior minister. Sometimes, this is unfair, as we are blaming him for things that are not his responsibility.

In particular, Herr Plunkett's derogation from the ECHR ended when Charlie The Safety Elephino shifted his control orders through Parliament in his first game of Pro-Celebrity Bogies back in March last year. Mr Elephino didn't make much of this fact, because he didn't want people to remember it existed in the first place. We're advised that there's a full list of opt-outs, derogations, signing notes, and other addenda.

Though he made noises to that effect earlier in the year, Mr Reid is not able to unilaterally withdraw the UK from the ECHR. That is in the gift of Charlie Falconer, wearing his Lord Chancellor's hat. Mr Falconer stated in July that there are no plans to withdraw (see p37 of the full report.) We do wish that Mr Falconer would tell Mr Reid of his plans, for the latter's actions to-day clearly violate the Thou Shalt Not Torture rule. Since that piece was published, the flight has been cancelled after five people secured injunctions. By his actions, Mr Reid shows his contempt for basic human rights.

Finally, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is under the aegis of the Cabinet Office, currently headed by Crybaby Armstrong. John Reid has no ex officio interest in this matter.

Our thanks to a correspondent for pointing out these matters. None of them alter our final conclusion - we do not believe that the interior ministry has improved in the last hundred days, we feel less safe and less secure, and request that Mr Reid does the honourable thing and falls on his sword. Now.

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posted 05 Sep 2006, 19.02 +0100

Pot con

Sectus 2007 will be a tenth anniversary conference for the academic side of the Potter fandom. It'll be in London during the third week-end of July next year, and there will be side-trips to other interesting places. £49 for early registrations.

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posted 05 Sep 2006, 19.15 +0100

Cooking a perfect creme brulee

How will the world mark Mat from Not Little England's birthday? With a planted email, of course. The Mirror (the Mirror!) has published a memorandum explaining how Mister Tony Blair will leave office. This is so clearly a plant by the Blairites as to be utterly obvious. Like a rock star who is many albums past his sell-by date, he wants to go on a farewell tour to promote his many successes, like killing 100,000 people in Iraq, raiding the pension pots of the nation, privatising the health service by stealth, giving in to the terrorists, and letting David Lammy get into parliament.

Mister Blair, we're told, "needs to go with the crowds wanting more." It's a bit late for that. He'll spend the night in cities across the country, visit some of the most striking buildings opened since 1997 (such as, er, the Millennium Tent Casino), and taking a grilling on Blue Peter. Bet he'll insist on the vapid Zoë, and make sure there are no questions from the incisive Gethin or the proper journalist Konnie. He'll also pop up against Adrian Chiles on 6 Oh 6, and appear on the Cliff Evans show on Radio Two Listeners.

Don't bother, Tone. If you want to go and preserve some shred of dignity, go now. The loyalist member Tony Wright (Lab, Cannock Chase) hinted that Mister Blair will go some time next year. And he expects Gordon Brow to win, natch.

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posted 05 Sep 2006, 19.50 +0100


Wed 06 Sep 2006


G****e has given all sort of user information to the government in Brazil. The leaders in the South American country want email addresses, IP numbers, and other information of some people on the data behemoth's social notworking site. Apparently, these people have been racist, anti-gay, or otherwise indulged in nastiness.

The point here is that, yet again, we have a case where laws and standards are in conflict. On the one hand, the rules in Brazil say that thou shalt not be abusive to other people. On the other, G****e acts under a legal code that claims to let people say anything to anyone. Which law should rule; the restrictive standards of Brazil, or the laissez-faire attitude from Arizona West?

Let us, for the sake of argument, suppose that it should be the more restrictive standard that applies - it's that way for Brazil, it's that way for the advertising engine's operations in Red China. By that token, G****e would be doing all it can to comply with other regulations in various countries around the world.

Such as, for instance, the European Union's stringent data protection regulations. Data holders can only process data for clear and limited purposes, and keep information only as long as is necessary. One can't, for instance, put all the information from your web searches, your emails, and your blog posts into one massive database, keep the information for all time, use it to build a profile of someone, and then go on to sell advertising that may or may not be more closely targetted. That is so clearly illegal as to be laughable, yet G****e continues to get away with it.

If the information-to-advertising machine is going to respect the local customs of Red China and is going to respect the local customs of Brazil, why won't it respect the local customs of Europe? All we're asking for is equal treatment, not to be treated as second-class citizens by a third-rate company from a fifth-rate desert.

Other points of note: Two and a half years after first release, G****e-mail still actively discriminates against the blind. This blog does not permit references from G****e, be it crawler, search engine, or mail account. And I may be the only person in the entirity of cyberspace who does not have a G****e-mail account - unless you know better!

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posted 06 Sep 2006, 18.23 +0100

Annoyed| Shilling
What happened to the flapjack segment?

A Demi Grauniad (no link, it's a registration-required site) reports that there's to be a second series of that early-evening show with Adrian Chiles. Good idea. Our first reaction is to get Liz Barker in to work alongside him, but then we remember that Liz left BP to spend more time with Dexter and Mr. Liz.

And speaking of which, Tim Dowling wonders what would happen if soon to be former British prime minister Mister Tony Blair runs up against some decent interviewers.

Contradicting his interview with the Universal Daily Registertab last week, Mister Blair's staff has leaked his preferred resignation plans to the other Murdoch-owned daily, the Daily Tabloid. In the article, we hear that Mister Blair wants to soldier on until 31 May next year, the Thursday after the bank holiday, and four weeks after the expected meltdown in council and devolved elections, allowing a special conference to elect Gordon Brown the next leader at the end of July. This conference would meet shortly after Parliament rose for the summer recess, ensuring that Mr. Brown the new leader would have almost three months to get his feet under the table before facing Mr. Cameron at PMQs.

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posted 06 Sep 2006, 18.29 +0100

Transport news

The London Underground map will get a new Overground line in 2010. The new line will be formed from the existing North London Line (Richmond and Clapham-junction to Gospel-oak to Barking and Stratford) and the newly-extended East London Line (Dalston to New Cross to Croydon-west and The Crystal Palace) by adding a short stretch of track at Dalston-junction. The Overground line will also operate the local services from Euston to Willsden-junction and from Willsden-junction to Watford-junction via Wembley-building-site. A future extension is set to join the gap from Clapham-junction through Wandsworth and Denmark-hill to Surrey-quays.

There's a geographical map here, and a PDF format proposed Underground map (including Overground lines, but not including Croydon Tramlink or any Olympic Javelin services.)

The Overground will be remarkably unconnected with the Underground - District trains between Richmond and Gunnersbury will share tracks, as will Bakerloo trains between Queen's-park and Harrow & Wealdstone. There'll be drive-by connections at Shepherd's-bush (Central), Kensington-olympia and West-brompton (District), West-hampstead (Jubilee), Blackhorse-road (Victoria), Barking (District and Hamancit), Whitechapel (District and Hamancit), Shadwell (Deeelarr), Canada-water (Jubilee). The extension to Clapham-high-street will link to Clapham-north (Northern). No links to the Metropolitan, Piccadilly, Circle, or Drain are planned.

We're yet to hear the official word from Stovold's, but the implications for Mornington Crescent should be obvious to any afficionado.

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posted 06 Sep 2006, 18.55 +0100

He has got to go!

This is surely unprecedented in recent political history. In the past, he's suffered resignations over policy. He's had cabinet members go because he had promoted people past their level of incompetence. To-day, soon to be former British prime minister Mister Tony Blair has had no fewer than seven junior ministers resign because Mister Blair won't go. Tom Watson Lab, West-bromwich East and Khalid Mahmood Lab, Birmingham Perry Barr tendered their resignations this morning after signing letters calling for Mister Blair to go.

In his career, Mr. Watson has been a chief whip, and was the junior defence minister until this morning. In his resignation letter, Mr. Watson wrote, "It is with the greatest sadness that I have to say that I no longer believe that your remaining in office is in the interest of either the party or the country."

Mr. Mahmood was a bag-carrier in the Ministry of War. His resignation letter says, "I feel that your remaining in office no longer serves the best interests of the party or the country." It's worth noting that both of the resigning MPs come from urban seats in the west midlands, an area that has historically been a prime battleground for the political soul of the country. If the people of such staunch Labour areas as Oldbury and Handsworth no longer support Mister Blair, who does? Or is it, as Channel 4 suggested, a plot by the Brownites to get Blair out and their man in?

The Blair regime has lost five other bag-carriers: Wayne David Lab, Caerphilly from the Ministry of War, Ian Lucas Lab, Wrexham from the Education Department, Mark Tami Lab, Alyn and Deeside from the Treasury, David Wright Lab, Telford from Employment, and Chris Mole Lab, Ipswich from Local Government. That's three from Wales, another one from the urban West Mids, and one from an East Anglian marginal. The letter-writing campaign was orchestrated by Chris Bryant Lab, Rhondda, whose Assembly seat was previously represented by a Plaid Cymru candidate, and is not a million miles from Blaenau Gwent.

The whole atmosphere is febrile, and it feels as though things are collapsing around Mister Blair's ears - not helped by an attack from a big-eared former interior minister.

I'm reminded of the amazing rapidity of Iain Duncan-Cough's fall from office in the last week of October 2003. On the Monday, he asked his enemies to bring it on or draw the line. By lunchtime on Tuesday, five had brought it on; within hours, a confidence vote had been triggered. The vote was held the next day, and resulted in Mr. Hawkes being ousted by 7pm Wednesday. Just ten days after throwing down the gauntlet, the vampires took over the blood-bank, but that's another story...

What lessons does this hold for Mister Blair? Witness the almost-as-quick removal of Charles Kennedy from the leadership of the Lib Dems last January. When roused, the party - any party - will turn round and bite its own head off. Or look back to November 1990, when Mrs. Thatcher went to Paris, rather than spend election day shoring up support in her battle against Michael Heseltine. On Sunday, Mister Blair will begin his 11-month farewell tour with a trip to Ramallah.

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posted 06 Sep 2006, 19.43 +0100

Entertainment| Politics

Thu 07 Sep 2006

John Drummond

The death has been announced of John Drummond. He was 71. Mr Drummond had been the director of the official Edinburgh arts festival before taking the reins at Radio 3 in 1987. He centred the BBC's high culture radio station around a solid diet of classical music and plays; it's his era that the campaign group Friends of Radio 3 wishes to return to. After handing over the Third to Nicholas Kenyon in 1992, Mr Drummond became a staunch defender of the arts, often criticising the philistine British government.

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posted 07 Sep 2006, 19.20 +0100

Culture| Radio
Stick to the status quo?

Boris Johnson is confused. How many ministers and understrappers resigned yesterday, because their Prime Minister would not resign immediately himself? Was it six or seven?

It was eight, young man with the blond hair. A seventh bag-carrier left the government last night - Ian Wright Lab, Hartlepools won the seat vacated two years ago when Peter Mandelson was transferred to Brussels. The likes of David Boothroyd Lab, Election Demon can say that these people are not in the government all he likes; it's the perception that counts. Parliamentary Private Secretaries do hold an unsalaried position, but they are expected to remain loyal to their minister, who in turn is expected to remain loyal to the prime minister. To lose one PPS because he hates the PM is bad. To lose seven, and a (salaried) junior minister as well, is an unprecedented vote of no confidence from the parliamentary party.

Of course, we must also go back to the night of the Hartlepools by-election, and Mister Blair's surprising admission that - if elected - he would serve a full third term as Labour leader, but would not seek a fourth. Were he to go this year, Mister Blair would have served barely a third of his "full term"; even a resignation next July would be barely half-way between the last national election and the next. Vote Blair, get lies.

According to Sean T on Political Betting, "Sometime in the 1980s Labour got into the habit of lying, in the face of the tabloid onslaught, and at the behest of creatures of the undergrowth like Mandelson and Campbell."

Back in the present day, Gordon Brown broke off from hob-nobbing with Steve Redgrave and other assorted sportspeople and told the assembled media hacks that he had many unanswered questions, that there should be no back-room deals, and he would let Mister Blair go in his own time. For his part, Mister Blair told the hacks that he would set a date to go within the next twelve months, but that no date has yet been set. Nor do we have a date for when we will have a date, nor even a date for when we will have a date for when we will have a date. And there's no date for when we will -- oh, you get the picture.

As Boris The Menace says, "It was absolutely fatal for Downing Street to concede this week that he would definitely be gone by next May 31, because that means there is no reason why he should not go by February; and, if he might go by February, there is no reason why he should not go now."

The next few days will be crucial. If Mr. Brown believes that he has enough of a chink to force Mister Blair out, then he'll call off his troops. If there are more resignations, perhaps including Leader of the House John Straw, then Mister Blair's time will be up. If Mister Blair can get effective declarations of support - and Kelly Osbourne doesn't count - he may yet cling on. The party conference, in the last week of the month, will be Interesting.

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posted 07 Sep 2006, 20.50 +0100


Fri 08 Sep 2006

Two Songs a Week 28 - Rocing all over the world

One of the records of the summer in France has been Roc, written and performed by Nâdiya. Nadia Zighem, for it is she, was a national champion 800m runner before taking up singing. A moderately-successful album in 2001 led to a top-five success in 2004. There aren't that many francophone female soul singers, but Nadiya is definitely one of them.

Her third album came out at the start of June, and is more guitar influenced. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the single Roc, which is a blustery guitar anthem, and would have spent a month at number one if it hadn't been for that annoying thing.

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posted 08 Sep 2006, 19.02 +0100

Two Songs a Week
Everybody's quiet

If there's one constant thing in politics, it's this: Christopher Hitchens is always wrong. Take Mr. Hitchens' opening sentence from his column to-day.

In early 1999, Paddy Ashdown, then the leader of Britain's Liberal Democratic party, was found with a woman not his wife and forced to resign his post.

Two things wrong here. One, Mr. Ashdown's affair took place in the late 1980s, and came out in 1992. Not 1999. Two, his resignation was purely to allow someone else to take the helm. Having achieved the remarkable feat of a 200% error rate per sentence, can we ever take anything Mr. Hitchens says seriously?

Charlie the Safety Elephant-Rhino (what's he good for? Elephino!) is impressing slightly more people, which is not a difficult task. The man who tells his own constituents to go away has to-day said that Brown must prove his fitness to be prime minister. That's something different to one's fitness to be, say, the interior minister responsible for trampling all over people's basic rights. Or a member of parliament, with responsibility to listen to constituents' views, no matter how daft they might sound.

Viewers of Time Trumpet will have seen Mister Blair portrayed as a madman wandering the streets of Baghdad in search of his missing weapons of mass destruction. Something in Rachel North London's post on this subject brought that image to mind, only with Charlie Elephino.

Dad bumped into Mr. Clarke, who remains his MP, in Norwich at a cashpoint recently, and he felt terrible, so said 'Oh I'm so sorry Charles, I didn't want for all this to happen like this, your job, I'm very sorry.' And Mr. Clarke said heavily, ' Yes, so am I, Phillip' . He looked a bit thinner, apparently. I hear he has taken to walking the streets of his constituency.

According to Emily Maitliss, at least one senior cabinet minister believes that "Gordon would be a fucking awful prime minister." We really need to inquire within for the source of this comment.

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posted 08 Sep 2006, 19.13 +0100


Sat 09 Sep 2006

That's the price of newsprint

Newspapers are going up in price. Boo. The Sunset Times increases its price to £2, the Sunday Torygraph also moves up 20p to £1.80; the Obs and Sindie remain at £1.70 for the moment. Edit - the Sindie increased to £1.80 on 17 September.

Saturday's Torygraph moves up 10p to £1.40, level with the Indie; the UDRtab also goes up 10p to £1.30, on a par with Het Graudian. Even the daily editions of the T and T are up - the Torygraph advances 5p to 70p, the UDR up 5p to 65p. The Indie and Graun are both 70p. The Financial Times remains at £1 on weekdays, £1.20 on Saturday.

A little piece of historical context. Page-counts have barely changed over the last five years, when the Sundays cost £1.20 (the Torygraph was 10p cheaper). Saturdays were 75p, weekdays 50p (Times 40p). Ten years ago was the height of the cost-cutting circulation war, when one could pay get a whole week's newspapers for about two quid.

Fifteen years ago, the Sunday editions all cost 80p (up from 60p at the start of the year); all but the Sindie have roughly doubled their page count since - allowing for the conversion to tabloid, the Sindie is up barely 40%. The Saturday editions were 50p a pop, but have increased by roughly three-fold since; the weekdays (then 45p) have typically increased by about 50%. The FT has increased its page-count by about 30% in all editions.

And twenty years ago? 50p for the three Sundays (the Sindie didn't launch until 1990), 25p for the weekday press, the Indie charged 30p for Saturday, the FT 30p all days. All editions roughly doubled in size between 1986 and 1991.

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posted 09 Sep 2006, 11.03 +0100

There is something of the night about him

Another day, another attack from the Safety Elephino. Talking to the Daily Torygraph, the man who refuses to talk to his constituents said that Gordon Brown is "Totally totally uncollegiate", "Very very difficult indeed to work with", "A control freak", "Lacking in courage and vision", and has "Profound psychological issues". And that's just the drop-quotes. Mr. Clarke says that Mr. Brown could have stopped the attacks with a snap of his fingers. If Tom Watson, who just about precipitated this crisis by resigning on Wednesday, is the Brownite attack monster, then Charles Clarke is clearly the Blairite attack, erm, elephant-rhinocerous-hybrid. The party's pet attack dog, John "Backup" Reid, seems interested only in his own promotion.

Other notes: Brown to PM: Time to back me is the lead in Het Grauniad. The chancellor wants a formal endorsement from the soon to be former leader, presuming that this will actually be to his advantage. The paper has a poll, showing that half of voters want Mister Blair gone by the end of the year, and three-quarters want an election rather than a coronation.

Labour's house journal, the Universal Daily Registertab, suggests that Brown planned attacks on other fronts. The 2001 intake's letter would have been followed by ones from the 1997 crop, and the 2005 team, and then a succession of ministers would have told Mister Blair that his time was up. However, Mister Blair gained comfort after speaking with such minor stars as John Straw, Alan Johnson, Hilary Benn, David Miliband, John Prescott, and Patricia Hewitt.

This week has, of course, been a disaster for Labour. The main loser looks to be Gordon Brown. Last week-end, a stitch-up that would see him take the party's leadership with nothing more than a token left-wing challenge looked inevitable. By rocking the boat, forcing eight ministerial resignations, and splintering the accepted wisdom that he was the anointed successor, Mr. Brown has made it possible for a Blairite challenger to enter the race, and we all remember what happened in the Conservative party last year.

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posted 09 Sep 2006, 11.58 +0100

Creating passionate users is everything

Danah boyd reports that Farcebook users are annoyed at the new stalking mechanism that the site's founders have opened up. The corporate suits say that the service does not "give out any information that wasn't already visible. Your privacy settings remain the same - the people who couldn't see your info before still can't see it now." Since Ms. boyd wrote her piece, Farcebook has climbed down, and danah has written an extended essay on the concept of privacy.

In brief review, I note that the site's published privacy policy may well be compliant with the European privacy directives. It certainly appears to respect the same basic principles.

Farcebook's privacy-hating rivals at Liverjournal have also launched a new stalking mechanism. The corporate suits say that "we took a lot of effort to remove all potentially creepy features out of it. You can't track things you can't see. Even though it's public, you can't track 'all comments anywhere by user bob'."

Of course, for every decent idea (even if I've got no idea why anyone would want to use it) that's been ten million years in development, there's a downside. Liverjournal is now sending out rotten multipart emails, causing sensible people across the world to download 25K of crap for 1K of text. The two or three freaks who still think HTML email is the way of the future can go hang.

Poking around the file labelled Six Apart Is (Still) Rubbish, the following points.

Anil Dash is a lying toe-rag. Defending an inaccurate claim that Six Apart created Liverjournal, Mr. Dash claims, "when one company acquires another, it's pretty common shorthand to say that the new parent company created the product, even if it predated the acquisition." It would be precisely one letter longer, and much more accurate, to say that Six Apart acquired Liverjournal. Mr. Dash's formulation may be common, but it is false, and the person making the claim knows it to be false. His claim, I suggest, is the textbook definition of a malicious lie.

I wrote to Tedtalks, the site putting up the incorrect claim, asking them to correct their error. The incorrect claim was still present last night.

It's also emerged that Six Apart is allowing advertorial into the Liverjournal system. A community about some motion picture or other (apparently, it's not out until November) has been featured on the site's front page. This breaks the company's guidelines - it's a blatant endorsement by Six Apart of the product - and breaks the previous pledge that "You don't have to ... view ads in the LiveJournal site pages.". To be honest, I expect absolutely nothing less of Six Apart. They remain a bunch of money-obsessed tosspots, people who may know the price of everything but certainly know the value of nothing.

I wrote to Liverjournal back in April, and again in June, and again on Thursday, asking what they were doing to stop advertisers from obtaining users' personal information, as is possible and (I'm sure) is happening already. I am still awaiting an acknowledgement, never mind a substantive response. I must therefore conclude that Livejournal's advertising model allows individual users to be tracked. Prove me wrong, Six Apart. If you can.

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posted 09 Sep 2006, 20.13 +0100

Blogging| Shilling| Six Apart Is Useless

Sun 10 Sep 2006

Brown letter day

Gordon Brown's set-piece interview with Andrew Marr this morning was a bit of a damp squib - according to the UK's finance minister, everything in the garden is roses. The sudden tornado that swept over all the plant-pots by the bean-stalks was one of those things, and had nothing to do with the ACME Tornado Generator on the roof.

Back in the real world, the Obs reports that half the cabinet is preparing to back an Anyone But Brown candidate. The Sunset Times has evidence of Brown' fingerprints over the ACME Tornado Generator. The Patiencepaper goes with Give me a contest, not a coronation, while Matthew d'Ancona says Nobody's in charge. This confuses us, because we thought Nobody was in goal. The Sindie has New plot to oust Blair, referring to a latter written by ten of the 2005 intake, and indistinguishable from a part of the old plot (last week).

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posted 10 Sep 2006, 11.09 +0100

Music in week 36

Who needs Audioscrobbler?

1. 3 lily allen       7
2. - muse             5
3. 8 feeling          5
4. 10shakira          5
5. 2 pink             4
6. - cascada          4
7. - morrissey        4
8. 7 kelly clarkson   3
9. 4 thom yorke       3
10 - walter houston   3

Whatever happened to Kim Wilde, eh? She became very big in Germany, where You came is in the top 20, fully eighteen years after it was her last top-five hit in the UK. Not entirely sure what's propelled Reamonn into the top ten after some weeks on the sidelines, but there you go. Cascada has the new number one in Sweden, knocking ver Maiden off after a fortnight.

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 13 Clitring Aguilera - Aintnootherman
 19 12 Snow Patrol - Chasing cars
*18 NE Justin Timberlake - Sexyback
*17 18 Nadiya - Roc
*16 NE Beyonce/Jay-Zee - Déjà vu
 15 17 Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
*14 NE Bob Sinclar - Rock this party
 13 11 Plage - Coup de boule
 12  8 Kooks - She moves in her own way
*11 15 Iron Maiden - Reincarnation Benjamin Breeg
*10 NE Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
  9 10 Feeling - Fill my little world
* 8 16 Cascada - Everytime we touch
  7  5 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
* 6  9 Rhianna - Unfaithful
* 5  6 Basshunter - Boten Anna
  4  4 Lily Allen - Smile
* 3  3 Kasabian - Empire
  2  2 Shakira - Hips don't lie
* 1  1 Nelly Furtado - Maneater

Four dance-oriented new entries this week. Justin Timberlanky may look attractive from behind - though Kasabian suggest he's a hairy back - but his song, like Beyonce, isn't attractive from any angle. Bob Sinclar is moderately entertaining in an instantly-forgettable way, and while there's nothing wrong with Nelly F's record, it's not exactly I'm like a bird, is it?

The Obs names ten must-hear albums of the autumn. Amy Whinehouse hasn't been dropped, she's just been away honing her drone. Long Blondes I'm not familiar with. Sizzor Sistas are chummy with Elton John, and manage to be even less exciting than the überlord of mawk. Tom Waitssssszzzzzzz. Killers I'll listen to, but if they're channeling U2 circa Joshua Tree and Bruce Springboard, that way lies trouble. Joanna Newsom - who? Jarvis Cocker has a solo album, Lupe Fiasco exists, and the Who release a studio album. Beck remains a religious nut. Of these ten, I may yet purchase one.

Who's new this week? Rapture return at 36, with yet another neither-here-nor-there nonsense choon that the NME loves.
There's a male model called Lorenz in at 35, completely forgettable.
Jealousy comes in at 30 with Lucy, a throwback 80s dance-rock number named after their favourite member of L5. Just be glad that they didn't prefer Parascandola, because that just doesn't scan.
Jamelia's in at 28 on downloads, it's more listenable than her previous work.
Stacey Ferguson makes 25, also on downloads, and is clearly confusing London bridge (a boring concrete creation, like her record) with Tower Bridge (the iconic bascule open-and-close bridge.) It's the highest new entry, whatever it is.
A rap sampling Phil Collins' Another day in paradise is 23, almost as old as the original song.
Kelis enters at 22, more of the same nonsense. It's on full release, which cannot be promising.
Muse make their expected huge climb, position 13 may yet be lucky for a band that went down a storm at the Reading festival.
A second-week climb for the Feeling shows that their record really is appealing to the Radio 2 audience neglected by Nelly Furtive.
Lemar also takes advantage of the R2 demographic and storms up from 41 to 7. Not quite his biggest hit, but welcome all the same.
Boring Bert can only make position 4. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha plonk.
Nelly Furtardo makes number 3, leaving the Seizures to hold the top spot. Worst number one in at least the last week.

Beneath the 40: Outkast No Longer Popular, as Morris brown makes 43 on full release. Obie Trice and the Mystery Jets also miss the 40; Lupe Fiasco is 46 on downloads. Bedouin Soundclash and Richard Hawley also make the top 75, with the Lostprophets there on download.

On the albums, Snow Patrol displace Kasabian from the top. Beyonce Knowbrain has the highest entry at number 3, with the entertainingly-named Bidet. Greatest hits collections for Freddie Mercury and Missy Elliott enter in the top 10; Audioslave, Basement Jaxx, and Bread (another hitslist) enter in the 20. Good climbs for the Guillemots and Seizures, with Richard Hawley, Hot Chip, and Thom Yorke enjoying post-Merc bounces. The Brits won this year, which makes a change.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 3 15 Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
 5  2 Shakira - Hips don't lie
 7 41 Lemar - It's not that easy
 9 12 Feeling - Never be lonely
11  5 Fratellis - Chelsea dagger
13 38 Muse - Starlight
15 11 Pink - You and your hand
20 14 Arctic Monkeys
  - Leave before the lights come on
24 19 Kasabian - Empire
27 21 Lily Allen - Smile
29 26 Kooks - She moves in her own way
38 43 Feeling - Fill my little world
41 36 Pink - Who knew?
42 23 Matt Willis - Hey kid
47 NE Mystery Jets - Diamonds in the dark
52 56 Muse - Supermassive black hole
55 33 Lazy B - Underwear goes inside the pants
56 42 View - Wasted little deejays
60 51 Kooks - Naive
63 NE Lostprophets - A town called hypocrisy **
64 NE Richard Hawley - Hotel room
70 75 Fratellis - Henrietta

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posted 10 Sep 2006, 20.20 +0100

Weather in week 36

Much more settled this week, with temperatures climbing to quite respectable figures. The nights have been surprisingly cold, under crystal-clear skies.

04 Mo sunny spells        12/21
05 Tu cloud, humid        17/24
06 We cloud               16/24
07 Th sunny spells        10/19, 1.0
08 Fr sun                  5/19
09 Sa sun                  7/22
10 Su sun                  7/25

Sixteen degree cooling days this week, the warmest since the start of August, and the summer's total moves to 332. The last three years: 223/237 last year, 184/184 in 2004, and 280/310 in 2003. 12mm of rain so far in September, the month's average is 85mm.

We should be making some impression on that rainfall target in the coming days. A front will cross from the west during Monday and Tuesday, with a second - somewhat weaker - front set to follow during Wednesday. There will be a significant depression to the north-west by the end of the week, influenced by the remnants of tropical storm Florence. That'll lead to westerly winds and showers, so do wrap up.

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posted 10 Sep 2006, 20.29 +0100


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