The Snow In The Summer or So-So

09/25/2006 - 10/01/2006

Mon 25 Sep 2006

Two Songs a Week 31 - Electronica

One of the aims of the Two Songs a Week project is to dispel the gathering myth - put about by such self-obsessed commentators as Steve Lurpack - that Britpop was a spent creative force by the end of 1995. If works by Cathy Dennis, Alisha's Attic, and My Life Story haven't convinced you, then maybe my favourite single of 1996 will do the trick.

Electronic - Johnny Marr from the Smiths and Bernard Sumner from New Order - had been working together on and off since 1987, and released an album in 1991. For the second long-player, the pair recruited Karl Bartos, a former member of Kraftwerk, to help them push the possibilities of electronic technology. Raise the Pressure wasn't a particularly big hit, but lead single Second nature was one I just couldn't but stop and listen to.

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posted 25 Sep 2006, 18.43 +0100

Two Songs a Week
Early doors

Thanks to Mark Cumming, the breakfast host on BBC Gloucestershire. He always* plays a record at about 6.47, and it's playing when my alarm springs into life at 6.49. To-day's record was Iris, and my alarm came on just as the performance was going into the long instrumental break. Just to add shine to the moment, when the vocals eventually kicked in, they turned out to be from the Goo Goo Dolls original, and not the rubbish karaoke version that some Irish twunt has made.

* - Except for Tuesday, when he has the editor of the Gloucester Citizen in to plug his local version of the Daily Hell.

In other music news, I hear that Noel Edmonds is to make a record. Bet it won't be as good as his last one, remarkable for the unorthodox rhyming scheme that paired "president Reagan" and "Kevin Keegan".

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posted 25 Sep 2006, 19.05 +0100

Introspective
Wiki-wiki-wah-wah

The "consensus" for the third annual Wikipedia conference venue (next July) is Taipei, Taiwan. This year's event took place in Boston, Canada; the 2005 inaugral event was in Frankfurt-am-Rhein. Other bids were from London, Torino, and Alexandria.

In recognition of the global intent of the Wikipedia project, it is deemed important to hold the event in diverse places throughout the world, a consideration that put London and Torino at a slight disadvantage. The clincher for Taipei over Alexandria seems to have been the desire of a preciously small clique to make some sort of protest against what they perceive as censorship by the government of Red China. Just ten people out of the much-hyped zillions of users had any say in this matter, and the voting figures have not been released. Even the notoriously corrupt IOC is more open and honest than this.

A review of the debate suggests that Taipei was not a consensus option amongst the many people who might have contributed to the conference, and any gains from the cheap shot across the bows of the Peking administration may be more than cancelled out by the damage done to the project by holding the annual conference in the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare.

Indeed, there's a nagging doubt that the Wikipedia project is being hi-jacked by those wishing to put forward a particular extistential view. Wikipedia's original vision owes so much to the post-modern view, that there's no such thing as objective truth, that the entire project is in grave danger of disappearing up its own jacksie.

Of course, if one's prepared to be post-modern to the point of asininity, one could suggest that the apparent "victory" for Taipei is only one opinion amongst many, and that the winner of the discussion was Alexandria. And Torino. And London. And that there will be four conferences, all equally official. Philosophically, this is utterly and completely consistent with the Wikipedia founders' propositions; indeed, the claim that there is ever a single winner is far less consistent, as it presents a subjective opinion as objective truth.

Yes, this is an utterly absurd proposition, and one that smacks of taking one's golf-balls home after losing 18½:9½. But it is surely no less absurd than the notion that there is no such thing as a fact, as propounded by the Wikipedia founders.

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posted 25 Sep 2006, 19.26 +0100

Blogging| Intellectual

Tue 26 Sep 2006

The Tiger Woods of the Labour party speaks

Mr. Gordon Brown, the finance minister and putative Labour leader, gave a speech at the Labour party conference yesterday. He paid tribute to the I.R.A. bombers whose destruction of the city centre in 1996 allowed the city centre to be rebuilt.

Mr. Brown paid a long and personal tribute to Mr. Blair, and endorsed his domestic policy of using private companies to deliver public services. Mr. Brown also endorsed Mr. Blair's foreign policy to intervene everywhere and at any time. He called for intervention in Darfur, and intervention to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Turning to his policy, Mr. Brown says that he wants to bring in "a new politics founded on responsibilities as well as rights." He then proceeded to offer anecdotes of people who wish to improve their lives, and argued that these improvements are being blocked by government.

Setting out his personal credo, Mr. Brown said he possessed "a simple faith with a fundamental optimism. That each and every one of us has a talent. Each of us a duty to use that talent. And each of us should have the chance to develop that talent."

Mr. Brown went on to say that the Labour party must have a soul. He will have surprised his audience by his claim that no social improvement can be achieved purely by government fiat.

Mr. Brown argued for education from within, rater than importing people from other countries. He pledged to offer schooling from 3 to 18, and to raise funding levels to £8000 per pupil.

Mr. Brown briefly touched on global warming, before asking for a USD 20 milliard fund for an ill-defined purpose.

He went on to consider the roles of community, and asked "what kind of society do we together want to become?" Mr. Brown suggested that he wanted everyone to play by "our" rules - freedom, democracy, fairness.

Mr. Brown pledged his support to specific policies of the current government - longer detention for terrorist suspects, the identity register, anti-social behaviour controls.

Turning to devolution, Mr. Brown said that he wants a "radical shift of power from the centre", suggesting that this should be done by increasing the powers available to local councils, and community ownership of local assets.

Mr. Brown concluded his speech with a wide range of superficial soundbites.

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posted 26 Sep 2006, 18.41 +0100

Politics
The Peter Principle to Das Kapital

There is an observation about businesses, that people will rise to the level of their incompetence. Those who are capable at their job find their time is diluted by pointless office politics and people management, leaving them less time to do the job they're good at, and forcing them to spend more time on crap and piffle. The net result is that all the actual work is done by people who don't have to suffer this management nonsense. In order to avoid exposing the illusion, managers are given extra wonga to keep them at their desks doing a job they don't like, leaving less money for those who do actually do something productive.

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posted 26 Sep 2006, 18.48 +0100

Intellectual

Wed 27 Sep 2006

Arts news in brief

Charlotte Higgins is annoyed with box-office booking fees. And, more tellingly, that they are completely inconsistent from place to place (though The Place charges nothing).

"What's Tommy Pearson doing these days." is a question we're almost never asked. The former Music Machine presenter has been absent from Radio 3 for a little while, and has now turned up on the CBSO podcast, talking to the people involved with the orchestra.

Stale magazine lists the top 10 classical downloads. The chorus from Carmina Burana, Pachabel's Canon (twice, which is a bit much), Beethoven V, Fanfare for the Common Man, Bach's Cello Suite 3, the 1812 Overture. All to be expected.

But how come three of the top five places are filled with the pudgy meanderings of Andrea Bocelli, a man who wouldn't know a good note if it hit him. One performance - no, let me take that again. One song with Eurovision winner Céline Dion, and two versions of Con te Partio, one featuring the very moderate vocal talents of Sarah Brightman. If this is classical music at its finest, I'm a banana.

And if MTV's terms for playing videos are fair and equitable, I'm a cucumber. No Rock 'n' Roll Fun compares the Yankee behemoth to former British prime minister Mr. John Major. That's an insult to Mr. Major. I think.

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posted 27 Sep 2006, 19.40 +0100

Culture

Thu 28 Sep 2006

Alistair Campbell

I'm genuinely surprised that this one hasn't got more play across the rest of the media. Mr. Alistair Campbell, the former press spokesey from 10 Downing-street was on Radio 5 on Tuesday, and was asked by Jane Garvey to comment on a particularly negative email sent in to the programme. "If they exist," was a throwaway remark from Mr. Campbell, and Ms. Garvey does pick him up on it. A significant row ensued between Mr. Campbell and Peter Allen, the host in London, regarding the authenticity of broadcasting. Mr. Campbell said that, with "very little respect", there's no point "wasting breath" on whether Mrs. Blair called Mr. Brown a liar. Mr. Allen eventually gave up on the interview, suggesting that there's no point going on with him.

Hear Alistair Campbell melting down live on air. (OGG file, 3.34MB, 5'35.)

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posted 28 Sep 2006, 19.28 +0100

Politics

Fri 29 Sep 2006

Gold!

Hullo, everyone. It's been an awfully long time since I last updated you on my prediction competition, so here's all the news.

Brig said The Nintendo Revolution will be released in the UK by the end of August. No, two-thirds of a point to Mel, Quirks, and Weaver.

Chickenfeet said There will be less than 1000 British troops in Iraq on Sept 30. No, two-fifths of a point to Brig, Cheekbones, Jiggers, Quirks, and Weaver.

Mug asked What will be the PM fix for one troy ounce of gold on 29 September? This market is denominated in US dollars. The price of gold has been going up and down like a yo-yo this year, rocketing from 509 at the start of the year to 726 in early May, down to 567 in mid-June, up to 671 in July, and down almost ever since.

The final result, as confirmed by the London Bullion Market, is 599.25.

What does this do for the scores? Quite a bit.

Cheekbones: 0.5
O'mel: 2.5
Jiggers: 7.1
Quirks: 7.4
Weaver: 7.8

Brig and Chickenfeet fail to score.

To see what that's done to the scores, you'll have to look at the prediction page. There is a change in the order.

I shall be mugging amongst you again at the end of next month, when we find out how many people Mr. Weaver has met after corresponding with them through the internet.

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posted 29 Sep 2006, 18.55 +0100

Entertainment
Two Songs a Week 32 - Le near

It's exceptionally uncool to suggest it, but there really was a lot of talent in the two series of Fame Academy. David Sneddon (qv) and Alex Parks won the series, but other star quality came from Sinead Quinn, Carolynne Good, Paris Campbell-Edwards, Alistair Griffin, and Lemar Obika.

Finishing third in the 2002 series, Lemar waited almost a year before releasing his second single - the first had come out in 2001, and flopped dismally. His first album, Dedicated, didn't much appeal, as it was trying far too hard to be trend, at the expense of the music. There were signs of progress on the second album, particularly lead single If there's any justice, but it's only with current release It's not that easy that Lemar has really shown his promise.

Lemar is blessed with a rich soulful voice, one that works best when it's allowed to come to the fore on the track. Unlike some other singers, he's managed to avoid over-ornamenting each note, or trying to slide up and down the scale like a mad-mariah. I'm not entirely convinced by the Eastenders-like backing track, but do like the the way the song builds and builds to what's almost a terrace sing-a-long.

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posted 29 Sep 2006, 19.14 +0100

Two Songs a Week

Sat 30 Sep 2006

We listen to these speeches so you don't have to

Further speeches were heard at the Labour party conference in Manchester Central station this week.

On Wednesday, Mr. Johnson, the education secretary, stated that "no Labour politician would be anything other than proud to serve as Education Secretary." This clearly explains why there have been five education secretaries in the past five-and-a-half years.

It is clear that there is much still to be done, as an extract from the official transcript shows.

And, as Gordon said on Monday, our aim is to lift state school spending to match todays private sector level.

Over half a million more 11 year olds have reached the required standard in English or Maths since 1997 with standards up across the board. In 1997 the number of school's where less than a fifth of pupils gained five good GCSEs was nearly 400, this year we expect it to be close to single figures.

For the record, the first sentence is missing an apostrophe; this punctuation can be re-allocated from the third sentence, from where a semi-colon has been omitted. It is also impossible for a number to be "close to single figures"; it is either in single figures (such as the U.S. score at last week's Ryder Cup) or is not.

Mr. Johnson went on to claim, "We are the first government to recognise the crucial importance of these early years." His analysis neglects the nursery vouchers that were brought in under the government of Mr. Major, and abolished by the incoming administration of Mister Blair.

Mr. Johnson announced a significant amendment to examination standards, declaring by ministerial fiat that all coursework in G.C.S.E. mathematics would be abolished, and that coursework in all other subjects would be supervised. The effect of Mr. Johnson's unilateral declaration is to restore mathematics to the single terminal examination model that was present prior to the introduction of G.C.S.E., and to convert other subjects into a succession of small examinations.

After making a number of ad hominem attacks on Mr. Cameron, Mr. Johnson re-iterated his previously announced spending priorities.

The Attack Hyena

On Thursday, Mr. Reid, the interior minister, gave his speech. He began by thanking his predecessors - a mere three in the past five-and-a-half years.

Mr. Reid outlined his personal credo: no compromise with terrorism, fairly-managed immigration, rights and responsibilities, community policing, respectful communities. He went on to assert that everything else hinges on security, thus contradicting his assertion in 2005 that everything hinged on defence, or his assertion in 2004 that healthcare would be at the centre of all the party wished to achieve.

In promoting tighter immigration control, Mr. Reid claimed that the identity register was an integral part of the strategy. Pressures of time prevented him from introducing any evidence to support this contention.

Mr. Reid foreshadowed another criminal justice bill, the 25th from the current government, by suggesting that those who do harm to the community should rectify that damage. He repeated the falsehood that terror suspects are afforded greater protection than other people, and pledged to abolish this non-existent state of affairs.

Mr. Reid said that the objective of terrorism is "to break the spirit of their opponent by terror." Again, a lack of time ensured he did not explain how abolishing many cherished freedoms helps to maintain spirits.

After the ritual attack on Mr. Cameron and the Conservative party, Mr. Reid concluded his speech with the usual array of soundbites and platitudes.

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posted 30 Sep 2006, 09.16 +0100

Politics
Returning to Six Apart's approach to business

A regular reader has pointed out the official Six Apart line on its privacy policy.

The privacy policy is considered stable.

This is depressing. The current privacy policy is clearly less binding on Livejournal than the 2004 version, a topic I shall return to later.

In particular, the privacy policy states that Livejournal is prepared to provide sex, age, location and interests to advertisers. I believe that this could be sufficient information to identify an individual member. What am I missing here? How does Livejournal ensure that information insufficient to identify an individual is disclosed? Livejournal and Six Apart have not responded to four emails or four posts. I know for a fact that staff members have read the question, yet they have not responded.

As for international users, section VII in the Terms of Service does note that users are required to abide by the laws of the local jurisdiction they are in. LiveJournal itself falls under the law of the United States, specifically in the state of California. We don't enforce rules set outside of the U.S. since they don't apply to LiveJournal itself; it's the user's responsibility to comply with the laws of the country they are in.

To préçis: Livejournal will not enforce the laws of a foreign country, but will enforce the laws in California. This strikes me as the height of arrogance, for two reasons.

Livejournal's suggestion that it is immune from laws that do not apply to California may contradict decisions in a case involving Yahoo France and nazi memorabilia. In a nutshell, the French courts ruled in 2000 that Yahoo was criminally liable for allowing nazi stuff to be sold on its site. Yahoo declined to appeal in France; in January 2006, an appeals court (and subsequently the U.S. supreme court) declined to take a position on whether French judgements could be enforced in the U.S.

The practical upshot of all this is that it may be dangerous for Livejournal to continue ignoring other laws. It is not entirely clear that foreign laws do not apply to U.S. companies, so it would be imprudent to assume they do not. According to Six Apart employee Denise Paolucci, Six Apart has taken advice, and is not worried about this matter. That is their decision.

Where this behaviour descends into arrogance is in the way Livejournal will uphold the legal and moral code applicable in California. The definition of "children" used is culturally-specific to Livejournal's country of origin. The approach to potential copyright infringments is specific to Livejournal's country of origin. The approach to threats of violence against a single specific national leader is, again, unique to the culture of Livejournal's country of origin. It could well be argued that failing to act on any of these matters poses a threat to the continued wellbeing of Livejournal, and that any counter-argument effectively requires Livejournal to ignore its local laws, a path that could not be recommended to anyone.

Even when there is no specific legal cause, Livejournal does not hesitate to apply its cultural norms across the entire service. For instance, May's flap about nipples in default icons stems precisely from a cultural sensitivity in the U.S. and specific to the U.S. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the specific decision, it is an imposition of cultural values from the United States on the rest of the world.

There are other examples I could pick - the continued use of Pacific time rather than UTC, an appeal to spring break, references to winter in February. All these are in Livejournal News posts from this year; all show a cultural bias towards the United States.

This is the arrogance I mentioned earlier. By appealing to standards in one culture, Livejournal is imposing those standards, and that culture, across the entire world. This is not illegal, but it is unethical and highly offensive.

Returning to the privacy policy, the 2004 version complied with the spirit - if not the letter - of the European Data Protection Directive. Facebook, which has come in for so much criticism recently, still has a privacy policy that complies with the European standard, at least in spirit.

Livejournal, however, has traded in a policy that may well have met the tough European standard, and replaced it with a far less stringent one. This is a further example of taking the cultural norms of the U.S.A. and applying them across the world.

It also introduces significant contractual uncertainties, for this substantial change requires each user to specifically accept the change; those who were on Livejournal before Six Apart arrived have never been asked to accept the change. There is a strong argument that the current privacy policy does not apply to them.

Equally, Six Apart posits that continued use of its products indicates an acceptance of the current term of service. In particular, section 23 of the current term of service has no counterpart in the 2004 term. In order to vary the term of service in the way Six Apart wishes, it is necessary to secure explicit agreement from each pre-takeover user. No such agreement has been sought; indeed, this process was proposed but cancelled by relying on precisely the term that needed to be accepted to allow the continual change. This is what's known as circular logic, and the practical upshot is that the variation in term of service is utterly invalid.

Readers may be wondering why I am publishing this lecture here, rather than in a direct response to Six Apart's statement. As you will have seen, I do not accept the contractual validity of the privacy policy or the current iteration of Six Apart's term of service. Six Apart is acting as though its interpretation of our contract is the correct version, and the company has indicated that it does not propose to alter its contract in any event. Until this contradiction is clarified, it is most prudent for me to remain aloof from Six Apart's products. As Six Apart insists on an unacceptable contract term, I decline to take up that contract.

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posted 30 Sep 2006, 10.46 +0100

Six Apart Is Useless

Sun 01 Oct 2006

Last Thursday's Question Muck

Welcome to Manchester, the second Question Muck of the new series, and the first one I'll be recapping. The panellists to-night:

Question One! Should the Labour Party appoint "anyone but Gordon" as leader?

Kenneth Clarke, the last successful finance minister we had, fears that John Reid is playing mucksical chairs in the Cabinet room, and will wind up sitting on the throne eventually. Piers Moron tries to play up the achievements of the Blair government. Lance Price hopes that somebody of substance stands against Gordon. John Straw says that Labour is a democratic party, gets a bucket of muck tipped over him to shut him up, and then says,

John Prescott is one of the reasons why New Labour has been such a success.

Ken Clarke points out that he's played three leadership elections, and lost three. Jenny Tonge says that she's a fan of Gordon's, that he'll be welcomed as a more trustworthy prime minister than the current incumbent, and that John Reid is a pygmy by comparison. A bungalowhead throws a vat of muck at Moron, telling everyone to get on with the job and stop bitching at each other. John Straw's claim that Labour won seats from the Lib Dems in Manchester at this year's elections is accurate, and that becomes a personal best.

Question Two: Does the panel think whoever is the next leader of the Labour Party should call an immediate general election?

Moron apologises for whatever it is he's done, and endorses a call for an early election. Price says that's not how the system works, and that the UK elects MPs, not parties; his claim undermines the Blairite claim to have received a mandate from the British people. Clarke says that he won't, because he'll lose it, and he doesn't need to, and it's all damaging serious politics. Straw says that had Blair promised to serve a full term, his successor would be required to call an election. Tonge drones on, saying that media images are important.

Question Three: Should politicians' spouses be seen and not heard?

Straw sympathises with the various prime ministerial wives (and husband); he claims that Mrs. Blair did not make the comments attributed to her. Price clearly fancies Mrs. Blair. Clarke points out that Mrs. Blair is trying to have her cake and eat it. A bungalowhead reckons that she's brought it on herself. Moron gets splatted by that bungalowhead from Question One again, and points out that he no longer edits the Daily Moron. Yes, fired over the Quarantine affair, wasn't it? Tonge really isn't saying anything of note.

Question Four: The creation of modern Iraq in 1921 came to be known as "Winston's Folly". Could the present situation come to be known as Tony's folly?

Price says no, it'll be X's Folly. Clarke says that it's the worst error since Suez, if not the worst foreign policy error of the twentieth century. (But didn't it take place in the 21st? Ask the Project for a New Amoronican Century, who cooked up this idea in 1997, three years before its coup d'etat.)

Straw says that Winston's Folly was the borders, and claims that he managed to shift moronican policy. His speech is interrupted by Moron, saying that there was no UN approval, and the war was illegal. Straw repeats the lie that previous resolutions authorised war; this is not a position held by any independent lawyer. Straw criticises the Ministry Of War from the occupying forces, who failed to follow the advice of Coelin Powell.

Tonge picks up on Straw's claim that Iraq was a cohesive unit, and that the abiding memories of Blair will be the grin and the war. She calls for a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, as that provides fuel for all the other fires. Moron says that Straw is pathetic in his justifications, and that Blair cannot spell "peace". He points out the introduction of al-qaeda to Iraq, and the increase in torture. He also notes that the only apology was from Mr. Prescott, for shagging his diary secretary, and Rosie Winterton. The only mention of weapons of mass destruction comes from a bungalowhead.

Straw goes on to make the outrageous claim that there was no intention to mislead, and that the weapons inspectors also believed there were weapons. He cites twenty-nine "unanswered questions", and claims that that represents hard evidence. The document from which he is quoting, published on 7 March 2003, offers unanswered questions and not evidence. Clarke picks up on this nonsense, and on the UK approach of ignoring the United Nations when it suited them.

Question Five: Would it not be in the greater interest of both the country and the Labour Party if Mister Blair was to stand down immediately?

"Absolutely," says Moron. Price says no, saying that the public spoke eighteen months ago; he does not remind us that seven out of nine people rejected Labour. A bungalowhead calls him the worst leader we've ever had, a decision that doesn't go down well amongst the King John fans. Straw says no, obviously, and alleges that a Conservative government would have done the same thing; we will have to leave the policy of a government headed by Mr. Hague as a thought experiment.

Model answers this week: 1) No, the revolution will be best served by the failure of the current system. 2) Only if he can be certain that it will result in a badly-hung parliament. 3) Not necessarily, but spousen must be consistent in their actions. 4) Very possibly. 5) I have no care for Labour, but it would be better for the country.

In summary

  1. Piers Moron Dealt well with the bungalowhead who was out for him, and barracked Straw when needed.
  2. Kenneth Clarke Good value, as always.
  3. Lance Price Anodyne.
  4. Jenny Tonge Didn't speak on the last question, and might have made one point all night
  5. John Straw Enough lies to fill a matress-testing factory, though his candour in saying that Iraq isn't a bed of roses was helpful.
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posted 01 Oct 2006, 10.56 +0100

Entertainment| Politics
Telegrams in brief

Norwich (SOTC) Mr. Charles Clarke apologises for attack. The MP for Norwich-south apologised for his "absolutely stupid behaviour" when discussing Mr. Gordon Brown earlier this month. Mr. Clarke has not apologised for an incident in April when he told one of his constituents to "go away".

Manchester (Bloomberg) A speech by British finance minister Mr. Gordon Brown at Manchester Central station was overshadowed by an intervention by Mrs. Tony Blair. After Mr. Brown stated that it had been a "privelege to work for" her husband, Mrs. Blair quietly declaimed, "well, that's a lie".

Chesapeake Drainage Basin (Moron Review) The religious obsessives in "the senate" have declined the protection of the Geneva Conventions on behalf of their countrymen. According to Prof. Niall Ferguson, reciprocity demands that it is now perfectly legal to imprison, torture, maim, or inflict physical injury on those who call themselves United Stations, so long as they are engaged in combat, armed or otherwise.

Steep Gradient (Reuters) Research by Dr. P. R. O'Tracter demonstrates that the steepness of the Steep Slope has increased from 11.4° in 2000 to 25.6° now. Last week, Dr. Gree Ceepig published a paper demonstrating that the viscosity of the slope had diminished by approximately 72% in the past five years.

London (BBC) B.B.C. 1 will feature new identification logotypes from 7 October. The identification shorts, on the theme of circles, will replace the much-derided "red dance" idents that have been clogging up the screen since Easter 2002. Eight of a planned sixteen idents have been released; it is not yet clear if one of the forthcoming circles will be of the globe.

Dresden (Eurojam) The M-42 near Birmingham has won the European Roadworks of the Year award. The Golden Cone will be handed over by last year's winner, Austria's A-1 near Traun. The Silver Cone goes to the A-9 near Perpignan, while the ceremonial Jar of Marmalade for the worst roadworks is won by the M-6 near Madrid.

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posted 01 Oct 2006, 16.28 +0100

News
Music in week 39

Another week, another German number one, as Justin Numberwang succeeds to the top spot, and Stacey Ferguson lands in the top five. There's also a new leader in France, where Johnny Halliday, the pied piper of French pop, takes his 944th number one with La loi du silence. FAF Larage, a contestant on some talent show or other, takes second spot with Pas le temps. Down at number 11 is Yannick Noah, and yes, it is the former tennis player. Let's just hope Tim Henman doesn't get any ideas.

Changes also in Sweden, where Pop Idle winner Agnes releases her third single, Kick back relax, and is rewarded with her third top two hit. Hammerfall also enter the top 10 with Natural high, and the follow-up to Basshunter's massive smash is out, entitled Vi sitter i ventrilo och spelar dota. Mmm, catchy.

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 14 Bob Sinclar - Rock this party
 19 18 Snow Patrol - Chasing cars
 18 11 Plage - Coup de boule
 17 13 Kasabian - Empire
 16 re Pink - You and your hand
*15 NE Lily Allen - LDN
*14 NE Killers - When you were young
*13 NE Stacey Ferguson - London bridge
 12  6 Rhianna - Unfaithful
 11 16 Basshunter - Boten Anna
*10 10 Seizure Sisters - I don't feel like dancing
  9  9 Cascada - Everytime we touch
* 8  8 Fratellis - Chelsea digger
  7 12 Muse - Starlight
  6  5 Shakira - Hips don't lie
  5  4 Nelly Furtado - Maneater
* 4  7 Lemar - It's not that easy
  3  2 Robbie Williams - Rudebox
* 2  3 Justin Numberwang - Hairyback
* 1  1 Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous

New entries come from Lily Allen, with a re-release of her first single; the Killers, the lead single from their forthcoming second album; and from Stacey Ferguson, who still believes that London Bridge is anything other than a flat, featureless slab of concrete.

It's a busy week on the singles chart, with no fewer than 12 records entering the top 40, and another four climbing on physical release. No changes at the top, though, with the Seizure Sisters and Killers holding off all-comers - the latter representing an achievement in itself. Little Chris climbs from 19 to 3, this week's highest placed new release (and, yes, that's the same thing as the highest new entry from last year.) His career goes downhill from here. Great news for Evanescence - a slow start on downloads has transformed into a fantastic week on physical sales, landing at number 4, and beating two of the more established hitmaking acts. Lily Allen will, perhaps, be a little unhappy with a number 6 hit, but it has been a strong week. Full release only leaves the Pussycat Dulls at 7, bottom of this week's favourites, and further evidence that their time has passed.

The joker this week came from the High School Musical cast - the production aired in the UK last week, and this week sees the first of what threatens to be a never-ending stream of hits - Breaking free is the show's sloppy love song, and rises to 9. Razorlight's new hit makes 15 on downloads alone, suggesting a possible top-5 position next week. Paolo Nutini rises from just outside the top 40 last week to the bottom of the top 20 this.

Bob Sinclar's massive Eurohit enters in the UK at 21 on downloads, but the twat spouting gobshite all over the beat can't help. The Streets, who haven't done anything of value since 2002, has worked with the Buster Keaton look-a-like Peter Doherty, and gets number 25 for their collective efforts. Scottish trancester Chris Lake is 27. Poof Daddy and One Of The Pussycat Dolls scrape into the top 30 on downloads alone. Quondam Manic Street Preacher James Dean Bradfield makes 31 with An English gentleman - curious, given that he's Welsh. The Dirty Pretty Things are wondering why their career has dried up. Latoya from Destiny's Child has a solo hit - Torn is not a Katrina and the Waves cover. OK Go are making their usual entertaining noise at 36. US 5, the multinational Lou Perlmann group, have been to number one in Germany. They chart here a mere 37 places lower.

Phew. Missing the top 40 - all on full release - are Lionel Richtea (45), the Pipettes (46), the dudley combination of Leann Rimes and Brian McBoringfart (48), the amazingly overhyped Juliette and the Licks (50), Jesse McCartney (54), the one remaining fan of Mister Blair (57), and the All-Amoron Rejects (66).

The Seizures retain the top spot on the albums list for a second week, with good climbs for Razorlight, Lily Allen, Paolo Nutini, and the Zutons. Jamelia has the highest new entry, but it's right down at number 20, barely ahead of a huge rush of cut-price tat. Lupe Fiasco and Larrikin Love enter into the top 40, with the Drifters, Lemonheads, and Sparklehorse appearing between 30 and 60. Flop of the week has to be Janet Jackson, whose latest album can only appear at the rather rubbish position of 63.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 2  2 Killers - When you were young
 3 19 Little Chris - Checking it out ^^
 4 32 Evanescence - Call me when you're sober ^^
 6 27 Lily Allen - LDN ^^
 8  4 Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
 9 45 High School Musical OCR - Breaking free ^^
10  6 Shakira - Hips don't lie
13 10 Pink - You and your hand
15 NE Razorlight - America **
16 14 Fratellis - Chelsea dagger
18 11 Feeling - Never be lonely
19 12 Lemar - It's not that easy
32 22 Muse - Starlight
33 33 Bedouin Soundclash **
  - When the night feels my song
34 NE Dirty Pretty Things - Wondering
36 58 OK Go - Here it goes again
40 35 Kooks - She moves in her own way
41 28 Kasabian - Empire
44 38 Lily Allen - Smile
46 NE Pipettes - Judy
47 31 Lostprophets - A town called hypocrisy
51 37 Arctic Monkeys
  - Leave before the lights come on
53 24 Zutons - Oh Stacey
58 25 Automatic - Recover
60 49 Pink - Who knew?
62 NE The Blood Arm - Suspicious character
69 53 Feeling - Fill my little world
73 67 Kooks - Naive

permanent link
posted 01 Oct 2006, 19.17 +0100

Entertainment
Weather in week 39

The relatively warm weather continued this week, in a south-westerly airflow that brought much cloud but - until the week-end - surprisingly little rain.

25 Mo cloud to sun        11/20
26 Tu sun                 12/20
27 We cloud               10/19
28 Th showers to cloud    15/19, 2.0
29 Fr showers             13/17, 7.5
30 Sa cloud                8/18
01 Su thunder showers     12/17.18.0

The summer's total of degree cooling days remains at 357. September's total rainfall was 85.5mm, 8mm above the monthly average. We've already had nearly a quarter of October's rain.

The vigorous depression will drift away northwards, leaving winds mostly coming from the north-west quadrant. After Monday, most parts of the UK will be in slack winds until Friday, when the next depression will bring westerlies and heavy showers to all parts.

permanent link
posted 01 Oct 2006, 19.32 +0100

Weather

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