The Snow In The Summer or So-So

11/06/2006 - 11/12/2006

Mon 06 Nov 2006

Two Songs a Week 43 - 1+1=1

We're not going to say that Sweeping The Nation are stealing our idea, because they're not. Song To Learn And Sing 6 is 12 Reasons Why..., which we covered a couple of months back.

Instead, the Monday Oldie this week is One and one (Marie Claire D'Ubaldo, Rick Nowels, Billy Steinberg), performed by Robert Miles and Maria Naylor. Born Roberto Concina in 1969, Miles had been playing keyboards and DJing since the late 80s. He shot to fame with the addictive trance track Children in the long winter of 1996 - it was such a huge smash that Top of the Pops was still playing the video three months after first release. The next single, Fable, was quite clearly Children part II, but those who purchased the CD single were surprised to find there was a proper song lurking as one of the many remixes.

It was no surprise to find that Miles' third single release was a proper song. Swoonsome, trancey, but there's meaningful lyrics, and a video that we can't quite remember, other than it was in slow motion and utterly fabulous. One and one followed Children into the top three, and combined with Gabrielle (qv) and Toni Braxton to be three of the building blocks of late 1996. There's a cover version by Edyta Gorniak (PL 94), which just sounds interesting.

Miles was quick off the mark; his Dreamland album came out in June 1996, and 23am was being promoted just fifteen months later. Lead single Freedom features one of the most eye-wateringly wonderful vocals ever, provided by Sister Kathy Sledge, but that was the end of Miles' hit-making career. Two albums since have barely scratched the surface, and Miles has gone down as not quite a one-hit wonder, but certainly a one-year wonder.

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posted 06 Nov 2006, 19.15 +0000

Two Songs a Week
A few things from over the week-end

Another Saturday, another Six Apart cockup. This time, it's a planned power outage at their one data centre. From what we can tell, the interruption (between 0600 and 0800 Saturday UTC) caused little trouble, but when all the servers tried to come on at the same time, they fried. It appears that partial service was restored around 1500 Saturday, but the site wasn't operating at anything like full capacity until nearer 2359.

Yet again, we find Six Apart scrimps on the important things, like multiply redundant locations, multiple power sources, and generally having more of everything that the least they can get away with. Six Apart customer ciannait calls Six Apart's lies. The parent thread is also worth reading.

Six Apart wasn't the only place to suffer a significant loss of power. A good chunk of north-west Europe also found itself bereft of electricity for a couple of hours on Saturday night. A combination of unseasonably cold weather, and a major power line being turned off to allow a cruise ship to pass beneath, led to multiple cascading failures in an arc stretching from Germany, through the Benelux and France, as far as Spain. For most people, normal service resumed within two hours.

In Occupied Iraq, the trial of a man has completed. The man may be President Sadaam Hussein, but this identification is disputed. The court proceedings are also under dispute; they were begun under an occupying force, an act that is doubly unlawful. The presiding judge has been changed on four occasions, and there have been persistent reports that the body calling itself the Iraqi government has been pressurising whichever judge is in charge at the time. Four wrongs don't make a right; the trial completed with guilty verdicts, and the body intends to kill the person who may (or may not) be President Sadaam. Soon to be former British prime minister Mister Tony Blair refused to defend or criticise this sentence at his monthly press conference to-day, and told Adam Bolton of Harlington News to shut up.

Mister Tony Blair has also been expounding the many and varied benefits of his pet National Identity Register. According to Mister Blair, the project will help protect against illegal immigration (no, but having more people on the borders will), crime (no, the enabling act creates victimless crimes), terrorism (no, as even the Safety Elephino said), and identity fraud (no, the single purpose mechanism will make it much easier to steal someone else's identity.) There's no mention of other previously-hailed points: to ensure people are entitled to claim benefits, to ensure they're entitled to health treatment, to make sure people pay their taxes, to enable them to turn water into wine, to enable citizens to walk on water, and to ensure holders do not detect the smell of bullshit when it emerges from a perma-grinning mouth.

The perma-grinning loon goes on to claim, "the public, when anyone bothers to ask them, are overwhelmingly behind CCTV being used to catch or deter hooligans, or DNA being used to track down those who have committed horrific crimes. And that's what surveys suggest, too, about their position on ID cards." Except it's not; 82% of respondents oppose the cards.

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posted 06 Nov 2006, 19.25 +0000

A potty history of Guy Fawkes' Night

Guy Fawkes' night last night, and - to assist those who don't know the history of this celebration - here's a potty history.

The origins of Guy Fawkes' night lie in history's most famous impotent, Henry 8. Unable to keep it up in the days before V!@gr% spam had been imported from Amerigo's continent, Henry went through six wives and stuck his nose up at the church of cats in Rome. Henry was succeeded by Edward 6, who came to the throne at the age of 6 and never aged before his death, six and a half years later, at the age of 6. He was succeeded by Mary, who loved cats so much that she changed the country's name to Tabby. Then came Queenie Elizabeth, who couldn't care less for this religion lark, or for men. Queenie got into a scrap with Mary, the runaway winner of the Scottish Premier Monarch League, and won by a knock-your-block-off.

After Queenie Elizabeth died, England was without a monarch, and invited the new leader of the SPML to take charge. This was James Stewart, who had beaten his brother Patrick after a shocking goal-keeping blunder broke his Hearts. James was a Scottish monarch, and London was not prepared to see the established order threatened in this manner. Cat fans, in particular, were unhappy because James only gave rights to dog-lovers.

Bob Catesby decided to hold a Gunpowder Plot, intending to blow up the entire House of Parliament during the Opening, when James told Parliament what it would and wouldn't do that year. The opening was delayed from September 1604 to November 1605 because of a plague on both houses. Catesby employed the services of explosives expert Guy Fawkes, who hid 1800 pounds of the new, high-tech explosive gunpowder under the pitch at Lords'. Outlined on the back of a cigarette packet, the plot went something like this:

1. Blow up Parliament.
2. ???
3. Revolution!

In order to avoid killing a cat fan, the plotters told Lord Monteagle, who told government minister Lord Salisbury, who told the guards to search the vaults, where they discovered Guy Fawkes, a watch, slow matches, and touchpaper. They forced him to retire hurt and tell all; the plotters were hung in the Westminster Galleries the following January.

The pro-royalist factions in England wanted to celebrate the complete failure of the cat fans to blow up Parliament, and let off fireworks and hold bonfires each 5 November. The noise produced by this celebration does scare cats, but it also scares dogs, so they've really messed this one up.

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posted 06 Nov 2006, 22.00 +0000


Tue 07 Nov 2006

The Legend of Cowboy Arthur

Don't forget, the Mid-term Election Swingometer is up for you to use, abuse, snigger at, and wonder why we haven't included Palm Coast (Swamp 7) in our list of possible gains, losses, swings, or votes. Will Candidate X come down the slide and crack open the champagne, or will the Democrats lift the end high off the pavement, so that X cracks open his skull and experiences real pain.

Coverage in the UK will be courtesy of Jim Naughtie's It's Us or the World Service programme, which goes out for from 12.30am on Radio 4, until it makes way for the Shipping Forecast at 5.20; a greater contrast we cannot imagine. Television coverage will be limited to CNN, and updates in News 24's regular bulletins; CNBC will be showing unusual programmes, good news for poker-fan Mr. Bother.

Meanwhile, we're already sharpening our magnifying glasses, and chasing the moths out of the deer-stalkers, in an effort to discover Who Stole The Election This Time? That's how confident we are that these backwards people can learn how to count correctly. Did Candidate X never watch Sesame Street?

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posted 07 Nov 2006, 20.31 +0000


Wed 08 Nov 2006

The Legend of Donkey Arthur Redux

The provisional results from the FARCE election are in, and just look at that. The Upper House is on a knife edge; 49 seats retained by the Corporatists, 49 for the Democratics, and no fewer than two seats have been won by Independents. They hold the balance of power. The Lower House, meanwhile, has turned blue, with a net 28 gains for the Democratics.

All this represents a swing between 7% and 8% from the Corporatists to the Democratics, and that's had the expected effects on the Swingometer. If you don't like the colour blue, don't follow that link.

It should be noted that the 7-and-a-bit percent swing was only just enough for the Corporatists to lose their majority in the Upper House, and that relies on the Independent member for Vermont remaining in broad sympathy with the Democratics. A 5.5% swing, similar in magnitude to the one that propelled the Corporatists to power in 1994, certainly would not have sufficed. Given the huge personal votes and blatant pro-Corporatist gerrymandering in many provinces, this represents a significant sea-change. It remains to be seen how much of it is a reaction against the noxious proposals of the Corporatist opposition, and how much an expression of support for President Kerry. If this pattern of voting were to be repeated, he would not have to rely on a meaningful recount in Ohio to retain the top job.

In recent British political history, a 7% swing has only been attained once, in the 1997 Labour landslide. It is roughly the combined swing from the 1964 and 1966 elections, which saw a Convervative majority of 100 replaced by a Labour one of similar magnitude.

To add to the celebrations, there's to be a reshuffle of the opposition Corporatist shady cabinet. Donald Rumsveld will step down as Secretary For War, with Robert Gates tapped up to succeed him.

And there's more. Five British cabinet ministers are to be interviewed by police in the ongoing cash-for-honours probe. Harriet Harman and Alan Milburn are two of them. All ministers in the Cabinet in the run-up to the last election, including the notoriously rogueish David Plunkett, have been contacted by the investigating authorities. It's not clear if soon to be former prime minister Mister Tony Blair will be interviewed under caution.

Could this day get any more agreeable? Only if the nation's most nauseatingly over-hyped football club were to be dumped out of competition by a side from darkest Essex. Oh.

And for those of you who prefer something to laugh at, portions of this post are available as a podcast.

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posted 08 Nov 2006, 20.07 +0000


Thu 09 Nov 2006

Parliament this week

At Lords', they discuss why Cross-country trains will no longer visit Glasgow.

Westminster Hall debates are usually played out before an audience that almost reaches double figures, which is why they go out on The Parliament Channel at 6am. Not so the Farepak debate, into a collapsed savings scheme, in which the Halifax Bank of Scotland and some crooked directors cost the savings of an awful lot of people. Anne Snelgrove said,

I wish publicly to name the Farepak directors. [Hon. Members: Hear, hear.]. They were the finance director and company secretary Stevan Fowler, the independent non-executive directors Neil Gillis, Paul Munn and Michael Johns, the chief executive William Rollason - I understand that he is soon to appear in an Australian court, possibly on a not unrelated matter involving another company - the executive director Nicholas Gilodi-Johnson, who is set to inherit £70 million, and the chairman Sir Clive Thompson, formerly of Rentokil, who is a modern-day Scrooge. He bemoaned a 30p rise in the minimum wage when he was earning more that £2 million a year, he wound up the pension scheme at Rentokil for all but the executives and then walked off with a £690,000 a year pension. No doubt Sir Clive and the directors will be eating a very big turkey this Christmas and enjoying it.

And there was a good one on the rail network, including mention of the nonsense at Burscough, and the atrocious service between Shrewsbury and Brum.

Parliament was formally porogued on Wednesday; there will be a Gracious Speech next Wednesday. These recaps will resume with business from 20 November.

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posted 09 Nov 2006, 18.13 +0000


A very happy 9/11 to everyone, remembering the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918, the opening of the Berlinermauer in 1989, and the launch of Firefox 1.0 in 2004.

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posted 09 Nov 2006, 18.19 +0000

How big a swing is it, then?

Danah boyd is not entirely happy about the Democratic swing. no one voted _for_ the Democratics but _against_ the Corporatists. Not entirely sure this is true; you don't get a (provisional) 7% swing without making some inroads into the opposition.

Is the whole event staged for television? Perhaps, but the staging leaves an awful lot to be desired. Not enough of a national overview, and no one at all is interested in the concept of swing as a transfer of votes. Indeed, the term swing is used for what the rest of us would call a marginal.

It can't be because it's too hard for them to understand; David Butler explained it simply: if three people in every 100 switching their vote from the Conservatives to Labour, the the government will change. That is so simple that a child of six could follow it.

The predictive power - observe a 6% swing in early results from the east, and reckon that this will topple seats in the west - is clear, and is recognised by the Canadian government, who try to ban reports from the east before polls close in the west.

We have managed to unearth a 1994 report from Stanford, citing other significant swings, and how many seats changed hands:

A swing for this election can't be calculated until the final results are certified, and that's not going to happen for a couple of weeks. It should be trivial to give provisional totals for the number of votes cast for Democratics and for Corporatists, yet this is beyond every media outlet. Counting the key marginals on the swingometer and percentages assuming all ridings are of the same size give similar figures. D 55 (+8.5) C 42.5 (-6.5) And that does work out at - roughly! - a 7.5% swing. That makes it the biggest swing since the war.

If any of the commentators over the pond understood swing as we understand swing, they would be trumpeting this achievement from the rooftops.

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posted 09 Nov 2006, 18.51 +0000

Celebrity Notices


JACKSON-IRATCABAL The marriage of Miss Jill Jackson and Miss Johnna Iratcabal took place in Biggar on Friday 3 November. SMSs of congratulation from Miss Alex Parks and other well-wishers were read at the reception at Ravello's.


FEDERLINE The divorce of Mr Kevin Federline and Mrs Britney Federline (née Spears) has been announced. The couple will be divorced next month in El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles. The couple leave two children, Preston and Chantelle.

Out This Week

MELUA The homosexuality has been announced of Miss Ketevan Melua, a singer from Georgia. Miss Melua is seeking additional column inches.


MAURIAT The death has been announced of Paul Mauriat, composer of easy-listening classics including L'amour est bleu (LU 67). He was 81.

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posted 09 Nov 2006, 19.40 +0000

Two Songs a Week 44 - Nineteen

Off to Sheffield for this week's new music file, where the Long Blondes are tearing up the stages. The five-piece band - three lasses, two lads - are clearly living life like it's always early 1976. Their website photo strikes an interesting fashion statement, and the sound crosses the jangly sounds of late glam with the attitude of punk.

Some will suggest that they're a less retro Pipettes; others remember Kenickie. The band claim influences from respected songwriters - Bacharach and David, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Stock Aitken Waterman - and there's a certain frisson to their work that transcends an awful lot of guitar wank. (That's you, Oasis, that is.)

Three tracks and an interview are online from their XFM session in June, including the rather good recent single Once and Never Again (WMA file), which someone described as a "Dear Anna" for the new teenager.

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posted 09 Nov 2006, 20.36 +0000

Two Songs a Week

Fri 10 Nov 2006

Three For All (except it's being axed)

Changes are afoot at Radio 3, according to leaks in Sunday's Sunset Times, Monday's Grauniad, and Gillian Reynolds in Tuesday's Telegraph. The 4pm programmes - Stage and Screen, Voices, The Light Programme, and Jazz Legends will all be axed, along with the brief children's show Making Tracks. Sean Rafferty's In Tune programme will lose its final half hour, and the Performance on 3 strand will be almost entirely taped recordings, with even fewer live relays than at present. After the performance will be a regular talks programme (distinct from Night Waves), a poetry-and-music show, and other - as yet unpromised - goodies. Late Junction will slip back from four to three nights a week, and Mixing It bites the dust. Choral Evensong will move from Wednesday to Sunday, replacing a Brian Kay request programme.

I'll start with the evening changes, as these are mostly for the better. It will be good to kick off the evening schedule at 7pm, as 7.30 feels a lot later than it is, and Rafferty's programme always feels drawn out. However, if this is to be at the expense of live productions, I'm not quite so impressed. There's a certain frisson, an electricity about a live relay, one that's absent from taped productions. On the other hand, recordings allow the broadcast engineers to deliver a perfect sound, ironing out any mild imperfections. We shall see how this pans out.

The Composer of the Week strand moves from midnight to 8.45pm, which makes it massively more available, if not more accessible. Night Waves, the discussion programme, will begin at 9.45 - it currently kicks off at 9.30. It's not immediately clear what will fill the half-hour at 10.30, but the Twenty Minutes interval talks will now appear at 11pm; it would be fabulous for these to become a daily podcast. Sad to see the loss of Friday's Mixing It, far more resolutely non-commercial than anything Radio 1 has ever done.

For the uninitiated, the programmes disappearing in the afternoon are as follows:

The BBC appears to claim that these matters are covered elsewhere in the schedule. It's true that there's two and a half hours of jazz each Saturday afternoon, but Radio 2's specialist programme was quietly dropped in the round of changes in April. Radio 2 offers light music with Desmond Carrington, and stage musicals with Elaine Paige, but these shows do not have the depth of their counterparts on 3. Paige, in particular, is incapable of holding a single thought in her head, or of sustaining an interview for more than a couple of minutes, and Radio 2 as a network has traded in much of its quality in the headlong dash for listening figures - the network is far more miss than hit for me these days, a complete reverse of the situation ten years ago.

There would be much less bad feeling from this quarter if 6 Music dared to be a little different from time to time. It is right for the BBC to be producing all of these programmes, and it is just about understandable for them to be shunted off the terrestrial airwaves. The digital station 6 Music would be a logical place to put this output, but the BBC has formatted this digital music station too narrowly. 6 Music should be even more eclectic than this blog, not just a repository for whiteboyindiestrum. Certainly, Mixing It should be there, and the BBC will be failing and failing badly if it is not.

It's fair to say that some of the programmes - the conversational editions of Stage and Screen and Jazz Legends could transfer to the speech network, Radio 4. Again, this would slightly miss the point - 4 has lost its tradition of intelligent music programmes, and its work is all talk and no music.

Finally, why does the BBC axe the one midweek religious service, the only chance many people get to view these works as art, rather than as articles of faith? And why shove it out in the middle of Sunday evening, when many of the audience will be out at church?

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posted 10 Nov 2006, 19.13 +0000


Sat 11 Nov 2006

A brief history of silence (IV)

Following up a post from last July, and previous entries.

I believe the list below to be a complete list of silences observed by a sizable portion of the British public since the start of 1995; do write in if you have further information. In particular, I'm still seeking confirmation of the length of the British Legion's armistice day silences in 1995-7; whether the Legion officially called for a silence on D-day + 60 in 2004; whether there was significant observation of a silence for VE-VJ day + 60 in 2005; and if I've missed a silence entirely.

In the list, ? denotes a time believed to be correct; "circa" is an approximate time, as sources differ.

08.05.95, 8.08pm, 2m, VE-day + 50
20.08.95, circa 9.28pm, 2m, VJ-day + 50
11.11.95, 11am, 1m, Armistice
12.11.95, 11am, 2m, Rememberance
17.03.96, 9.30am, 1m, Dunblane
10 and 11.11.96, Rememberance and Armistice
06.09.97, 12.07pm, 1m, Diana Windsor
09 and 11.11.97, 11am, Rememberance and Armistice
08 and 11.11.98, 11am, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice
11 and 14.11.99, 11am, 2m, Armistice and Rememberance
11 and 12.11.00, 11am, 2m, Armistice and Rememberance
14.09.01, 11am, 3m, Septembereleven
11.11.01, 11am, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice (combined)
15.02.02, 2pm?, 1m, Margaret Windsor (not widely observed)
09.04.02, 11.30am, 2m, Liz Bowes-Lyon
24.08.02, 3pm, 1m, Soham (unofficial)
11.09.02, 1.46pm, 1m, Septembereleven +1
10 and 11.11.02, 11am 2m, Rememberance and Armistice
15.02.03, circa 3.30pm, 2m, Anti-war march (unofficial)
09 and 11.11.03, 11am, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice
15.03.04, 11am, 3m, Madrid bombings
06.06.04, 9.30pm, 1m, D-day +60 (?, not widely observed)
11 and 14.11.04, 11am, 2m, Armistice and Rememberance
05.01.05, 12pm, 3m, Tsunami
10.07.05, 11am, 2m, VE-VJ-day + 60 (?, not widely observed)
14.07.05, 12pm, 2m, London bombings
11 and 13.11.05, 11am 2m, Rememberance and Armistice
07.07.06, 12pm, 2m, London bombings
11 and 12.11.05, 11am, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice

(Changes from previous list: the VJ date, and the times of Dunblane and Diana have been confirmed.)

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posted 11 Nov 2006, 09.44 +0000

Blowing up this week

which came first, the evidence to justify the invasion or Iraq or the decision to mount such an invasion? A long essay at Ministry of Truth, raking over the coals of the lies that led to the unlawful invasion of Iraq.

The head of M15, Eliza Manningham-Buller (crazy name, crazy lady), has said that her organisation is tracking thirty terror plots across the UK. If they're all of the same pisspoor standard as the nonsense revealed at the courts this week, we have more to fear from flying pigs.

This week's dose of security theatre comes from the Old Bailey, where a man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder, and has been sentenced to forty years in prison. This passes the scare 'em shitless test because the plot as described could not have worked. It's this complete fiction that led to heightened security measures in New Amsterdam during 2004, and it's this complete fiction that was exploited by the Corporatists.

Even worse, the prime case for the prosecution is a dirty bomb fiction. It is a scientific fact that dirty bombs do not work. Creating one from recycled smoke detectors - as was claimed in press releases surrounding this case - shows we're dealing with a nutter who poses approximately no threat to anyone.

His proposed bomb - containing 1000 detectors - would be the size of four telephone boxes, and would contain pifflingly small amount of radiation - a maximum of 35 MBq distributed roughly evenly through the four phone boxes. Furthermore, the radioactive element - Americium-241 - mostly gives off alpha particles, which are stopped by such high-tech protection devices as a sheet of paper, or clothes. By standing under a smoke detector for one year, a person's head would be exposed 0.0011 mSv. Their whole body would be exposed to 2.4mSv, a difference of (very roughly) one part in 2000. Were these four telephone boxes to be exploded, the main danger would come from the explosion itself, and from the flying shards of plastic as the smoke detectors self-destructed. The damage done from the radiation would not even be negligible.

Ditto the claim that a bomb on an underground train beneath the Thames could a) breach the tunnel walls and b) be a generally survivable event. It is possible, but unlikely, that an explosion of this magnitude at the front of the train might leave survivors at the rear. The power failure would cause the line affected (and possibly others) to come to a grinding halt within seconds of the explosion. This loss of power would force an evacuation within minutes, before any flooding could take place. Even if a train were to be trapped under the Thames going the other way, all the river crossings are in single-bore tunnels, so a catastrophic failure heading north would not compromise the tunnel heading south. In short, the scenario is utterly implausible, and (in retrospect) I should have criticised The Bunker somewhat more harshly over this.

We find that airline passengers across Europe are to be denied the chance to bring their own water on board, purely because John Reid has been watching too many fantasy movies. The man is an utter, utter, utter imbecile, and his science-defying delusions have ensured that I shall not be flying in the forseeable future. Dare I say it - you wouldn't catch David Plunkett watching too many disaster movies...

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posted 11 Nov 2006, 11.33 +0000


Sun 12 Nov 2006

Store leaves government

Sainsbury has resigned as science minister. He was made into a peer in 1997, after making significant donations to the Labour party, and has been the mostly ineffectual science minister since summer 1998.

Customers are revolting: why are they showing Yuletide commercials in the first week of November? Some of us have been asking this for ten years now.

Malcolm Rifkind Kensington and Chelsea; C has called the timing of the trial of a man who may be Sadaam Hussein deeply suspicious. Mr. Rifkind told the BBC's Question Muck programme that the Iraqis had been leaned on by the occupying Yankees, in an effort to boost the Corporatists in domestic elections held in Yankeeland. Some of us remember the intervention of Osama bin Laden in the 2004 elections, which almost succeeded in electing the candidate who would have best served Mr bin Laden's jihad, Candidate X.

Channel Foremost's newscaster Jon Snow has attracted some attention by explaining why he does not wear a poppy on screen. Like Mr. Snow, I don't wear a poppy. My reasoning is slightly different; I believe the symbolism of the poppy is holding Britain deep in the past. It's a backward-looking gesture, and one that only serves to perpetuate the psychological divisions between this country and the rest of the world. Gratitude for the sacrifice of my grandfather's and great-grandfather's generation, yes. Donations to support their colleagues, yes. Wear a symbol of a world I will not share, no thank you.

Following the acquittal of two BNP members on charges of inciting racial hatred, finance minister Gordon Brown has called for a change in the law. Mr. Brown conveniently forgets that his party has already changed the law since these persons were charged. Perhaps he might wait until someone is charged under the new rules before rushing to judgement the front pages of the papers.

Labour has called upon the services of Howard Dean for next year's local and devolved elections. The party chair, an insubstantial careerist reckons that Mr. Dean can bring many good ideas to bear, based on his experience of delivering a distant third place in seeking the Democraticist nomination in 2004.

Finally, a moment to remember seminal nightclub and gig venue Edwards' Number 8, which burned down overnight.

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posted 12 Nov 2006, 14.07 +0000

Intellectual pursuits

Language Log on the lack of significance of the number 17.

It's the smallest prime number without any special cultural significance. The numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, and 13 are clearly special; 11 is not quite so special, though it is the number of players on a football team (American or Association), and then you're up to 17.

Does the hon. gentleman not recall the popular music group East 17? Paul Hardcastle's 19? Twenty-three ... smallest number you can't hit with one dart. Twenty-nine, though. What is the significance of 29?

Onwards. Diamond Geezer has some valid points on the four minutes of silence this week-end, and rightly castigates the British Legion for conflating their moment of rememberance with a commercial for one of Simon Cowell's projects. And for ruining their two minutes to-day for millions of people by flying lumbering bombers overhead. The problem doesn't arise next year, when Rememberance falls on Armistice, so there's a two-year window to sort out something moderately sensible.

Fridgemagnet explains why he's throwing Googlemail in the bin. It doesn't work in Safari. At all. Brilliant cutting edge design from those search-hoarding numpties.

Ooh, nasty. Norman Lebrecht accuses Overgrown Path of making a factual error. Overgrown Path calls Mr. Lebrecht's bluff, and remembers some more vintage errors, all penned by Mr. Lebrecht.

More stage nastiness as Captain von Trapp leaves The Sound of Music, who is unable to work with the public's Maria.

The Daily Pornographersrag is in a tizzy. This spat is caused by the Royal Mail's Yuletide stamps being secular. Where were the whinges in 2004, when the Mail put Mr. Claus on the stamps? Or 2003, when the design was abstract? Indeed, reviewing the last ten years' stamps shows religious themes in 96, 98, 99, 2000, and last year. The Mail claims to alternate religious and secular stamps; this may be a new policy, but one that would please all thinking commentators.

But something good to finish: more Long Blondes for your delectation.

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posted 12 Nov 2006, 14.09 +0000

Charts in week 45

Us 3 have a new entry at 2 in Germany, In the club is the latest hit for the multinational combine. Nadiya's back - not that she's ever gone away - as Amies Ennemies lands at number 4 in France. Bjorn Eidsvag has the new number one in Norway, with a tune called Floden. And there's no change in Denmark, where Trine Dyrholm spends her nineteen zillionth week at the top.

North Europe's Top Twenty

*20 NE FAF Larange - Pas de temps
*19 NE Basshunter
   - Vi sitter i ventrilo och spelar delta
 18 re Lily Allen - Smile
*17 NE Myslowitz
   - Nocnym pociayiem az do konca swiata
 16 14 Shakira - Hips don't lie
 15 11 Justin Numberwang - Hairyback
 14 17 Basshunter - Boten Anna
*13 NE U2 / Green Dull - The saints are coming
 12 15 Silbermond - Das beste
 11 12 My Chemical Romance
   - Welcome to the black parade
 10 10 Killers - When you were young
  9  7 Cascada - Everytime we touch
  8  8 Fratellis - Chelsea digger
  7  5 Bob Sinclar - Rock this party
  6  6 Pink - You and your hand
  5 19 Depeche Mode - Martyr
  4  3 Seizure Sisters - I don't feel like dancing
  3  1 Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
  2  2 Razorlight - America
  1  4 Muse - Starlight

FAF Larange are talent-show hopefuls from France, Basshunter the Scandinavian dance monsters, Myslowitz the top rock act in Poland, and the combination of U2 and Green Dull means there's only one record we have to retune away from, not two.

Sweeping The Nation has the runners and riders for the Yuletide Number One. As last year, the bookmakers will be paying out on the actual festive topper, not the list-leader in the previous week. The second favourite is scary, and major kudos for a remark in the 25-1 category.

So Westside^^ have the ten gazillionth number one of their career, and it's as completely forgettable as the rest. It does keep U2 and Green Dull^^ and All Saints^^ to 2 and 3. Sugababes land at 8, about par for the course; Madonna^^ will not be happy with 9. There's more jizz from Akron and Emma Nem** and from Justin Numberwang**. George Michael and Mutya^^ (yes, the Sugababe) have recorded a bog-standard duet. She's done far better than 15, two ahead of ^^Kasabian's second release from their current album. Infernal^^ has done a disco cover of Laura Branigan's 1984 disco classic Self control. It's number 18. Paul Weller is still pedalling the same pap as he's been doing for the past three decades, and is in at 22. Someone show the man to The Dumper, he's years past his play-by date.

Speaking on which, Bert Bills** has been delving into obscure soul covers, and pulled out Lovelight. For a Bills track, it's not bad, though I strongly suspect the original remains the best. Taio Cruz^^ puts in some more soul/rap crossover stuff. Clitring Aguilera** charts at 33; she either needs to put on some clothes, or an attractive woman. Snow Patrol have two songs in the top 40; Chasing cars still won't bugger off, it's this week's 26, and their duet with Martha Wainwright on Set the fire to the third bar** lands at 37. She could be doing so much better. Finally, the Pigeon Detectives^^ land at 39, with the entertaining I found out. They'll do better.

Huge slumps for Depeche Mode (13-41), Babyshambles (17-48), Keane (19-53), and Good Bad Queen (22-72). Two of this year's more nauseating hitmakers are having massive flops; the third single from Gnarls Barkley lands at 60, the second from Paris Hilton at 55. As we predicted, Iris is climbing the charts on download sales.

On the albums front, Jamiroquai's hits collection lands at 1, ahead of Angelis, Simon Cowell's Compressed Choir. Damien Rice, Katherine Jenkins, McFly, Paul Weller (singles), and Cliff Richard (duets) land at positions 4 to 8, and the Magic Numbers and ABBA land in the top 20.

The best of Moby just misses the 20, and there's another slew of entries in the bottom quarter of the top 50, from Charlatans (singles) Joanna Newsom, Long Blondes, Julio Iglesias (repeats), Foster and Allen, and the combo of JJ Cale and Eric Claptout.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 8 30 Sugababes - Easy ^^
10  5 My Chemical Romance
  - Welcome to the black parade
11  8 Razorlight - America
17 65 Kasabian - Shoot the runner ^^
19  9 McFly - Stargirl
27 16 Meat Loaf and Marion Raven
  - It's all coming back to me now
31 28 Shakira - Hips don't lie
34 25 Panic At The Disco
  - I write sins not tragedies
35 33 High School Musical OCR - Breaking free
39 NE Pigeon Detectives - I found out
40 35 Little Chris - Checking it out
41 13 Depeche Mode - Martyr
42 37 Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
43 40 Killers - When you were young
46 36 Kooks - Ooh la
47 39 Magic Numbers - Take a chance
56 44 Lily Allen - LDN
57 49 Pink - You and your hand
58 29 Klaxons - Magic
59 63 Kooks - She moves in her own way
62 68 Goo Goo Dolls - Iris / Stay with you
63 71 Muse - Starlight
65 41 View - Superstar tradesman
69 58 Evanescence - Call me when you're sober
71 74 Bedouin Soundclash
  - When the night feels my song
72 22 The Good The Bad and the Queen - Herculean
74 69 Lemar - It's not that easy

permanent link
posted 12 Nov 2006, 19.26 +0000

Weather in week 45

Warmer than the last week, though that includes some fairly cold nights. The expected showers were slightly late in arriving, as the high pressure stuck around longer than expected.

06 Mo sun, fog late        3/12
07 Tu cloud                6/10
08 We mist                 6/14
09 Th cloud clearing       6/10, 2.0
10 Fr cloud, rain late     2/10, 1.5
11 Sa sunny spells         6/11, 4.5
12 Su sunny spells         7/12

8mm of the 62.5mm average for November. 12 degree heating days, the winter's total now 41, compared with 11½/808, and 37½/677½ in the past two winters

A string of depressions will pass in the vicinity of the UK, bringing westerly winds to all parts. Showers will always be possible, though the heaviest rain won't arrive until mid-week. Wednesday could be quite warm in the south, but a cold front will sweep that away by the end of Thursday. Take a brolly, and do wrap up.

permanent link
posted 12 Nov 2006, 19.42 +0000


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