Saturday, 30 June 2007

Scenes we'll never see


"Aye, but am Ah boathered innit."

(Caricature by Paul Szep at Slate, rosso-nasalised and captionified by moi)


Spotted: celeb

Comedian Dave Gorman has loads of photos on Flickr. Well, why wouldn't he? Pretty interesting bunch of images.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Fame at last.

The 10,923rd most common word in English is grapes. Sour is at 9,359.

Trash trailer

For fans of Anne Coulter, if there are any left.

And speaking of Anne Coulter, look what happens when you look her up on Technorati. (via)

Postscript: If there was anything less funny than Coulter herself, it was the editorial cartoonists' attempts to capture just what it is that's so fucking awful about her.

One thing did occur to me, though. The little black dress? The cascading blonde locks? The rock-star shades?

Coulter thinks she's a babe. Feel free to barf.

She wasn't always so utterly gorgeous.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

What is it about farting?

I haven't been surfing and I haven't been blog-reading today, so I have nothing to say. I have been trying to build a new website for my choir, yes I know, me of all people, but you know what they say, if you want something done.

Now my head is pounding, and I think I'm going to watch my tape of the first episode of the second series of Rome, because otherwise I'll get behind on the repeats, lose the place and have to wait for the library to buy the DVD box set.

I will, though, pass along this video, which is boyishly disgusting and quite hilarious.

Bees all you can bee

On the one hand, anything coming out of Squidoo is likely to be some lame-o trying to sell you something unspeakable.

On the other hand, I am worried about the bees and this hive-leaving thing they're up to. So when I got the newsletter alert on this Squidoo Lens, I went to look, and it is a handy primer on the situation.

And when you're thinking they're not really selling anything, along comes the trolley, with T-shirts and whatnot from CafePress. I might even give in to the urge to buy, were it not for the fact they're the same T-shirts etc I'll soon be selling on CafePress myself. On behalf of a Good Cause, obviously.

Still, I digress. Save the bees!


A bee pictured yesterday, debating whether to go home

Graph of the Day

A day against the perpetrators of torture

Lame blogroll

She said that she was working for the ABC News
It was as much of the alphabet as she knew how to use
Has anyone ever seen a lamer blogroll than this one?

Clearly some crusty old Perry White came out of his office the other day and barked an order for Jimmy Olsen to knock together an article on those blogs that are all the rage among the kids today.

And look what they came up with. Does anyone think the writer of this article really rates Gizmodo and TechCrunch? How come he didn't think to link a single blog in the whole list (as pointed out by Jason Kottke, via whose mentioned blog I found this piece)?

The rest of the list is a name-check for all the big-timers, a clear sign the reporter doesn't know anything about blogs and found this list in an About page or similar. Gawker and Scripting News? Bruce Schneier and Wonkette? He claims Daring Fireball is "always worth a read". That's easy to say, since the guy posts about once a week, if that. I don't think the reporter knows that, though.

And really, how lame is it to mention Daily Kos and Huffington Puffington? Nobody who needs an introduction to those two is going to be even slightly interested. I personally find both of them almost unreadable. They're so massive they completely miss the point of what a blog is. You might as well include CNN.com on the list.

There are, inevitably, one or two good choices, but the whole list is overdone (why 100?) and underworked. I'd rather have ten blogs from someone who knows what they're talking about than 100 from some intern like this.

The careful reader will have noticed that I too have failed to provide links to the blogs mentioned. I'm not going to do ABC's work for them.

Pay up, Google


My blog is worth $8,468.10.
How much is your blog worth?

Suck this

Ape Lad, the only living descendant of the creator of the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats, has this scary conconcoctioction to give away if you want your kids to quit biting their nails or sucking their thumbs.

Poetic justice

World champion guy at eating stuff Takeru Kobayashi is to retire from the "sport" because he has arthritis in his jawal area which makes it almost impossible to open his mouthal orifice.

Hah! Soup for you!

UPDATE: This post is, on reflection, unnecessarily harsh on someone who has never done me any harm. It was someone else entirely, not Kobayashi, who ate my lunch. Even although the warning stickers were securely attached with tape.

Oh, the humanity

Most. Disgusting. Story. Ever.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Quiz

I'll give you the answers, and you have to give me the question, in the form, "What can you use ... for?"

Here goes:

Dye
Plant food
Covering scratches in furniture
Flea dip
Reducing cellulite
Repelling insects


Answers in comments, please.

All I have to give

Science is now making it possible for you to bank some of your white blood cells, thus creating a back-up of your immune system for that time down the road, and we pray it will never happen, when you might suddenly need a new one.

At present it's pay-as-you-go -- $800 then $25 a month -- but the minute it becomes free (when it's taken over by Google) I'll be sure to post the URL right here, okay? And you can even subscribe to the feed. Because Grapes 2.0 is all about sharing.

Wild rumpus



Recognise this?

It's a garden based on the Maurice Sendak children's classic, Where the Wild Things Are. You can see Max's bed with the trees as bedposts. It was created by a gardener called Tiggy Salt for the Charities Aid Foundation at the 2007 Chelsea Flower Show. Read all about it here, with lots of detailed photos.

I thnk if I could be any character from fiction I'd choose Max, and yes, he is from fiction, I'm afraid. Max's supper always stands waiting for him, and it's still hot. That's the good thing about dreams, and also the bad thing.

Pie in the sky

In Dubai they want to build a huge platform 300 metres in the sky, on spindly legs that would look like rain. As much as the Dubiasians know about rain, anyway.

I suppose one good thing about it would be 300 metres downstairs, in the platform's shade. The upstairs part is 20,000 square metres, so I imagine the shade would be nice and big.

Here's a pic of a giant parasol:



From Dezeen magazine

If you were a drosophila fly


a) This is your brain
b) This is your brain on 100 micrograms of cocaine
c) This is your brain on 200 micrograms of cocaine

From Heberlein Lab Research of UCSF, where they also gave some flies booze and smokes.

Blade Bummer

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is 25 years old, so when I came across this article in Popular Mechanics from a FX guy, arguing that the effects in BR have not been bettered, I thought it must definitely be worth reading. Don't bother. It claims to be four pages long, which is fine if your idea of a page is a paragraph. It has nothing new to say at all. And there's an extremely intrusive audio on the first page that comes on whether you like it or not. All bad.

I'll wait for someone else to mark the anniversary properly.

Crying all the way to the bank

In an extremely cautious and detailed ruling, D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff this morning said that Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson deserves not a penny of the $67 million that he once demanded in compensation for a mixup at his neighborhood dry cleaners.
(from the WaPo)

Here's the proof we've all been waiting for


Click to biggify

Graph snitched from Swivel where there's tons of genuinely interesting data and graphs and stuff. I think I'll see if I can finagle a widget to freshen up the bling over there in the sidebar, in honour of summer.

(via Towse)



Technological advances.

I got an email telling me wumi was having a conversation with My CyberTwin. So as you do, I went to have a look.

Guess what? Wumi is a 409 scammer. That's right, they've moved from email to CyberTwins.

Is nothing sacred?

Check out wumi's oh-so-tired old spiel here. I hope she doesn't fleece my Twin for too much. He's such a sucker.

UPDATE:

wumi came back to explain something, and try again for contact. I like how SG is all offhand. He'd better keep it that way. He has too much to lose. And she probably doesn't look like that picture, either.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Visa jobsworths

One helpful applicant in Lagos, ticking the Yes box for having family or friends in the UK, added in very firm writing that he did not intend to see or spend time with them, he just wanted a quiet time and two weeks holiday.
Some of the reasons given by the British government jobsworths for refusing entry visas to potential visitors from around the world:

"We don't believe your parents would spend that much money on a language course".
"Your English isn't good enough for you to take an English course."
"Your plans are vague."
"You show no sign of having attended any English courses in Mongolia."
"You wish to go to the UK for a holiday. You have never previously undertaken any foreign travel before and I can see little reason for this trip."
"I have noted you have taken visas for other countries which are nowhere near the UK. I am, therefore, not satisfied that you have established a credible reason for your visit."
"You do not have a sufficient command of the language for the purposes of tourism."
"You plan a holiday for no particular purpose other than sightseeing."

Taken from the Annual Report of the Independent Monitor for entry clearance refusals, the conscientious Linda Costelloe Baker, whose own comments are well worth the read.

There are also examples of the civil service's horrific offences against the English language:

• I can only assess your mutual knowledge in a subjective context.
• This leads me to doubt the veracity of your assertions.
• I am led to doubt the authenticity of the documentary evidence adduced and as such cannot place reliance on it.
• You have failed to complete pivotal areas of Section 6.
• The documents appear to emanate from your daughter.
• This letter is not endowed with any evidential value and in lieu of credible corroborating evidence I am not satisfied that you are employed as claimed generating the remuneration claimed by you.
• The provenance of the funds depicted is not evidenced allied to other financial commitments.

Notebook porn

Here.

Perfectly SFW.

Blog rating

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • kill (6x)
  • murder (3x)
  • torture (2x)
Mingle2 - Online Dating

Sunday, 24 June 2007

No comment, just click

Caught napping

I'm a great believer in napping, I fully support the culture of the siesta and I'm delighted that the scientific community is finally coming round to agreeing with what any fule kno: if you take a nap in the middle of the day you'll feel better and perform better.

This guy is all on about polyphasic sleep, and polynapping, which apparently involves replacing normal sleep patterns with tons of catnaps, which just goes to show that you can go too far with even a good idea. Naps are supposed to be in addition to sleepy bye-byes at night in your snuggly bed, nitwit!

Anyway he's prepared these MP3s which you're welcome to download from his page. You stick them on your iPod, choose how long you want to nap for, then switch on. You'll get some noise-cancelling white noise for the requisite length of time, followed by some disruptive wake-up sounds. And if you still won't shake a leg, some extracts from the Padilla Symphony.

I've tried it, and I can attest that I was out like a light within one minute. Mind you, I would be out like a light in one minute if I was listening to a tape of the Band of the Coldstream Guards, so I'm not the world's best test subject. Give it a try yourself to find out. Being able to sleep fast is a very useful talent. It should be encouraged. In fact, they should give out degrees.

Good night.

Neener neener who's more intelligent? Me! Eat my dust, suckers!

CLEVER BOFFINS of SCIENCE in UNIVERSITIES have done RESEARCH published in the journal SCIENCE to PROVE that firstborns are more intelligent than subsequent siblings, which I suppose is the only kind they have.

Are you getting this, guys? Did you hear that? IT'S BEEN PROVEN! CASE CLOSED! I WON!

Actually they don't read my blog. They think it's stupid.

(via Reuters).

(However SciAm has a different take.)

Nonsensical headline

Here are some of the issues that most upset the readers of newspapers, according to the ombudsman of the Chicago Tribune, though the complaints will doubtless be pretty much the same the world over. See how many of them you agree with.

In no particular order:

inky smudgy pages
paper wet from rain
cartoon missing
mistakes in the crossword puzzle
bad grammar
nonsensical headlines
missing sections
improper use of accents
waffly anecdotes
faulty local geography
disappearance of share prices, horse racing results

Actually, I agree with all of those, including the wet paper, because the delivery guy leaves it sticking out of the letter-box even if it's raining. I don't mind the ink so much (I wash my hands a thousand times a day) except when I transfer it to my face and walk around all day looking like Al Jolson.

And so on.

Truth will out

Newly released documents reveal the FBI suspected that a plane hired to transport members of the bin Laden family from the United States back to Saudi Arabia might have been chartered by Osama bin Laden himself. The documents raise new questions about the FBI investigation into the 9/11 attacks.
From Truthout.


Friday, 22 June 2007

Festival

Meg's suggestions for creating the Glastonbury festival at home. I could like relate you know.

Law have mercy

A post that really should be Archer territoire. We join the thread in media res. The respondent to a threatened action contacts the complainer, after having seen off his Lionel Hutz:

A bit of well-intentioned advice:

1) in my experience, no lawyer who does real-estate law is top notch.

2) any lawyer who claims 12 areas of expertise has ZERO areas of expertise.

3) if you have copyright concerns, you want to deal with a lawyer who does copyright, copyright, copyright, and nothing but copyright.

A good copyright lawyer would have told you during the free phone consultation that renting out DVDs is deeply settled law, and is fully legal.

I hope that Mr. Robert H. Tourtelot doesn’t charge you too much,

If you’re going to be in the business of producing copyrighted work, you really want to find a halfway decent lawyer.

Now, here’s the great part: the opposing attorney flew off the handle and ranted about me to his client, while keeping me CC-ed.

Read more of this hilarious tale here. [Google cache link because the original vanished]

CORRECTION: the whole thing is here. Including a new episode posted after the above, and then a sudden denouement. A Sopranos-style ending, if you will. All very dramatic. As one commenter suggested: Denny Crane.

Sleight of hand

And a-now, for those who are fed up with my home-page tricks, here's some a-magic to entertain-ah and bemuse you, except that the tricks-ah, are all explained-ah, by the people doing them-ah. Including-ah, a kid, I thankyou.

That's me doing a magician doing a-magic-speak-ah. Hope you like it. Heres the link, via kottke.

See "Home" on my Google homepage

Anyone using iGoogle can now share their individual tabs with the world, or just with friends. Mine are absolutely nothing to talk about, but whatever. This is Web 2.0 we're talking about here. What can be shared, should be shared. This is my main iGoogle page.

See "Home" on my Google homepage »

And here's my "Timing" tab, with calendar, countdown timer and Days Since gadget. Be still. The excitement will pass.


Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Email addresses

Did you know that if you have a GMail address like sourgrapes@, you can stick a neat little dot in there, like this, sour.grapes@, and it'll still get to you?

Did you also know that you can tack on any tag you like with a plus-sign, thus: sour.grapes+blog@; sour.grapes+business@, and they'll all come to your original address? You can then use the + part to filter messages into various folder-thingies.

Isn't that great?

Libby ration

Didn't the blogosphere miss a trick at the time of the Fitzgerald-Plame case, by not posting posts with the tags

scooters, vacation, fall?

Or were they there and I just missed them?

A short run-down of all kinds of stuff

I'm so far behind I have no time for more than a links-dump now.

Brussels is 44th on the list of most expensive cities in the world to live, up from 70 last year, mainly because of a strong Euro and the dismal performance of the US peso dollar. Moscow is at the top, and I was intrigued to see Glasgow far higher than Brussels at 36, so I did something right. The whole list is here.

Women like to be stroked when you're whispering sweet nothings, but men can make do with only the words, according to a survey from Bizarro World The University of Zurich, reported in the Indie. It's all a way of reducing stress and making your heart live longer. I should perhaps stress that the woman really ought to give her consent before you start stroking her. As far as the men are concerned, knock yourself out. We don't like to stand on ceremony.

An interesting history of human economic time in the WSJ starts thus: Modern humans first emerged about 100,000 years ago. For the next 99,800 years or so, nothing happened.

I don't recall what I was looking for when I landed on this page, but I've marked it because it seems to have the answer to anything anyone could possibly need to know, either now or in the future.

The best tourists in the world are the Japanese, the Americans and the Swiss, according to European hoteliers. It doesn't seem to have occured to anyone that they probably think that because the Japanese and Americans tip like drunken sailors on top of the hefty service charge that's already been added to your bill, whereas everyone else has got more sense. I don't know about the Swiss, presumably they go around dropping gold fillings banked by now-forgotten Nazis all over the shop. Or European hoteliers only ever get to meet officials from UEFA, FIFA and the IOC, spraying other people's money around like tomcats.

The Brits, meanwhile, were judged miserly, noisy and boorish. So no surprises there. They were also the second-worst dressed, just ahead of this guy:



Sum writters chuse bukks too rede. I don't see the point of it, myself.

Kids can add and subtract before they even know what that is. A little late to be telling us now, SciAm!

Language lessons by podcast from the Peace Corps. Choose between Jordanian Arabic, Mali French and
Kazakh Russian -- is very nice, I like!

This is a very eclectic set of reading-lists, I have no idea where this popped up from. It looks like a link clicked by Towse.

This guy has a plan to reform the spelling of English, but rather than bore us to tears with the details, he begins by trashing his opponents (all of whom are notional). It's your job to pick the structure of the plan out of the wreckage. Very interesting, and utterly pointless.


GoogleBore

Another GoogleBore post indeed (they'll be tagged as GBore) but of another sort.

You'll perhaps have seen the article from the Daily Mail, picked up by the world's press, which reported that children nowadays are permitted to stray a mere three-and-a-half feet from their mother's hawk-like gaze, whereas in my day of course you could have walked the width of the Gobi desert and your mother didn't care as long as you were home for tea.

So I got to thinking about my own childhood, as you do, and indeed the world was my oyster in those days. We lived on the edge of the city, facing fields and woods, and so long as we were careful crossing the road (I was knocked off my bike once by a double-decker bus, but I'm all right now) the rest of it was ours.

In an effort to get some sense of the situation, I turned to Google Maps, and pinned out a few markers, and mapped out roughly the domain of a boy of let's say eight to ten in those days. That map is here, and I've annotated the markers a little to give an idea of what's going on. As you'll see, the space I had to roam around in was pretty huge. I haven't worked out a way to calculate the area yet, but I'll sit and wait till someone else cracks it get onto it.

And now the good news:

That was such an interesting exercise for me, going back home virtually and mapping out my childhood movements, that it occurs to me it would be good to keep going, and make maps for subsequent stages in my life. If you shower of ingrates are not interested, my kids will be one day. And then the day after, not interested again. Obviously.

Forthcoming chapters include:

Schooldays
Early adulthood
Later adulthood
erm,
That's it for now.

Stay with me if you care to. A better idea: why not do the same for your own history?

New address

Boy have I been run off my feet, making up a whole set of new GMail addresses for a promotion starting in September, and then getting them all (as well as four other accounts) all to feed into the same GMail mailbox.

Cause that's the way I'm heading, folks. All Google, all the time. The roster so far includes:

Umpteen blogs with Blogger
Google Reader
Six Google Notebooks
GMail
iGoogle home page
Google Talk
Google Docs and Spreadsheets
Google Calendar

Want to know why there isn't more? THOSE GOOGLE SLACKERS HAVEN'T INVENTED IT YET!

So anyway, if there's a power outage, or if Google goes down, I'm sunk. Except for the two blogs I mirrored with WordPress.

Wired? Who, me?

FORGOT to mention: Blog peeps can email me on the address consisting of the name of this blog, Grapes 2.0, without the space, then an at thingy, then gmail dot com. Oh, I know, I'll do it like this.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Vote for Hillary

Okay, that's it, Hillary is officially hip. From her website, this take-off of the Sopranos series finale, which in itself is a little lame, but which is saved by having a cameo from Johnny Sac! Johnny Sac! What will she pull off next, Joey Pants as her running mate over here?

Thanks to Eden for the tip.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Manning no more

Ugly despicable fat cunt stuffed full of hate passes over to the other side dies.

The second-best thing you can say about Bernard Manning is that he singlehandedly gave a lot of young people the spur to become comedians in their own right, simply to oppose him. Many of them had talent.

But the best thing you can say about him is that he's dead. Too bad it took so long.

Bernard Manning was 76. Here's a snippet of his poison.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Blowin in the Wind

The average man farts 13.6 times a day, according to this article on Dr. Michael Levitt, father of Freakonomics' Steven D. Levitt.

Lots of other useful fart facts.

What the duck?

From Britain's Got Talent, with both Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan.



Check out also:
Cats.
Dogs.
Rupert the Pig.
Crazy Frog.
Michael Jackson's Singing Monkey.
An ankle-biter.
A drag queen with a midget playing human puppet to the strains of Sandie Shaw.
A homicide waiting to happen.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Yes Men strike again

As anticipated by me here, the Yes Men have pulled off another brilliant stunt, this time on the subject of climate change. The press release explains it best (formatting added):

June 14, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EXXON PROPOSES BURNING HUMANITY FOR FUEL IF CLIMATE CALAMITY HITS
Conference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested

Text of speech, photos, video. [video is TK, but check out the photos -- SG]
GO-EXPO statement.
Press conference before this event, Friday, Calgary.
Contact.
More links at end of release.

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, today.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who is also the chair of the study. (See link at end.)

In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said "NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles
after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who, still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the rationale for Vivoleum.

"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells. Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of
humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep. "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.

Canada's oil sands, along with "liquid coal," are keystones of Bush's Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world's worst carbon emitters. The production of "liquid coal" has twice the carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies
increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.

"If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is," Bonanno said. "While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits, they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about climate change. This is a crime against humanity."

"Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge of the flock," said "Shepard Wolff" (Bichlbaum). "Exxon has done more damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?"

About the NPC and ExxonMobil.
About the Alberta oil sands.
About liquid coal.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

The end of civilisation

According to this report, a Belgian journalist has apologised to the French president's office for suggesting Sarko may have been sipping at the shandy prior to a press confo where he appeared "out of breath and euphoric", which is apparently the new version of "tired and emotional" and means "rat-arsed".

I'm not even going to bother lamenting the state of the world where a journo apologises to a foreign head of state over nothing. Let the state broadcaster for whom he works do the apologising, though even that stinks too much of the old Chinese style auto-critique that used to precede the bullet in the nape of the neck in the paddy-field.

No, what I'm more concerned about is this:

Sarkozy, who was making his international debut at the G8 summit in Germany, does not drink alcohol and is a long-distance runner.
The French people have elected as their leader a man who drinks neither wine nor cognac, not to mention pastis, Armagnac, Calvados, champagne or Poire Williams. What has the world come to? They'll be telling us next that he doesn't have a goomah on the side.

O tempora! O mores!

Here's the video in question. The newsreader remarks, "He was just coming out of a meeting with his Russian colleague, Vladimir Putin, and evidently hadn't only been drinking water". Judge for yourself.

Bifurcation

So now you know.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Mocking the Scoot

This makes me fucking howl with laughter. These cunts started a war with no thought for the people who would die horribly on their own side or the enemy's.

However, put one of the fuckers in the firing line under threat of spending a proportion of 2.5 years in hail, and all of a sudden their sphincters give out.

Let's not forget, Scooter Libby was happy for an undercover agent to incur personal danger. More likely, he was happy for her contacts and collaborators in the field to be faced with arrest, imprisonment, torture and perhaps summary death.

But when it comes to his own case, the full weight of the law needs to be invoked because ... people might mock him.

You fucking bet they're going to mock you, Scooter baby. Speaking of which, can a fifty-seven-year-old man called Scooter really not be immunised to fucking mockery yet? And as a supplementary, isn't it time mockery was given its proper place in the arsenal of political commentary?

Birth of a meme

Here's how an Internet legend was invented (yes -- invented) and went on to become an Internet truth.

Yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy

Weight-Watchers recipe cards from 1974. Every one as delicious as it must have been back then, including the Fluffy Mackerel Pudding.

Mmmm ... mmmaackerellll ...

Westboro nutters rule

You might think the so-called Reverend Fred Phelps and his gang of Westboro Baptist nutters are a bit of fun -- an eccentric side of America's rich tapestry to be remarked before one moves on.

Think again. This article contains evidence that they're not considered nutters by everyone: some of them have positions of influence and importance.

Still, it's in Kansas, so that's okay. Apart from my reader in Wichita, most of us are far-distant from Kansas in miles and in temperament. And luckily, nobody from Kansas, in particular someone who had been fucked-up under the Phelps clan influence, could ever find their way to another state, such as for instance (Muskegon) MI, (Irvine) CA or (Littleton) CO.

Nice to know the country's most dangerous people are in such erm, safe hands.

Betamax on his butt

This luser has got the Zune logo tattooed on his lame dork-assed flesh.

On the other hand
.

Emo



RJM sent us to Photobukkit, where one of the top seaches is "emo".

I say, aren't teenagers self-obsessed these days? Not like in my day. We listened to Laura Nyro and Dory Previn, none of yer self-pitying stuff.

Having said that, I'm working on a major essay on the subject of melancholy, so I can hardly talk. "Major" in the sense of "it's taking me a geological age".

Picture by lips_like_morphine666


Nearest and dearest

India's richest man is building a house for his whole family -- all of 60 stories high.

Well, fine, but he still has to live with them, doesn't he? I mean, even if you shut off the lifts, they could still take the stairs, right?

Raising the Tony

The Sopranos as design classroom.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Newmerals

Suggested replacements for the numbers one to ten:

  1. Dop
  2. Ska
  3. Gast
  4. Sheugh
  5. Flu
  6. Plot
  7. Hummm
  8. Ting
  9. Stee
  10. Huss

Loose stools

Time for another one of those round-up things you have to do when the links all pile up and you just can't keep control. When blogging becomes a matter of mopping the floor without turning off the leaking whatever it is.

So anyway here we go:

Win a free Moleskine notebook.

Scientists uncover the part of the brain that causes déjà-vu.

Generate your own Boing Boing post.

Find the right name for that Web 2.0 project you're toying with.

Write killer e-mail subject lines.

Podcasts on every subject under the Sun.

Fascinating site devoted to the counter-tenor, and why he's not the same as a contralto. In French, so even more arsey than you might expect.

Long-anticipated lame joke about scientists uncovering the part of the brain that causes déjà-vu.

Document repair tape, a useful tape for use in repairing documents.

Brussels' new trams are 32m long, or 1/40th of the length of the Golden Gate Bridge; and 43 m long, or 423 times the length of the human tongue. Measurement conversions by Weird Converter.

A counter-tenor weighs as much as 232.6 cans of soft drink, or 1/3 of a baby grand. Roughly. Weird Converter again.

Peeps kissing themselves. Ah, the joys of Photoshop.

The old idea that old memories get shoved out of your brainal area by new ones might just be spot-on after all, says an article covered in New Scientist. (via)

1984 is the book that best defines the 20th century, according to a Guardian poll. And the 21st, as much as we've seen of it.

Star Trek fan decks out crib as Enterprise, sells it for a bundle. (via)

Italian researchers have found the very air of Rome contains traces of cannabis and cocaine, reports Yahoo. (via)

That's enough links -- Ed.

Digg it babee

Since it's a little early/late in the year to sit staring into the embers of a fire, here's another way to while away the hours gazing at nothing in particular. As visitors to the social ratings site Digg vote for Dugg stories, a point falls out of the sky onto that story's stack. Choose "popular stories" for high-speed action, and Zoom to see anvils falling onto the stacks instead of snowflakes.

And that is not all, oh no no that's not all.

You can also select Swarm (don't understand that one) Bigspy (stories increase in size as the gain votes) and Arc, which has them take a larger share of the pie-chart.

I don't know what it's all about, but it sure looks purty.

Incidentally, if you see a story that catches your eye, don't go nuts trying to click on it. Go to the normal Digg site and find it there. This is supposed to be relaxation, dammit!

Can you get Radio 4 on it?



A very famous painting, featured on a blog consisting of little else but pictures of ladies, more often than not with their norks out. Still it's art, and it's all in French, so I suppose that makes it all right. The ladies are the Duchess of Villars and her sister Gabrielle d'Estrées, who also (if you were wondering about the unusual embonpoint) features here in the same post.

(via)

Belgian elections

And so, the Belgian electorate has made its voice heard. There have been results, some good and some bad. People were elected, and others not so elected. The general election of this weekend will take some time yet before its true importance can become clear.

Fathers' Day

Sunday was Fathers' Day, and look what I got:


What was I saying about stationery? From the great Suck UK range.

Also: a decorated picture-frame from Boy 8 with his pic in, which he won't let me put up. And a magnificent clay sculpture of a tower-of-towers, hand-painted and quite breath-taking, of which I'll post a picture as soon as I can fish it out of Mrs. Grapes' camera.

And socks, obviously.

Don't mention the platypus

Can children understand philosophy? The Standford Encyclopedia thinks they can understand the questions. As for the answers, well we're all still guessing there, innit.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Comedy gold

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes.

Hilarious book, I'm sure.

Pizza pazza

Your Pizza is ready!
Crust: Whole Wheat Crust
Sauce: BBQ
Toppings:

Ricotta, Pepperoncini, Lobster, Imitation Crab

Make a random pizza.

(via)

Harris Pilton

I've always though rich and poor ought to be equal before the law, so I've been a little surprised the past couple of days to read the reactions to the troubles of wealthy PH, whose name will not be mentioned to prevent future floods of sadcases dropping in here on their endless desperate Google searches. I never thought I'd see so many people I thought were civilised, turn out to be so bloodthirsty and vindictive just because the object of their derision is of a very rich family.

My feelings crystallised on reading a post by my friend Jules Siegel, the famed Playboy writer, on the Newsroom-l list he administers. Jules originally argued with those who thought PH was getting off lightly, but then he looked (gasp!) into the facts, and this is how he revised his opinion (he kindly gave permission for me to quote him at length):

She was singled out for especially harsh sentencing because she's a celebrity.

Let's look at the details. She had exactly one DUI conviction and received three years probation. Probation is normal for DUI first offenders, according to United States Justice Department figures.

She was then later arrested for driving with a suspended license and violating the terms of her probation. Very few people convicted of similar offenses in Los Angeles do more than 10% of their time because the prison system is too crowded. Non-violent offenders are usually released after going through the reception process or within a few days
afterward.

The judge specifically forbade the sheriff from applying these policies in Hilton's case, but he failed to explain why she was any worse than the thousands of other offenders who were allowed to go free

Try to understand the judge's mentality here. This is a high-profile media visibility case for him. If he treats her like any other person in the same situation, she will get off without much -- if any -- time. Because of public ignorance and the media's law and order tilt, he'll look soft on crime, when he's merely applying the normal punishment.

If he kicks her around, however, he looks tough, impartial and righteous.

The sheriff has to deal with the actual consequences of this publicity-motivated decision in the real world. He's been handed a very serious security problem and does not have the resources to deal with it. Prisons are very dangerous places. Paris Hilton is at greater risk than other prisoners because of her position, just as she's at greater risk of being kidnapped in a place like Mexico where kidnapping is still a common crime.

Additionally, since the tabloids are offering huge sums for pictures of her in jail, he's got to make sure that all cameras and cellphones are rigorously secured.

The solution was to keep her in solitary confinement 23 hours a day for her own protection, even though she had done absolutely nothing at all to deserve this. I find it interesting that this is the only case of solitary confinement for a non-violent crime that liberals are applauding.

So then she freaks out and/or gets physically sick. It's been argued that he could have put her in the prison infirmary. Sure he could. But that has two very serious unrelated consequences. It would tend to make public what are surely the entirely inadequate prison medical facilities. Some very ugly information could come out. Secondly, the treatment might make her even sicker and could result in some form of permanent damage or even death, a tragic outcome by any measure.

All of this results from violations of traffic laws and the terms of her probation. Driving with a suspended license after one DUI conviction is not exactly a capital crime. By the current standards of the Los Angeles correctional system she does not belong in jail for more than a few days at most. Others are treated more compassionately than she was, if only because the prison system cannot physically handle so many prisoners.

Thus the original premise of my original post is pretty much wrong.

UPDATE: Stanley Bing has a great post to the Bing Blog along the same lines.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Now playing ...

Here's what I'm playing with today: ObjectDock.

Object Dock is a configurable dock in which you can stick all those programs you use more frequently, without having to go to the Start Menu and find them. It sits on your desktop, at the bottom or side, and you can make it hide, float or stay on top. Mine pops up when I mouse to the edge of the screen, which I never do by accident.

For standard always-on apps like Agent and Firefox it's not really needed. But I also have docked Thunderbird (for another email task), Word, iTunes and WMP, Acrobat Reader (another snazzy new made-over look with AR8) and calculator. By defaults you get (more than) My Documents, My Computer, Calendar and My Music. All you do is drag an icon or a shortcut (also works with bookmarks) onto the dock, and shift it around to suit.

I'm finding it pretty useful so far. I'm testing it by turning off TBird and Word when not in use (I usually leave them on all day once opened) to see if this app makes it easier to open them on request. Probably not, really. But it is handy for what it does. And when you drag an icon off the dock to get rid of it, it goes up in a puff of smoke!

That's got to be worth the price. Which is zero for the basic version, upgrade available.

(from)

YouTube smartens up (no video involved)

YouTube has a smart new interface.

I like the gallery of related vids that shows at the end, which is less obtrusive than it used to be. I use a Greasemonkey script to wipe out everything but the picture, but this way is nice too. Apparently (see link) YouTube may be planning on putting ad vids in that gallery shortly. Of course you're not obliged to watch any of them.

Must have GSOH

Hook-up ads will never be the same.

From here.

Awards

Jon Swift has been nominated for a blogging award. I don't know what the rules are about soliciting votes, but they don't apply to me. Like the awards themselves, come to that.

Vote here.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Interesting book site.

Greetings

Greetings to the visitor from Ankara, Turkey, who got here on a search for "arse 2.0".

Hope you found what you were looking for.

Polar bear Kurt greets iPhone at G8 Hilton post

This blog has 190 poasts, and 322 different tags. It's running out of Clooney control. Soon there'll be so many words associated with Grapes 2.0 I'll lead the Google search results on every query imaginable.

Kneel before Diana Zod.

Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari

Don't wait up

Go to bed now, folks. I'm not going to blog anything because I'm too knackered from editing a concert programme all day and rehearsing this evening. I've got some cider and lager (what's that called? remember?) and I'm going to watch the preposterous The Riches on TV-Links.co.uk. Tsk, most illegal.

Good night.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

My card

A Flickr set of designer business cards. I know such things only announce you as a total fashion victim arsey ponce who's far too up himself to do my company any good, but you always think you'd be the exception: you'd have the bottom, the charm and the nous to overcome that impression.

In fact, since I rarely see another human being from one year's end to the next (in relation to work) I have less need of business cards than your average serial killer. Maybe I could have words to that effect engraved onto a slice of foccaccia in the shape of dog-tags, with my email and ...

Watch the boidie

Another tool in the Web 2.0 egotist's erm arsenal: this site allows you to take a picture every day of your own boat race, your own dial, your own mush, your own ugly mug, and then make it available with an embedded player for anyone who wants it.

I'll be honest, I happily slit myself up a treat while shaving and consider it a small price to pay so as not to have to look at my own puss. I'm the only one on the planet who doesn't have to, and I intend to make the most of it.

And who, let's face it (arf!) wants to look at any face day in and day out? I imagine even Michelle Pfeiffer would lose her allure after about a week, so let's not even think about Gordon Broon.

On the other hand, it could just be a cunning ploy to collect facial images of the population for security purposes. Either way, I'm not interested. But you might be.


A picture of a huge, all-seeing eye, not that I'm trying to insinuate anything.

Needs head examined

A British psychologist, reports the BPS journal, found that by touching strange women lightly on the arm when asking them something, he got a positive response from 65%, compared to 43% with no touching.

What the journal fails to mention is the form of the negative response from the other 35%.


Thought instructions said "arse"

Sketchbooks

Great collection of artists' sketchbooks put online by Harvard University. The blurb, rather disappointingly, alludes to 34 books by John Singer Sargent, but there are none actually featured. Still, they do have a magnificent one from Edward Burne-Jones, the pre-Raphaelite, containing anatomical studies and some breathtaking drapery. And if that sounds like an unlikely pairing of words, here's just one example:




Also featured are sketchbooks by New Hampshire artist Benjamin Champney, Henri-Edmond Cross, friend of the Pointillists, the great Jacques-Louis David, painter of the Revolution (and Napoleon), watercolour doodles by Paul Feeley, and an almost illegible book by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

There are also links to lots more online sketchbook resources. One in particular that floats my boat: a massive collection of sketchbooks by Turner organised by decade from the 1780s to the 1840, at the Tate.


(via notebookism)

Vote

For Firefox.

In general.

Tumblr, for instance.

Or Twitter.

Demotivators.

So, is that a Yes or what?

A recently published study has found that females show greater brain activation to uncertain rewards during the most fertile stage of the menstrual cycle, perhaps explaining why women dress more attractively and have altered sexual preferences during this time.

The dopamine system is known to be involved in reward processing, and one of the current theories is that it is particularly involved in reward prediction - that is, it signals when we might expect to find something gratifying.

The key female sex hormone estrogen is known to alter dopamine function, so it was thought that females might show changes in how they experience rewards when estrogen levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle.

The most direct dopamine-related rewards are drugs like cocaine and amphetamine, and studies have found that the same dose feels stronger during the fertile follicular phase of the cycle.

(link)

In and outovation

Shoes made for tarts workers in the sex industry which include an alarm that can be set off if all is not right. A senior politician is required for an important vote, for example, or a senior policeman is required at the scene of yet another puzzling murder. Not Jane Tennison, obviously.

It also tracks your position, though I suspect that's more to do with GPS than "hanging over back of sofa with thighs up wallpaper" sort of position data, IYSWIM.

Here is the shoe. Sources confirm it has an accomplice.

Patterns


Patterns
Originally uploaded by Annie Rhiannon

A photo by the very talented Annie Rhiannon, whose blog is to be found over there in the links list. This was taken in Cork, believe it or not. I imagine the zebras are slightly outraged at the giraffe being considered fit to occupy the same frame. Other similarly striking pix in the same set.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Mucho bello lingua damen und herren

Picasa is not available in several new language editions, like this one in Dutch. And this one in French.

I have to cater for a local audience too, you know.

Up from under

Justine kicks Serena's ass. 6-3 6-4.

In reference to this. Don't be a betting man, Jason.

More sad than angry

I'm a little bit shocked, not to say disappointed, that none of my so-called friends had anything nice to say about my hand-woven tag cloud label cloud, which you can see if you oh I don't know, open your eyes and LOOK!

But that's fine, I can take it.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Bleaker than ever House

Harper's Magazine, which originally published much work by Dickens in the 1850s, explains why he is still relevant today. It won't mean much to you if you haven't read Bleak House, and if you have, the moral may seem a little bit too strenuously shoe-horned into the analogy, but the underlying point is well worth making.

Already Fallen

Cinema audiences these days are unspeakable sub-human filth, so it's no surprise to find someone like me, who as a child went to the cinema at least once a week and often more, eschewing the practice entirely these days when it's for the purpose of consuming the products of the Seventh Art. I have gone with the kids in order to make an occasion of the whole thing, but you wouldn't catch me dead in there among the wallowing, texting, slobbering Cola-fuelled, popcorn-stuffed ghastly talking shitbags that pass for customers these days. No wonder the cinema companies herd them into massive factory complexes and stuff them full of worthless crap through every available orifice: it shows how they're regarded as even less worthy of consideration than the average battery hen.

Imagine my chagrin, nay my pique, then, when I discovered that not only had I seen one of the 25 Best Movies You've Never Seen, but I'd in fact seen the one that comes in at Number One.

The film is Falling Down by Joel Schumacher, starring Michael Douglas and you all know how simply dreadful it is. Yet I did see it, on TV it's true, but that still counts, and now I'm paying the price.

Harry Potter and the Cynical Cretin

If you were looking (i know most of us are, pretty much constantly) for an example of a writer who already has more of a fortune than most Captains of Industry can dream of, jumping on a media-hype bandwagon for the purposes of hyping her product just a little bit more, here it is. Either that, or Joanna is just very stupid indeed, and thinks bookmarks in books sold to children in Britain will be of the slightest help in recovering a child snatched by a pervert in Portugal.

JK Rowling is considering putting bookmarks bearing the face of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann in copies of her final instalment about the boy wizard, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

from The Guardian.

I haz got old nuz for U?

An outfit of utter chancers with the noive to call themselves "The voice of online marketing" reports a newspaper talking about LOLcats, and how they're sweeping the Intertubes.

I don't know about you, but I take my marketing advice from people who are a little bit more ahead of the loop. Whatever next? Python quotes?

Share and share again

UV asked if there was some way to include a clipping from a web or blog page without being subscribed to the feed and going the Shared Posts in Google Reader route.

I can't think of any, but I suggested another alternative. It so happens, it's something I've been planning for myself, so I might as well do it now.

Google Notebooks are another of those online applications Google is full of, and allow you to save clippings from the web in one handy place. If you use one of the extensions available to IE7 and Firefox users, you can clip links or snippets of text without leaving your browser.

I have seven notebooks running at this time, for various areas of activity, or for particular subjects of current interest to me. They're all of them stored online, which means you can access them (like all your Google gadgets) from any computer anywhere with just your log-in and password.

And you can share them, either with a select group of people (like the one I'm keeping for the Choral Society website development) or with the world at large.

To bring this back to Miss Ultraviolet's needs, I've opened a new notebook which I'm going to use for snippets of interest from the entire web, and not just those parts of it that come through Google Reader. This will be in addition to the Shared GReader posts, the blog, the other blog, the third blog, the Tumblr page, Twitter and Usenet.

The notebook is called CommonGrapes, and you can subscribe, should you choose to do so, here.

Yes to the Yes Men

According to my email, the Yes Men are planning another stunt. Here's what they say:

Dear Friends,

In under two weeks, the Yes Men will speak on behalf of what may well be the world's nastiest company at a very important conference. We've got foul plans - but we need your help.

The last time we asked for your money, your gifts enabled us to present the Halliburton Survivaball to insurance industry lawyers. This time, our plans are about three times as tasteless, weird and elaborate. And they're about as expensive: two hundred stinky-poo props don't come cheap.

If you can help, please visit here (ignore the part about shipping and sales tax).

You'll hear what you've done very soon.

THANKS!!!
The Yes Men

Sounds good -- BUT. If they've already done Halliburton, who can the "world's nastiest company" be? Shell? British Aerospace? Tesco?

Can hardly wait to find out. The Yes Men stunts are spectacular. Check out the link above for lots more details of past triumphs.

Pie for dinner again

Belgian prisons cost €100 per day to run, according to the president of the prisons association, speaking on television. Only €3.14 of that goes on food, however.

Phone 4 U

Ads for the new iPhone. It must be a sin to make it so covetable. I don't even want a phone with web and email, let alone music. It's the iPhone as objet I covet. That's real marketing success.

Google down to Earth

Is anybody else fed up with Google Maps Street View stuff already? It's being featured all over the place, but you know what?

I live on the street level, not up in the sky, so in fact the street view is the most ordinary thing in the world for me. Pictures of people peeing, or sun-bathing, or going into adult bookshops? You can see that sort of thing every day, somewhere, on the street where you are. That's kind of the point.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Google Earth breakthrough in murder trial

Lawyers in the trial of a former Rwandan army major accused of ordering the murder of ten Belgian paratroopers in 1994, just before the genocide in that country, have taken the unprecedented step of using Google Earth to explain the locations referred to, according to De Morgen newspaper yesterday. Questions the application is being asked to help solve: could Major Bernard Ntuyahaga possibly have not heard the shots from his office? Could one of the key witnesses have seen the killings from the position he describes?

The use of Google Earth could help the court to arrive at a ruling over a request by some civil parties (representing the victims) for the entire trial to make an information trip to Kigali to settle just such location questions. The court is currently considering the request.

Ups and downs

From the ancients, people retained the idea that "hot" and irritating substances like chilies, cantharides (ground up beetles, aka Spanish fly) and nettles would replenish the store of masculine warmth. Phallic-shaped foods like leeks and celery, or foods producing flatulence were also recommended. (Erections were thought to be powered by abdominal gas.)
Oh, were it only so, for which of us would not outshine Apollo himself!

From an article on erectile dysfunction through the ages, only reading it for the classical allusions honest, not having any problems in that department etc.

For example:
In the classical world, who you did it to mattered less than the way you did it; an elite male always took and never gave pleasure. Receiving fellatio from another man carried relatively little stigma, but nothing was more shameful than performing cunnilingus.
So that's my excuse, then. I am more an antique Roman than a Dane. Not that there's anything wrong with Danes.

Writing style

You've mentioned that you've got a novel in progress. What kind of novel is it?

Everybody has a novel in progress. I hate to be left out of these trends. I have an idea that could not -- despite herculean efforts -- be squeezed into the 40 pages of a picture book. And once I train myself to write a page of text without immediately running off to paint the action, like a monkey reflexively jumping to an organ grinder, I shall begin.

Cartoonist Berke Breathed, interviewed in Salon.

Good cover

Since we've been looking at some bad covers, how about a good one?

This version of a pretty pisspoor Beatles song was so earth-shattering, the guy who sang it has basically been living off the glory for the last 40 years. Unfortunate about the musicians covering for the lack of backing singers by doing Monty Python soprano parts, but still.

The only other good cover I would bother mentioning is this one. I always hated the Rolling Stones and still do. Dreadful cocky English pastiche pisstakers, not an original note ever penned or played. Ghastly fucking white-boy blues sold to suburbanites who wouldn't know any better. It was a foregone conclusion they would end up with knighthoods, hobnobbing with Royalty, how could anyone not see it?

But I digress.

Nothing to do with meow

I don't blog about cats, other than the occasional mention of LOLcats, so the subject is no concern of mine. However those of you who do may be interested to read this article on the blog Small Business Trends, which examines catblogging as a new business trend, with links to the New York Times and Kitipedia Wikipedia.

English Russia

I haven't been back to English Russia much lately. Here are some highlights of my last visit:

Pictures of President Putin's boat, even more vulgar than you might expect. It looks like a cross-Channel ferry. Links to his limo and plane, too, all equally kitsch.

Photos of a Russian graduation day, complete with short-short skirts, knee-socks, French maid uniforms and all. It was never like that in my schooldays, though admittedly I did go to an all-boys school. Still, ulp!

I'm not quite sure which of the military virtues this postage stamp is supposed to be commemorating. I've decided to adopt a policy of don't ask, frankly.

This CCTV video is almost too unbearable to watch. A man falls out of the ambulance. Cars speed by. Finally some stop, but then decide to drive round the guy slowly instead of helping. Finally, after an excruciating three minutes ... well, I won't give away the ending.

Mikhail Sholokov is most famous internationally for his novel And Quiet Flows the Don, which took fourteen years to write and won him the Nobel Prize in 1965. This is the monument he couldn't refuse in Moscow, or perhaps the horses are meant to be swimming in some deep water. Either way, pretty creepy.

That's all for now. Why not visit English Russia for yourself? It's Russian, but it's in English!

Vague and constant desire

From Towse comes a new word to me: saudade, which has a marvellous painful, tragic quality: "a feeling of longing for something that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return". How could I ever have got this far in life without discovering such an essential word sooner?

Céline covers AC/DC

I'm going to skip a gratuitous and unwarranted attack on the Bay City Rollers and their fashion choices, as well as their cover of I Only Want to Be With You, because it's actually not a bad effort, and it was a cheesy pop song anyway.

But Céline Dion doing You Shook Me (All Night Long) by AC/DC? You're minutes in and you're thinking, "This can't be happening". Some other diva comes onstage, but she hardly registers.

It's all at this collection of bad covers, which I found via Jay Zero Boss's shared Google Reader posts. Anyone else who's using Google Reader these days, get sharing those posts you find interesting but can't or won't blog about. It's all about sharing.

At that site, by the way, be sure to check out the comments, which have more greatterrible material.

Loose ends

Because of all that dicking about with code to make the label cloud, I'll have to squeeze all my waiting posts into one, so here goes:

If you don't feel like waiting for Google to implement its image search tweak allowing you to specify faces in your search, there's a Greasemonkey script available that does it already. And it works. For Greasemonkey with Firefox, and if you're not using the Monkey you're missing out on good stuff. And it's easy as pie, trust me, I'm not just saying that as an expert label-cloud codificator guy.

Web Worker Daily road-tests the main apps for note-taking online, and surprise surprise Google Notebook comes out top -- admittedly from a thin field. We here at Grapes 2.0 use Google Notebook extensively, with half a dozen notebooks on the go as we speak, covering blog subjects, work links, choir-related stuff, and so on. It's all online, so you can read your notes from anywhere. You can also share with others, or publish them to the wider world.

How to survive in the subway, joining a long list of subway posts. I call it the subway because that's what it's called in Glasgow, and it's the best word for it. Londoners have the Tube, which is baby-talk. Paris and Brussels have the Métro, which is not even accurate. Other cities have other names. I'll stick with my roots. But I mean trains what go under the ground, okay?

I saved this guide to making paper aeroplanes for Boy, 9. But you can have it too, I suppose.

Spanner post

I've just spent HOURS going back through all posts to Grapes 2.0 and giving them labels, as the number is growing so fast it's becoming impossible to keep track. And then, if you can believe it, I went into my template and started dicking with it, to create that lovely label-cloud you see over there in the sidebar. That's right: I buggered about with code and everything. Copying and pasting, admittedly, but still.

If you want to know how to get your own label cloud the instructions are here. And obviously, since I managed to do it, it must be rilly rilly simpule. PS: I made the colours look like the del.icio.us cloud further down on purpose. Not because I don't know how to change them. Ask me about RGB numbers, go on. Ask me anything.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Peace on Earth

The United States is less peaceful than Jordan, Bosnia, Costa Rica, Zambia, Indonesia, Macedonia, Serbia, Egypt, Cambodia, Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala and Yemen, according to the Global Peace Index produced by the economist Intelligence Unit, which you can see not at the EIU site which is pay-only, but here instead.

In fact, the US ranks in 96th place from a total of 121 countries, handily getting better results than Russia, Iraq, Iran, Israel and Sudan. You may reflect that much of the peacelessness in Iraq is America's fault, but let's allow them the small consolation, shall we?

By clicking on a country's name on the list above, you're taken to a page containing a host of indicators which have been used to calculate the country's peace index, and its ranking on the list. Just to show that there's nothing knee-jerk about the US placing on the part of the Hate America crowd, before anybody tries that old excuse. This is the Economist, after all.

Just for the record, the US's fellow war-mongerer, the United Kingdom, could only scrape a measly 49th spot. Obviously not trying hard enough.

Word imperfect

Here's a list of 20 words. Without looking them up, how many meanings can you honestly say you know?

abjure
abrogate
abstemious
acumen
antebellum
auspicious
belie
bellicose
bowdlerize
chicanery
chromosome
churlish
circumlocution
circumnavigate
deciduous
deleterious
diffident
enervate
enfranchise
epiphany

Not terribly difficult, you probably think, but the answer doesn't really matter. Here's the rest of the list of 100 words all high school graduates and their parents ought to know, according to the editors of the American Heritage dictionary.

You may be wondering what earthly use it is to know words like circumnavigate or antebellum, which are only ever likely to crop up in history books, where you're likely to have easy access to a dictionary. Is there a value in knowing the meaning of obscure words that can only be used in very limited ways? Is there any value in using a word like antebellum in the first place? And why would the editors of a dictionary imply, as this list surely does, that it might be a bad thing to require recourse to their product?

Here are some wayward choices from the other 80% of the list:

evanescent
hypotenuse
loquacious
mitosis
plasma
quasar

and so on. An exercise in silliness, in my view. But it'll do great business, I'm sure, because it plays on people's insecurities. Most people will see a handful of the words on the list and have no idea what they mean, or only the vaguest notion. We're all ignorant to some extent, and that's the soft-spot this campaign is pressing on. It's pretty low-down marketing, when you think about it, though it's par for the course in the self-help world.




Good food guide

A bit of link-mining brings me to a truly astounding and quite possibly the most revolting food article ever to appear in a newspaper. Here's a snippet:

The morning after a good rain, peek beneath the leaves, bricks, and wooden planks of a friend's garden and drop the slugs you find into any nonmetallic container. Allow them to fast for a couple of days, then feed them on sage or other savory leaves. Wash away the mucus—saltwater baths help—and sauté them in butter and garlic, like escargot. They are chewy.
There are plenty more tips like that. In particular, look for the instructions on how to catch and eat an ortolan, which have made it to Wikipedia.

(via Cynical-C and the aforementioned Wikipedia)

Friday, 1 June 2007

Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords was a spoof documentary broadcast on BBC Radio 4, narrated by comic actor Rob Brydon, and concerned a New Zealand music group of the same name (The Conchords, that is) and their attempts to break through in Britain. I know I listened to it, but I have no lasting memory of how it was.

Now I find it's been picked up by the electric televisual apparatus, and by HBO no less, home of The Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood and much more. The pilot episode, what's more, is available in its entirety on iFilm, and it's pretty funny. I'd watch a series based on this sample, and no doubt that's what HBO had in mind. Good use of the Web, and the freeness of the Web in particular, TV guys.

Although we'll watch the rest of the series on YouTube, before you get a chance to pull it down, bastards.

Word on the street

A dictionary of street slang, compiled by a veritable Dr. Johnson of the crack trade. Well, formerly.

An absolute must for those for whom this sort of shizzle is importizzle.