Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year's honours list

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE...

Image via Wikipedia

Amid the insufferable idiot bloody nonsense of the Queen’s New Year’s honours list, I found this one: 

Philicianno Callwood, Proprietor, Foxy's Bar and Restaurant, Entrepreneur and Musician. For serv tourism, Brit Virgin Islands.

So it’s not all bad. If the gaffer of Foxy’s can hook an MBE (shown), there may still be a vestige of merit in the system. Nice one, Phil!

New Year's honours list: Diplomatic service and overseas | UK news |


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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Farewell, my friend


Ilse Weber


As I mentioned in another place, I got for Christmas a CD of music and songs from Terezin, or Theresienstadt, the Nazi concentration camp they’d dolled up as a ghetto to fool the Red Cross. The CD features Anne Sofie von Otter, definitely one of the world’s great mezzos, as well as baritone Christian Gerhaher and violinist Daniel Hope.

So there I am listening to it when suddenly, on track 4, something makes me stop what I’m doing (ironing) and listen closely. It’s not so much the words, since I have only very rudimentary German and tend not to take anything in unless I’m listening consciously to the words. It’s the extremely simple music, and one word: Polentransport. I suppose I wasn’t expecting anything so overt. I thought the songs the inmates had written would all have to have been oblique, allegorical, indirect. I stop and pay attention, and listen to what I can of the words. Here they are:

Ade, Kamerad,
hier teilt sich der Pfad,
denn morgen muss ich fort.
Ich scheide von dir,
man treibt mich von hier,
ich geh mit dem Polentransport.

Du gabst mir oft Mut,
treu warst du und gut,
zum Helfen immer bereit.
Ein Druck deiner Hand
Hat die Sorgen gebannt,
wir truce gemeinsam das Leid.

Ade, Kamerad,
um dich ist es schad,
der Abschied wird mir schwer.
Verlier nicht den Mut,
ich war dir so gut,
jetzt sehn wir uns nimmermehr.

Which I translate as:

Farewell, my friend
This is the parting of the ways,
For tomorrow I must go.
I’m leaving you behind,
They’re taking me away,
I’m going on the Poland transport.

You often gave me strength,
You were loyal and good,
Always ready to help.
The press of your hand
Took cares away
We suffered it all together.

Farewell, my friend,
It’s too bad for you,
But parting will be hard for me.
Don’t lose hope,
You meant so much to me,
Now we’ll never see each other again.

I don’t suppose it could be any more straightforward than that. It’s a song of parting, like Ae Fond Kiss, to which I return again and again, but this time there’s one word which signals that the circumstances are different: Polentransport. That single word tells the whole story.

And here’s the story:

The song was written by Ilse Weber (née Herlinger), born in Moravia in what is now the Czech Republic. As a Jew she was taken, after the Nazis invaded, to Terzin with her husband Willi and her son Tommy, from their home in Prague. An older son, Hanus, had been sent to Sweden via a kindertransport, and escaped the war altogether.

Weber had been a children’s author in Prague before the war, as well as a musician, and the two things come together in the naked simplicity of her words and music in this song and in others she wrote while in Terzin, one of which, Wiegala, was a lullaby.

In 1944 her husband was to be transported to Auschwitz (the Polentransport mentioned in the song) and Weber volunteered herself and Tommy to accompany him, so as to keep the family together. Instead, on arrival at Auschwitz, Tommy and Ilse were immediately separated from Willi, and gassed. Willi lived on for 30 years. Hanus, meanwhile, lived in Stockholm as a journalist, not far from the place where Anne Sofie von Otter grew up, the daughter of a Swedish nobleman and diplomat.

Her story is so incredible I’ll leave it to Norman Lebrecht to tell it here. In short, her father heard the confession on a train of a Nazi officer, and when he passed the information on to his government, they did nothing. A better result might have let the world know a lot earlier about places like Auschwitz, and perhaps Isle and Tommy might not have died.

Since it makes little sense to talk about a song nobody has heard or can hear in full, I’m taking the unusual step of putting an MP3 online for a couple of days only, to allow diligent readers to get the full experience. Check it out here.



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Carla Bruni on Late Show w/ David Letterman Nov 18 2008

One of the main justifications for hating Nicholas Sarkozy, she's not only beautiful and talented, she's also stinking rich. It's just not fair.

Dave is like a drooling schoolboy, like Adrian in the presence of Pandora. He's so affected by her presence he forgets all his jokes about Ze French!

Here she is singing and strumming the geetar. She's also a top model. Makes you want to spit innit.

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Hungarian Suicide Song

The symbolic face of death:  detail from an 18...

Image via Wikipedia

From time to time, while faffing about in YouTube usually, I find myself taking an interest in the various cover versions of well-known songs, starting long ago with all the versions of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which has now been crowned by none other than Simon Cowell, who made all the finalists in the latest season of the British X-Factor record the song.

You’re taking your life in your hands exploring the many versions that exist of Gloomy Sunday, the song originally known as Szomorú vasárnap, and now widely known as the Hungarian Suicide Song.

Legend has it that the song is closely associated with suicide, and some extremists will even go so far as to promise you too will commit suicide shortly after listening. Well, I’m still here, so maybe there’s not much to that theory.

The composer of the song, Rezső Seress, did in fact kill himself, but he took 35 years to get round to it (the song was set to music in 1933, and he died in 1968) so it’s a little hard to show causation there. Billy McKenzie, meanwhile, the lead singer of Scottish band The Associates, also committed suicide (in 1997) after (15 years after) recording a cover version of the song. As far as the rest of the claims are concerned, we’re dealing with the vaguest of allegations – something the Internet loves more than anything else.

But more of that later. Let’s go back to the start.

Seress, real name Spitzer, was a pianist and composer. If you want more than that on him, you’re going to have to learn Hungarian, because the Magyar page of Wikipedia has a great deal more information than any other. The only other English sources on Google refer to the song, which was written in 1933 at the request of the poet László Jávor, who’s so famous not even Magyar Wikipedia has a page on him.

The Hungarian lyrics go like this:

Szomorú vasárnap száz fehér virággal
Vártalak kedvesem templomi imával
Álmokat kergető vasárnap délelőtt
Bánatom hintaja nélküled visszajött
Azóta szomorú mindig a vasárnap
Könny csak az italom kenyerem a bánat...

Szomorú vasárnap

Utolsó vasárnap kedvesem gyere el
Pap is lesz, koporsó, ravatal, gyászlepel
Akkor is virág vár, virág és - koporsó
Virágos fák alatt utam az utolsó
Nyitva lesz szemem hogy még egyszer lássalak
Ne félj a szememtől holtan is áldalak...

Utolsó vasárnap

Which translated literally look like this:

Gloomy Sunday with a hundred white flowers
I was waiting for you my dearest with a prayer
A Sunday morning, chasing after my dreams
The carriage of my sorrow returned to me without you
It is since then that my Sundays have been forever sad
Tears my only drink, the sorrow my bread...

Gloomy Sunday

This last Sunday, my darling please come to me
There'll be a priest, a coffin, a catafalque and a winding-sheet
There'll be flowers for you, flowers and a coffin
Under the blossoming trees it will be my last journey
My eyes will be open, so that I could see you for a last time
Don't be afraid of my eyes, I'm blessing you even in my death...

The last Sunday

(I’m indebted to the website for this information.)

Nota bene those two verses. That’s about to change.

The song first came to prominence in the English-speaking world in 1936, when a translation by Desmond Carter was recorded by Paul Robeson. It looked like this:

Sadly one Sunday I waited and waited
With flowers in my arms for the dream I'd created
I waited 'til dreams, like my heart, were all broken
The flowers were all dead and the words were unspoken
The grief that I knew was beyond all consoling
The beat of my heart was a bell that was tolling

Saddest of Sundays

Then came a Sunday when you came to find me
They bore me to church and I left you behind me
My eyes could not see one I wanted to love me
The earth and the flowers are forever above me
The bell tolled for me and the wind whispered, "Never!"
But you I have loved and I bless you forever

Last of all Sundays

The Carter version takes a few liberties with the original, mainly in the fact that the narrator doesn’t himself die. This version is now only performed, as far as I can make out, by Diamanda Galas.

Then came a new version (we can probably assume that Tin Pan Alley was full of Hungarian emigrés by this time, who would have been familiar with the original) by Sam Lewis. Here’s what Lewis made of the song:

Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought of ever returning you
Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles and prayers that are sad I know
Let them not weep let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream for in death I'm caressing you
With the last breath of my soul I'll be blessing you

Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep in the deep of my heart, here
Darling, I hope that my dream never haunted you
My heart is telling you how much I wanted you

Gloomy Sunday

Lewis, as you can see, has not only retained the idea of the narrator’s own death from the original, he has in fact made it a suicide, which is not openly stated in the original. That line, Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?, was responsible for the song, as sung by Billie Holliday, being banned by the BBC, and is surely behind the legend that has built up around the song ever since.

However, Lewis was also responsible for the atrocity that is the third verse, in which the whole death thing is revealed as a dream, with the beloved restored safe and sound by the lover’s side, and the whole gloomy message no more than a sort of Thanatised expression of longing.

Ghastly as that misrepresentation may be, it’s the version that’s been carried down to today by the likes of Elvis Costello, The Associates, Marianne Faithfull, Sinéad O’Connor, Sarah McLachlan, Bjork, Portishead and Sarah Brightman. The Lewis lyrics, but without the damnable third verse, were also recorded by Lydia Lunch and Gitane Demone. Links in this paragraph lead to YouTube videos of the performers concerned.

The myth of the link to suicides, meanwhile, is dealt with by Snopes here. In all likelihood the song was somehow linked to several suicides (suicides are melodramatic events, let’s face it, and I’m sure less apt lyrics have been quoted by the departed in notes etc) and the legend was carried on in the West, influenced by Hungary’s apparent reputation for a high suicide rate.

I wasn’t aware of that reputation, and so I checked some recent figures, and sure enough Hungary comes fifth in a WHO list, with 26 suicides per 100,000 population in 2005, behind Lithuania, Belarus, Russia and Slovenia. Put another way, that’s about seven suicides a day. That compares to 6.8 in the UK, and 11 in the US. It also compares to 21.1 in Belgium, which translates to seven suicides a day. For a theory as to why Hungary might be more suicidal than other nations, see this article taken from the now-defunct Hungary Report Monthly Digest. Excerpt:

Gloom, depression and suicide seem to be part and parcel of Hungarian culture. "You can hardly meet with a Hungarian who wouldn't have relatives or friends who really committed suicide - it's a kind of national disease, it's a kind of sickness," says Peter Muller, a Hungarian playwright who has written a play about Gloomy Sunday and has studied the suicide phenomenon.


But the Gloomy Sunday playwright Peter Muller thinks that there is more to the Hungarian gloom that just frustrated aspirations. The real reasons go much deeper, he says. It is essentially a problem of identity. "Somehow the root is missing. We live in a very strange position of the world. We always try to stick to the Western culture, we try to escape from the Eastern mentality and somehow we are in a limbo, we don't belong to anybody, it's a kind of loneliness. We have somehow lost our Oriental roots without finding another one - and if you are in trouble, if your life is difficult it is the root that can save you."

I’ll leave that for any Hungarian readers (I know we have at least one) to comment on.

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Monday, 29 December 2008


I’m informed today by Jure Cuhalev, owner of Zemanta, that this blog has been added to the blogging pool used by Zemanta. Don’t ask me what they saw in it, but from now on users of Zemanta will be offered links to this blog if their posts have any connection with mine. So I’d better get back to making some, hadn’t I?

Zemanta, for those who don’t know of it, is a useful blogging add-on you can use in Firefox or in Windows Live Writer, which I use almost exclusively now, and provides photos, links and related stories depending on what you’re writing about. You can also create a blog-pool of your own to draw from by including the blogs of friends.

I already carry a Zemanta logo whenever I use them for anything, so I won’t need to be plugging them constantly. Thanks to Jure for the honour, which I think it is.

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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Google Zeitgeist 2008


How to...

1. how to draw

2. how to kiss

3. how to write

4. how to cook

5. how to tie

6. how to hack

7. how to run

8. how to cite

9. how to paint

10. how to spell


Isn’t it cute that the second most popular how-to question of 2008 was “how to kiss”? There’s obviously hope for the world if people are still willing to learn, if not so much if they need to ask in the first place.

More 2008 search engine zeitgeist at the link.

Google Zeitgeist 2008

Sunday, 23 November 2008

70 Greatest Sentences

Esquire has published a list of the 70 greatest sentences from its 75 years of existence.

Most of them are indifferent as sentences, relying on context. One or two would be meh with a volume of context on either side. The very best is one which everyone thinks he knows:

But at three o'clock in the morning, a forgotten package has the same tragic importance as a death sentence, and the cure doesn't work--and in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Pasting It Together," 1936

That’s profound. Another favourite is profound and important:

Negroes want to be treated like men: a perfectly straightforward statement, containing only seven words. -- James Baldwin, "Fifth Avenue, Uptown," 1960

And this one has no pretensions, but it does have something a great sentence must have -- a sublime economy:

Ah, Brandy, Misty, and Amanda, come out and sit on the veranda. -- Charles P. Pierce, "Two Strokes Back," 1999

Esquire's 70 Greatest Sentences - Esquire

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Saturday, 22 November 2008

LIFE: is a minestrone

You could spend decades sifting through the photo archive of Life magazine, which has just been opened up online by Google.

I’ve just picked one for now, of a woman in 1944 mourning the death of her mother in a massacre in her village by the Germans.


Butt Bandit caught at last

HASTINGS, NE - JUNE 24: An empty downtown stre...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Police have arrested a man suspected of leaving greasy, graphic imprints on the windows of stores, churches and schools in a small Nebraska town. A 35-year-old man was caught in the act by police early Wednesday morning, Cherry County Attorney Eric Scott said Friday. The man hasn't been charged yet, but authorities believe he is the vandal some townsfolk have dubbed the "Butt Bandit’.

Suspect arrested for greasy imprints in Neb. town


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Main Page - Dickipedia - A Wiki of Dicks

Random Recipe Generator

Below is a randomly-generated recipe!

Horseradish Sauce Mille Feuille

Serves 5

You will need:

* 4 oxo cubes

* 2 sheets of ricepaper

* 90ml horseradish sauce

* 60g raisins


1. toast the sheets of ricepaper

2. add one tablespoon of the sheets of ricepaper

3. bring the sheets of ricepaper to the boil

4. defrost the oxo cubes

5. throw the raisins away

6. barbeque the horseradish sauce

7. enjoy


Insufficiently delicious? Reload the page for another. » Random Recipe Generator

The joke that writes itself

Beavers back in Britain -



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Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Daniel, born September 11

Daniel was born on September 11, and after the events of that day in 2001, he jokingly complained that his birthday had been ruined forever, because it would always be first and foremost the anniversary of that day.

The problem only came up once, in 2002. Daniel died on 18 November that year, also at the top of a tower-block, when his apartment caught fire. He was 26, and those few days.

It's been six years now, and the hole he left just doesn't get any smaller.

Sprint: Plug into Now.

This totally rocks.

Sprint: Plug into Now.

pixar piss take

Monday, 17 November 2008

A message to all Americans

Barack Obama and family in Springfield, Illino...Image via Wikipedia
Now get off the stage already
All right, enough already, you elected a black man. Can you please take the bouquet, quit bowing and get the fuck off the stage?

Just in case nobody noticed during the apotheosis of the nation that elected Bush twice into the nation that banished all prejudice forever, there are a couple of outstanding issues:

1. Proposition 8 passed in fucking California of all places. So discrimination is not dead, folks. It's not even going down for a count.

2. The death penalty is still exercised in the United States, which ought to be enough to make all right-minded people ashamed of those stars and stripes.

Okay. We're all in love with Obama, too. Imagine having to listen to a man who not only can speak in sentences, but who also has a lovely voice. He's very handsome, as is his wife, and his kids are gorgeous. And his clothes sense is simply to die for, dahling.

But I refer you to point one and point two. And remind you there's work still to do.

The stage-door guy with the cough will show you out.

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Sunday, 16 November 2008

News from the front, back and sides

Private collectionImage via Wikipedia

My hair is getting totally out of control.

There's not much else happening in my life. Nothing that I can post about, at any rate.

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Saturday, 15 November 2008

Skies without a face

I’ve posted all my cloud pictures to a web album. You may have seen some of them already. If so, skip over those ones.

Here’s a sample:

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Memiary is what happens to a To-Do list when you've To-Done the stuff you had To-Do. It's a brilliant idea: you fill in up to five things you did today, and it's saved for posterity. I don't know about you, but my days are rarely filled with momentous events. But I do, on the other hand, often find myself wondering, when did I send that form off? Did I call that person already or do I still need to? So a searchable database of all the things I've done is a great thing, IMO.

Here's what I did on Saturday, if we're checking:

Updated the website
Bought some earrings
Dropped into Churchill's
What a life I lead, eh? Couldn't even make it to four items, let alone five. Still, it's a lot to remember, or it was.

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Sunday, 9 November 2008

Eyes without a face

The result of shooting yourself in a dark room with only a desk-lamp and a Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass to direct the light.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now 2000 live

And this is the version from 2000. See if you can spot the difference.

Joni Mitchell-Both Sides Now (The Johnny Cash Show)

This is the first of the versions mentioned below. Pretty poor audio, but never mind.

UPDATE: This video is better, sound-wise. It's from 1970. She sounds so nervous. Bless.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Both sides now

Both Sides Now album coverImage via WikipediaAfter the song was brought up by nn, I listened to Both Sides Now, by Joni of course, in its original version from the Clouds album, then the 2000 version from the album Both Sides Now.

What a difference a lifetime can make, not only to Joni's voice, but to the whole tenor of the song. She was about 25 when she wrote it, and just 26 when she recorded it the first time. By the time the latest version comes around, she's 57 and has truly looked at life from both sides.

For me, and for some of you, that song also kinda bookends our lives. I remember it from when Judy Collins had a hit with the single. And now I'm not a million miles away from 57, and I've aged less well than Joni (though I did give up smoking). And I've looked at life from both sides, in a way that sweet girl of 25 could never have imagined.

Some of the most poignant lyrics you'll come across, if not now, then later, when you're 57 yourself:

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living ev'ry day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
Thanks for the reflection to nn.

The article from Time, linked below, dates from 1969. It's worth reading for its inability to see into the future.

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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

To my American friends

NAPERVILLE, IL - DECEMBER 12:  United  States ...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeRest assured that as you await the outcome of this historic day, I shall be showing my solidarity with your hopes and aspirations by snoozing in my bed the whole night through, because I have got a stinking cold coming on, and because nothing will be happening anyway until it's the middle of the bloody night here.

I might wake up a bit earlier than usual in the morning, since I'll have crashed out at about 9pm, and then I'll have the opportunity to check in with the BBC and find out whether the world has entered a new era of bright confident morning, or not. If the Sheriff out of Deputy Dawg wins, and his swivel-eyed clotheshorse becomes VP, I shall most likely go back to bed.

Don't let me down.

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Saturday, 1 November 2008

Enchanting sea-blue eyes

wooden sailing boat Kleine Freiheit - 70 year ...Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been reading more poems by Jo Govaerts, who I posted about here, and who was kind enough to give me one of her earlier collections after reading the poor stab at translation I’d done there.

Then I thought I’d add insult to injury by trying my hand at another one, in which she laments the parting of a sailor, or seaman, which as some of you may know corresponds to a theme of parting, exile and the sea which has been occupying me lately. It also reminds me of the striking iconic image of Meryl Streep used for the film The French Lieutenant's Woman.

The poem is from her collection Waar je naar zit te kijken, published by Kritak in 1994. It should impress even non-Dutch speakers that Herman De Coninck, one of Belgium’s great modern poets, had this to say:

There are few certainties in the world, and especially not in literature, but that Jo Govaerts is at this moment the best poet of her generation, is one such certainty.

What is a girl to do

while her beloved sailor

sails the seven seas?

no money, nothing to eat

she goes to the quay


where the waving water reminds her

of the sailing of the ship

the wind in her hair

his last caress, down over her back

where a man on a bench

reading a newspaper, then not reading asks, Miss?

come here and sit by me

you seem so sad, you have

such enchanting sea-blue eyes

©Jo Govaerts

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If Sarah Palin was my Mom

Alaska Governor Sarah PalinImage via Wikipediasour grapes, if you were born to Sarah Palin, your name would be:
Rot Pipeline Palin

Who knows, Rot Pipeline Palin you just might be president one day!

Try it yourself.

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Thursday, 30 October 2008

Spotted on Usenet

In a sig:

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
Barbeques on fire by the chalets past the castle headland
I watched the gift shops glitter in the darkness off the Newborough gate
All these moments will be lost in time, like icecream on the beach
Time for tea.
Well, it made me laugh. If you don't get it, I'm not going to explain.

Here's the long version of the original.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Label fever

Image by danagraves via FlickrLast night I spent the duration of an entire album ironing some stuff, and cutting the labels out of some T-shirts and jumpers with this sewing-kit sort of tool thingy made for unpicking stitches.

Lately I've become increasingly sensitive to the scratchy feeling labels cause on the back of my neck, which was always one of my sensitive zones, but we won't go into that. I've noticed an increasing tendency for manufacturers, like Columbia for instance, to stop attaching labels altogether, replacing them with printed brand info instead.

I don't think my neck has become more sensitive to scratchy labels. I think it's simply a consequence of ageing, that one is less and and less willing as time goes on to submit to "the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to". Where there's nothing to be done, we submit: hence the knees, and the peeing at five ayem. Where there's something to be done, on the other hand, dammit we want it done.

So the labels in my clothing are gone, by my own efforts. I'd like for all of you reading this to keep that in mind, just in case my body should ever turn up in a canal, or a corn-field à la Casino. When you read the news report saying, "All labels appeared to have been carefully cut from his clothing (occasioning the odd hole here and there)" you'll know it was me, and rush to identify me to the authorities.

My body is intended for medical science, and I don't want it mouldering too long in a city morgue, you see. Consider it a public service.

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Sunday, 26 October 2008

Travelling light

This is the image produced by a body scanner at an airport, from the German magazine Der Spiegel. Pretty revealing huh.

This is what some minimum-wage rent-a-cop will be leering at as thousands of people go through airport security in the coming holiday season, in spring, and next summer. Here's another one:

The name of the game is security, but as the last seven years of post-9/11 hysteria have taught us, it's no more than security theatre. Members of the public are being forced to submit to increasingly intrusive, increasingly insulting and increasingly stupid procedures, designed to combat a threat that hardly exists, in the name of preventing a problem which requires a completely different solution.

How much longer? What other indignities do they have in mind for us?

And why has nobody yet read 1984, despite my calling for it to be compulsory reading?

My own solution: don't travel by air. I don't need to. I'm due to go to Madrid in March, and I'll be taking the train. Other than that, no plans. My American friends? I won't be seeing anyone any time soon.

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Saturday, 25 October 2008

That's Alright

A nice rockin groove, and a video that would make Robert Palmer proud. What more could you ask?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Couldn't have put it better myself

Gian Lorenzo BerniniImage via Wikipedia

Like that grand piazza, which Bernini designed in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the enormous marble sculptures for which the artist is best known are for all practical purposes untransportable.
What does that leave? As it happens, a significant body of work: especially the portrait busts, a genre in which the young Bernini demonstrated that he was head and shoulders above the competition.

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A Scotsman Who Can't Watch A Movie Without Shouting At ...

This is totally me.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Domain names


Image by via Flickr

Domainr helps you find a domain name outside the usual .com, .org field, using lesser-known TLDs (like their own .nr).

Which means there are some unexpected results. For instance, might be available in Spain. is definitely not available in Belgium. might be available, as might

On a more elevated level, you might try, or, but don’t bother with or might be available or it might not. They’re not saying.

Hours of fun for a dreary winter evening.

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Brilliant, and disgusting. Challenge yourself.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

X Factor 2008 - Live Show 1: Laura White (HD)

The next big thing. Wait and see. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Manatee Squash

Crumple zone.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Eddie IzzardImage via WikipediaSomebody had the brilliant idea of illustrating the comedy of Eddie Izzard with some animations done with Lego peeps. What could be more appropriate?

Start here with James Bond, and take it from there.

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Monday, 13 October 2008


In Zadig, the Book of Fate, written by Voltaire in 1747, the hero is an admirable man, and adviser to the King of Babylon. The Queen, Astarte, develops a fondness for Zadig, which shocks the loyal man. He confides in his friend Cador, who advises him thus:

Cador said to him; ’tis now some considerable Time since, I have discover’d that secret Passion which you have foster’d in your Bosom, and yet endeavour’d to conceal even from your self. The Passions carry along with them such strong Impressions, that they cannot be conceal’d. Tell me ingenuously Zadig; and be your own Accuser, whether or no, since I have made this Discovery, the King has not shewn some visible Marks of his Resentment. He has no other Foible, but that of being the most jealous Mortal breathing. You take more Pains to check the Violence of your Passion, than the Queen herself does; because you are a Philosopher; because, in short, you are Zadig; Astarte is but a weak Woman; and tho’ her Eyes speak too visibly, and with too much Imprudence; yet she does not think her self blame-worthy. Being conscious
of her Innocence, to her own Misfortune, as well as yours, she is too unguarded.
I tremble for her; because I am sensible her Conscience acquits her. Were you both agreed, you might conceal your Regard for each other from all the World: A rising Passion, that is smother’d, breaks out into a Flame; Love, when once gratified, knows how to conceal itself with Art.
In other words, both Zadig and Astarte are in danger, he because he has done nothing wrong, and she because she doesn't recognise the wrong she's doing in being infatuated by Zadig. Were they both guilty, and felt guilty, they'd do a better job of covering their tracks, Cador explains.

There's a lesson there for all of us.

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Sunday, 12 October 2008

Hitchens on form

"What are the main principles of a banana republic? A very salient one might be that it has a paper currency which is an international laughingstock: a definition that would immediately qualify today’s United States of America. We may snicker at the thriller from Wasilla, who got her first passport only last year, yet millions of once well-traveled Americans are now forced to ask if they can afford even the simplest overseas trip when their folding money is apparently issued by the Boardwalk press of Atlantic City. But still, the chief principle of banana-ism is that of kleptocracy, whereby those in positions of influence use their time in office to maximize their own gains, always ensuring that any shortfall is made up by those unfortunates whose daily life involves earning money rather than making it. At all costs, therefore, the one principle that must not operate is the principle of accountability."

America the Banana Republic: Politics & Power:

Ronettes - Be My Baby

"For every kiss you give me, I'll give you three."

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Species name

Which bird is known in Hungarian as Kengyelfuto Gyalogkakukk?

For the answer, click here. (SFW)

Speaking of SSCs

Vicent my cousin...Image by Tonyç via FlickrSpeaking of SSC's (see previous post), here are two great sites for confessions:

Post Secret receives anonymous postcards from all over the world, with people communicating things they'd rather not confess out in the open. Some of the submissions are painfully honest, and honestly painful.

The Experience Project aims to put short, shameful confessors in touch with others like themselves, which is a bit odd, as if closet gays or adulterers are looking for contacts with others like themselves. I can see the value of knowing there are others out there going through what you're going through, but I wouldn't necessarily want to get in touch with them.

And then, for the rest of us, there's the secret blog. Something about posting your wickedness to the Internet makes it more cathartic than simply keeping a journal. There's the constant danger of being caught, slim as the chances may be. And a journal, even a beautiful Moleskine, won't allow you to post hyperlinks, photos, audio and video.

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