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Friday, February 27, 2004

How Now Brown Cow

King 5 News alerts me to a God-send: an accent-ualizer able to convert my Queen's English bray into a manly American twang.

Whatever it costs, I'll pay. Anything for anonymity; anything for acceptability


Coming March 3 with Viggo M in the starring role as Frank Hopkins.

Hopkins competed in and won over 400 long-distance races, including the movie's legendary 3,000-mile endurance ride across the Arabian Desert in 1890 on the eponymous mustang stallion, Hidalgo.
"Even if most riders today don't know who he was, his knowledge and experiences have been the basis for established concepts and proper horse keeping in the world of modern distance riding. He always took care of his horses first."

Having said all that above, I saw the movie, sort of enjoyed it, found Vigo perfect for the role, Omar Sharif magnificent, the horses magnificent, the closing scenes of the liberated mustangs tear-inducing - but am a little annoyed to read in infallible Slate that Hoppers might have told the teensiest of fibs about his life and which Disney seems happy to be peddling to the resto of us.

Virtual Vocalist

Hmm ... so we at last reach the era of Voice font and Virtual Vocalist ... some implications I need to assess there.

Hygiene alert

Yummee - deliciosi bacteria.

I grew up in a Hong Kong that was itself recovering from less than tender Japanese occupation. We swam in the South China Sea and ate from whichever dai pai dong we came across in the teeming streets of Aberdeen. I rather got the message that a healthy dollop of bacteria did one no end of good.

Now I live in a country that takes cleanliness and hygiene very seriously.

To all my pals who eat at their desk, I offer this cautionary link

The worst places for bacteria in the office are (in order and on average):

Wired goes Google

Yee hah! The entire issue of Wired is Google-centric.

Check it out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

If Music be ...

Zut alors!

The FBI meet the Surgeon General. Is my dastardly Kzaarist file-sharing soon to carry a Wealth warning?

Bad Charlotte

The felicitously named Charlotte Church, owner of that Voice of an Angel has come of age - and how.

Ms Church charmed her way into the hearts of gentlefolk with her beauteous singing and palpable piety. And now she's vamping it up on DVD.

Years ago, on glimpsing her cherubic features on an early album, I remember predicting somewhat less gentility when the hormones kicked in.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Mona Lisa revisited

Silly site where you can wipe that enigmatic smile off Leonardo's chick.

Masked and Anonymous

Creepily hypnotic movie along the lines of Missing meets a Buddy-Fretboard caper.

Amazing performance by Bob Dylan as Jack Fate ~ parchment features, growly voice and all.

I rented the DVD less for Dylan (whose acting skills I doubted) than for the stellar cast who'd come on board to work alongside Master Zimmerman.

As it was, I spent whole chunks of the movie mesmerized by the lead guitarist in the onscreen band, 'Twist of Fate', a dead ringer for my much admired Sultan of Sedition, Lion of the Nightcrew.

Post-script: Nice little follow-up from the Sultan
"Dylan/Zimmerman is the only star of note with whom I share a birthday. I was the song writer in our band; the guitar player had the same b'day as Eddie VH, and the bassist-turned-singer had the same b'day as one Gordon Sumner."

Jamie Bulger RIP

Jon Venables ~ Robert Thompson

On the afternoon of February 12, 1993, in a shopping center in Merseyside (just outside Liverpool), two ten-year-olds took two-year-old James Bulger by the hand -- his mother had turned his back on him for just a few minutes to buy some meat -- and led him away (as a security camera filmed them).

A number of people saw the three boys walking and failed to intervene, despite the fact that James appeared to have been in distress and injured: the tabloids later dubbed them "The Liverpool 38".

Jon Venables and Robert Thompson made James walk about 2½ miles before beating him to death.

Days later, the 10-year-olds were arrested and subsequently stood trial in an adult court. Their minimum sentence was set at eight years but in 1999, the European Commission of Human Rights came out with some bunkum about the "highly charged" atmosphere of the trial -- an adult court, the boys separated from their parents -- having led to an 'unfair' verdict.

The sentence was later raised to 15 years, but on October 26, 2000, the Lord Chief Justice of England restored the 8-year term, meaning Venables and Thompson, both now 18 years of age, could be freed as soon as the Parole Board gave its approval.

On January 9, a judge ordered that, upon their release, Thompson and Venables be given new legal identities -- and the media prohibited from revealing any information about their new lives. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, a Family Division judge, went further and warned Internet Service Providers that they could be prosecuted if they allowed any of information to be posted on their pages.

I don't think of myself as an eye-for-an-eye man, but I have this burning zeal to see the two lads tracked down and ... whatever.

There are some background sites and topics I refer to in desultory fashion whenever I rememberSurely some continental WoodStein types have the goods and can slip it out without risk of being slung into the clink?

Good Vibes

Raves from UK friends who attended Brian Wilson's unveiling of Smile, his dormant chef d'oeuvre from his breakdown 20 years ago.

Even the Grauniad waxing tolerant, a neat little piece on the sessions, and Auntie Beeb on the press rave.

Sounds like it was not only worth waiting for but released at a time when we understand more about that tortured genius.

Saturday, February 21, 2004


Best of Boudoir

Sent this Mama G link to certain married ladies - as a joke, really - and they pounced on it. I should ask Gena for a commission.

More Trumperie

Thursday evenings are de rigueur stay-home soirs.

The Apprentice is the foxiest thing on the box.

Sapristi! That Katrina is hot.

Orkut anyone?

Friendster be damned - anyone can join.

Any member of Orkut ready to put my name forward?

Corpuz Corpsed

One of the more distasteful aspects of the televised proceedings of podgy police chief David Brame's murder of his glam wife was seeing that smarmy creep Ray Corpuz oopzing around in the background. Clearly a rotter of the first order ands utterly untrustworthy to the nth degree.

All our suspicions vindicated: the oily manipulator - oiled indeed - nicked driving his Merc down the Tacoma streets on two rubbered wheels, the other two tyres shredded.

Friday, February 20, 2004


Having lots of fun with this one.

A cornucopia of links and resources.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Schindler's List

Coming to DVD.

I tend not to go in for the WWII movies, and certainly not prison camp fodder, but I saw this in Hong Kong and emerged weeping at the horror - much to the scrutable puzzlement of the Pacific Place locals, wafting out with their designer threads and gew-gaws.

Craig Brown ~ parodist/wit extraordinaire

Nice little piece in the Daily Telegraph to remind me that humour and literacy still exist back home, thanks to men like Mr Brown.

Mind the Gap

Anyone who's grappled with the London Underground - or admired the clean lines of the map - will enjoy this FUNTUBE link.

Also note the proportional map and the ominous Teutonic version that we might well have been living under.

While I'm about it - gosh the Internet has transformed mapping and traveling: I used to work at Wessex House (as it was then known), strictly peon level, lifting and carting, cooking and cleaning. Doesn't sound as if it's changed much.

One Country, One system ~
[lose the Democracy]

Now, why aren't I surprised that Beijing is dragging its feet on living up to a single promise about fair elections or the dreaded D word?

Last Gasp of Freedom

I didn't believe it when I heard that the French were caving into this appalling onslaught against smokers. Now it's the Irish.

Surely, some part of the unthinking sectarian violence wreaked over the years can be united to turn against this nanny nonsense?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

For When it Gets Personal

Dust to dust, ashes to dum dum.

I love it: this shootist has his ashes mixed in with shotgun cartridges. Can you imagine the satisfactory revenge of melding your ex-buddy's cremated remains into a chamber for your Clint Eastwood handgun and taking the villains out one rainy night behind the Broadhinton Road dumpster? Too cool.

Yo! I am da Walrus

Rappy remix of the White Album? Bring it on. Just what we grey beards need.

I am the Taxman

George sang about him; now Signor Berlusconi disses him for real.

Can't pay? Don't pay.

The Office

I'm a sucker for articles about office survival:Sure miss those heros of yore: Cass ~ JV ~ Verity's dad ~ The Mentoree ~ mama-sanSusan ~ the ineffably handsome Mr Works ~ my mentor, the always adorable mbafus ... so many.


You heard it here first: The Donald ain't no quack - in fact, his show is the very hit I hailed it when it first graced our screens.

Don't take my word for it, hear the inestimable Economist

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Word Fugitive

I love Barbara Wallraff's excellent back column in The Atlantic Monthly

Monday, February 16, 2004

Nuptial Gaiety

Absolutely riveted by the TV coverage of these same-sex marriages.

The lines outside the marriage bureau snake into infinity and as the camera cruises down at waist level, I gaze agog at the partnerings. If it was a parlour game to match them, I'd lose every time.

The first time it came on the news I thought they'd matched the wrong film to the story: burly close-cropped chaps with their winsome little ladies, here and there a 'pretty' with her less physically favoured best friend, no harm in that.

When it dawned on me, I couldn't get enough of the coverage. Just like the irresistible test of matching dogs to their owners.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

In Vino Sapiens

Latest word from Taki: comme toujours, defiant and inspiring.
"Wonderful evening among the nicest people and lotsa nostalgia for the Britain I first came to love and no longer give a damn about. Not a single hideous oik in sight, no grotesque Michael Jackson-worshipping morons, no cheap celebrities or It girls.

Needless to say, I drink too much firewater and join up with three crazy Russians, a viola player, a photographer and a writer at Annabel’s ... two nights later, back to Annabel’s ... party in honour of Jemima Khan — my Beatrice — celebrating her 30th birthday. But before I go on about the party, a few words about beauty, desire and unrequited love.

My love for Jemima is indeed unrequited, but that doesn’t stop me from admiring her beauty and sexiness. Love, unrequited or not, is ontological, being in its most vivid state, the faint whisper of hope, a promise forever elusive. Stendhal said that ‘beauty is the promise of happiness’. Well, not in my case. A recent book on beauty by John Armstrong claims: ‘The love of beauty involves a yearning which is not — and perhaps cannot be — fulfilled.’ That’s more like it. One thing’s for sure. Trying to define love in every tedious aspect, psychologically, physiologically, whatever, is an exercise American female academics indulge in while trying not to look into the mirror too much in case they throw up. Which reminds me.

The reason I was so sad when Jemima’s party ended was because there was not an unpleasant person in sight. Everyone was so young and good-looking, so full of life and fun. There were at least ten tens there, an unheard of achievement, and again, no oiks, no hacks, no publicity-seeking It tarts.

Looking back, the ancient Greeks had it right: Beauty may be granted by the Almighty, but it sure helps with the manners. Show me a very ugly creature and more often than not they’re pretty ugly inside too. Won't name names, but some of the hacks who relish attacking people who cannot answer back are among the ugliest looking. I’m thinking of the late A- and the awful things people have written about him. Perhaps if those hacks ever got laid, they might not be as envious of Alan. Not that there were any hacks at Jemima’s. A few celebrities like Hugh Grant and Rosario of Bulgaria (best-looking man of his generation), Zac Goldsmith, and lotsa beautiful young men and women."

Friday, February 13, 2004

Oop 't Eikley Moor bah t'at

My Yorkshire grandmother had the most delightful soft regional accent but the tradesmen who called were incomprehensible to me.

I answered the door one day to an "Ayup, lad - got 'ny joomble?" for which I had to summon Gan Gan to translate. The burly northerner, complete with horse and cart piled high with scrap iron was a "Rag and Bone Man" and he was asking if we had any jumble.

Despite his Cambridge honed tones, Dad could do an ace imitation of God's own vowels and I always wished I'd acquired that particular voice.

It's not too late: help is at hand in this splendid and witty Dialect Dictionary.

Takes one to know one

I love movies; I am Mr Cliché personnified.

Feels like home.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Shoo Fly

With election time on us, we are going to hear all about "Shoo-Ins".

It's spelled wrongly so often that it’s likely to end up that way.

The correct form is shoo-in, usually with a hyphen. It has been known in that spelling and with the meaning of a certain winner from the 1930s. It came from horse racing, where a shoo-in was the winner of a rigged race.

In turn that seems to have come from the verb shoo, meaning to drive a person or an animal in a given direction by making noises or gestures, which in turn comes from the noise people often make when they do it.

The shift to the horse racing sense seems to have occurred sometime in the early 1900s. C E Smith made it clear how it came about in his 1908 Racing Maxims and Methods:

“There were many times presumably that ‘Tod’ would win through such manipulations, being ‘shooed in’, as it were”.


Don't you hate the online proliferation of all these visual trickeries?

Try these as some of those most irritating.

Turning the Tables

Where do I find these things?

Yo! Coupla week's practice - know what I mean? - 'n' I'll be the baadest DJ on de Island ...

real change

What is it about the sellers of RC that they are without exception courteous, unpushy and generally un-hideous?

There is a seller I buy from just near the ferry, and another around Westlake Center. Sometimes I buy 4 in the same day, often from the same sellers.

And it's damn'd good reading.

In contrast, the cabbies outside Colman Dock are pushy and even aggressive. The majority seem to be Ethiopians or of that hue and physiology, but there is a squat aggressive mafia-type who lurks and poaches as he can.

One morning when I was seeing off a friend who did need a car to the airport, I vanquished this ruffian with a "Back you varlet! Away with you, you bullying interloper!" Then I turned to the darker skinned chauffeurs and chose the least aggressive from among them.

Tean Idol

The soundster Moby has opened a restaurant - Teany.

Seeing as how I had never heard of this hypnotic muzak mixer 'til I 'borrowed' JV's CD one lonesome Saturday at work, it's only fair that I beg a pallet on her floor on my first visit to NYC and that I treat her to her decent meal there.

4' 33"

BBC Radio 3 surpassing looniness the other night with its broadcast of that hoaxter John Cage's 1952 piece for orchestra, 4' 33".

Programme notes:

What utter twaddle.

Fake Accents

Georgina down from college for a birthday lunch and buying spree on Dad at Norstroms ('fine apparel to the gentry').

She told of a group study session where a fellow student suddenly upped and complained to the professor about G's annoying fake accent.

Dear G - as honest as the day is long and far more studious than Papa in his day amid dreaming spires - might have been born in San Antonion, but her education was in London and Hong Kong and her accent is a delightfully soft English with not a trace of the hideous Estuary English favoured by all and sundry.

The Prof listened to G and explained how you can tell a genuine accent, not by the sound but by the rhythm and pacing and, indeed, the vocab.

Luncheon over, we moved to Nordies where our attention was caught by unseemly female laughter from a corner occupied by a sextet of muscular young men whose sparsely clad forms decorated a Firemen's calendar, which an endless line of hot babes seemed intent on buying and having signed.

One lass asked her friend to photograph amid these adonises but instead of letting her stand next to them, the firefighters lifted her aloft for an even more dramatic memento. Naturally, this started a demand for identical manhandling and soon we had all 6 hunks sweeping each lady into their arms. Great fun and much envied by my girls, altho' not emulated.

Character Building

Goodness, the number of friends I've made and damsels wowed with this Basic Character Map.

I peddle it along with a rather dodgy dictionary of English slang with which I don't wholeheartedly agree. In fact, there is something distinctly bogus about it, which shows how out of date I am and how good it really is.

But it seems to match US folks' expectations of what Brit slang should be, so who am I to kick against the pricks? So to speak.

Monday, February 09, 2004


Perhaps one has to be a parent to really feel the pain. How does one plan for this sort of thing? How then to bear it?

Blake sends me some lines he wrote to stave off the darkest-hour agony.

My son has gone under the hill.
We called him after a clockmaker
but God meets all such whimsy
with his early-striking hands.

That night of his high fever
I held a stream against me,
his heart panicky as a netted bird,
globes of solder on his brow.

Then he was lost in a sea-fret,
the other side of silence,
his eyes milky as snowberries
and his fifteen months unlearned.

They have taken him away
who was just coming to me,
his spine like the curve
of an avocet's bill.


It's that time of year again - May 20 - June 13, to be precise - when Seattle film buffs come out of their shells and I cross over from bucolic Bainbridge to join E in the queue for the Secret Film Festival.

It's an excellent arrangement: I snooze in and have a leisurely Sunday brek, catch a civilised ferry over to Seattle and an equally languid bus up to the Egyptian theatre where E has been camping since sparrow fart to ensure us a decent place in the queue.

He does it not just out of friendship but because after 4 hours in line, even he can manage to engage one or 2 females in halting conversation. If any are too attractive, I use my fluting English accent and winsome ignorance of technology to screw E's chances. Usually, he has put paid to his own chances without outside help which leaves us time to chat unencumbered by the pawing and mewling of the bovine types that frequent these showings.

Zounds! Eclectic!

Is there another radio programme so consistently hypnotic, another voice as hauntingly normal, as Ira Glass and his must-listen to This American Life? The ruin of my Saturday morning schedule as I sit in the driveway listening "just to the end of this story", then to the next, and so on.

As intelligently, unpatronisingly spare in its delivery of the hot sounds as the incomparable Nic Harcourt's Sounds Eclectic?

Where are the plaudits, the awards, the $$ to ensure these keep running?

Sunday, February 08, 2004

"Messy, inglorious manhunt"

Saddam? Bin Laden? Nope - but it's the same humbug, jingoism and hubris.

Try 100 years back : The Boer War

Nefarious Nodding

Why are they ganging up on my heart-throb, the fragrant Martha Stewart?

Judge Cedarbaum not even waiting for the chequered flag before already talking of the prosecution's "strong evidence". Very very strong, in fact.

Honestly, I am getting very worried for Martha, my dear: Master Faneuil is clearly telling truth, however druggie and Ecstatic the defence try to paint him. If I'd been Peter Bacanovic, knowing that Imclone was tanking, it'd've been more than my life was worth not to let Martha know double pronto.

Goodness, can you imagine the telephonic banshee screams if M had opened the Bahama Times (or whatever) to find her stock reduced to tuppence ha'penny? No wayy.

Of course Baccers told his minion to get the Dragon Empress on the blower and warn her. Sensible knee-jerk reaction at the time, not so good in hindsight. Pity really because without the upright DF proclaiming la vérité, Pietro and Martha could've concocted a decent histoire and left Patton Seymour with not much more than circumstantial evidence to bung at them.

I just dread the idea of those horrid bull dykes mauling our Martha around but what's the alternative - that another big name trickster goes free? Maybe if some of the Enron crowd and those other suited filchers were wearing arrowed pyjamas, there'd be chink of daylight for MS getting off with bruised knuckles and depleted checking account, but I can't see that she won't be made an example of. A sad day for all lovers of delicacy and good taste.

frantic semantics

Ancient burglar up before the magistrate for sentencing.

Hizzonner: "I'm setting a trial date of June 14th."

AB: "Have a 'eart, guv ... that's when the missus is conceivin' a baby ... "

Counsel: "M'lud, I believe my client means that his good wife is giving birth ...

Hizzonner: "Quite so, Mr Cowperthwaite. Well, whichever it is, he ought to be there. June 30 suit you better, Mr Pond?"

AB: "Much obliged, guv - you're a right gent."

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Horse Sense

Dunno who put this dictionary together, but it works:

Bierce meets Equus

Trump L'Oeil

Damn, The Apprentice keeps getting better - and the slickest coverage still seems to come from Slate, altho' it doesn't quite see the charms of the programme as *I* do. In chronological order, my notes from last night, when - shock horror - K got the chop for a teensy bish like losing the spondulix.

Guidelines For Singing The Blues

  1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."
  2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues unless you stick something nasty in the next line like "I got a good woman with the meanest face in town."
  3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes, sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound."
  4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch. There ain't no way out.
  5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or SUVs. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.
  6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.
  7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anyplace in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still great places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues anyplace that don't get rain.
  8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.
  9. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go out to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.
  10. Good places for the Blues:

    a. highway
    b. jailhouse
    c. empty bed
    d. bottom of a whiskey glass

    Bad places for the Blues:

    a. Nordstrom's
    b. Gallery openings
    c. Ivy League colleges
    d. Golf courses
  11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.
  12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:

    a. you older than dirt
    b. you blind
    c. you shot a man in Memphis
    d. you can't be satisfied

    No, if:

    a. you have all your teeth
    b. you were once blind but now can see
    c. the man in Memphis lived
    d. you have a 401K or trust fund
  13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.
  14. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:

    a. cheap wine
    b. whiskey or bourbon
    c. muddy water
    d. nasty black coffee

    The following are NOT Blues beverages:

    a. Perrier
    b. Chardonnay
    c. Snapple
    d. Slim Fast
  15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.
  16. Some Blues names for women:

    a. Sadie
    b. Big Mama
    c. Bessie
    d. Fat River Dumpling

  17. Some Blues names for men:
    a. Joe
    b. Willie
    c. Little Willie
    d. Big Willie
  18. Persons with names like Amber, Jennifer, Tiffany, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
  19. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:
    a. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
    b. First name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc..)
    c. Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)

    Blind Lime Jefferson, Jackleg Lemon Johnson.

  20. No matter how tragic your life, if you own a computer you cannot sing the blues.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Cough, hack, splutter, choke ... Me

Weep, sob, plead ... My loving family

I smoke. God knows, I wish I could stop.

If good advertising could sway, these would make me clean:

Never mind the Boobs - viva les Sex Pistols

Demeaning job, I know, but someone's got to keep the flag flying. How else would you lot know what's going on across The Pond ... plus what *real* fake boobs look like.

Show Tahmm!!, and the UK version of "Im a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here."

Spiffing performance by dear old Johnny Rotton, former crooner with the Sex Pistols musical combo. Potty-mouthed as ever, the darling - now back in the limelite.

Funny thing is - he WAS the best one on the show ... they need him back if only to stand half a chance of us tuning back in to watch the rest of the plonkers.

Funnily enough in a 6th-degree of separatio sort of way, back in those days, Vivienne Westwood had a shop - "Sex" - wherein worked a smart punky lady called ... Jordan.

And lo and behold, 40 years on, JR is once again crossing 'Jordan' - this time a distinctly UN-cool bimboreen, real name Katie Price (25yrs; no idea *what* the hapless creature's mammaries must weigh in at.)

Those ads

I confess, I did *not* miss the mid-game show, nor was I quick enough to turn away at the horrendous and grisly sight of Jackson soeur's breast - ugh! From his own expression and look of disgust, I believe that young Justin had been led to believe that only the 'topping' would come away at his wrench and that a noble bustier would save us all that nightmare vision. As it is, generations of shrinks have been assured a hefty income for many years to come.

Nor were the adverts much more wholesome (say what? there were adverts?):

Check them out Here - or Here

lire ~ ecrire ~ rire ~ soupire

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Return o' Letourneau

Is it really 6 years since dotty but délicieuse teacherine Mary Kay Letourneau went back into clinky after violating the no-contact order with Vili Fualaau and getting preggers by the 13-year old ... again?

I look forward to another media blitz but not, I agree with the snippy Ms Paynter, any center-spreads in Playboy. The head-turning LeT is a leetle slender for *that* readership: All the beef's on that lard bard Vili (and his hefty story).

LeTourneau #2" speaking of Mesdames LeTournelles, here's a lady who had some more luck with a john. Whoosh!!

Monday, February 02, 2004

Douglas Adams biog

Biography of genius creator of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe.

"He was very much making it up as he went along ... Douglas was great at beginnings. He was pretty good at middles. He couldn't do endings... mainly because by the time he got to the middle, he'd thought of another really good beginning and he wanted to go write that instead of doing the ending ..."

Credit card discreditables

Reminded by some sneaky mails that we're never free from The Man's skulduggery.

Poem for my grandfather

My maternal grandad was a tough cockney who set sail for China before it made sense and became Manager of British-American Tobacco.

By the time I met him, he was retired to suburban Kenton, Midlesex, UK. A hard man and feared, he never lost his shrewdness. Altho' I never took on board his advice at the time, this is a poem I hacked out in memory and which I wish I'd had a chance of showing him.\

For Dupen

My grandfather sits at the front in the Chairman’s eye.
He questions the apologies for absence; he questions the Minutes,
Including the accuracy of the amendments in these Minutes
To the Minutes of the meeting before last.

Then he carps at the order of items on the Agenda,
Queries the omission of items from the Agenda,
Interrupts, interjects, raises Points of Information,
Asks innocent – loaded – questions, has serious Points of Order,
Puts down motions, puts down amendments, questions the voting –
Wants the Chairman to state again exactly what it is
They have decided by the voting –
Wants his disagreement with the Chairman’s decision minuted;
Quotes the Constitution, waves the Companies Act.

Grandad proposes the creation of sub-committees, steering committees,
Working parties and working groups – and declines election to any of them himself.

Any Other Business is devoted to matters raised by my grandfather alone.

When the time comes to decide the Date of Next Meeting,
Grandad objects on sound grounds to every possible date.
The desk diaries rise wearily from dispatch cases once again,
Overcoats stay unbuttoned, the great white pages turn and flutter
And the flutter becomes a gale tearing at the darkness outside the window,
At the darkness in everybody’s soul in the steamed-up room.

When the storm subsides, my grandfather has disappeared – until the next time.

Lire ~ ecrire ~ audire

Best ever Data Visual

I am obsessed with graphs n charts that do the job.

I have the Minard graph framed on my wall and it brings pleasure to study it every time.

French engineer, Charles Minard (1781-1870) whose classic illustration of the disastrous result of Napoleon's failed Russian campaign of 1812 has, IMHO, never been bettered. Check out this ace site.

The Minard graph shows the size of the army by the width of the band across the map of the campaign on its outward and return legs, with temperature on the retreat shown on the line graph at the bottom.

I have a favourite story about a Tufte lecture I attended in 1995 in Bellevue, WA. We were all duly forking out for ET's two books but there were also copies of the Minard available. As we shuffled forward to have the great man inscribe our copies of his book, I also had the Minard print ready. When it came my turn,

"Mr Tufte - wonderful lecture. Look, you're virtually synonymous with the Minard print, I wonder if you could also sign my copy." Snorts of anti-brown nose derision from behind me: but of course Mr T would demur. What infernal presumption from this Brit creep.

Tufte's nostrils flared with pride and he darted me an appreciative look of salute for my perception. With a flourish he signed the chart and we shook hands.

And from the leonine Sire of Verité, yet another Stats enlivening link.

Takes some navigating, but vaut le detour ... pay attention to my adopted country coming a respectable 23rd in the homicide charts.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Darwin Awards

Always fun to be reminded of stupider folks than me. Thanks to RV for this new batch.

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