Monday, December 31, 2007

Fin d'année

Happy marking of arbitrary moment in time and a joyous enforced calendar change to you all.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

i i

Why oh why oh why the obsession with the letter 'i'? Any product with a vaguely technological advance included now requires the letter 'i' at the start of it. Apple, of course, started it - iMac, iPod, iTunes etc. BMW have the 'iDrive' system on some of their cars, the BBC launched the iPlayer recently and now Philips... Oh dear Philips, you crazy Dutch bastards. iShave? Ye gods.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The problem with English football...

...is that English people involved in football don't know anything about football. Alan Shearer has said today that Arsenal will not win the Premiership by playing pretty football (no link - it was in the radio). Rot. Utter rot.
What Shearer seems to think is that the only way to win is by sticking to the kick-and-rush principles that served England so well in their glorious Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. It may come as a surprise to Mr Shearer - a man who many seemingly reasonable people touted as a credible person to take over as England manager, lest we forget - that the teams that win international competitions are the teams that play football rather than hoof it up front to a lanky front man and trust to luck from there. While people with this attitude still have anything to do with the game in this country, England will continue to fail.

Post-christmas advertising

The first things advertised after christmas is generally aimed at the new year's resolutioneer market - the partwork magazine. The worst of this year's batch is 'build yourself a Flying Scotsman model'. Obviously, the first issue is dirt cheap, but there are a staggering 124 editions to follow the discounted opener at £6.95 a pop.
Does anybody buy these things? If so, at what stage of the construction of your Egyptian pyramids/full size replica monster truck/model of Bob Dylan's head do you think "fuck me this is turning out to be rather more expensive than I first anticipated" and jack it all in?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Introspection

Merry kwanza everyone. I hope all your Decemberval wishes came true and you're now the owner of some tasteful knitwear.
As is the style of the time, I normally have a bit of a look back on the year. The sporting year was summed up by glorious failure. Lewis Hamilton, the toffs rugby side, Ricky Hatton. And their achievements will always be defined thus and yet the successes will go unrecognised - Joe Calzaghe finally settling all doubts to his class, Victoria Pendleton winning everything possible on a bike (the British cycling team is really good y'know). The year kicked off with an utterly brilliant world darts final with Ray Barneveld beating Phil Taylor to become only the fourth man to win both versions of the world title (prize for getting the other three. Answer below). Sadder news was Dennis Priestley's cancer diagnosis and I, for one, wish him all the very best in his future battle. Erik Clarys, meanwhile, continues to struggle after shattering his right elbow in a domestic accident. That's a bit of an issue for a right handed darts player, but he's trying to make his way with his left hand. Bon chance.
Cricket schmicket. The World Cup was this year, even though it felt like it lasted for all of 2006. England lurched from disaster to disaster: 'Fredalo', injuries, poor form etc etc etc. But the whole year was overshadowed by Bob Woolmer's tragic death. That it's taken the best part of the rest of the year to decide it was natural causes only worsens the tragedy.
City failed to get back to the football league, but that's nothing compared to England fucking up. Croatia are above England in the FIFA rankings and yet the common consensus before that game among the idiots that are fans of the national side was that it was a done deal before a ball was kicked. Unlike Scotland, whose failure was truly glorious, England got everything they deserved. Those wins over France were something spectacular, but results against the lesser sides in the group did for them.
Blair left office. Hurrah! Well, that was the mood at the time, but now that the new guys have managed to bungle just about everything, we're almost wishing the war-mongering, lying, US arse-kisser was still in charge. Almost.
Menzies Campbell was well and truly shafted. The leader of the LibDems for 2008 is Nick Clegg and the regular runners and riders are preparing their campaigns for the next contest.
Capitalism didn't get the kicking it deserved following the sub-prime loan market collapse and the Northern Rock fiasco. Am I the idiot here for thinking this is a huge global scam or is everyone else blind? I suppose only time will tell, but that doesn't help those who are now homeless having had their houses repossessed.
But no story over the whole year has compared to the tale of John Darwin. He went out in a kayak five years ago and didn't come back. Or did he? There's a lesson to be learned from Darwin's tale and it is this: if you've faked your own death, you'll get away with it until such time as you hand yourself in at a London police station.
TV event of the year. Without shadow of any element of doubt. Blink. Perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever, which I realise is a big claim, but bloody hell it's stunning.
And for me? Someone tried to nick my car, but that's alright. I got a newer, better one for less money than the insurance paid out. Grandma died, which was and still is terribly sad, but Grandad's still doing admirably well. I'm sure he has his weepy moments - I know I do - but none of us wanted her to suffer and death is kind of an inevitability. It did make me re-evaluate things. And so I quit IT after years of pissing and moaning about it. It is, quite frankly, the best thing I have ever done. I love my new job. It doesn't feel like work, so I don't mind doing it. I worked yesterday and it wasn't even an issue for me. I'll be back working on Thursday too. I'm not in the pub every day in an effort to make it through the days and I'm not on the trains any more, which is the biggest relief of all really. And then there's York City. OK so I'm not being paid, but this job could go somewhere. Might not, but bugger it; it's fun, although I'm concerned I may be spreading myself a bit thin. This will become clear when the rugby season gets into full swing. It was a good year for rugby as well. Wembley was great, particularly Younes Khattabi's try - the first by a Muslim in a cup final, but not as great as the semi-final against Wigan. What a game. What a day. We saw the end of Stacey Jones' career and I met the great man and got to interview him, among others. Replacing Jones was always going to be difficult, but not the extreme it's reached now. Thomas Bosc will be handed both an enormous responsibility and a huge opportunity. I have faith in him. He'll do just fine.
We've scotched New Zealand talk for now. Going there as a skilled migrant would mean I'd have to do IT for three years and I'm not about to jack in something I love doing to take a step back simply for a change of country.
I feel great. I feel younger and less grey. I have never had job satisfaction before. I do now. It's brilliant.

Always finish on a song eh? David Ford. I'm Alright Now. Bonus point for spotting Huddersfield on the video. And do you know what? I am alright now.




That darts answer: Phil Taylor (1 BDO, 12 PDC titles), John Part (one of each), Dennis Priestley (one of each). Barneveld has 4 BDO titles and one PDC.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The public v People

The public are idiots. People, however... People are alright y'know.

Well they would say that pt. 2

The government say that the NHS can be trusted with huge amounts of data despite all evidence to the contrary. It was inevitable that the claim over this latest data loss fiasco would be "if we had it all in one place it wouldn't have happened", but I shan't be entrusting my data to them. You can opt out of having your medical records uploaded to this not-yet-finished system. Write to your GP to say that you do not consent to this and you will not be part of it.

Well they would say that pt. 1

Israeli prosecutors say the Israeli army were acting legally in deploying cluster bombs in Lebanon last year. I struggle to believe that cluster bombs are still legal in the 'laws of war' (laws of war itself being a bit of a strange concept). They are a completely indiscriminate weapon and the people of Lebanon are continuing to pay the price for Israel's bullying of their weak democracy.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A confession

I must confess. Not every christmas record fills me with pain, nausea and dread. There's one that's more than half decent (actually, two but I can't find a clip of David Ford's I'm Leaving You This Christmas). I give you The Pretenders:

Thought I'd got away with it

December the 22nd today and on leaving the house, still no winter festival decorations up. I get back from the football and the tree is up. I thought I'd got away with having none for a change. Dammit anyway.

Feeling left out

I'm a little upset and feeling a bit down because I feel on the outside of society. Am I the only person who hasn't launched a fragrance in time for christmas?

Man of the year

Time magazine have named their man of the year. It's not immediately obvious if they're taking the piss or not in nominating Vladimir Putin, but that's who it is.
My contacts have managed to find a crumpled up piece of paper in the Time bins with the following names on it, all crossed out.

  • Steve McClaren
  • Sir Ian Blair
  • The entire England cricket team
  • John Darwin
  • The board of Northern Rock
  • Joseph Kabila
  • David Irving
  • Robert Mugabe

The name Putin had a lot of big ticks next to it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another handy pronunciation guide

Lackadaisical. One S and definitely no X. Therefore pronouncing aforementioned word anything like 'lacksadaisical' is wrong.
When the good burghers of the BBC start making this simple error, you know we really are struggling to maintain standards.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dear Barry Hearn

I'm just watching some of the darts and have to wonder why the introduction of a couple of dolly birds to walk the players to the stage? It demeans us all. Stop it.

Another split party

Today's final discourse on split political parties, it's our old chums the BNP.
This set of despicable twats now can't even get on with each other, let alone the rest of society. Which is good news, as they're about to split the braindead morons they count on for support and erode any chance they have of organising themselves into anything more than a hateful mob once more as opposed to the ineffectual council representatives - tossers in suits, basically - they've been trying to be lately.
The far right tends to see support come in short, sharp bursts and this latest peak in support would appear to be close to an end now, allowing the grown-ups to talk about proper issues while they stew in their own hateful bile.

The 'other' leadership contest

While Britain was in a frenzy over who'd be leading the third party, South Africans were bracing themselves for a new leader of the ANC this week. Troubled leader Thabo Mbeki lost out to Jacob Zuma. This is worrying. Mbeki's leadership has had it's troubles recently, but nothing Zuma has said and done would appear to change anything.
Mbeki has been recalcitrant in accepting that AIDS is a problem. Zuma, meanwhile, convinced himself he had nothing to worry about after sleeping with a woman he knew to be HIV+ because he showered afterwards. That's hardly progressive.
And all the while thousands of people die every week of AIDS in Africa. This remains Africa's biggest challenge and while everyone looks to South Africa for leadership, the same old will continue to happen - nothing.

Not news

Of all the things that could have come out of the various interviews the new Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has done since winning the leadership contest, why is the focus on his non-belief in a god?
Why do we non-believers have to justify our non-belief? Surely it's up to fantasists to spell out why their version of reality is different to that experienced by everyone else rather than the other way round?
Besides, there are myriad things that matter more. Where are the LibDems going, for instance. Are they about to emerge from a trying period and finally kick on from where they were under Kennedy? After Vince Cable's sterling performance as stand-in leader, much will be expected of Clegg, and while he's a bit grey and anonymous, I'm quietly optimistic that they can finally begin to make a difference.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

That time of year again

A certain midwinter festival is fast creeping up on us once more. It doesn't feel to have begun yet as I've not heard that song this year to date - one benefit of working out of home/my car I suppose. In the absence of my own christmas song, I have been pointed instead in the direction of this as the pick of this year's christmas pops:

My idea

Having been out and about on the roads a lot lately, I have a proposal. Like Sweden, I believe that any car with it's engine running should have some lights on. On a day like today - freezing cold and foggy - it's amazing how many motorists think they don't need any lighting at all, making me think that people can't be trusted. Presumably, if they can see everyone around them, they must be OK.
But not just that. I think you'd have fewer accidents at slow speeds with people pulling out and suchlike. I think you'd have fewer accidents involving pedestrians if they were better able to see which cars were moving and which weren't. This is especially so at dawn and dusk - whenever the sun is low in the sky, basically.
I certainly think it's worth looking into. I'd write to my MP, Barry Sheerman, about it if I didn't think he still needed permission from Tony Blair to wipe his own arse.

Dear the news

The death of a passenger, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, in a speeding car over ten years ago is not news. So stop it.
Think of the savings to worldwide forests if nobody gave the tupenny shit that this non-story isn't worth. The Mail and the Express would be forced to close, not only lessening the use of trees, but also reducing the amount of nonsense vitriol available to the general public.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dear Virgin Media

Thanks a fricking bunch for not allowing me to watch the Mayweather-Hatton fight last night/this morning for no apparent reason. You make me long for the good old days of ntl customer "service", you odious set of wankers. Knowing this is likely to be a popular event, why were there no customer service operatives working a late shift? It's almost as if you don't want my money. I'm happy not to give it you though.
Fortunately, someone posted the footage from Mexican TV on YouTube, so I've seen the fight now. The conclusion is twofold: 1) Mayweather was too quick, too slick and too good for Hatton and 2) all sports commentary should be in Spanish.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Who knew?

Who knew work could actually be enjoyable and rewarding? Today, I received from a happy client a portion of freshly made lentil daal. Magnificent.

Think of a number

Another home secretary and a return to the debate over how long to hold suspects of certain offences without charge. Today's random number is 42. I'm beginning to think Johnny Ball is behind policy making on this issue - just Think Of A Number.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Michael McIntyre

There's a comedian who's getting more and more airtime on TV and radio by the name of Michael McIntyre. He's not funny. In fact, he's what Lee and Herring would describe as a lazy comedy slag, insofar as he peddles tired routines about how northerners are a bit slow compared to southerners. While peddling this centuries old material, he falls into the dual trap of thinking there's a single 'northern' accent and fails to grasp the complexities of the glottal stop.
I hope this foray into mainstream media ceases shortly before too much oxygen is wasted.


Meanwhile, in proper comedy news, Mark Watson and Stewart Lee are both playing Huddersfield in the near future and I'm rather looking forward to both.