Saturday, April 30, 2005

More justification

A year ago my free copy of the USA Today — I was staying at a want-to-be flashy hotel — told me that obesity had now surpassed smoking as the greatest threat to the health of Americans. Turns out that was bullshit. Instead of the 400,000 deaths they were purporting, the Centre for Disease Control has readjusted the number to 25,000. Need I say more?

Justification for my errant ways

What we all knew was true... just look at me. (p.s. One should never read a story with a cool headline.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Who's hidin' the ricin?

What the heck is going on with the British media?

A week ago the Sunday Telegraph warned us that it could have been "our September 11th". The Independent claimed it was "The plot that never was". While the Daily Mail, spiteful hate-filled rag that it is, tub-thumped on the asylum angle.

This was following the media blackout lifting after one man, already serving a life sentence for killing a policeman, was convicted of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The cases against eight other men were either dropped or found not guilty.

Then today I read on The Register that the Guardian published then pulled an article debunking the ricin threat from its website.

Quite why the Guardian pulled the article is rather unclear, 'legal reasons' being the semi-official line. Fortunately, the internet being as it is, the article has been posted in a few other places (including here).

Maybe I'm just a naive fool, but I'm inclined to believe Duncan Campbell's assertion that we have all been the victims of a mass deception.

In related news it was nice to see that Adam Curtis won a Bafta for his Power of Nightmares series. Even if the BBC didn't show his acceptance speech.

p.s. Now might be a good time for me to plug and the excellent Firefox extension, in case any of the sites ask for a username and password.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Signs of Texas

On Saturday afternoon I was in shorts and sandals, paddling in a lake in Tyler State Park. On Sunday evening I was wearing jeans, thankfully, and sandals and walking through a snowstorm in Columbus, Ohio. A snowstorm? It's almost May, I thought they were joking when somebody at Dallas airport told me it was snowing in Columbus. Brrrhhh, I hope that I have now seen my last snow of the winter.

Still it's nice to be home and sleep on my own bed.

Anyhow, here's a few signs that made me smile.

East Texas Culture
<insert punchline here> I do like the way it's the "Museum for East Texas Culture" and not the "Museum of East Texas Culture". One nasty part of my mind is now thinking, "Isn't it nice that they've got the museum ready and waiting for when they find some culture in east Texas".

Liberty For Sale?
Two goats? Three sheep and horse? What would a reasonable offer be for Liberty?

Last Days
"A lasting word for the last days". Sometimes Texas is really really scary.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Things not to do in Texas, or how Lovejoy ruined my day and caused me untold future misery

Number One: Wash your passport

Um... bollocks.

In my defence it was all Ian McShane's (Lovejoy's) fault. You see, what happened is that I got back to my hotel room at about 9:50 last night and realised I didn't have any clean clothes for the morning. At the same time I also remembered that Deadwood, featuring the aforementioned McShane started at 10 o'clock. So I jumped in my rental car, dashed to the petrol station to buy some detergent, rushed back to my hotel room, gathered my dirty clothes (including the pair of shorts I was wearing) and threw them all in the washing machine. I got back to my room at just gone ten and turned on the TV, only to discover that it was Tuesday not Wednesday, so instead of Deadwood HBO was showing Scooby-fucking-Doo.

It was only this morning when I felt the back pocket of my other pair of shorts that I realised I'd washed my passport. I pulled the still somewhat soggy, it had had 45 minutes in the tumble dryer last night, document from my shorts and tired my best to resuscitate it with the hair dryer (in the process killing the hair dryer). So now I have a clean smelling passport, missing some of its integrity, and I'm wondering, "What the bugger do I do now?"



Bloody passport and visa hell...

Saturday, April 16, 2005


I'm currently in a semi-wet county. It's a very scary place to be. Semi-wet, in this county, means that there are no bars. I'll repeat that for those of you who have, like me, been shocked into a state of disbelief. There Are No Bars In Anderson County, Texas. This should not be the way of things in a civilised place. But then again this is Texas...

Instead of bars there are private member clubs in which members are allowed to purchase alcohol for drinking on premises. In fact, I am one of the newest members of the Iron Horse Lounge, Palestine. The Iron Horse Lounge would be, in any halfway reasonable town, a dive bar at a cheap hotel, instead it's a private members club. When I went in there on Wednesday night I was one of three people, including the bar maid, and I was told Thursday night would be good it's karaoke night. For the record I wasn't there on Thursday night.

I only discovered there were no bars in Palestine, Texas, after I'd been here a couple of days and hadn't seen any bars. So, like any good scientist, I Googled the problem for a while. One of the sites I stumbled across was for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (serving Texas since 1935). Where I found a list of all the alcohol permits, all 66 of them, in Anderson county. After filtering through the list, which was mainly distributors and retailers, I discovered that this county contains 4 restaurants with alcohol licenses, 8 private member clubs (at least 2 of which I think are really restaurants) and 2 veterans clubs. Sadly, I couldn't find out how many churches there are here to do my favourite ratio test, more than 8 I imagine.

How I love The South, well Texas any rate.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

We live in a world where...

...Cookie Monster, of Sesame Street fame, is going on an anti-obesity drive. Apparently he's going to tell the kiddies that "A Cookie is a Sometimes Food". Sometimes I hate the world.

On the subject of cookies, the hotel I'm staying at — I've relocated from California to Texas, via Ohio, for those who aren't in the know, has free cookies in the front lobby. It's all a little bit odd. Actually it's quite odd to be in Texas and find that there are no dusty tumbleweed covered plains, in fact everything is beautifully green and lush. I almost feel cheated. Where is my stereotypical Texas?

On the subject of beauty, my neighbourhood looked really rather pleasant as we drove to the airport this morning. The little white and pink buds were on the trees for the first time, and life was starting to be breathed into the spring. It was tres pretty, and it will all look different when I get home... (assuming I survive Texas).

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Royal Zimbabwean papal nonsense

This is not news. Somebody shaking somebody else's hand during the giving of the peace at a Pope's funeral is not news. Shaking somebody's hand is not the same as saying you agree with them in anyway, or approve of anything they do. It is merely an acknowledgement of their existence. If I had been in Charles's place, I think I would have just come out and said, look I shook his hand I didn't suck his dick.

This probably is. Was she a drug dealer? Was she an innocent old grandmother? Who knows?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Cheap mockery

An explosion at a bazaar in central Cairo kills two people, including a French and an American, and injures others.

I'd have thought the two people would be a French (man/woman) and an American, and not just include a French and an American. But what do I know?

(Of course the headline link will have changed by the time anyone would click on it.)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Hotel California

Yes I am actually typing this from a hotel in California. And yes it is hot and sunny here in Irvine. And no this won't be a very long entry.

After a day spent in automobile, plane, plane, train, train, train, train, train and automobile I am finally at my delightful airport-side hotel — sadly, it's not the airport I flew into or am flying out of, but one can't have everything.

Right now I'm off to find a bar with a patio with a seat with my name on it. Wish me luck.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Religion, death and snow

Terri Schiavo dies
God incandescent with rage
Kills Pope in revenge

The above haiku was this week's summary from The Friday Thing (the subscription to which was probably the best £15 I've spent this year). For those who haven't heard, The Friday Thing is a fiercely independent weekly email comment sheet. And it is by far the best political and current affairs analysis (from a British perspective) that I get in a week; it's like the Daily Show only as an email and British.

On the subject of Terri Schiavo, I found this article from the BBC really rather illuminating. It's always nice to see a correspondent equally willing to stick his boot in the ribs of America and praise it when The system works. (The system in this case being the separation of powers, and the fact that, despite the politicians wrangling, the courts stood firm.)

One thing that I learnt from the article was that down in northern Kentucky, just a stones throw from Cincinnati, they are building a Creation Museum. This is the museum that attempts to answer Bill Hicks's one word question to creationists, "Dinosaurs?". (On the subject of Bill Hicks — he seems to be cropping up here quite a lot lately — am I cruel to think of his line about creationists looking really un-evolved when I see this guy?) Now I'm not at all sure that I'm still going to be here in 2007, but I'd like to encourage you all to dig deep in to your pockets and donate to this project, so that I can go down to Kentucky and have the most bollock achingly funny afternoon of my (soon to be damned) life. Or, alternatively, you could donate your money to a worthwhile cause.

On Wednesday it was hot and sunny — I even walked home in just my t-shirt, well I was wearing jeans and shoes, but you get the point — while yesterday it was snowing. Fucking snowing. In fucking April. I was not best pleased. And my ears got cold.

During the last week I've been to see two films about cities ravaged by death and destruction, Gunner Palace and Sin City. I'd heartily recommend either film. Gunner Palace, I found particularly interesting as it really was a completely different view of the Iraq war than that which we're force fed by our nightly news. I wouldn't say that it was particularly pro- or anti-war, it just followed a bunch of US soldiers around and showed what their lives are like. Most of the time I found myself with a lot of sympathy for everyone, US and Iraqi, involved. Although, having said that, there were a few times where I physically cringed at some of what the young soldiers said. Sin City, on the other hand, is two hours of beautiful decadence and destruction. A gorgeous slice of near-mindless entertainment.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A short Friday afternoon ramble

Does anybody else think it would be somewhat unfortunate if the Pope were to die on April Fools' Day? I don't mean that I'll particularly miss the old be-dressed fellow — though he seems like a nice enough crazy religious old man — just that it would be an unfortunate day for him to finally give up his hold on life. Or is it just me? Oh, just me then.

In other news that comes as (an entirely expected) kick in the teeth for democracy, decency and the human condition; Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has swept to victory in the Zimbabwean elections. Depending on who you ask the election was either a disgusting, massive fraud or the most free and fair election in the world. I think I know which way I'm betting.

I was going to rant about automatic toilets not noticing me and the brilliance of the Amateur Transplants, but that will have to wait until I have more energy and inspiration.